“Golf is 20 percent talent and 80 percent management.” – Ben Hogan
By Ian Hardie
In the article Why are my practice swings ‘perfect’ but my golf shots bad? I began with a statement that I have heard many golfers make over the years:
“If only I could hit all of my shots with my practice swing”
Most golfers that have this problem will have tried all sorts of different ways to eliminate it
With either little or no success in doing so!
However on occasion some of the things that they will have been told or tried will help a little bit but they normally only do so for a short period of time before the problem returns
So in that first article I took a brief look at exactly why it is that you do a practice swing (or swings if you do more than one) before you hit each shot because it’s important to understand why they are needed
After all, if they weren’t useful – this problem wouldn’t actually exist!
You may recall that the reason I came up with for doing practice swings is that they have an actual physical and mental purpose in preparing your body for the shot you are about to hit
However, even though it is you, your body and your golf club that are doing them
Practice swings are not golf shots!
That probably surprised a few of you but the reality is that as there is no ball to be hit, target to aim at or things to be set up like ball position and body posture – it’s not a golf shot
Practice swings are just a small part of the pre-shot routine that contributes to the eventual hitting of the golf ball
That meant of course that the first step in solving your problem is to stop judging your practice swings – as they really aren’t that relevant to what’s about to go on
This means that there is no such thing as a perfect practice swing and even if it did exist
What use would it be when it comes to hitting your golf shot?
Want further proof?
Most golfers spend some time on the practice green before playing hitting some practice putts to get them ready for their game of golf
While they may gain some confidence from holing a few of the putts that they attempt while warming-up – all of the putts that miss the hole while the golfers are warming up are usually considered to be irrelevant
As missing most of their warm-up putts is considered to be a normal part of golf
In fact, a lot of golfers aren’t really aiming that well and they certainly aren’t going through their normal putting procedure that they would use on the course for an important putt while they are warming-up before a game
Let’s fast forward a bit here………………to say the 15th hole on the golf course with the golfer looking over a testing 6 foot putt for par
What is their focus going to be on?
The quality of their warm-up putts before they started or hitting the putt into the hole?
From now on think of your practice swings before each shot as being like a warm-up putt before a game – just a part of getting ready to hit good golf shots
Hopefully, you took a minute or two to think about that – which brings me nicely to the next point I need to look at to solve this problem for you:
What is going on in your head when you do your practice swing or swings?
For most golfers the answer is actually ‘not much’
I don’t mean that in a bad way either – it’s just that in my experience when golfers are doing practice swings they generally have a fairly clear mind
In other words, they aren’t attempting to hit the golf ball and they generally aren’t thinking about too many things to do with how the practice swing should work or trying to control this, that or the other thing in their golf action
This is in actual fact the reason that most golfers are able to do that ‘perfect’ practice swing when there is no golf ball there – they are letting their sub-conscious brain simply get on with moving the golf club around them in the easiest way it knows how without getting in its way by consciously trying to control things
You might want to read that bit again!
If you want to really feel what that is like – the easiest way to reproduce it is to go take a few practice swings with your eyes closed
You will be surprised how effortlessly you can actually move the golf club around you when you do this – as it cuts out all of the normal thoughts and external stimulus that govern your play on the golf course
In short, it’s a way of experiencing just how well you can actually move a golf club around but I think I’ll leave discussing that further for another day
The other thing I do want to point out here is that most golfer’s when they are doing their practice swing – are fairly focussed on their target or at the very least the sort of shape and height they want to hit the golf ball and also where they want it to land
All of which are fairly creative and positive activities for the brain as opposed to the mundane task (for your brain) of hitting the actual golf ball
This is another reason that golfers experience what they consider to be ‘perfect’ practice swings – as while they are in the middle of doing them – their brain is engaging in
Its favourite activity of imagining just how good things are going to be in the future!
Doing all those practice golf swings while you are experiencing the positive emotions of the expectation of just how good your golf shot is going to be – is something that your brain enjoys more than considering what the actual reality of the shot that’s about to come will be
You might want to read that bit again and really understand it as well
It’s almost as if most golfers are ‘day-dreaming’ when they practice swing
They are expecting great things to happen in an effortless way and can often get so carried away with thinking about how great that’s going to be that they don’t come back to reality until they hear that dreaded ‘thud’ of their golf club hitting the ground first……….again!
So what do you need to be thinking of while doing your practice swing or swings?
I’m going to let you know the answer to that soon in ‘Why are my practice swings ‘perfect’ but my golf shots bad – part three?