By Head Professional – Stewart Hardiman
Trusting your game on the Golf Course
Many of us golfers have beautiful practice swings, silky smooth practice strokes and are experts on the driving range and short game practice areas. Then we go to the course and it just doesn’t feel the same. We struggle with our swing, spray shots off line and can’t hole a putt to save our lives. Why does this happen? Well one of the reasons could well be that you are trying too hard, instructing yourself technically and not trusting your game and what you have worked on in practice. You end up giving yourself a lesson for most of the round, spending most of your time thinking about controlling different body parts and getting your club into certain positions, that you forget to think outside the bubble you are standing in.
So what should I be doing?
Well, like most things in life, there is a time and a place for everything. With golf there’s a time to practice and develop your skills. This is on the driving range/short game area and NOT on the golf course. On the golf course is where we trust what we have been practicing (preferably after some advice from a PGA professional) and let it happen. We need to get out of our own way, believe in our ability and be more instinctive. Thoughts should be more directed at visualizing ball flight (starting line, curve, landing spots, roll and spin), rather than thoughts on technical aspects (keep your head down, left arm straight, right knee flexed and so on), which distract us from focusing on our target and intended flight or roll.
How can we change achieve this?
It all starts with a good practice plan. Rather than turn up to the practice fairway or green without any purpose. Set a plan for how you are going to mix up your practice. Every session should have a mix of technique and feel / routine. If you are all technique when practicing, it’s virtually impossible to switch to an instinctive feel game on the golf course. Below is an example of a practice plan that will help you take your natural game to the golf course.
45 minutes on practice fairway
- 5 mins – warm up exercises and some small wedge shots
- 10 mins – working on alignment, ball position and technical thought n.o 1
- 10 mins – working on routine and technical thought n.o 2
- 20 mins – hitting shots to target and switching ball flight between low, high, draw and fade (thoughts are purely on routine and ball flight, No Technique)
30 minutes putting green
- 10 minutes – short putts working on one technical thought (can use aids like shafts laid on ground or a string line mark on green)
- 5 minutes – with one ball around the clock (12, 3, 6 & 9) from inside 4 feet and lining ball up and using routine (no thought on technique, purely feel and instinct)
- 10 minutes – long putts working on one technical though (vary length of putts)
- 5 minutes – one ball lining up for long putt and using routine as you would in competition (routine should be consistent in length of time and use a ball marker when lining up ball as you would on the course)