If you came here to fix your slice, I’m sorry to say that I’m not that guy pal. I’m just messing with you. Seriously though, I have been known to over exaggerate my fade from time to time. By “time to time,” I mean I have a seemingly incurable out-to-in slice that I am currently diagnosing in my search for a better golf swing. I’ll be documenting the journey along the way here on Proof Golf and who knows, maybe we can all shave a few strokes from our score card in the process.
Today, I’m here to give you some pointers on how to improve the way you practice. Growing up, I had a baseball coach that always said “practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect” and there’s a lot of truth in that saying. If you aren’t practicing with intent and consistency, your game will never improve the way you would like it to. Before the first tee time of the year is ever booked, how you practice will determine much of how you play on the course. Whether you’re hitting the range or posted up in the simulator, these five tips will go a long way if you’re trying to tune your swing.
Ball, club, you
So many golfers, myself included, are in the habit of approaching the ball and trying to align themselves with their bodies perpendicular to the target. There is an inherent flaw with this approach. When you’re trying to align yourself with a target that’s down range or down course, you are trusting that you can perfectly square your left or right side with said target every single time. In a simulator, this can be achieved with some practice but when you’re on the course and there are multiple factors such as elevation and slope, you would have to be a geometric savant to take perfect aim at your target with each stroke.
Alignment should always start with the ball and the club. When you approach the ball at address, square the club face behind the ball, perpendicular to your target. From there, along your body to the club according to your personal grip and stance. At this point, you should be aimed directly at the target. Of course, you will need to make adjustments for the wind and geography of each particular shot but this will ensure that you are consistent in how you aim each and every time.
Keep your head down
This one gets me a lot. When I first picked up a set of clubs as a teen and played the local Par 3 with my dad, I had a bad habit of lifting my head to see where the ball was going. This can create a slew of issues with your swing. On the most basic level, you’re taking your eye off of the target a.k.a. the tiny golf ball that you’re attempting to blister with an only slightly larger club head. If you aren’t keeping your eye on the ball trough contact, I can almost guarantee that you duff and mishit the ball more than you’d like.
Like a horse with a bit in its mouth, your head will lead your body. If you lift your head through your follow-through, you risk throwing off the natural plane of your swing. Without getting into the mechanics of a good swing, your club path should pivot around your head and neck to a degree. If your head is moving up after the ball strike, nothing good is going to happen and your consistency will suffer.
There are some training aides out there that can help you keep your head fixed through your swing but my dad’s old trick is still my favorite. He would stand behind me and rest one of his irons on my left shoulder with the club head just an inch or two away from my face. As I practiced my swing, the goal was to keep my head still enough that my cheek didn’t come into contact with the club face. After a few rounds of this drill, you’ll find it much easier to keep your head down and your eye on the ball. Your buddies can always track your ball for you.
We’ve all seen the pros set up for a shot out of the bunker and witness them dig in their spikes to get a firm grip on the ground. That’s exactly what they’re doing, getting grip. They aren’t aligning themselves. They aren’t performing some pre-swing ritual. It is to anchor themselves and get a solid shot. What’s that have to do with us? Glad you asked. After spending a little time at top golf, I can tell you that most amateur golfers think that waggling the club and rocking back and forth when teeing off is some sort of pro-level way to address the ball. It isn’t…
Go back to the first tip. Once you address the ball with your club, align your stance in reference to the ball and the club you’re using. If you’re on the course, rotate your feet gently back and forth without lifting them off the ground. This will give your spikes all the grip they need. That’s it. You don’t need to do anything else. Why? Well, because all that rocking back and forth and waggling of your club throws off all the work you did aligning your shot in the first place. Once you’ve addressed the ball, stay there. This will simplify the process of setting up to the ball which will lead to more consistent shots.
Many teachers and pros believe that this is the foundation of any good golf shot. The premise is simple. If you can’t hold your finished swing for more than 2-3 seconds without falling off balance, you need to take some time to figure out why. It may be that your body isn’t engaging properly and you’re finishing in an awkward position. It may be that you’re swinging too hard. Whatever the reason, an off-balance swing will lead to consistently inconsistent shots.
Whether you’re happy with your swing or not, practicing your follow-through and holding your finishing stance to find where your balance is can be crucial to perfecting your swing. The best part is that you don’t even have to hit the ball to work on this. Take an extra club to the office with you and when you have a few minutes, grab your club and give it a few, full practice swings. Hold your finish and see if you’re on or off balance. From there, you can start to identify where you may need to make adjustments.
Take a break
There’s nothing worse than setting out to work on your swing only to find yourself frustrated by the same mistakes repeating themselves shot after shot. We’ve all been there. One day, you’re striking the ball as true as a PGA Pro. The next day, one out of every three balls you hit is a hosel rocket. The more you try to fix it, the worse it gets. It’s maddening.
Unfortunately, the problem with your swing can easily have absolutely nothing to do with mechanics. It is quite literally in your head and the best thing that you can do is to simply walk away. Taking a break for a few minutes or even for the entire day can be the key to resetting whatever nefarious thing your brain has decided to do to your golf swing. Cut yourself some slack and go find something else to do while the mental kinks work themselves out.
These basic tips won’t directly fix an issue with your swing but what they will do is help you be more consistent and that’s the first step to game improvement. Until you can repeat your swing time and time again, you will have little luck trying to fix any other aspects of your game. Hope this helps. Stay tuned as I start my journey to deconstruct and reconstruct my swing. Check out the Proof Golf YouTube Channel to see the process and much more. Drop a comment and let me know what you think I can do to fix my slice.