05 April 2017
Learn From The Greats
Who are the greats of the game? Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods. And from this generation, who, if any, will become a great… Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, or Dustin Johnson? What is it that they all do so well?
What do all these golfers have in common, what was it that made them win, stand out more than their competitors, and what can you learn from them to put into your practice or rounds on the course?
When I get asked what makes these golfing legends stand out, and how mid to high handicap golfers can improve, it comes down to ball striking and controlling the distance you hit the ball. If you watch the current generation of golf stars on the Tour, you will notice how their bad shot might be left or right but the distance is somewhat correct each time. They don’t leave their shots 30 meters short or overshoot by 30 meters.
How often do you make an approach shot where you fail to strike the ball well because you ground your club and so you finish 20 meters short? Or do you thin the ball and it goes running through the green?
This is an area of the game where handicap golfers can really learn from the greats; achieving a centered strike and creating closer dispersion between shots when you are practicing.
To improve your practice sessions on the driving range, create an imaginary green and hazards around that green. Go through a range of different clubs and try put yourself under the ‘on course’ pressure. Are you hitting the balls to the desired target? This is not so much about the good shots you hit - everyone’s good shots go close to the hole - but it’s more about whether your bad shots finish in an acceptable area where they would be playable without making a dreaded double or triple bogey. Can you hit bad shots that are still on the green or the apron?
If you are finding the bad shots are finishing too short or going way over the target, work on some strike drills to help you.
Hitting pitch shots with your feet together and controlling the club with your body pivot. Put around 60% weight on your lead foot and make small pitch shot swings. Take note of where you are striking the ball. Try to hit three balls a similar distance and then hit further. If you gain some consistency, widen your feet and change to longer clubs. Keep controlling the club with your body pivot - it may feel as if you have a much shorter swing.
This also works with drill 1. The aim is to try to keep your arms more connected to your chest which will feel as if you are making a shorter swing. You can use a driver headcover or, as you can see in the photo, I am using a Leadbetter boomerang training aid. As you make your backswing, keep the boomerang between your left arm and your chest, don’t let it fall out in the backswing. From there, make a downswing and allow the boomerang to fall after you have hit the ball.