How To Improve your Golf Game
Through Effective Practice
(Part 1): Driver Accuracy
You can make dramatic improvements in your score on the golf course by structuring your practice on the range to focus on just your top game priorities. In this newsletter we’ll cover an actual practice session and the approach to selecting specific drills for maximum impact and improvement. Keep in mind that the important lesson of this newsletter series is the process of establishing and working on priorities rather than the actual drills. The drills you choose will be different, depending on your specific priorities.
To give you a better idea of what this kind of practice would look like, we filmed a recent range session. The session is split into three videos. Links to each video are at the bottom of the post.
Video #1: Driver Accuracy
Here’s a brief recap of the High Performance improvement process:
Step One (outlined in the first newsletter “How To Improve Your Golf Game: Part I – Baselines” is to establish a baseline performance level and set goals.
Step Two (outlined in the second newsletter “Scorecard Stats: Your secret weapon” is to analyze the stats from the round to determine your top one or two priorities and your baseline starting point.
Step Three shows you how to frame your practice so you are spending the majority of your time working on drills that will improve your stats in your priority areas.
Here is a reminder of the priorities from my stats analysis:
What My Scorecard Showed Me About Areas to Improve My Golf Game:
1. Driver Direction: At only 45% of fairways hit (4 of 9 drives), driver accuracy emerged as one of the key focus areas. In addition, those missed fairways resulted in a bogey 80% of the time. Better direction control here will likely save me four to five shots per round, therefore a significant part of my practice time will focus on driver accuracy in order to improve my fairways-hit stats. My goal is to first reach a 55% accuracy level, then level-up again to a 65% mark.
2. Mid-iron Distance Control: Not knowing the distance for my normal 7-, 8-, and 9-irons shots resulted in a number of extremely difficult recovery situations that led to a third of my bogeys. If I had a more accurate idea of how far these shots carry I could have saved 3 to 4 shots on my round, so part of my practice time will be spent determining how far my mid-iron shots go with a normal, comfortable golf swing. This process is called “gapping”, meaning determining the difference in carry distance – or “gap” – between clubs. My average gap between clubs is 12 to 16 yards. For example, I know my average, comfortable sand wedge carries 104 yards, while my gap wedge carries 118 yards – a “gap” of 14 yards. To take my game up a notch I need to determine – with the same degree of precision – the carry distance of my mid-iron approach clubs for my average, comfortable swing so that I know the distance gap between those clubs.
3. Scoring Club Strengths: Remembering that I also want to focus on my areas of strength and make them even stronger, my scoring clubs will also get attention. I’ll hit shots with my wedges to targets in the 75- to 125-yard range. This is one of the best parts of my game, yet I want to continue to refine my skill level with these shots so that I can rely on them with high confidence when I play.
This High Performance newsletter series shows you there’s nothing willy-nilly about effective practice: Every drill I use and every swing change I evaluate either helps my driving accuracy stats, my mid-iron distance control, or my scoring wedges, or I move on. Period.
Here is your Main Take-Home Point:
The only reason to focus on mechanics or swing changes is to improve your stats. If you are working on a swing change that doesn’t relate to your key priority stats, your efforts should be re-focused.
In this video my first priority is to learn about my accuracy – not to fix it. Fixing can come afterwards, once I can tell the difference between my baseline control swing and my regular swing. I’ve selected specific drills designed to enhance my feel and accelerate my learning process, and I’ll show you exactly how I use them in practice on the range.
The first drill I’ve selected is to use shorter, slower swings to develop a better feel for my position at impact as well as target extension after impact. Using shorter, slower swings allows me to have greater control over the swing than I would have with a full speed or full length swing, and because I am swinging more slowly I have a better kinesthetic “feel” for what is happening during the swing. Plus it’s easier to identify where any breakdowns may occur.
As you will see in the video, I use alignment rods to help me align to the target, see a square club face at impact, and evaluate my swing path. I am also practicing a “non-standard” swing – meaning shorter and slower – to a target at a non-standard distance – only 100 yards.
I chose this methodology specifically because the non-standard swing and unusual-distance to the target will help me avoid focusing on mechanics. As I begin the process I am in “learning” and “observation” mode rather than “fix it” mode. I don’t want to start fixing anything until I have a high degree of certainty that what I am working on will address the right issue and help me level-up my stats.
Once I have a feel for the correct impact position and my swing path and feel like I have established a good baseline control swing I can repeat, I can move on to the next step – selecting specific drills to address swing issues, and finding my “breakdown” points.
To watch the next video in this practice series, click Driver Accuracy Part 2. In the Part 2 video we’ll cover baseline control swing, finding swing breakdowns, observing the swing, and leveling up by toggling back and forth between swing speeds.
In the third practice video of this series I’ll cover the process for determining accurate Iron Shot distances.
I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts and remarks in the comment box below, and please pass the link to this page along to your golfing friends.
If you’d like to know more about effective practice habits I invite you to pick up a copy of “How To Practice Your Golf Swing Like The Pros.”
Here are links to the entire High Performance Golf Newsletter Series. If you haven’t seen the videos I recommend you start with the first post on establishing performance baselines. Click the link below to get started, then look for the links at the bottom of each post to continue with the next video:
High Performance Golf: Establishing a Performance Baseline
High Performance Golf: Scorecard Analysis and Setting Priorities
High Performance Golf: Driver Accuracy Practice (part 1)
High Performance Golf: Driver Accuracy Practice (part 2)
High Performance Golf: Determining Mid-Iron Carry Distance
PS – If you enjoyed the article, why not leave a comment below? I’d love to hear your thoughts.