Have you ever wondered how you can hit shots like a pro during practice then struggle to break ninety? Every golfer, at every skill level, has experienced the wild discrepancy between practice and playing.
What happens to all the “good stuff” during the ten-minute walk from the practice range to the first tee?
The answer is simple: on the practice range, you’ve been trying to fix effects (ie. swing mechanics) without addressing the underlying cause(s).
Feelings are causes – mechanics are effects.
If you can hit solid shots on the range, then you have the ability. The key to re-creating those shots is reinforcing the optimum feel.
Every consistent swing contains three common checkpoints or positions.
The first checkpoint is the impact position. For a right-handed golfer, the left hand is opposite the inner left thigh at impact. The second position is the end of the backswing. In a complete backswing, the player’s back is facing the target. The final checkpoint occurs when the hands are approximately waist-high in the downswing. At this point, a line through the shaft of the club is pointing at the ball.
Are you familiar with the axiom “only perfect practice makes perfect?” The phrase sounds logical, but how do we achieve perfect practice? Rehearse these three positions accurately on a regular basis and you achieve perfect practice.
Effective muscle memory is developed by consistently re-creating key positions and their accompanying feel. Your unique feel is the secret to continually improving swing mechanics.
A common misconception is equating the rate of improvement with the number of hours spent on the driving range. It’s not uncommon to hear golfers lament that the more they practised, the worse they played.
For the golfer well-versed in the nuances of swing mechanics, the three positions described above may appear overly simplistic.
Study frame-by-frame photos of your favourite players and you’ll see the above positions. Variations in grip, stance, takeaway and length of backswing are idiosyncrasies a player has adopted to help re-create the three positions.
The ideal time to create new muscle memory is during the off-season.
Mind and muscles need time to accept fresh ideas and “forget” comfortable patterns. A full-length mirror will accelerate your progress by helping you visualize the positions while you develop a unique feel. As your comfort level increases, rehearse the three positions with your eyes closed.
In the next article, we’ll look at the single biggest factor affecting your ability to develop effective muscle memory.
Thanks for reading.