Want to Improve Your Game? Grab Your Wedge
You want to improve your golf game right? You’re not alone. Most golfers want to improve their games. The question is how do you do improve your golf game without spending hours each day at the range and $1000’s on golf lessons?
The answer is: break the game down to what’s really important and work on that aspect. Let me ask you another question. What do you think you need to do to become a better golfer?
The first thing most players would say is “I need to be more consistent”. You’ve said this before and the truth is it’s the most vague and meaningless thing a golfer could say. Of course we all want to be more consistent. Tiger Woods wants to be more consistent. But what does that really mean? Have you ever gone to the range to practice your consistency? Sounds kind of funny right?
Other golfers may say “drive the ball better”, “make more putts”, or “hit more solid iron shots”. They are getting closer but to really improve we have to break it down even further. And by breaking it down further, I mean getting to the aspects that really affect your shots and your scores.
The Two Most Important Things to Your Game
1. The Clubface
2. The Bottom of the Swing
The more square you can get your clubface and the more often you can get the bottom of your swing to be in the same place, the better shots you will hit. Those are the facts of golf.
Now the question is how do we more efficiently improve our clubface angle and the bottom of our swing.
By Practicing Pitch Shots
That’s right, hitting 30, 40, 50, and 60 yard pitch shots using the correct technique is a great way to improve your overall golf game. The reason is with the shorter swing required for a pitch shot you learn to correctly control your hands and body and thus learn how to control the clubface and bottom of the swing. It’s also easier to implement changes making smaller swings. This then translates to better results for your full shots.
This should be Your Next Practice Session
The next time you go to the range, forget your normal routine. Take a sand wedge, some tees, and an extra club or alignment stick. Every shot you hit in this practice session will be a 30, 40, 50, or 60 yard pitch shot. Here’s how to do it:
1. Pick a very specific target. Whether it’s a net on the range, a yardage sign or a spot of dead grass, you need a target to aim at each time.
2. Place the extra club or alignment stick on the ground and have it point just left of your target (right hander). This ensures that you actually aim at your target each time.
3. Tee the ball up about a half inch off the ground (yes, you are going to hit pitch shots off of a tee). The ball should be positioned so as the club or alignment stick is between your feet and the ball.
Now your practice station is set and you are ready to hit. Start at 30 yards and gradually work your way up to 50 and 60. With this practice station you will receive immediate feedback on the bottom of the swing and the clubface.
Teeing the ball up demonstrates solid contact. The goal is to make contact with the golf ball and then the ground.
• If you make contact with the golf ball, then the clubhead lightly contacts the ground, you have made solid contact. • If you “pick” the ball off the tee without hitting the ground, the bottom of your swing is too far back and you need to focus on swinging down and making ground contact.
• If your club digs into the ground you need to shallow your swing and focus on having the clubhead “thump” the ground instead of digging.
The goal of the target and alignment stick are to show the clubface angle at impact.
• If the ball goes at the target, your clubface is square.
• If the ball goes left of the target, your clubface is closed.
• If the ball goes right of the target, your clubface is open.
Based on how your golf ball flies you may need to make a grip adjustment or focus on your hand action through the shot. If your hands “flip” through impact, the ball will tend to go left. If you “hold” your hands too much the ball will tend to go right.
Two Things to Remember When Practicing Pitch Shots
1. Make your backswing and follow through similar sizes. A big backswing and a short follow through equal’s deceleration. A short backswing and a big follow through equals over acceleration. Both make it difficult to hit solid shots.
2. Let your body rotate through the shot. A lot of golfers like to hit pitch shots only using their hands. This turns into “flipping” hands and poor contact. Let your upper body rotate through the shot and have your chest face the target in the follow through.
The next time you head to the range, ditch your normal plan. Take a sand wedge, alignment stick, and some tees. Use this drill to practice your pitch shots and you will see better, pitch shots, iron shots and drives the next time you play.