Tag Archives: lower golf handicap

Gain Perspective to Stomp Out Apathy

Creating routines is a great start to improving, but we all experience falling off our routine.  The resolution to eat better falls apart Super Bowl weekend when we gorge ourselves on chips, salsa, cheese dip, hot dogs, burgers, and everything else at the party.  Splurging isn’t the problem.  The problem arises the next week.  If I ate everything in sight, I feel terrible and think “what is the point of continuing to eat well if I messed it up?”  That mindset causes us to fall back into bad habits.  I almost fell victim to that phenomenon last week.

Last week was terrible for my routine.  Since creating my off-season routine, I haven’t followed it perfectly, but I generally reach at least 3 days of golf work and a couple days of exercise each week.  My swing isn’t completely leaving me, and I think I will start spring in a better position than last spring.  However, I completely missed the mark last week.  Work became incredibly busy that took away time at night, and I spent no time on golf or exercise.  The bottom fell out.

Work is still busy, and this week started with apathy.  My mind thought the routine is done, so why not just relax with the little time I have.  It is easy to fall into that trap.  The key is to not let 1 bad week prevent me from continuing on the path to success.

The critical steps to not letting the apathy continue is to gain perspective and get started.  Last winter, I did nothing to prepare for the golf season.  I played a round or two when the weather was nice, but I didn’t work on anything inside.  My perspective now must be that anything I do now makes a difference.  Getting back to the full routine is not necessary to improve.  Anything more than last year is improvement.  Doubt creeps in, but the key is to catch that thought and realize an improvement perspective is what matters.

After regaining perspective, do something.  This week, I am not perfectly back on my routine.  However, I spent a little time on the full swing taking shots.  Not perfect, but I did something.  Gaining steam to combat apathy makes a difference.  We all know it is easier to continue a trend.  My trend will be to reintegrate practice on the schedule.  I get a new opportunity every day to have fun with golf.  I plan to take that opportunity.

Last week didn’t go as planned.  I will not let that keep me from improving this week.  Every day is a new day.  Keep coming back to see my progress.  Post on Facebook and Tweet out my article to help others get back on track!

End of Season Stats Check. Did I Improve?

Fall is here, or should be here at least. We have unseasonably warm weather.  My goals were set for the end of October, so while I may squeak in a couple more rounds, I will review the conclusion to the season.

My original goal this season was to decrease my handicap to 14. I planned to spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week practicing.  I started around a 16 handicap, and I believed I could shave 2 strokes off my handicap.  As my mid-season report indicated, I failed to realize my handicap was artificially low due to older scores.  My most recent scores averaged between 18 and 20 index.  I revised my goal mid-season to get back to 15.8 where I started.  While I didn’t drop it to 15.8, I decreased my handicap from 17 to 16.2 since July!  I am on the right track!  I may not be at 15.8, but a declining handicap is what matters.

I set the number goal at the beginning of the year, but research indicates focusing on the number does not lead to success. Numbers are the measurement, but focusing on the process makes the most difference.  My most important goal was practicing 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I hate to say it, but I didn’t meet that goal as often as I hoped.

30 minutes a day is harder than I anticipated. I know that sounds silly, but all my activities combined with exhaustion make adding more work in difficult.  However, I did meet the goal about half the time.  I did much better in the summer and right after my mid-season report.  I struggled more during the fall due to my teaching load.  However, I never went a week without practicing.  I completed a simulated practice or real round nearly every week.  I reached 4 days a week the vast majority of the time.  Rarely did I practice less than 3 days a week.  I know I didn’t reach the goal every week, but I practiced significantly more than before.  My stats show continuous effort with the decreasing handicap.

My stats illustrate my improvement and areas to continue to work on. Below are the stats from April:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
May 2015-April 2016 42% 17% 10% 1.9

 

The work paid off this summer in most areas. Here are my stats since I started my plan:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
April 2016-Present 59% 11% 25% 1.8

 

Fairways and scrambling dramatically increased. Playing from the short grass must inevitably lead to more GIRs.  While I missed more greens (down to 2 per round), I scrambled for par on 2.5 more holes per round.  Scrambling alone decreased my handicap to the 16.2.  My glaring weakness is still GIR, so I will continue to work on approach shots to score better.

My winter improvement and workout plan will begin shortly. As I think through the plan, I hope to set it up to include activities my family can get involved with to increase my chances of completing the daily tasks.  Come back in the next couple weeks to check out the winter plan.  Enjoy your last rounds of the year.

3 Easy Drills I Implemented to Crush My Slice

The joy and beauty of a finely struck golf shot is immeasurable. If you are like me, you strive for the shot to gently curve towards the target as a draw.  The most coveted shot in golf is the draw, and most amateurs struggle to hit it.  I fell into that category for a long time, but now, I consistently draw the ball.

Hitting a draw is similar to breaking a bad habit. It is difficult the first few times, but after a while, it is second nature.  I drink Dr. Pepper daily.  I know if I tried to cut that caffeine out of my system it would be a struggle, but after a few weeks, I would be fine.  I had the same experience learning to draw the ball.

After playing golf a few years, I finally took a lesson. My instructor painted a great picture for me related to swing plane.  He used the baseball analogy and taught me to hit the ball to “1st base”.  I worked on that move for a while, and it seemed to work.  I found a similar youtube video online from Brian Crowell that is a great refresher:

Unfortunately, I got busy and stopped working on drawing the ball. I didn’t play much golf for a few years, and I ended up coming from the outside again.  During a winter right after I started playing significantly, I went for a driver fitting.  An instructor in our area guarantees increased distance from either better fit club or better swing.  He bluntly told me I lose distance because the club comes from the outside.  Without a formal lesson, he told me I had to come from the inside to get better.

I began the next season determined to hit a draw. I spent a full day on the range hitting half punch shots to the right.  I remembered the baseball analogy and forced myself to start the ball extremely right.  After a few range sessions, it worked.  I could start the ball way right.  I then worked on squaring the clubface to get the draw, and that worked.  In less than 2 months, I consistently hit draws.  I use draw loosely because they were more like planned duck hooks, but the ball rarely crossed the target line.  Video of my swing showed the club came from the extreme inside.  Hank Haney has a good video illustrating a technique to get that path:

The best golf of my life followed. I hit longer shots and more GIRs.  I was on Cloud 9.  However, reality started to set in that my shot shape was extreme and my distance wasn’t consistent.  I believe drawing the ball is the best shot shape for amateurs, but watch out for quick fixes without more instruction.  After another session with the pro who fit me, he loved the swing plane, but he noticed huge flaws produced my draw.  I cupped the left wrist throughout, so my clubface was closed at the top.  He joked that I could serve drinks from the clubface it was so flat.  To compensate, I didn’t release the club through impact.  I held on hoping it didn’t turn over more and go too far left.

I loved the golf I played, but a problem arose when I didn’t play as often.  My timing got too far off and I missed both directions. I worked to try to flatten my wrist and release, but I became inconsistent.  I signed up for GolfTec, but you can read my previous post about how poorly that went.  I continued to drift farther and farther away from the draw.

I hit the breaking point this summer. I am focusing on weight shift, but I have a difficult time moving my hips independent of my shoulders.  As I got better shifting my weight, my club progressively moved more outside the target line in the downswing.  Since my weight shift is good, I am now working on adding the proper inside-out plane with the weight shift.  The focus reintroduced the closed club face in my backswing.  The continued dance of reacting to the new flaws brings me back around to near where I began.  Just like riding a bike, I have the draw back.  The goal now is a happy medium between 30 yard hooks to the target with lower trajectory and no stopping power and a high, short, stopping fade.  The following video is a great tool to force the inside-out swing:

Comment on the best tips or videos you use to create the gentle draw of your dreams.

Is It Possible to Improve Fairways and Be Disappointed?

Golf is a wonderful game with breathtaking views and fun with friends. Spending quality time outside and being more active is outstanding.  While beautiful, the golf swing is maddening.  Have you spent time making a change that causes other parts of the swing to go wrong?  It happens to me all the time, but the continual working generally leads to improvement.

My most recent round illustrated both the glimmer of hope and disappointment. I feel like my swing changes are creeping over to the golf course.  My fairways are showing improvement.  I played 9 holes and hit 4/7 fairways.  Over the last 7 rounds, I hit less than 50% of fairways only once, and in one round, I stuck over 70% of the fairways.

I am playing the majority of my approach shots from the short stuff. One key to success is in the bag.  Unfortunately, 1 key does not make a 9.9 handicap golfer, or right now, a 15 handicap golfer.  I am struggling to hit greens.  I haven’t hit more than 20% of GIR yet this season.  My approach shots must get better.  To drop my handicap, I need better iron play.

All of the sports psychologist information I read will now be put to the test. I know I can hit greens.  I know the swing is getting better each practice session.  I know the improvement is creeping into my game.  Every round with 3 or fewer GIRs is a little more frustrating though.  Honestly, it is easy to either scrap the current swing change and try to find a quick fix and/or lose hope in the process.

I resolve now to not abandon the current focus. The definition of insanity is to continually do the same thing hoping for different results.  The same thing for me is to try a new swing change when things don’t work.  I read about a new theory or think a different move will be better for me.  I then try to implement it the next range session.  The constant changing prevents lasting change.  I originally focused on my weight shift this summer.  The weight shift is getting much better, and I resolve to continue that progress.  I am now adding in a few repetitions focusing on swing plane with the weight shift.  Focusing on the small pieces will add up to a better swing in the long term.

I also know hope is not lost. Changes are hard to integrate and take more than a few rounds.  I played mid to low 80s 5-6 years ago.  I know how those scores feel, and I will stay confident those scores are in my near future.  The good news is I do see some good swings on the course.  My scores are decreasing over the last few months.  I plan to keep up all the positive self-talk and believe success is right around the corner.

While the old saying “fairways and greens” is more like “fairways and rough” for me right now, I can see a slight glimmer of light in the distance. I will keep going forward to get to that light.

Share my struggles on social media with others to get us all on the track to improvement.

No Club, No Problem!! 2 Easy Techniques to Improve at Work

Is working getting in the way of golf? It always does for me, but paying the bills and feeding the kids makes abandoning a job impossible.  I am finding ways to be at work and still get in practice time, sometimes even the 30 minutes for the day.

Practice at work? How is that possible?  No, I don’t work at a golf course, nor do I work near a golf course.  My first inclination would be to hit a bucket during lunch, but I don’t have that option.  However, I found a couple techniques could help me improve at work without losing my job.

The first technique I like is mental reps. I know it sounds crazy, but numerous authors and researchers say mental reps, which is imagining every detail of playing, can improve a swing.  Craig Sigl in his product Break 80 Without Practice discusses mental reps.  He tells a story of a POW held overseas for a significant amount of time.  When the soldier came back, he played amazing golf.  When asked, he said he imagined himself playing rounds every day.  The intricate details of playing allowed his mind to ingrain his swing without actual practice.  His brain went to the same place and made the same swings when he put the clubs back in his hands.

We can all do mental reps. As a disclaimer, I am not saying to do these instead of working.  I do them during breaks, lunch, etc.  Spend time imagining every aspect of playing a round of golf.  Go through the pre-shot routine, the swing, watching the ball fly, and walking to the next shot.  The more detail in the mental rep, the better.  I have also done this right before going to sleep.

The second technique I use at work is swinging without a club. Dave Pelz discusses this approach in one of his books.  He tells the story of one of the instructors he knows having a group of students practice certain moves without a club, many times at work.  The instructor didn’t do it intentionally.  It was his suggestion for busy clients who couldn’t get to the range.  They could also do it during the winter.  He found students doing reps without clubs made swing changes quicker.

I try focusing on 1 move during a week. I spend 10-30 minutes during lunch doing the swing without a club.  I am deliberate and not going quickly.  Once I get to the range, I sometimes do the same move without the club during my warmup.  Feeling the movements can help transition to the club.

Most of us have to work, but we can use small breaks to make big improvements. Every little bit helps and can lower scores.  Share this on Facebook and Twitter to help others improve while working!

Mid-Season Progress Report: Doom and Gloom or Starting the Climb?

Progress and improvement is portrayed like a math equation. Add a little work here, do a few drills there, and lower scores result.  Incremental progress is the goal, and every ounce of work should get us closer to the goal.  If that is the case, results should follow the same incremental approach, even if the results are slow.  My experience is the progress is more asynchronous.

I planned to improve by spending 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week on different aspects of golf. Check out my Current Handicap Page to see where my handicap started.  I set 2 goals.  The first was to lower my handicap from the 15.8 to 14 by the end of the season.  The close to 2 strokes seemed possible with the work on each aspect of my game.  I believe extra work should lower scores.

Unfortunately, my handicap is not dropping right now. As you see, my handicap is now at 17.  17!

HCP 7-22 2

Not only is it not going down 2 strokes, it is actually up 1.2 strokes. My mind raced when I saw my trend up.  Is it possible that my effort is making me worse?  Would I be better off not practicing?  Should I change my plan?  What should I do?

After thinking all those thoughts, I remembered the important goal of completing the progress. Most research indicates focusing on the result doesn’t normally lead to success.  Focusing on the process is what matters.  My current situation is the exact reason why process is the most important.  If I succumb to the idea that practice isn’t working or my effort is in vain, I will stop practicing or drastically change my plan.  Revisiting a plan is periodically necessary, but continual refocusing diminishes results.

The real question should be whether I completed my 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The honest answer is the majority of the time I did.  I have weeks with 3 to 4 days, but over half the time, I get to 5 days a week.  The practice time and completion isn’t the problem.  If true, then maybe I am not doomed.

The bright side begins to light up. Comparing the score lists on my Current Handicap Page, I realize why my handicap rose this year.  My oldest 7 scores were calculated in my original handicap, and all those rounds happened in 2014.  Unless I played at a similar level, then my handicap would rise.  My handicap at the beginning of my process was not an accurate reflection of my current performance level.  The handicap was artificially low due to good scores from over 2 years ago.  I breathe a little easier.

I also notice my handicap differentials for this year. Since starting the process, my differentials are decreasing.  From the beginning of the year through June, my differentials ranged from 19-22.3.  My last 2 differentials in July dropped below 18.  Looking closer at the numbers, I am improving.

I also feel like I am improving. My contact is much better.  I am focusing on shifting my weight correctly to compress the ball.  My trajectory is up.  I hit my 5 wood and hybrid better than ever the last couple rounds, and my ball flight is much straighter.  My GIRs are slightly up over the last 5 rounds, and I am still hitting a similar number of fairways.  I am showing improvement.  This is exactly what I am looking for.

My handicap is up at the mid-point, but I believe the numbers indicate improvement. My handicap started artificially lower, and my last 5 rounds are showing improvement in all areas.  14 may not be realistic by the end of the season, but I should be able to get back in the 15 range.  However, I am not focused on that number.  My goal is to practice 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Share my story on facebook and twitter to help others continue the journey to improvement.

My Experience on a Different Kind of Tour Course

Walking in the footsteps of current major champions is awesome. Being humbled by major tour courses provides context and generates even more respect for tour players.  My destinations only followed the PGA Tour though.  I wondered if I would have the same emotions walking in the footsteps of slightly older champions at a Champions Tour stop.  I was not disappointed.

I took a trip to Branson, Missouri over the 4th of July holiday.  My family planned to enjoy Branson’s many attractions, but my main goal was to play Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock.  The 2 courses host the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf Champions Tour event.  Buffalo Ridge is ranked on Golf Digest’s most recent top 100 public course list.  Top of the Rock is the only 9 hole par 3 course to host an event from any of the major tours.  My sights were set on taking my progressing swing to another tour stop.

We had tee times on July 4th at Buffalo Ridge for 9am and Top of the Rock at 3pm.  As we pull in to Buffalo Ridge at 8, lighting illuminates the sky and surrounding Ozark Mountains like a bad 1980s thriller.  When we made it in the pro shop, they pulled everyone off the course.  The lightning delay began.

For the next 3 hours, the sky opened and torrential rain came down. The clubhouse designer did an outstanding job.  The entire back wall is a series of glass doors and windows looking out over the range and first hole.  The first hole is a downhill par 5.  When the rain let up, the fairway had no fewer than 3 independent streams of water running to the drain.  I thought the course would be water logged for days.  I just hoped we could still play both rounds.

The great staff at Buffalo Ridge moved our tee times around for both rounds. They let us warm up at Buffalo Ridge at 12 to begin play quickly thereafter.  They moved our Top of the Rock time to 6.  The courses are a few miles apart, so we built in enough time to pack up, get quick food, and still make it by 6.   The timing ended up being perfect.

After warming up, we headed to #1.

Hole 1

I noted a couple things. First, the rivers down the fairway were gone.  The drainage system worked great.  The course was definitely wet from the multiple inches of rain in the short period of time.  However, I never felt water logged or that it affected my play.  The course was in great shape even with all the rain.

The second thing I noticed on 1, and throughout the course, was the size. The tour courses possess huge brawny fairways and greens.  Buffalo Ridge’s fairways weren’t as big.  The greens didn’t look as huge.  However, players must still possess every shot in the bag.  The bunkering is great tournament bunkering.  Generous landing areas in spots, but if you take a risk to go long, bunkers protect everything.

My swing felt pretty good. I need to be able to repeat it more, but I am confident focusing on weight shift right now.  My contact is improving.  I hit my drive slightly left.  I hit a solid 5 wood to wedge distance.  Wedge on the green and 2 putt for par.  Great way to start.

I hit the fairway on 2 & 3. Green in regulation on 3, so 1 over through 3.  Double on the par 3 4th wasn’t ideal, but still on a good pace.  I then walk to the par 4 5th.  The view is outstanding.

Hole 4

Playing through the terrain is interesting. My vision of mountain golf includes the desert with manufactured greens.  These are lush mountains with great vegetation. The golf course seems to just naturally flow through the landscape.

The elevated tee looks down to a hard to judge fairway going left. Water on the right.  The miss is clearly left, but the large drop makes aiming difficult.  I hit a good drive that missed left, but still playable.  Hit it around a little to need a 1 putt for bogey, and it dropped.  Other than a snowman on 8, the front 9 was on track with a 45.

Hole 14 is a nice par 5. The length felt like a medium par 5.  However, most people can’t reach in 2.  A creek crosses directly in front of the green.  Carrying the creek and staying on the green is tough.  Rock formations border the right with bunkers protecting short and long.  The approach must be perfect.  Mine was not.  Beautiful hole.  Sloppy bogey.

Hole 15 is another elevated tee with a great view. Small waterfalls from a creek are right.  I aimed left to a generous landing area.  I crushed a drive, but it was straight right.  The line was unintentionally aggressive.  My ball barely cleared the creek and ended up in the first cut on the right.  Miss the green and bogey.

Hole 15

The rest of my round followed the same pattern, which I believe is a huge success. We then rushed to Top of the Rock.  I don’t have a hole-by-hole because we were doing our best to get everything in before dark.  While it is a par 3 course, the holes had great variety.  Numerous water holes and an island green.  The bunkering is insane for a par 3, but the Champions Tour can play this course for a reason.  The course feels like a collection of great par 3s from around the country.  Great experience.

Top of the Rock

While my score isn’t what it needs to be, I can see the consistency. On a Champions Tour course, I had 2 doubles and a quad.  The rest were pars and bogeys.  I can handle that for now.  I shot an 89, hit 4 GIRs, and 7/13 fairways.  The GIRs and fairways are gradual improvements.  The process is moving in the right direction, and I am playing great golf courses.  I would definitely recommend Buffalo Creek and Top of the Rock.

4 Easy Putting Drills to Save Strokes

The old saying is “Drive for show, Putt for dough.” While a few researchers disagree that short game is the most important part of golf, putting is clearly important because that is when the ball goes in the hole.  Yes, everyone needs to get closer to the green or closer to the hole on approaches, but golfers can make up for many mistakes with a great short game.

Improving the short game is a little more of a challenge at home. Most of us don’t have putting greens in our backyards.  My next DIY project is an artificial green, but until then, my 30 minutes of putting work is at home most weeks.  I have a 4 drills/tools I enjoy that helped me improve the last couple years to where I normally average less than 2 putts a round.

Dime Drill

Putts roll in the hole if they are on the right line and are the right speed. While speed is extremely important, carpets at most homes prevent speed work.  Reading through different magazines over the years helped me develop a drill for putting line using a dime.

My goal is to start the putt on my intended line and keep it on the correct line to the hole. To focus on the line, I grab a dime.  I put the dime on the ground about 1 ft. in front of my ball.  I line the ball up to roll over the dime and stroke the putt.  If I strike the putt correctly, the ball will roll over the middle of the dime.  I practice soft and hard putts over the dime about 4-6 times.  I then move back to 2 feet and try to roll it over the dime.  I will keep moving back until I get to 8-10 feet.  The idea is to keep the ball on line as long as possible.

I vary the 1 coin drill with a 2 coin drill. I will put the dime a foot in front of my ball and a nickel about 4-5 feet in front of the dime.  I try to stroke a putt over both coins.  The 2 coin drill forces me to line up correctly over both coins and keep the ball on line.  Adds to the difficulty.

Face Tape

Distance on the carpet won’t be the same as a golf course, but you can still work on distance at home. Consistent distance comes from hitting the ball in the same spot of the club with every stroke.  I use putter face tape to check my strikes.  I put on the face tape and hit a couple putts.  I check the tape to see if the strikes were consistent.  Even if you aren’t hitting in the middle, hitting consistently will make the distance consistent.  You can always play shots that are consistent.

 

Yard Stick

The putting sword training aid that many, including Michael Breed, advocate using can be replaced with a simple yard stick. The idea is the same as the coin drill.  Try to keep the ball rolling down the yard stick as long as possible.  You can also use the yard stick as a stroke and alignment check.  Place the stick on the ground.  Place the club with the toe just inside the stick.  Putt balls trying to keep the putter moving along the stick.  It promotes the straight back and straight through stroke.  It won’t help those who have an arc stroke as much.

 

Drills on the carpet are good for practice, but I know everyone loves hearing the ball fall in the cup. I bought the accelerator putting green below to putt the ball in the hole.  It isn’t perfect, but I find it forces me to hit a putt hard enough to roll about a foot past the hole.


Putting is definitely an art form. Many ignore putting because they think a green is necessary for improvement.  I think you can significantly improve by keeping the putt on the intended line for as long as possible.  You can do that in your house.  If you have a great drill you do at home, put it in the comments.  Cheers for less putts!

Can the Golftec Method Guarantee My Success?

96% success rate lowering golfers’ handicaps. Lesson packages with continuous lessons that ensures progress.  Advanced methodology focusing on the right way to build a repeatable, quality swing.  Video based instruction to help visualize the right positions.  Does Golftec live up to these claims?

Golftec states they follow the most advanced teaching pedagogy, and as a professor myself, I believed them. They do setup a couple lessons a month with video instruction, and the theory sounded good.  I believed success was imminent, so I signed up quickly to get started.

As a quick disclaimer, everyone’s experiences are different, and I believe a good relationship with an instructor can have great success. However, the 96% success advertisement makes it seem like their system is nearly foolproof.  My expectation was Golftec would be the best instruction possible and my handicap would consistently drop.  I must be in the 96%.

I did not experience the success Golftec nearly guaranteed. I went through Golftec’s program for approximately 2-3 years.  I don’t remember the exact number, but I believe I took approximately 30 lessons.  In 30 lessons, my handicap did not decrease, and I did not shoot my lowest score ever.

My experience began well. The instructor conducted the swing evaluation and decided my swing plane was too flat.  He also showed me that my knees move towards the ball during the swing.  His analysis was correct.  I was under plane (causes pushes and hooks) and I did move towards the ball.

I proceeded with lessons for a year. My swing progressed to on or above plane on the backswing and downswing.  Many of the parts gradually came together.  However, my score wasn’t dropping.  He would show me a tour swing and compare it to my swing.  We worked on correct positions, but even though my positions were more correct, I still missed greens.  I followed an agreed practice plan, but I felt the instructor tried to move me to a predetermined swing that was not conducive to my tendencies.

After about a year and a half, I thought I hit the ball better. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and then, my instructor quit for a non-golf job.  I understand pursuing another career, but a job completely outside golf seemed odd.  I transitioned to working with the store manager.  He knew what I worked on with the other instructor, but he brought a few new ideas.  We made a few subtle changes that weren’t entirely consistent with the previous approach.  My score stagnated.  After a 6-9 months with him, I played a good round to finish the season.  I started hitting 50-60% of the fairways and more greens.

Success seemed imminent. My handicap would soon drop.  My new instructor then took another job as a head pro in a different state.  I now had to move to my 3rd instructor.  I wasn’t completely alarmed because Golftec is built on a method.  My 3rd instructor was incredibly nice, but he basically wanted me to flatten my swing back to slightly under plane.  I am not a golf instructor, so I will admit some ignorance here.  However, I felt like he asked me to do moves that I worked 2 years to change.  Not only that, my lesson package ran out.  I didn’t have any more lessons with a swing back at square one.  I was incredibly frustrated.

Even though the process frustrated me, I gave Golftec one last chance. I talked to the regional office and voiced my complaints.  They provided me a lesson package for the transition between so many instructors.  The new instruction continued down a completely different path, and my handicap continually rose.  My GIR went down to 1-2 a round.  My fairway percentage dropped.  The instructor told me it would get better.  The lesson package ran out.  I faced the decision whether to spend another significant sum of money to continue.  The instructor told me he loved teaching and planned to be at that Golftec for a long time since he was now the store manager, so he committed to me.  I remained skeptical and thought 3 years with no success (with tons of money expended) meant I should try something different.  Great choice because he is no longer at that location as well.

I may be the anomaly, but I would not recommend Golftec as an entity. I agree with most reviews that the instructor is what matters.  I had 3 different instructors, and my dad had an instructor leave on him in a different state.  There must be a reason for the turnover, so I don’t recommend Golftec.  I am sure they have some great instructors that last a long time in other locations.  Their theory for continuous lessons and practice is good.  The swing mechanics probably do work for many people.  However, I think they get away from playing golf and focus too much on mechanics.  I also wonder why I lost 3 instructors with multiple others leaving my location in 3 short years.

You can make a good plan and practice on your own. If you want instruction, find an established instructor in your area and they can help you with the plan.  I believe consistent practice with a good plan can work without paying thousands of dollars.

If you had experiences with Golftec, leave your comments below.

3 Techniques for Every Golf Practice Session

Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and pretty much every other professional golfer practices different than recreational golfers. They follow fundamental principles that most of us don’t imitate, but should.  We want their swings, but we don’t do the same thing to get there.  Now, I am changing my practice to take my range swing to the course.

“Practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.” Vince Lombardi knows a few things about improving athletic skills, so perfecting our practice habits should be a priority.  My practice has not been perfect.  I would put an alignment club on the ground and pick a flag for some of the shots.  I would hit close to 100 balls switching clubs after 3-5 shots.  My practice and range swings look like this:

DSCF0043

Nice balance, good finish. Swing of beauty.  However, somehow the real swings are more like this:

DSCF0045

Falling back, inconsistent, pretty ugly. I need more real swings like the top picture, so I will focus on 3 techniques to make that happen:

  1. Interleaving practice
  2. Spaced Repetition
  3. Game Simulation

 

Interleaving Practice

Interleaving practice is not a new concept, but a few authors began discussing it for golf recently. The idea is that continually practicing one specific skill for a long period of time (block practice) isn’t the most efficient way to learn the skill.  For golf, hitting 10 6 irons, 10 7 irons, 5 8 irons, 15 drivers, 20 wedges, and finishing with 15 hybrids is inefficient, and what most people do.  A recent article regarding research from UCLA states that practice should vary to create lasting improvement.  Each shot should be with a different club, to a different distance, with a different target.  The idea is the brain focuses on each task intently and continually learns from the experience.  New shot requires the brain to focus more, which leads to long term learning.  The researchers conclude less practice that is varied will produce better results than beating balls for hours.

Brad Brewer, top 100 golf instructor, recently wrote on his website about the same ideas. My practice now includes less time or shots with more switching clubs.  I have 2 full swing practices each week.  1 will be in my house without a ball similar to Haney’s advice.  I switch clubs, the direction I face, and my imaginary target each shot.  My other full swing session is normally on the range.  I only buy 2 tokens now and switch clubs and targets with each shot.  I have difficulty switching clubs after a bad shot, but the research says this is the best way to practice.

 

Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is another concept neuroscience says will make huge improvements for skill development. Spaced repetition is when you study or practice for shorter increments of time but over multiple days as opposed to spending long hours only on 1 day.  Cramming everything into 1 day, like cramming for college midterms, holds the information for that day, but the information is lost quickly.  Studying for the same amount of time over the previous few days permits the brain to process the information, create schema, and create long lasting knowledge.  Recent research says the same is true for athletic skills.  Spending 1 day a week at the range for 1.5 hours is less effective for long term development than 3 days of 30 minute practice.  I spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week practicing.  The consistent practice over more days will get the brain thinking about my swing for a longer period, which should lead to longer term improvement.

 

Game Simulation

How many times do you play golf holes on the driving range? All the great golfers simulate golf rounds while practicing, so we should to.  Before professionals go to the first tee, many of them play the first few holes on the range by imaging the hole and hitting the clubs they will use on that hole.  The idea is to simulate the pressure, shots, and experience before hitting a real shot.  Anything that puts pressure on shots improves the ability to repeat the shot on the course.  I play a rounds on the optishot at home and turn off all gimmies and mulligans to make it a real score.  Optishot is still a game, but I can try to beat previous scores and create pressure.  I finish range sessions with point games to see how many greens I can hit out of 10 shots or how many draws I can hit out of 10.  My putting practice includes games against my kids.  The idea that every shot counts makes improvement more likely.

 

We all want better pro-style swings, but many of us don’t follow the best practices to get there. Post comments below with great ideas for games or practice techniques following these principles.