As I’ve written about many times, most golfers have unrealistic expectations [read more HERE]. A lot of this stems from golf on TV, where we watch only the best players who are playing the best on a given weekend. The commentators compound this problem by foolishly repeating things such as, “He’ll be disappointed with that” after a player hits a statistically above-average shot.
The reality is that everyone at every level of golf misses shots. Tiger has said that he only hits 2-3 truly perfect shots per round, and he’s Tiger Woods. In this lesson, I’ll explain how you can fix your golf swing (and your strategy, and your equipment) by understanding your misses better.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You are constantly yo-yoing with your swing changes
You change equipment frequently chasing a “fix”
Get the Facts…or Feelings
Before you attempt to fix something, you need to know what the problem is. A lot of golfers think they know, but their perceptions are skewed because it’s hard to remember every shot and it’s even harder to be objective about yourself. I would suggest either tracking your practice [explained HERE] or getting some practice sessions in on a launch monitor [more on that HERE]. Armed with some objective data, you can decide how to proceed.
The alternative is to decide, “I don’t care about how often I do it, I cannot stand hitting ____ shot.” Maybe that’s a slice, maybe it’s a thin shot, but if there’s one miss that is single-handedly ruining your scores and/or enjoyment of the game, that needs to be the target.
Find the Fix and Stay Fixed
Once you’ve decided on the one thing that you’re going to try to minimize in your game (no one ever eliminates anything completely), it’s time to get to work. I would suggest finding an instructor who will listen to you and work on the thing you care about. Don’t be afraid to firmly redirect an instructor, if they start steering you down other paths or talk about “completely rebuilding your swing.”
Alternately, you can use some of the other lessons in this series [all HERE] to find the secret in the dirt. There are also detailed lessons on hitting a fade or draw HERE.
The real key is that once you find the fix, don’t waver. If you hate the hook, you need to be ok with the occasional slice or push. If you hate chunking shots, you need to tolerate some thin shots.
Play the Right Gear
When you understand that, for example, “I hate hitting slices, and I want to do everything I can to minimize them, even at the expense of an occasional hook,” you can not only change your swing, you can get equipment that helps you. If you hate slices, consider a draw-biased driver. Hate ballooning tee shots? A low spin driver could be great for you. Need to get longer? Play a low-spin golf ball, but do so knowing that your approaches and pitches will lose some bite.
Put the Odds In Your Favor On the Course
Understanding your misses will allow you to make better decisions on the course, too. If you make hooks a rarity, you can aim your tee shots more aggressively to the left. If you’re chasing distance with low-spin equipment, know that you may need to land the ball short of the green.
Stay Committed But Don’t Overdo It
As in all things, you need to strike a balance in your golf game. Just because I hate a hook doesn’t mean that I want to play a 50 yard slice. Hating a balloon shot doesn’t mean that I want to hit knuckle balls. I’ve made my choices, and you’ll make yours, but that doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Stay committed to your changes and preferences, but know that you may occasionally need to rein them in so you don’t create new problems.
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Great article and a strong dose of reality. Everyone sees what the professionals do and envisions the same results. Sometimes, we just have to accept the golf game that we were given.
Agreed. And like Matt said, there are no complete cures to the ills of our game, though we won’t stop trying :)