Learning how to essentially become your own golf coach is a crucial skill if you want to maximize your potential.
But don’t panic – you don’t have to go on some extensive course and take a load of exams.
This article is just going to teach you how to become more vigilant with your golfing time and show you how to take control of your own game.
Tuition is Only a Small Piece of the Puzzle
Firstly, to get the most out of your golf, I believe it is critical that you are either having regular tuition or at the very worst – seriously thinking about it.
But tuition by itself won’t do a lot for your game…
Yes, a good coach is absolutely invaluable, but he/she becomes almost worthless if you are not doing the correct stuff in between your lessons.
I am not talking about hitting thousands and thousands of balls here either – you haven’t got time for that.
I’d rather show you some techniques that will ensure you are always working on the things that are going to enable you to grow you as a golfer.
100 balls perfecting your new position correctly with intent, far outweighs 1000 sloppy shots working on the wrong things.
Become Comfortable With Analyzing Your Swing on Camera
A lot of golfers rely on their coach so heavily, but in reality they can only guide you so far, they can only show you what to do and then it’s up to you to make sure you are moving in the right direction.
It’s solely up to you to make sure you’re getting it right when your coach isn’t there.
A lot of golfers spend months and months going over the same old stuff in their lessons. This however could be prevented if they used their time more efficiently.
And with technology these days – this is much simpler.
So, if you’ve got a Smartphone with a camera, I suggest you use it.
If you haven’t, then where have you been the last 10 years? 🙂
I know golfers sometimes cringe when they see their swing on camera…
We have all got our own little quirks we would rather not have.
But it’s important you get passed that.
And anyway, you won’t be cringing when your handicap is flying down and your shooting scores which seemed impossible a few months ago!
These days, pretty much every single coach will have some form of video technology.
So, at the end of each lesson – I suggest you ask your coach to send you the video of your new and improved swing.
I find WhatsApp works fine for this.
Then go and buy a tripod for your Smartphone (very cheap from Amazon) and video your swing at the start of every practice session.
Exactly like I have here.
Then after a few shots, compare the two to ensure you are doing your new move correctly.
The more you do this, the better understanding you’ll have your golf swing. It’s important to note, that this is not so you get too mechanical or obsessed with positions. It’s just so that the technical part of your sessions is maximised.
With your hectic life, you may only get one or two sessions a week, so you need to make them count!
As you may know, I don’t like getting too caught up in the mechanics, but I also appreciate work is required in this area and this I believe, is one of the best ways of doing it.
What is the Ball Trying to Tell You?
Players get so obsessed with what they ‘feel’ in their golf swing, they actually forget the most useful piece of feedback you can receive.
Your ball flight.
Let’s pretend, you are hitting this terrible slice with your driver. The ball is starting 30 yards left and viciously cutting back to the right.
You have no real control and on top of that, you’re losing a ton of distance.
So, you go and see your coach who gets you on camera…
You quickly find out that your swing path is far too much ‘out to in’ and your club face is open in relationship to your path. This combination is what will give you this vicious ball flight.
He/she then gives you a drill which over time will improve your impact position.
The new drill feels awful to begin with, but after a few shots, you start to get to grips with it…
The ball begins to start on a much straighter flight and is only fading a tiny bit. You can see as plain as day that your path and face position have already improved. There’s no need for any camera, the ball is telling you.
So, you leave the lesson with your tail between your legs and you feel rather optimistic about the future.
Next practice session arrives and you begin with the drill he/she taught you in the lesson, but hold on a sec – that 30-yard slice is back.
But the drill feels virtually the same as it did in the lesson, so you carry on hitting this boomerang believing you are getting in the correct positions and improving.
Because it ‘feels’ right.
But I hate to break it to you – it’s probably been a waste of time.
Remember this simple rule: Until you see a noticeable ball flight change then you really have not changed anything at all.
— Hank Haney Radio (@HankHaneyRadio) February 21, 2017
So the message here – listen to what the ball is trying to tell you and make adjustments to your swing based on that, rather than what you feel/think is happening.
Strike is King
Hitting the sweet spot is awesome isn’t it?
It’s the part of the club which feels effortless and mindbogglingly satisfying, but unfortunately this part of learning is often neglected by golfers.
They spend a ton of time understanding the above two points, but often overlook this. Becoming a better ball striker is not all about getting into the correct positions (of course this helps) but to maximize this skill, you should work on it directly.
I don’t think you need me to tell you what better ball striking does for your game, but I will anyway…
- Straighter shots. This is due to less twisting at impact. When the ball strikes a part of the club which is not the sweet spot, the club will twist, causing the face to open or close.
- Better distance control – It’s very hard to gauge distance without a consistent strike. It effectively becomes guesswork.
- Lower scores – Both of these factors combined will undoubtedly lower your scores.
- More fun – Hitting the sweet spot more often makes this game way more satisfying.
So, the first step to improving your ball striking, is being aware of where your strike pattern is in the first place.
The best way to do this is to invest in some cheap foot spray. Before you ask, no – cleaner feet will not improve your ball striking.
All you have to do – is spray some of it onto the face of the club and then after each shot a mark will be left on the face.
”But I don’t hit the face consistently enough to detect a pattern”
Trust me, you do.
There’s no guarantee that your results will be particularly desirable to begin with, but just becoming aware is the first step.
And I have found, a lot of the time, just being aware of where I am striking it can improve my strike pattern almost immediately.
The problem is, a vast majority of golfers couldn’t tell you what part of the face they are hitting.
And it’s getting even harder to tell these days with the equipment being so forgiving.
So I strongly suggest you find out.
If you want to invest in some foot spray – it’s as cheap as chips on Amazon and it’s well worth it.
Give it a go in your next session.
Note: You can also use shot tape but I found this to be nowhere near as effective.
Here Are Some Other Vital Things You Should Know
Make Sure You are Practicing on What is Going to Give You The Most bang For Your Buck
With your hectic lifestyle and very little time to practice. It is absolutely imperative you are working on the parts of the game which statistically require it.
Not what you FEEL needs working on.
Emotions are Your Most Powerful Memories
Anything you do that gives you a higher emotional response gives you your most powerful memories. So if you hit that tee shot in the trees and reacted furiously, you’ll more likely remember it.
Or on the other end of the spectrum, if you hole a forty footer and start jumping round the green with elation – this shot will become inserted in your memory (which is a good thing)
This is why it’s hugely important how you control your emotions after each shot.( but that’s for another article)
And not only will these emotional responses affect future play, they can also give you a completely false representation of your performance.
I have often come off after a round and thought I done something particularly badly and then after I noted down my stats, I had a completely different picture of it.
This is one of the reasons taking stats is not just crucial but mandatory if you want to ensure you are always working on the right things.
At the very least you should be tracking:
- Greens in Regulation
- Fairways hit
- Up and downs
- Sand saves
But I would suggest you go a step further for a even clearer impression as often just tracking these can send you down the wrong path.
You can find out Why in this article.
When Ingraining Major Swing Changes
I talk about this topic at length in my ‘The Ultimate Mindset to Making a Swing Change article‘
As you probably know – ingraining major swing changes takes time and a lot of patience.
But players tend to forget this and move onto other changes without fully ingraining the change they are working on.
This often Leaves them in this kind of ‘spinning wheels’ state which can become seriously frustrating.
You never quite get to the stage where the move becomes automatic (doing without conscious thought) and in time, you will slip back to what your most comfortable with.
And never really improve.
So, when is a change fully ingrained?
Being Transparent With Your Coach
Your coach cannot help you 100% fully unless you are completely open and honest with him.
He needs to be aware of things like:
What are your TRUE goals?
If you want to get down to a single figure handicap in the future – you need to tell him that. For instance, If you just want a ‘quick fix’ for a mates stag doo, then a coach will tackle that differently in comparison to you wanting to get down to a 5 handicap in 3 years, which may involve a complete overhaul in certain areas.
Even if a 5 handicap feels a long way away but you know you truly want it. You need to tell him that even if you do feel a bit stupid.
What is your thought process like?
If that angry man is raging in your mind – then be open about it – your coach can help. If you get very tense during rounds, then be honest.
What shots do you fear the most?
For me, I hate 60 yard pitch shots – so my coach knows it’s a huge weakness.
The fact is you may only see your coach once a month, so how well does he really know you as a golfer? That’s where being honest and taking stats can make a real difference in what problems you tackle in your lessons.
The short of it is – The more open you are – the more effective your coach will be.
Do Divots Tell You Everything?
So you may been told in the past by pro’s or certain blogs that the checking your divots can tell you all you need to know about our swing.
For instance, One MYTH I have been told – is if your divot is pointing left, you’re path is ‘out to in’ (slicer) and conversely if your divot is right, your path is ‘in to out’ (hooker).
Of course, both of these could definitely be true…
But did you know a lot of the top players who draw the ball, have divots which point left?
Its true – and this debunks this sure fire rule you may have been led to believe.
If you want to find out why, then check this article out.
This is definitely worth taking some time to understand because when I was growing up, I would always check my divots believing they always correlated with my swing path.
Please don’t be a fool like me.
Try Not to Get Snow Blinded
In the past I have been very guilty of neglecting everything else when I am changing something big in my swing.
I would neglect all the other important parts – ie my fundamentals.
My posture got sloppy, my alignment out of sync etc.
This only resulted in my having to put in a ton of time to reverse this sloppy practice.
So yes, changing something big in your swing should be a major focus, but don’t let everything else suffer because of it.
It will be very counter-productive.
Optimum is Better Than More
More is certainly not always better when It comes to length of practice sessions.
For me – I’m done after 45 minutes of intense concentration on the range.
Anything after that, I find is pointless. I lose focus and the practice session begins to get sloppy.
I often find myself just going through the motions and sometimes, even undoing all the great work I have just done.
So, learn to become self-aware enough to understand your optimum practice session and don’t be scared to call it a day when you feel like you are getting nothing from it.
Everyone is so individual in this sense – so it’s up to you to find this out.
Don’t be Afraid to Cancel
Although you are a serious golfer who’s desperate to get better.
Frankly there are other aspects of life that are more important (although it doesn’t feel like it sometimes), so maybe you don’t get much chance to practice in between lessons.
In these cases it’s probably best to re-schedule, so you get some time to actually put some work in.
Unless of course you need a recap and you would like it fresh in your mind.
But this shouldn’t be the case, if you’ve been sent a video from your previous lesson.
Being a Master of Your Mindset
You don’t need me to tell you that the majority of golf is played between the ears. Everyone knows it, everyone can feel it.
But golfers do very little about it.
And I think this is a bit of a void in golfing instruction.
And it’s extremely important to how good you ultimately get.
Your mindset dictates how good you will become through your practice habits, you’re on course performance and your off course behaviours.
That’s why I have written this short Ebook which includes the stuff I have acquired over the years. All of it I just wish I knew sooner.
So if you know deep down that your mind/mindset is causing you to underperform or grow at a slower rate than you wish, then this Ebook will definitely help you push past it.
Become Your Own Coach
So I hope you found this useful and now you can start really maximising the time you have between your lessons….and subsequently start to improve at a much greater rate.
No more wasteful rubbish on the range!
Please don’t hesitate to share with other golfing enthusiasts.