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A different view on why you hit bad golf shots with your golfswing

By Michel Monnard

After hitting a bad golf shot, how good are you at analyzing what went wrong? The vast majority of amateur golfers aren’t very good at all, so if you count yourself in this group you needn’t feel bad. The most commonly felt flaws golfers identify include set-up, wrist-hinge, body movement, club face-angle…But the usual outcome – and the one that undermines self-confidence most often – is inconsistency.

Worse than that, even the inconsistency is inconsistent, ranging from being a little erratic, to being utterly unreliable.

For a lot of golfers, faults lie not in the components of their swing, but in the precision with which they execute them. Let that sink in: technical knowledge + adaptable precision = consistency.

Here is what that means for you.

When working with a golfer, coaches obviously need to make sure you know the concept of what needs to happen technically, that you have a picture of that in your mind and that you can feel what is happening. But we also work very hard on helping you to understand why it does not work all the time. This changes everything. For the student, it is a genuine Eureka! moment.
The golf swing, when broken down, is a construct of several components. For our explanation, let’s superimpose them on top of each other: the Setup as a base, lay the Backswing next, add the Downswing, and then the moment of inertia when the club-face hits the ball. This should then produce a functional result. Round off with a nice finish position of Balance to end the action and voila, the components are now greater than the sum of their parts. (A welcome bonus to getting this construct right, by the way, is reduced aches and trains – all because the motion comprises natural actions that reduce strain and muscular error.)

Learn your own physicality and apply it to your technical knowledge of what needs to happen, and then practice for consistency. Here is how.

Realizing why you hit bad shot: typical mistake, hitting fat shots (behind the golf ball)

Take a golf ball and set up to it with the club in hand, then step back a little so you can’t hit that ball when making practice swings. Now on your first swing, hit the ground 10 cm left of the golf ball (in front). Then on the second swing hit the ground 10 cm to the right of the position of the ball (behind). Third practice swing, hit exactly where the ball lies. Give yourself feedback: did your club hit the grass exactly where you wanted it to bounce off? Re-do this exercise several times. This creates an “inner control mode” on how to direct the club to different points.

Second part to improve your fat shots

Start hitting golf balls from changing ball positions relative to your stance. First ball 5 cm left of where you would position it normally, second ball 5 cm right, third ball in the middle; fourth ball 9 cm left etc. Can you hit golf balls from different ball positions?

Well, this is the way you have to practice so you never hit it fat anymore. And you should add this exercise to your maintenance work in practice. Every co-ordination ability will only get worse if you don’t hone it.

Summing it up

stop doing the same thing in practice over and over! Add in variations, so the body has to react to slight changes. Because this is harder to do, the body will create even more ability to adapt to every shot on the course. In our teaching sessions you will realise that you practised incorrectly, and that this is the core reason why you do not get better on the course.


A useful analogy

Building Lego houses with daughter and nephew, I realized some similarities. The first house made of red bricks is perfectly uniform, neat, tidy and fit for purpose. It represents, what you understand, is a perfect swing.

The second house needs work. My nephew loses interest easily and doesn’t always concentrate. It seems to be more important to him, to have a house, even if it is not a perfect house. There are holes, some of the bricks don’t link, it’s really not a thing of beauty, but a fair attempt nonetheless. Is this how you imagine what your swing looks like?

The third house partly resembles the red brick version: it’s differently coloured but the walls are uniform, all the bricks interlock cleanly and if it were a model of a life-size home it would keep out wind, rain etc. and be a comfortable place to be. It has its own personality, makes good use of the components to hand and style, but it does the job just as perfectly as the red-brick.

Your skills, technical knowledge and physicality provide your co-ordination, like the mortar that holds a house together, and you can live with that!
In the golf swing, co-ordination helps us to glue the differently moving segments together, so that at impact, something functional happens. Now, during our range sessions, you will learn how the brain and the body function. Yes, we can improve your consistency! It makes perfect sense to include co-ordination exercises in various areas of the swing and at ever-changing levels of difficulty. This will enable the golfer to master varying challenges and scenarios more consistently.

So which exercises lead to more consistency in your game?

In some ways, the ball does not care how you swing. It is engaged only at the point of club face impact.

As an example, lots of golfers hit behind the ball quite frequently, making a ‘fat’ shot that throws up dirt over it. This means for us, the golfer will have issues directing the so-called low point of the swing to where it is supposed to be. It happens especially on the golf course. Not so much when hitting 10 balls in a row on range-mats.

So now, we have to help the golfer, to hit the correct spot more often. For this, it is helpful to understand what Neuroscience has discovered: that the brain oversees a different golf swing every time. It can’t repeat the exact same motion time and again, it recreates it every time from scratch.

This literally means, practising the same over and over again won’t help solving inconsistency at impact. Because for one, with amateur golfers the lie of the ball on the course varies more than impact craters on the moon, due to different clubs and different lies, different perception, not getting the attention it deserves etc. And even more importantly, you won’t be able to hit 5 balls one after another as on a driving range. So your body needs to be able to interact with that one ball correctly every time, of course, to satisfy your expectations regarding consistency.