If you want to truly improve your golf game, it's going to take practice. By that, I mean good practice. A great way to ensure your practice time is useful is to incorporate some drills into your regimen. This will not only help train your golf swing and cut out faults, but also make for a more interesting session out at the practice facility. In the following few pages are a few of my favorite drills, each designed to help fix your game in a hurry.
1. Baseball Drill
The Baseball Drill is a great way to practice both leveraging your body against the ground through the hit and ensuring you make a proper turn. To start, address the ball normally. Then, as you take the club away, lift your left foot just as a baseball player does before making a swing. This will force your weight to your back foot on the backswing. Once you reach the top of your swing (middle left photo), plant your right foot (middle right photo) and initiate the downswing with the arms.
Because you made a good turn on the backswing (you had to because only one leg was on the ground), you should feel as though your left leg is planting force into the ground through the downswing. Because of that, you want to keep your left leg firm at impact to ensure that you not only hit the ball consistently, but also prevent any power leaks. If you practice this drill often, you'll kiss that dreaded reverse pivot goodbye and hit better shots in no time.
2. Backwards Drill
Can't stop duck-hooking and/or slicing it? You're probably swinging from too far outside the target line to back inside the target line. This means the clubface swipes across the ball, producing either a big slice or a wicked duck hook (if the clubface is closed.)
To practice the fix, try the Backwards Drill. Simply set up to the ball as normal, then adjust your right foot so it's well behind you (relative to the target). This'll situate your body in an extremely closed position. As you take the club back, at the top of your swing, your back should be facing the target. Make about a 3__ã4 swing, and work on both swinging from inside to outside the target line and letting the hands rotate as much as possible. The ensuing ballflight should be a huge draw that starts way to the right and draws back toward the target.
3. Flat-footed Drill
A great way to ingrain a proper turn is to practice making a few swings with your feet planted on the ground. This will prevent you from lifting your body upward as some golfers do when they lift their left heel off the ground on the backswing. In addition to that, golfers who lift instead of turn the body also tend to lose the needed forward spine tilt in the upper body, which results in all sorts of inconsistencies. If you fall into that group, consider making some normal swings (go as far as you can without lifting your left heel) and keep both feet on the ground. This will force you to turn without lifting, and might also help you add some flexibility along the way. Also, keep the right heel planted as you finish to feel a centered rotation.
4. One-handed Takeaway
Looking for more power? The perfect drill for you is the One-handed Takeaway Drill. Assume your setup as normal, then remove your right hand and initiate the backswing with just your left arm. As you rotate back, you should be able to keep your left arm fairly straight, as long as you keep turning. If you aren't turning enough, you'll have a difficult time extending the left arm and keeping it taut. Once you've maxed out your turn without any left-arm breakdown, take hold of the club with both hands and make a forwardswing all the way through to the finish.
This is a great drill for adding width to your arc and more turn to your backswing. As for trying it with a ball, give it a shot (though, it's an effective drill even if you don't plan on making any hits).
5. Visualization Drill
Be honest with yourself: How confident are you during those few critical seconds before you hit a golf ball? Most amateurs swing with a hit and hope mentality, where fear tends to be the overriding force in one's swing. Don't hit the water. Don't slice. Don't hit it fat. And so on!Instead, as you practice (and play for the matter), try to visualize the best possible result you can think of. Rehearse the outcome in your mind a few times, and let yourself totally relax and build confidence in your shot.
To really ingrain a positive mental picture, consider taking advantage of some of the best players in the world and watch as they demonstrate perfect mechanics for you. That's the thinking behind the innovative seeitgolf system, which began its initial effort with the rhythmic mechanics and near-flawless putting stroke of the PGA Tour's Aaron Baddeley. Using a series of slow-motion imagery and graphics, golfers can spend about 15 minutes watching a video of Baddeley's stroke from various angles, with a smooth music track, bold graphic overlays and repetitive views of the golf ball being struck, rolling and dropping into the cup. The goal, according to seeitgolf, is to ingrain a positive mental picture in the mind of the golfer before he/she heads out onto the course, and cut out all those negative thoughts and doubts before and after you make a stroke.
Sounds cool, right? It is. And perhaps the coolest part is that the seeitgolf video can be viewed on portable devices such as an iPhone or iPod, as well as on a computer or via DVD.
More seeitgolf videos are in the works to, again, enhance a player's positive mental picture and cut out negative swing thoughts and doubts. In other words, See it. Feel it. Trust it.
To learn more and/or to buy the seeitgolf system, check it out online at www.seeitgolf.com.
Jeff Yurkiewicz, PGA, is the head instructor at the Grayhawk Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Find info at www.grayhawkgolf.com.