As coaches, all too often we engage in the following conversation when a player’s skills seem to get lost from range to golf course:
Coach: “How did you play?”
Player: “Rubbish, but I don't get it, I hit it so well on the range.”
The question: “Why didn’t my range game transfer over to the course?” Fortunately, the Game Like Training team gets it. In fact, we thought out this series of tips to provide you with practice tasks that will help you transfer that spectacular range game to the golf course so that you never ask that question again.
Before we do this, it is important that you understand why the above is the most asked question in golf.
The key to having your best ball striking show up when you need it the most (i.e. in a Sunday match or the club championship) is to add context to your practice.
By practicing on the golf course, you are exposed to interference. Bunkers, water, trees, and varying lies provide environmental interference. Through making your practice “game like,” you are exposed to psychological interference as you are competing for a score or to complete a level. This means that your practice will look real, feel real, and provide a higher chance of your best swing showing up on the course as you learn to deal with the contextual interferences that golf provides.
Let’s put it like this: If you decided you wanted to become an Olympic swimmer and were presented with the following options, which would you choose?
Swim daily in your bath tub and perfect your stroke.
Go to the pool and learn to race against other swimmers.
I am sure that most of you reading this article would obviously select option 2. However, when it comes to golf, most players select the equivalent of learning to swim in the bath tub, aka, the golf range.
It’s not that the golf range doesn’t serve a purpose. Understanding that it is just one part of the process to improving is vital — and, in fact, it is often something that golfers fail to understand as they become content re-peatedly hitting their favorite club down the range. While this may feel nice and produce a sense of confidence, at some point a player must step out of this comfortable environ-ment and test their swing in context.
So here it is.
DEAL WITH PRESSURE OF PLAYING FOR SCORE
Start from the forward tees - when you man-age to get to two under par (net), move to the tees you would normally play and maintain this score (net) for three more holes.
- If your score gets to plus two (net), reset
- If you three-putt at any time, reset
- If you fail to maintain the two under (net) when you move back, reset.
- Once you complete the above, repeat the game but start from the set of tees one back from where you started the previous task.
How does this help?
Through having the psychological stress of an outcome or scoring target thrust upon us in practice, we can start to implicitly build the coping strategies to deal with this stress in tournament play.
FIX THAT SLICE WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT YOUR SWING
There are many ways that humans can learn a skill. At Team GLT we are very interested in the concept of constraints-led learning. We believe that by placing contraints on either the task, performer, or environment, we can encourage the player to emerge with certain behaviors. Therefore, if you’ve been playing the game we detailed in the last article (How to take your range game to the course), this challenge places constraints on the task that would help a golfer develop the ability to deal with the stress of playing golf competitively.
Today we aim to provide a challenge that places constraints on the task, as well as the golfer, to help them encourage a swing that can eventually help cure that slice.
And remember, by doing this on the golf course, not only is it challenging and fun, it also means that the new behavior — a swing that does not slice the ball — is more likely to turn up during competition.
This game also encourages that Jordan Spi-eth-style resilience that helped him bank his third major championship (The 2017 British Open), as it is challenging and failure in the early stages is inevitable.
So, if you’re looking for a quick fix then this game is not for you. I would advise that you go back to the comfort of the driving range and continue to attempt to become an Olympic swimmer by training in the bath tub.
If you truly desire to hit a draw when the pressure is on during the Sunday medal, then get ready for this demanding on course challenge:
The Slice-Fixer Challenge
- 9 holes = target score is level par (net)
- On every tee shot you must tee the ball up on the left side of the tee box, and you must aim at the right semi rough at approximately the distance you carry the ball.
- If the ball starts left of your target line add 0.5 onto your score.
- If the ball fades or slices add 0.5 onto your score.
- If the ball starts right of your target line take 0.5 off your score.
- If the ball draws take 0.5 off your score.
Level 1 = take two tee shots and pick your best one
Level 2 = take one tee shot only
Level 3 = take one tee shot only and How does it help?
First, it requires the player to self-discover how they best hit a draw. What do they need to feel or do to move the ball from right to left on the golf course? This helps remove the temptation for players to simply follow instruction and drives them to self-discover and learn a new skill.
Second, the constraints placed on the play-er and the rules of the game will encourage a player to make a golf swing with a swing path and club face angle that will create a draw. This is often achieved by golfers on the golf range as there is little environmental and psychological interference here. It is wide open and there is no consequence for failing. This will not be the case if you are engaged in this on course challenge; however, if you can begin to succeed at this demanding game, you could wave goodbye to Mr. Slice forever! Your slice will disappear as you begin to retain and transfer that draw swing into the environments where you need it, not just the ones that you are comfortable in.
SHARPEN THAT SHORT GAME FOR COMPETITION
Have you ever been bamboozled by how many hours your son or daughter can engage in playing Xbox or PlayStation? Have you ever been shocked at the drive and passion they express to beat a friend or get to the next level of a game?
Chances are that if you have engaged the previous two training games, you may be beginning to understand why computer gaming can become so addictive and rewarding.
The final game we have created is designed to sharpen that short game.
Sharpen That Short Game
- Tee off as normal. On your approach shot pick which side of the green to miss — this can be the right or left side and can be short or long.
- If you miss in the correct place you can use any club to play the chip shot.
- If you miss in the wrong place you cannot use the desired club to hit the shot and you must use another.
- If you get up and down, you move on to the next hole.
- If you fail to get up and down you must then hole a six-foot putt to move on to the next hole.
- If you fail to make the putt you must play the hole again.
- Complete 9 holes in the latest time possible.
*Bonus Tip: For those who don’t have the luxury of a quiet golf course that allows them to return to the tee, you can award yourself -1 stroke for every up and down made, and -0.5 stroke if you hole the six-foot putt. Every time you play you must try and beat your lowest score.
How does this help?
As well as sharpening your short game through helping you build a mental process to chip and putt under the perception of pressure, this challenge can help a player build the strategic thought process of a PGA tour player. Habits of firing away from the sucker pins and missing the greens in places that present the best chance of an up and down will begin to emerge in competitive play.
All our team here at GLT are very passionate about this type of practice because we want to help golfers learn to play the game, not just swing the club. We also want golfers to become addicted to the process of constant self-improvement. Embracing this type of challenging practice can help golfers achieve both goals.
Team GLT want to invite you to continue this journey of effective on-course training. If you have any questions please email us at: [email protected] Team members Iain Highfield, Arick Zeigel, Stuart Morgan, or Matthew Cooke will get back to you and help you develop a game specific to your needs.