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Practicing

As you already know, one of my main teaching goals is to eliminate tension from the golf swing. We discussed the challenge in doing this because of the many moving parts associated with the swing that must be learned and mastered. At every level of play from beginner to professional, there is, and will always be, a certain degree of tension associated with this game. Tension is the mother of all tops, shanks, slices, chunks, hooks, whiffs, and blades. Every golfer has the opportunity to reduce tension to a dull roar or eliminate it completely. That depends on a few things.

Practice the skills: If you don’t practice, the improvements, or peaks in your game will be fleeting and the valleys will be long and trying. There is no substitute for practice and drills. Also, practice like you play and make up practice games that simulate on-course play. I’ve seen too many golfers get an extra large 100-ball basket of range balls to work on their game and hit 3 balls with a warm-up pitching wedge swing and then proceed to mash 85 balls with a driver and then “cool-down” with the few remaining balls with some of the other clubs in their bag.

MoZen Thought: Plan your practice!

Oh, and by the way? It also takes this same person about 30 minutes to hit these 100 balls . . .that’s one ball every 18 seconds! That’s not practice, that’s work! It hurts my back just thinking about it. To reach the “TV Level” of this sport, I’m talking years of preparation and practicing in many cases over 8 hours a day! This is a full time gig for those guys. Once they reach a certain level, if their bodies can still handle the practice regimen, they continue until they can’t. We don’t have time to practice like a PGA touring professionals. That’s why it’s important to plan out your practice time. If you don’t want to socialize when you practice, put some ear buds in your ears . . . and they don’t even need to be connected.

During my time at the Golf Academy of America, I had occasion to meet and talk with LPGA Hall of Famer, Se Ri Pak. We had assembled the student body and one of the questions asked was, “With all the traveling time you put in, how do you take time to get a good practice session in?” Her answer: “A good practice session has nothing to do with quantity (length) and everything to do with quality. If I have 30 minutes to practice, I put 100% of my focus into those 30 minutes. Anything else is a waste of time.” And she’s right. Most problems that develop in my swing come from over practicing and eventually making small physical adjustments that end up “sticking” through repetition.

My practice routine depends on what I’m going to be working on. My back gets sore if I putt or chip for too long so I need to regulate my time on the practice green. Hitting a basket of driver swings is equally bad for me in that I have a tendency to speed up my tempo. I mean really, there’s 60 balls just sitting there, waiting, longing to get airborne, hoping that I’m going to be the one to give them the swat o’ centerdness. I, being a person eager to please others, sometime rush into giving everyone (or everyball) their “ride”.

Seriously, In between lessons or warming up for a match, I might hit 30 balls and that might take about 25-30 minutes. Why? Simulating what I will do on the course. When was the last time you stood on the #1 tee box with a bucket of range balls?

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