Don’t look away, this may help your game

By Anthony Barkley
NZPGA Professional
Want to make improvements in your swing? Then this article could help you start the process.
The issue with making improvements is that you generally have to change something. Makes sense right? When we make a change the body takes time to adjust to new positions meaning a player will often give up on the change too early blaming the pro or claiming it just won’t work.
To ensure progress a lesson needs to be backed up with an improvement plan. That means you are doing enough to create the change and force improvement. Your local PGA professional can provide a plan of attack but it’s always best to get you (the client) to create the plan as then it means more. Definitely get the pro to check it through.
If you are going to practice, please do it properly. If you ever practice just for the sake of it then it could just be a waste of your time. Practice takes desire, motivation and dedication as its not just one session that will produce a positive change, but rather months of continued work. Don’t be too scared by this as your practice may only be 1 hour per week but what I mean is that it must be consistent over a set period.
Why does change generally take so much time before improvement is seen?
Golf is a game of repetition which requires a set number of positions to be in place before the swing begins. It then requires the body to co-ordinate the journey of the club from start to finish consistently. The issue is that our body is so efficient in making compensations to hit a ball that these become a habit. The brain thinks this is right making them comfortable. A change will break this comfort confusing the brain and temporarily creating a confused mess until that new position becomes your new habit. We have to remember that this change is different from person to person meaning that the professional coaching each client makes decisions based the individual in front of them in terms of how much to change at once.
NOTE: Any compensation the body makes will decrease consistency and power.
This article is not to scare you from practice but rather to help you do it properly. If you make a commitment to get lessons then to get true value for money you need to put time into your game outside of the lessons. Some lessons will produce instant improvement and it’s great when it happens. Quick fix coaching generally creates short term improvement but sometimes a quick fix will help a player improve on course play but for me there also needs to be a long term improvement aspect.
If your goal is to decrease your scores then the easiest way to do this is tidy up your chipping, pitching and putting. Quick changes can be seen in these areas leading to the ability to get up and down more, therefore lowering those scores. The great thing is that you can do a certain amount of chipping practice at home in your back yard. Ultimately do get to your practice chipping area at your club once a week.
Whats the most effective way to practice?
When I was young I was a very good block practicer. This means hitting balls from one spot for hours on end creating what I would describe as a trench of divots. Green keepers used to love me. This is still a form of practice but should be mixed with what’s called scattered and simulated practice.
Block practice is ideal to hone a skill. Scattered practice is to practice from alternative lies similar to on course situations. Simulated practice is putting yourself into pressure situations that have consequences like playing a tournament.
Scattered and Simulation practice help players to take what they have learnt on the range onto the course. You are a great range player but struggle when on the course, you need to start to mix your practice up.
WARNING: Watch creating a swing improvement plan based on internet tips. 9/10 times this won’t work (based on results from clients over 10 years).
So that’s a few tips to help you improve through practice and coaching. Just remember to be patient with your changes, stick to a plan and stay positive.