January 8, 2013

4 Secrets the Pros Don’t Tell You About Their Golf Game

Good golfers are like good magicians—they like to keep their secrets to themselves. Who could blame them? When you figure out your craft and you hone your skill and amaze, you don’t want anyone to come up from behind to take the glory. It’s about being the best and among the pros, it’s rarely a collaborative effort.

However, there are some secrets you can pick up that will help you along your journey of becoming a better golfer. They’re secrets that aren’t commonly known, and based on both observation and experience. When just the process of becoming a “better golfer” has becoming a competitive mini-industry within the overall game of golf, observation and personal experience goes a long way. Here are five things you can consider as you practice and work at becoming better at this classic game:

Backswings aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
When you think about it, the theory that longer backswings equate to longer drives makes sense. But that’s not often the case. In practice, longer backswings typically end up being more erratic than shorter backswings.

In a backswing setup, if your stand with keep your feet farther apart than you would on your usual shot, this can help you be more controlled. Keep your front foot planted and the slow the backswing.

When you do this, you aren’t going to lose as much power. Clubs are engineered for distance regardless of how a player strikes the ball (though the relationship between the player and the club, for many, is symbiotic). For this reason, you can focus more on accuracy rather than trying for that extra 10 to 20 yards. By focusing on accuracy, you’ll end up saving quite a bit of time avoiding the rough and hazards.

Pros count when the swing.
It’s no secret that golf is a mental game and it requires a lot of concentration. When you’re focused on getting down that swing, it’s surprisingly helpful to count out the swing in your head (or aloud, if you’re so inclined). When you make your backswing, count “one” on the up, with “two” as you bring it down to meet the ball.

It doesn’t have to be just about numbers either. Some pros recite familiar tunes or recite a made up phrase. For example, you can say “I” when you are ready to set up the shot (to serve as a mental trigger to start the swing), “can” in the backswing, and “golf” in the downswing.

It may sound a little silly, but this works to help keep the rhythm of the shot, similar to a metronome. If you give your muscles the memory of the shot, it becomes easier, if not more fluid, when it coupled with mental triggers.

Finding the break is easier than you think.
Many golfers will take their time studying the green to find a break, but sometimes it’s as simple as looking at the hole. By looking at the lip of the hole, you can tell which direction the grass is pointing and it can give you a great read on the break.

There may also be a spot that looks a bit more brown, shallow, or worn from repeated use. It can be harder to spot, especially on less popular courses (and, alternatively, very well-maintained courses). You don’t necessarily have to get down into a Camilo Villegas position to read every green, just know the little, less obvious, things to look out for.

Put on some weight.
And by that, I mean the club. Using a weighted club can help stimulate and build the muscles used in swinging. Over time, your standard clubs feel more swinging a feather than a length of metal. Just be sure you aren’t using the weighted club during a round – it’s strictly for practice.

It’s often recommended to do around 24 to 30 practice swings with a weighted club on a daily basis. Obviously, you only want to do what you’re comfortable with, but you’ll need to push yourself to build up that arm strength. Keep in mind that building arm muscle isn’t just for strength, but for stability. Stability can equal greater accuracy.

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