Sound good? What if I said you can even keep the same familiar golf swing? Well you can… as long as you admit you’re playing the wrong game! I don’t mean you should bin the clubs and take up tennis, more that your perception of good golf may be distorted. How you currently measure success is having a dramatic effect not only on your enjoyment of the game, but also on your consistency, scores and quality of practice.
So what is straight? When Peter Alliss proclaims a player has ‘hit it straight down the fairway’ do we assume that the ball has travelled without deviation? Tournament fairways are 20-30 yards wide generally, how wide are they at your club? For a ball to go ‘straight’ down a 40-yard fairway, it could, therefore, be 20 yards left or right of dead centre!
I see players making swing changes in response to a ball drifting from the 150 yard marker which is about a metre wide! Straight is not a straight line; each element of the game has parameters, a 40-yard fairway, a 15-yard green and a 4.5″ hole and it will be your improvement in dispersion that will define you as a golfer.
It gets better still! You do not even have to hit this new definition of straight every time. Tour stats suggest that 12/14 fairways and 14/18 greens is pretty good going so if that is acceptable for the elite what should you ask of yourself?
How do you currently know whether practice has been productive, is it how many balls you’ve hit or for how long you brave the elements?
Do two things this month:
1. Find the average fairway/green width at your club
2. At the range recreate them using yardage markers and use your handicap to determine a margin of acceptance. Simply record how many drives out of 14 and approach shots of 18 go ‘straight’.
Work on improving your personal best this season and you will walk to the 1st tee with a greater belief in your ability to hit it straight.
Karl Steptoe BSc, MSc, works with club golfers and European Tour professionals through his sport psychology consultancy, a mind to perform ltd amtp.co.uk. He is also a PGA Advanced Professional and is involved in doctoral research looking at performance under pressure in golf.