When most golfers are introduced to the game, it’s all about their golf swing. Keep your head still, get your hands here on your backswing, don’t forget to rotate! We are programmed to consciously think about what our bodies are doing at all times. It doesn’t stop either. No matter what level of player, the dominant form of instructional content focuses on the movement of the golf swing.
We collectively assume (and are taught) that we should be thinking about these things before, during, and after we swing. Often, this results in golfers playing “golf swing” and not the game itself.
But what if there were more productive thoughts that had nothing to do with the golf swing? In this article (and accompanying podcast), I’d like to make you aware of a concept called Locus of Attention. It’s a unique, powerful concept that can help just about any golfer improve their ball striking.
While we can’t completely control our minds on the golf course, I strongly encourage you to try some of these concepts. I think they will make a real difference.
Generally speaking, there are three different loci of attention as it pertains to golf (or just about any other sport):
These can be broken down further, especially external focuses, but it’s best to think of them in these three buckets for the sake of simplicity.
Before I go into the merits, and potential downfalls, of each category, I encourage you to listen to our complete podcast episode on this topic. My co-host of the Sweet Spot, Adam Young, has done a ton of research on Locus of Attention and shares many of his insights from his book The Practice Manual. You can listen here.
There are many nuances, and while I paint some broad strokes in this post, I think you’ll be best served if you listen to the entire episode (yes, that’s a strong plug for our growing show).
While this drawing has become satirical, there is a lot of truth to it:
For the most part, golfers play the game thinking about all of the internal movements of the golf swing. While internal thoughts can be productive and suit certain players better, they can limit many players from reaching their potential.
For example, if you were playing catch with a friend – would you think about what your arm and wrist need to do to throw the ball properly to the target? Probably not. If you did think about those things, you would likely struggle to complete the task and miss your mark.
We generally don’t obsess over form and mechanics in other sports as much as we do in golf. So then why should golf be any different?
I believe that if golfers start to move away from internal swing thoughts, especially on the golf course, and start to shift their attention elsewhere, they will free their bodies up to execute athletically. Most players can hit the kinds of shots they want to; sometimes, they have to get out of their own way!
One of the greatest examples I can think of comes from Dave Stockton’s book, Unconscious Putting. He gives an anecdote of someone driving a car on a highway. When you are driving, you don’t think about where your hands are on the wheel or how hard you have to press the gas pedal. However, if all of a sudden you see a police car in their rear-review mirror, your body will likely tense up, and you will start thinking about what your hands, arms, and legs are doing. Instead of driving the car, you are guiding the car.
Stockton found that most golfers putt like they have a cop car in their rear-view mirror. I’ll take his example even further; I think most golfers swing that way too!
This is why an external focus on the golf course can be so helpful to many golfers. It can get you out of “swing jail,” where you are constantly thinking about what your body is doing and moving more towards creating the result you want.
Many golfers can have breakthroughs in their games when they start to shift their focus outside of their body and more on a task. I’ve seen the power in my own game, and many of Adam Young’s teachings are focused on golfers executing external tasks.
While there are many forms of external focuses, I’ve written about several practice methods on this site that are external in nature. In my article about how to practice the opposite of your faults, I give a few examples:
If you notice, none of these tell you to externally rotate your shoulder more or tell you to get your hands higher in your backswing. That’s because I truly believe if you self-organize around a task like trying to strike the toe of your clubface, your body will start making the required movements without having to think about them consciously. In my opinion, this is where you want to get to with your game, especially on the golf course.
When I’m playing my best golf, I’m not worried about what my arms, legs, and hands are doing during my swing. I am solely focused on striking the turf in front of the ball with my irons. Or perhaps I’m envisioning playing a fade with my driver as a way to counteract an excessive hook that I’m fighting that day.
It’s not to say golfers can’t have success with internal swing thoughts on the course. There are plenty of examples of that working. Internal thoughts do have their time and place – perhaps when making a swing change or on the range. However, if I had to place a bet, I’d say more golfers are struggling because of internal thoughts than being helped by them.
I’d rather players unlock their inner athlete by shifting their attention away from the swing (as hard as that is to do).
There is a third category of focus that doesn’t even involve golf at all. These are neutral thoughts such as humming the rhythm of a song or focusing on deep breathing in times of stress.
Many athletes refer to these thoughts as being “in the zone.” In my own game, I’ve had a lot of success in tournaments humming songs to myself (sometimes songs my kids listen to), or when I’m feeling a lot of pressure, I will consciously slow my body down and focus on slowing my breath in an almost meditative state.
Neutral thoughts aren’t for all golfers. On the whole, they’re probably better suited towards more skilled players. Thinking about something entirely different from golf can help certain players get out of their own way and allow their body to do what it knows how to do. Either way, they can be as impactful as an external focus for a beginner or intermediate player.
Now that you (hopefully) know there are different things you can think about other than the movement of your body, it’s time to experiment. Since all of our brains work differently, it’s best to experiment with what kinds of thoughts can help you get better results.
I think, on the whole, most of you will see incremental success going from internal to external thoughts. And for those of you who are a bit more experienced in the game, neutral thoughts can help just as much.
I’ll give one final plug to listen to our full podcast on Locus of Attention here. The Sweet Spot has quickly become one of the most popular golfer podcasts, with thousands of golfers tuning in around the world weekly. You can check out our full library of episodes here or search for us on any popular podcast platform.
While everyone has different club cleanliness standards, it is a fact that having clean grooves is essential for a club to perform its best. Clean grooves channel water, grass, and dirt away from the clubface, allowing for consistent trajectory and spin from impact. Testing shows dirty grooves can cut backspin by half or more, leading to “flyers” and other unpredictable shot results.
Due to this, many avid golfers have some brush clipped to their bags. These brushes have remained more or less the same for years, so is there room in the market for a better golf brush? That’s what the Grooveit Brush claims to be, promising cleaner grooves with less effort and better performance as a result.
The brush has many unique features that set it apart from other golf brushes; the key is a built-in tank and pump system to spray water on the clubface while scrubbing. Here’s a video of founder and inventor Clint Sanderson going into detail about the Grooveit Brush.
Since it came out, the Grooveit has quickly generated buzz. It’s been sold out multiple times and even appeared on Tiger Woods’ son’s bag on TV. Similar to the other recent hits like the Divot Board, inventory has been hard to come by, though.
We had to try it out at Practical Golf to see if it lived up to the hype.
As a rule, I tend to keep my clubs relatively clean and well-maintained, so I didn’t think a new brush was going to make much of a difference. I was also concerned about some significant features, like the water pump and magnetic attaching system, being a gimmick and hurting the functionality. In short, these fears were unfounded throughout several rounds. I found the Grooveit Brush to be well-engineered and incredibly functional.
It’s nice to see inventors perfect a product concept that’s been stagnant for quite some time.
The first big standout of the brush for me is the brush head and bristles. The brush head is at least twice as big as other brushes I’ve used, and that’s definitely been helpful. Additionally, the stiff nylon bristles have held up very well and clean deeply without needing metal bristles. The water pump has proven useful as well in cleaning out stubborn dirt and gunk.
Since I’ve always been reasonably meticulous about keeping my grooves clean during the round, I can’t honestly say the Grooveit Brush keeps my clubs cleaner.
Still, I will say I’ve been surprised at how useful it’s been on things besides the clubs.
First off, the brush is excellent for cleaning golf balls. I’m a lost ball hunter out on the course, and I’ve found a quick spray of water and brushing makes even the muddiest old Pro V1 look presentable. All the ball washers at my course have been removed, so this is useful.
Last, the brush is great for giving my golf shoes a quick cleaning at the end of the round. This keeps mud and dried grass out of the back of my car.
Additionally, the magnet is way stronger than you would think. This makes it extremely difficult for the brush to be knocked off accidentally but still gives you quick access to detach and re-attach the brush before and after shots. Every detail is thought out.
The Grooveit Brush is simply the best club cleaning tool that I have used. In a few weeks of use, there is only one possible negative to it that I can think of, the price. At around $25, this brush is significantly more expensive than “normal” club brushes. Is the Grooveit Brush worth it? For me (and likely other golfers who frequently clean their clubs), the answer is yes. There are plenty of golf gizmos out there that cost a lot more but with a lot less benefit.
Simply put, the brush will keep your grooves clean, and that’s good. Add in all the other uses for the brush out on the course, and the value definitely seems to be there. All that said, another possible negative for the brush is being able to buy one as the initial batch sold out quickly. We have secured inventory for Practical Golf readers here (while supplies last).
Once you manage to get one, though, I’m confident it’ll find a spot on your bag because it will undoubtedly stay on mine.
Cory Olson is an avid golfer and writer for Practical Golf, a website dedicated to being an honest resource for the everyday golfer who is looking to enjoy the game more, as well as improve. He is passionate about all parts of the game, from equipment to training, and especially the mental aspects of performing your best on the course.
The most valuable exercise for a golfer is a post-round analysis. The clues for how to improve your game, and more importantly, how to enjoy yourself more, are all hiding in your memory.
In this article, I want to explore “bad shots.” I’m using quotation marks because I’m going to explain several concepts and questions you can ask yourself that will likely redefine how you classify the outcomes of certain shots during your round. You may realize that the shots weren’t even “bad” in the first place, or perhaps, if they were, an analysis of why they occurred can help limit them in the future.
Before we move on to other questions you should ask yourself, let’s determine if it was even a poor result in the first place. Perhaps the biggest challenge we all face as golfers is how we interpret our results. Generically speaking, most players are too hard on themselves and get upset at shots that aren’t all that bad (guilty as charged).
When doing a post-round analysis and looking at your results through an analytical perspective (rather than emotional), I think you’ll find out that a lot of the outcomes during your round weren’t “bad.”
This can get complicated, but I’ll explore a couple of examples of tee shots and approach shots to give you an idea.
Golfers assume that a successful tee shot’s measuring stick is whether or not you hit a fairway. I used to think this too. But with modern statistical analysis, we know a lot more about what kinds of tee shots lead to lower scores.
Based on everything I have learned, here is how I define a successful tee shot:
Tee shots are crucial for scoring in golf, and perhaps the biggest challenge golfers must overcome is avoiding penalties and recovery situations.
I’ve written before about how hitting more greens in regulation is the gold standard for lowering your handicap. In general, your approach shots are the most influential factor in scoring ability.
That doesn’t mean you need to land the ball within 20 feet of the pin every time; nobody in the world can do that. When we’re looking to define what a “bad” approach shot looks like versus a “good” one, it has a lot to do with proximity to the hole and avoiding certain situations.
Here are a few metrics that I define as good results for approach shots:
Another thing to consider is what are reasonable shot distributions for each club in your bag. This concept builds upon the last section.
For example, most PGA Tour players and elite amateurs have about a 65-70 yard left-to-right dispersion with their drivers. So while it might be disappointing for them to land the ball 40 yards right of the center of the fairway, it’s a perfectly normal result.
With approach play, where distance control is more important, you have to think about left-to-right distribution and short and long of your target. What you’ll end up with is what I would call a “circle of proximity.” Better players have tighter circles, but they are still much bigger than most people think.
Whatever target you’ve picked with your 7-iron is just a starting point. Please start thinking about what your shot circle looks like and whether or not you’ve kept the ball within its borders. This is where shot-tracking systems can come in handy.
Let’s say you did land your tee shot in the trees or your approach shot in a bunker while being short-sided. We can define this as a bad outcome, but perhaps your swing wasn’t the culprit.
I’ve discussed strategy ad nauseam on Practical Golf for a good reason. Golfers stand to make quick gains in their scoring if they learn how to select smarter targets.
Perhaps that tee shot went into the trees because you were trying to gain an advantageous angle into the green, and you took a more aggressive line. Or, your 7-iron landed in the bunker because you were chasing a tucked pin position.
When going through your post-round analysis, ask yourself if a poor strategic decision caused the mistake. Could you have avoided the recovery situation by simply changing your target and club selection?
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a smarter course manager, I highly recommend checking out DECADE Foundations.
Controlling our thoughts and emotions on the golf course is difficult. But I can tell you from personal experience that going through a repeatable routine, committing to your decision, and doing your best not to worry about what’s already happened, or will happen in your round, makes a difference.
So if you are looking back on shots that meet our definition of bad, start to evaluate your emotions.
Were you angry about a prior shot and couldn’t clear your mind? Did you have lingering doubts about your club selection? Did your score on the front nine dominate your thoughts?
While it’s challenging to completely determine whether your thought process contributed to a poor result, what you can do is start looking for patterns. If your post-round analysis starts to uncover that your mental state is correlated with your worst shots, then that’s something you’ll need to work on.
You can pick the right target, mentally commit to your routine, and do pretty much everything else correct, but then hit a drive that sails out of bounds. This is perhaps the most frustrating part of golf.
More often than not, the source of many of your errant shots are issues in your golf swing. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with those. And I don’t recommend watching 50 YouTube videos either.
It’s possible you can address the problem through practice. When I review my rounds, I try to think about what parts of my game were deficient and spend extra time on them during my next range session.
Sometimes, the problem is deeper, though. I’ve been in contact with many golfers who read Practical Golf that get stuck in their journey to improvement despite following a lot of the advice they read here. My suggestion is usually quite similar: “you need to invest in lessons.”
Getting customized advice for your swing and following the prescribed drills/practice plans is one of the most efficient ways to get better at this game. I’ve worked with 4-5 different swing coaches at different points in my life and gotten positive results out of each experience.
That’s not to say you can’t figure out things on your own – some golfers can improve through trial and error and smart practice habits. However, if you are really struggling, it’s best to have someone who knows what they’re doing take a look at your swing (definitely not “that guy” at the range).
As usual, my goal with these kinds of articles is to get you thinking differently. I know from personal experience what it’s like to get stuck in a negative loop. If you go through your rounds and start to think critically about what’s occurring with a new perspective, a few things might happen:
Golf nets are a way to practice effectively at home without taking a trip to the driving range. Now more than ever, nets have become an integral part of practicing your golf game at home. At this point, there is an overwhelming selection of products out there, so we created this guide to give you recommendations based on your budget.
One thing I will note in this category is that you truly get what you pay for. There’s nothing wrong with the budget options, but be aware that their longevity and usability will be inferior to the premium options.
Additionally, you will find several ways to practice more effectively using a driving net at home. Let’s dig in!
(1/19/21: we have updated this article with our latest recommended golf nets)
If you don’t have a ton of money to invest, you can get some deals on relatively inexpensive golf nets. I have tried many models, and it’s best to go in with lower expectations. Budget nets are a great entry-level proposition if you’re not completely sure you will practice that much at home. But be aware, the materials used will be less durable (prone to ripping over time). Setup can be a little more burdensome. Additionally, they don’t have as many features as capturing the ball for you or even allowing it to return to your hitting position.
Consider whether or not your practice net will be in a fixed position or if you will have to move it around. Many of the lower-cost options are a hassle to take apart and put back together.
When you factor in the cost, functionality, and durability, Rukket Sports’ nets are great options. The two options I recommend are the Pop Up Net
(more portable) and their Haack Net.
Rukket’s golf nets are a step up above the extreme budget options and generally cost between $130 – $175.
This hitting net from GoSports is a prime example of the type of net you can expect to buy for less than $100. With this design, the net is hung between lightweight poles that can be put up and broken down relatively quickly, so it is transportable.
However, with such a lightweight design, this type of net really is not designed to be put up permanently as the wind and other elements could easily break it. At ten feet wide by seven feet high, the net should be large enough to catch most all shots besides high-lofted wedges, but you will have to be standing fairly close to the net. Last, while it can be used indoors, at this price level, you only get a single layer of netting and no side netting to catch errant balls or ricochets, so there will still be some risk of damage.
The Spornia SPG-7
is becoming a bit of a cult legend in the golf net space. At just under $250, it’s perhaps the best overall value because of its quality of design and durability. It’s not surprising that it often sells out, and it has an unheard of 5-star rating on Amazon.
What makes the Spornia so unique is that it can easily be set up and taken down without hassle. Many other products make this claim, but I can tell you from personal experience that they are not as easy as it looks. Take a look at this video from Spornia to see it in action:
The SPG-7 has an automatic ball retrieval system, which returns your shot to your feet without hitting the floor. Additionally, they’ve used quality materials on the net, so you can expect it to last much longer than the budget options mentioned earlier. Besides the ease of use, the Spg-7 net also features side netting to catch errant golf balls and a top net that overhangs to capture even high wedge shots.
There are a couple of potential downsides. Some golfers think the noise from impact on the target shield can be a little loud. Also, at less than 20 lbs, a strong gust of wind could send the net flying, which doesn’t make it a permanent outdoor use option.
Overall, if you can get your hands on one, the Spornia SPG-7
is a great option for indoor or outdoor use.
Since I started Practical Golf, I’ve tested hundreds of golf products in almost every category. The Net Return is one of my favorites. For the past four years, I’ve had the Mini Pro Series in my house, and there are no visible signs of wear after hitting tens of thousands of shots. Simply put, this is the best golf net. If you know you’re going to have a more permanent setup, especially for a home golf simulator, it’s worth the extra investment, in my opinion.
This video shows some of the basic functionality of the net and what makes it different:
One of my favorite features is that the design limits the amount of space necessary indoors. I have my net set up within inches of a wall, and there’s never been any damage. Additionally, the mesh they use is considerably stronger than any of their competitors. It can withstand pretty much any ball speed, and it’s why you’ll see golfers like Bryson DeChambeau and long drive champion Kyle Berkshire using it in Chris Como’s “living room lab.”
Last but certainly not least, no matter how hard you hit the ball, it is gently returned to you if you have a level surface. So you’re not constantly walking back and forth to pick up balls.
At under 30 pounds, The Net Return can be transported, but I wouldn’t call it “portable.” The setup process can take anywhere between 5-10 minutes, so it’s best if you keep it in place wherever you plan on using it.
Based on your budget and size requirements, there are four options available:
Mini Pro Series (smaller dimensions for higher spaces, 250k shot guarantee – $649)
Pro Series V2 (larger frame, rustproof aluminum, 250k shot guarantee – $795)
Pro Series XL (largest size available, rustproof aluminum, 250k shot guarantee – $1995)
Home Series (can be used for multiple sports, 1-year warranty – $695)
If you are using it indoors, I recommend getting the side barriers to protect against the occasional sh*nk. Also, their roll-up turf is a great value. I’ve used it for several years, and I like the quality and ability for it to be rolled up quickly when the net is not in use. Also, it allows the ball to return to your original hitting position more easily.
A hitting cage is likely the best option for golfers with the outdoor space and desire to have something semi-permanently set up and ready to hit into. While hitting nets are generally one main net and possibly small side nets, a hitting cage has a rigid cube with netting on four or five sides. Since it provides an enclosed space, these cages will catch even the most offline shots.
The Cimarron Masters Golf Net Enclosure is one of the best options in this category if you want a premium hitting cage.
They offer two sizes 10′ x 10′ x 10′ and 20′ x 10′ x 10′. The setup will be more involved, but this is a great pick if you’re looking to create a mostly-permanent outdoor hitting cage.
If you’re on a lower budget, the Gagalileo hitting cage
is another consideration at just under $400.
Once you pick the appropriate golf hitting net, the next step is to use it properly. Practicing your ball striking at home can certainly help improve your game, but there are a few ways to make sure your time is well spent. I’ll include a few ideas with links to further articles on our site.
You can check out my guide to practicing golf at home here as well.
There are a few golf nets on the market that make sense to use at home. This is a category where you truly get what you pay for. The options listed in the article will help get you started.
Additionally, if you are serious about improving your game, I would try out some of the practice methods listed. Simply hitting balls into your net without having a purpose or routine is likely not going to make you a better golfer. If you can dedicate a small portion of your day to a few of these methods, I can assure you that you will see results on the course!
Swing technique, training aids, instruction, fitness, strategy… the list goes on and on. One can get lost in the pursuit of dialing in your golf game. The fact that you visited this website implies that you are looking to improve, and when it comes to getting better, the importance of quality practice can be overlooked.
As Allen Iverson once said, “We talkin about practice.”
We, at Golf Blueprint, are excited to kick off a series of articles for Practical Golf focused on practicing more effectively. In this installment, we’ll focus on four common mistakes we see golfers making during their practice sessions.
Before we get into the mistakes, we should first introduce ourselves and why you should (potentially) listen to us!
Golf Blueprint was founded by Dr. Kevin Moore and (soon to be Dr.) Nico Darras. Kevin Moore has a Doctorate in Applied Mathematics and Psychology, and Nico Darras is finishing up his Doctorate of Education focusing on adult learning theory.
As academics, the Golf Blueprint team has used their decades of research and applied them to golfers looking to improve their game. As golfers, Dr. Kevin Moore played Division I collegiate golf and most recently competed in the 2018 U.S. Mid Am. Nico Darras picked up the game of golf at 22, and a year later was a scratch golfer. He now competes on the Outlaw mini-tour in Arizona.
We’ve found that practice, if done intentionally, and with structure, produces significant results without a major time investment.
Overall, we draw on our analytics, education, performance, and psychology expertise to build data- and research-driven improvement plans tailored to each golfer’s game.
In fact, our Golf Blueprint Members have seen a 2.7 stroke improvement in just 3 months of using our program.
But enough about us, let’s talk about you. The most common complaint we hear from golfers is that they don’t see any meaningful returns on time invested on the practice range. Here are the most common practice mistakes we see.
A golfer walks onto a range. Does this sound familiar to you?
OK, grab a wedge and hit a few balls to loosen up…Ok, now I guess I should hit a short-iron. 8-iron, let’s hit that; I like my 8-iron. What was that move I found last time on the course?… Alright, I hit a few good ones; let’s move to the 4-iron…How long have I been here? Time to hit a few drivers so I can roll some putts. Wait, what about chipping? Should I chip today? No, let’s save that for next time.
Most golfers have zero practice plans. They know they want to improve and work on their game, but they do not have a system to accomplish that goal. They move through practice blindly, choosing what to do next without a structure of what drills to work on, how long to work on those drills, and the order in which to work on those drills.
Without a plan, golfers are left leaving the practice session unsure whether they accomplished what they wanted to achieve during that session. A key to avoiding this feeling and a foundation to every Golf Blueprint Plan is having a prescribed and detailed set of “practice cards” with identifiable goals before you even step foot on the range. Having things laid out for you beforehand avoids decision fatigue and mindlessly moving through your session.
If there is one thing the most recent analytics movement in golf has taught us, golfers make terrible judgments about the areas of their game that need work. They overestimate some skills and underestimate others. Improper assessments of your game lead to you making uninformed and improper decisions with practice.
Advances in golf data analytics have disproven myths like “drive for show, putt for dough” and helped to educate golfers that they could be working on the wrong things at the range. We now know how golfers separate themselves from one another and provide actionable advice on optimizing their practice time.
There is one common roadblock. When asked for a self-assessment of their own games, golfers overemphasize the importance of particular skills of the game while underestimating critical areas that can help them score better almost immediately. Spending too much time practicing 5-foot putts when you’re already proficient from those distances takes crucial time from other parts of your game that need the attention.
Identifying an area of the game that needs work is not merely an exercise of identifying what you are “good” or “bad” at. Rather, it identifies an area of your game in which improvements will lead to the most gains. For example, nearly every golfer wants to hit the ball further off the tee, but maybe the most immediate gains you could make are with short iron and wedge play. It is hard to become longer off the tee, but you can drastically improve your scores inside 150 yards with structured practice.
Without understanding your areas of optimized improvement, your practice time could be wasted. One of the best ways to solve this problem is tracking both round-by-round stats and select practice stats.
We took it a step further and wrote a patent-pending algorithm that considers these important parameters to create customized improvement plans for golfers like you. Setting appropriate goals has allowed our members to create appropriate expectations and enjoy golf more.
“I can’t believe I sliced my driver on 18 into the water; I’m gonna work on that today!”
How many times have you walked onto the range thinking about your previous round? Too many times, that’s how many.
A key to a solid mental approach in golf is not putting too much value in a single shot or round. It is not an accurate indicator of a golfer’s game.
Hitting one ball OB does not necessarily mean that your driver needs work. That one bad memory might make you forget that your other 13 drives were in good positions and gave you great opportunities from the fairway all day.
Or let’s say you 3-putted the last hole to lose the match, and you believe your putting needs work. What about the string of 20-footers you made on the front 9 when you were hot with the putter!
When understanding data analytics, a single shot doesn’t tell us much, but a thousand over the course of a season can be an important trend indicator. Unfortunately, golfers tend to focus on that one bad shot and spend time trying to fix that mistake instead of realizing it was probably a statistical anomaly and they should move on.
The same is true with practice. Remember the second point above; golfers need help in self-assessing their games.
By overemphasizing your previous round and most recent performance, your practice sessions will likely be reactionary and sporadic, with no plan or process to rely on. We’ve found having a customized plan delivered monthly enables golfers to hone in on particular “drill cards” while avoiding the tendency to make sudden changes based on one shot.
Let’s face it, hitting 7 iron after 7 iron on the range or “working on putting” mindlessly hitting 20 footers is not the most exciting thing in the world.
You have a plan, you’ve determined your key areas of improvement and strength, and you are not relying on your most recent performance to design practice. If you do not see improvement, a likely culprit could be how you are mentally engaging with practice despite putting in the practice time.
Within skill development research, random and blocked time are the foundations of practice. Blocked practice refers to practicing a single skill in repetition, while random practice refers to working on differing skills with some level of variance. These forms of practice are regularly debated within golf circles, but one thing remains clear: without proper mental engagement, you will not see skill improvement.
There are several ways in which we seek to keep golfers engaged in their practice. One of the key ways is ensuring that every drill is intentionally designed with a particular focus and goal. Targeted practice, yardage control, alignment, and shot-shaping are used to stimulate the mind during a practice session. We encourage you to add these elements to your current routine because it will make a difference.
Awareness of these four mistakes and how to fix them will (hopefully) lead to you enjoying and getting the most out of your practice sessions. In the age-old question of the chicken and the hen; what came first, a golfer who loved to practice because they improved or a golfer who improved because they loved to practice? This is part 1 of a multi-series that the founders of Golf Blueprint are providing to Practical Golf readers. We look forward to furthering your knowledge in future installments!
For more information or to sign up for Golf Blueprint, visit www.goflblueprint.com
Dr. Kevin Moore and soon-to-be-Dr. Nico Darras are the Co-founders of Golf Blueprint. Drawing on their analytics, learning theories, and performance expertise, they build data- and research-driven improvement plans tailored to your golf game. Their Golf Blueprints ensure your practice sessions result in on-course gains.
The golf shaft industry is filled with myths and misinformation. One of the most popular decisions golfers face is whether to get a regular or stiff shaft in their irons, hybrids, fairway woods, and driver.
Most resources will tell you to make that decision based on your swing speed. Unfortunately, they are wrong. There’s a lot more that goes into deciding between regular and stiff shaft. In this article, I’ll clear up some basics for you, but more importantly, tell you the truth.
There is a lot of misinformation amongst golfers (and companies) regarding flex. The most important thing to understand is that there are no standards when it comes to shaft flex. One company’s “regular” could be another company’s “stiff.” This is one of the dirtiest secrets of the shaft industry. So be careful when someone tells you to go out there and buy a stiff shaft; you might not actually be getting what you think you are! Quality control can be very sketchy amongst shaft OEMs, and many times, you get what you pay for.
Every shaft has a different profile, and it’s impossible to know exactly which one is right for your swing by reading an article on the internet (shocking, I know).
I’ve learned by working with one of the best clubfitters in the entire industry that swing speed is not necessarily the most important factor when choosing your shaft flex. Despite that, plenty of “guides” all over the internet will say if your swing speed is “X,” then you should get a specific shaft flex. It’s more complicated than that. Let me explain…
Getting the right shaft flex is more about what kind of load the golfer applies to the shaft. The shaft itself has no idea how fast you are swinging. It mostly responds to the force you apply.
My close friend Woody Lashen has a great story about two legendary golfers and why they need different shaft flex.
If you remember Nick Price, he had a lightning-quick swing tempo. His swing was also incredibly short.
Conversely, Fred Couples has a longer, flowing golf swing that looked effortless. But don’t let looks deceive you; both golfers were swinging the golf club very fast (compared to recreational players).
Despite having similar swing speeds, each player needed a much different shaft flex. Nick Price couldn’t find a shaft that was stiff enough for him. He applied so much force to the shaft with his swing length and tempo that he needed a much stiffer shaft profile compared to Fred Couples.
I don’t have perfect answers for you in terms of which shaft you should purchase. Every golfer’s needs are different. Getting the right shaft is important because it will affect how you deliver the golf club. The wrong shaft will make it harder for you to swing consistently and access the clubface center.
If you have access to a clubfitter or even a teaching professional who has a lot of knowledge about golf clubs, I urge you to use them as a resource first. If you purchase a shaft based only on your swing speed and nothing else, you are just guessing.
Other characteristics, such as weight, are important. Generally speaking, golfers with slower swing speeds can benefit from a lighter shaft and vice versa. That can be addressed using a graphite or steel shaft. Graphite tends to be lighter, but many companies are offering steel shafts in much lighter versions.
Long story short, using your swing speed to choose a stiff versus regular shaft is not enough information. You need to know more about your golf swing tendencies and, more importantly, have someone who actually knows shafts well enough to match the specs up properly. The shaft industry is still like the Wild West, and it isn’t easy to navigate as a consumer.