Happy 2014 Golf Season!
When was the last time you hit a bad golf shot and said to yourself, “I tried to kill it!” All great golfers say that they never swing a golf club with 100 percent of their full potential. I know that many of you may find this hard to believe, but several years ago, I saw Tiger Woods at a clinic where he hit a 310 yard drive dead down the middle of the fairway with what he called 80 percent of his full potential. He then hit a drive with “all he had” (110 percent of his full potential) that flew well over 340 yards and about 40 yards right of his target.
This is the exact reason why I try to teach my students to hit balls on the driving range with 70-80 percent of their full potential. Most golfers (including myself) have a tendency to change their personality on the golf course, mostly due to anxiety. I have witnessed almost everyone I have ever played a round of golf with hit a key shot way right or way left of the intended target. The cause for this usually is due to trying to swing harder than normal or to your potential.
If you practice hitting balls with no more than 80 percent of your full potential, a shot on the golf course that requires you to give it that little extra will be much easier to pull off. When hitting balls on the driving range, try hitting two or three of your clubs different distances. For example, if you hit a 8 Iron 150 yards with a normal swing, try to hit it 130 yards consistently, as well as 100 yards. This will allow you to gain control and confidence, which are hard concepts to master.
After mastering these shots on the driving range, you should begin seeing more drives in the fairways (as well as more chances for birdie putts). The next time you are in the middle of the fairway with a yardage (between two clubs), try taking the bigger club (7 iron rather than 8 iron) and swing with no more than 80 percent of your full potential. You will be amazed at how far and how straight the ball will fly with only 80 percent, as long as you hit it solid.
A great way to start your practice sessions on the driving range is to always start with short wedges, gradually working your way through your entire bag, with the driver being your last club you hit. Before playing a round of golf, it’s always good to warm up with at least a small bag of balls. This is essential, because the golf swing will ultimately feel different today than it felt yesterday. Rhythm and timing are crucial to hitting great shots, and it is crucial for a player to be able to feel this before beginning any round. By swinging the club with less than your full potential, you will begin to feel your proper rhythm and timing.
Troy Youngren is the PGA Head Golf Professional at The Links @ Cobble Creek and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.