Tom Fielding Golf School Japan
After a long winter layoff (which has been extended with the various shutdowns in parts of the country) most everyone’s game has some rust. That’s where we come in. Over the next several weeks, we’ll answer the questions every golfer is wondering when it comes to getting their games sharp for the 1st tee. Today, we discuss the best ways to practice after the hiatus.
With a tumultuous month of April behind us, golf is being phased back into everyday life. Temperatures are rising, and with coronavirus restrictions being lifted in various regions, many people are dusting off their clubs and heading back to the links. But with such a lengthy delay to the beginning of the golf season, your game is sure to have some rust.
So what is the most important thing to practice when returning from an extended layoff? Here’s what they had to say. Read up, and play well.
How to rediscover your touch
Refine your touch around the green through trial and error — the only way to develop feel. Repetition develops rhythm and feel, so grab a wedge and start pitching to a target for solid contact. After 20 to 30 shots, randomize your chips and pitch shots to control distance. Hit shots that require a higher or lower lofted wedge to hone the shot loft and landing area.
Next, practice speed of putts uphill, downhill and sidehill from different distances to a hole. Then play a game of “up and down,” hitting a chip or pitch and putting out.
Finally, you’ll need to get your swing moving at full throttle, especially the driver. It’s important to accelerate through impact, but you must also maintain dynamic balance and not hurt yourself. Start with a smooth swing rhythm, then increase speed until you hear a high pitched “swoosh” through impact.
Ease back into the swing of things
The most important thing when coming back is to ease into things slowly, don’t let your enthusiasm override the physical needs of your body. Most of us have been unusually sedentary during the pandemic and our body is not ready for lashing a driver at 110 mph immediately. A measured approach is required.
Find some good all-body stretching exercises you can do before starting to warm up is a primary thing. Next, get some feel back in those hands and start your opening practice session at the putting green, followed closely by some chipping. Then move into the driving range, stretch again and then ease into some wedges before running through the bag. Keep the expectations low, as it’ll take some time to get your eye back in. When you get out there, enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the environment we play our game in. It’ll feel so good after being inside so much. If you hit a couple decent shots, that’s great. Don’t play for score, play match play and have fun!
Start with short shots to reacclimatize your body
When returning from a long layoff from golf the priority should be getting your full swing and solid contact back intact while avoiding injury. Be sure to warm up by stretching or taking practice swings to “wake up” their golf motion and their body.
Once your body tells you that you’re ready to start swinging, I suggest staring with a shorter club and less than a full swing. With success, start graduating to a full swing and work your way up through your longer clubs. Balance drills like practice swinging with a more narrow stance and rhythm drills like continuous swings in a row can also help build in some repetitions to help a more speedy successful return. Short game shots can be added in your practice session if you become tired or need a break in between your full swings.
Golfers should also practice patience when returning and enjoy your good shots. A good attitude and appreciation for returning will be a big help when any golfer returns after a long layoff.
Lower expectations and be happy you’re back out playing
Between the winter and the virus it has been an extended break for a lot of golfers out there. If you are going out to play, I would practice gratitude. Be grateful to be out playing. Enjoy the fresh air, the walk and your friends. Lower expectations, don’t care. Just try and find a rhythm again out on the golf course. Set small goals. Try and make two pars in a row or two bogeys in a row. Try and make a putt over five feet. See how many fairways you can hit.
On the practice tee, I would start with your sand wedge. Put a target out about 50 yards and work on trying to hit your target. Focus on contact, distance control and direction. Three things you need for almost every shot. This will be a great building block for bigger swings.
Practice with a plan
It is often said that “Players don't plan to fail, they simply fail to plan!”
There is no arguing that working on your feel around the greens, full swing mechanics, physical fitness, etc., are all very important when coming back from a long layoff. The fact that there are so many different skills necessary to play good golf makes it impossible to delineate which is the most important. Due to the complexity of the game and all it demands to play well, the most important thing to practice is having a PLAN!
Choosing the right things to practice, for the right amount of time and in the right way shouldn’t be reserved just for the Tour player. Amateurs should be making specific practice plans in normal times, but especially in our current situation. For example, putting practice should consist of 5-10 minutes working on the stroke with gates, 10-15 minutes on short putts, 10-15 minutes on longer putts and 3-putt avoidance. Drills, competitive games and combines should all be written out in advance and adhered to. This approach is the blueprint for every part of your game.
The shotgun approach to getting your game back in shape has never worked in the past, it won’t work now. Think of your game holistically to get the most out of your time and be the best prepared when you come off a layoff.
Warm up your body to prevent injuries
The most important thing a golfer can do after coming back from a long layoff is have patience with both their bodies and golf games. Especially in a time like this when they have been more sedimentary than normal.
To prevent injuries from unused muscles and tendons, a player needs to stretch out the muscles more and also limit the full swing reps until the body can handle a normal load. I suggest a practice routine that consists of 25% full swing practice to 75% short game. Of those full swing shots very few are full speed and as your body gets stronger and more acclimated to those shots you can increase the percentage of full speed swings.
In most parts of the world where golf practice facilities are closed, I suggest stretching and making full swings at home before you get to the golf course. Start with nine holes and build your stamina up until you can walk 18.
Please remember a bad day at the golf course is better than a good day cleaning out your garage or basement.
Are you better at golf this year compared to last year? If not, YOU might be holding back your ability to improve your golf – a self sabotaging move made solely by your inability to understand what is in this article.
This article will
THIS IS THE ONLY CONSISTENT THING IN GOLF
The only thing that is consistent in this game is….
Wait for it……
Yes, even pros shoot a 63 and follow it with a round over par.
Furyk once shot a round of 2 over and followed it with a 12 under par round (a 14 shot swing)
McIlroy shot a 62 one week and an 82 the next (20 shot swing)
BUT WHY?Golf is a game with many shots and many variables.
Hell, even the same shot can cost you more from one day to the next,
Imagine hitting a fat shot that lands 20 yards short – if there is water guarding the front of the green it is going to cost you more than if you did the same shot on an unguarded green.
LEARNING GOLF IS NOT LINEAR
Due to the the multi-factorial nature of golf, day to day scores can vary wildly.
This should be expected – improving at golf is not as linear as something like learning the piano, where fewer variables are at play.
In your progression, your monthly (or yearly) average should be coming down, but you are very likely to experience a wave of results around that average.
golf score (pink) versus total average score (green). This player sees a yearly average score decrease of 5 shots, with a high score of 95 and a low of 75.
A yearly swing of 20 shot between your highest and lowest scores is more than normal – even the tour players go through this. But if your average score drops by 5 shots each year, that’s significant!
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM AMATEURS HAVE
Luckily, this problem is something that is pretty easily fixable – as YOU are the one that’s causing it in the first place.
Imagine a player is doing all the right things – they are;
But, due to the random fluctuations around this, they have a bad round (which is inevitable), or even a bad stretch.
The below picture shows 3 times during the year (yellow) where a player may “jump ship” and change their process due to a bad stretch, as opposed to seeing the bigger picture (the average).
The amateur who chases their tail all year jumps ship and moves onto something new, thinking that what they are doing is not (or no longer) working and there is some secret out there that they need to find.
Better players do something different…..
TOP TIPS FOR STOPPING THIS MADNESS
What can you do to improve your golf more consistently over a long period of time? Start adding some of these to your life.
In my programs for improvement, I show you exactly how to do all of the above.
If you tend to suffer with heel shots, toe shots, fats, thins, and tend to miss the target more long/short – The Strike Plan is perfect for you.
I show you how to strike the ball like the pros, creating those great-feeling/sounding shots more often. As a result, you will hit more greens, score lower and just walk off the course having enjoyed it more.