Ever hit a good shot and wonder why?
Ever hit a bad shot and wonder why?
In the PGA, we are taught knowledge of learning, knowledge of teaching and knowledge of the game. The golf swing is a motor program requiring cognitive rehearsal and physical practice. The swing must be clear in your mind, and you must practice to convert the mental image into an effective skill.
Part of the answer to the opening two questions is having a clear picture in your mind of what to do. Students will often hit a good shot and turn to me and ask, “What did I do right?” I then remind them by asking, “What are you trying to do?” If what they are trying to do isn’t perfectly clear to them, they aren’t going to make any progress.
The second part of the answer is practice. Practice is essential for skill development. If you didn’t practice tying your shoes; you would have never been able to lace up those Nikes and head for the playing field.
Finding out what to do can come from a variety of sources: parents, friends, golf books, the Golf Channel, imitating others, or taking lessons from a professional coach. Technology such as the K Vest has shown that an efficient downswing begins with the hips, then the thorax, then the arms. If this is your sequence, you’ll be more effective than if the sequence is out of sync. An answer to the above questions might be: “I was out of sequence, I started with my arms and went over the top.”
Practice only makes perfect if it is perfect practice. You can practice a swing sequence that is thorax-hips-arms until the cows come home but your swing will remain flawed because the cognitive rehearsal is wrong. With practice you may have learned a skill but if that skill is flawed, like a computer program with a virus, it won’t run smoothly and efficiently, and at times even malfunction.
So if you don’t know why you hit bad shots or good shots, get some help. There are some excellent golf coaches in this area. Fall is a perfect time to get your head clear. Then you can practice the right things and get better.
Ed Sehl, PGA is a faculty member for the Professional Golfers Association PGM programs going to over 20 colleges and universities around the country. He gives lessons at the Tega Cay Golf Club and can be reached through EdSehlGolf.com.