How to Prac­tice

HK Golfer - - Golf Instruction -

Lee West­wood ex­plains how work­ing on the ba­sics in prac­tice will help you de­velop a more

con­sis­tent and re­peat­able golf swing.

With­out a doubt, the most com­mon fault I see among am­a­teur golfers comes at ad­dress. They don't pay enough at­ten­tion to stance, pos­ture or align­ment and this has a knock-on ef­fect on the golf swing it­self. Other than that, the main fault would be not know­ing how far you hit the ball. These two are ac­tu­ally re­lated be­cause it is dif­fi­cult to know how far you hit each club when you have in­con­sis­ten­cies at set-up. I strike the ball pretty con­sis­tently ev­ery time, so I know within two or three yards how far a 7-iron is go­ing to go, for in­stance. But if you're not con­sis­tent at set-up, it's go­ing to be more dif­fi­cult, so this is what you should work on in prac­tice ...

Set­ting Your Stance

When I set up on the range I'm work­ing first of all on my bal­ance, feel­ing where it is in my feet at ad­dress. Most of your weight should go down through your laces as your stand over the ball. The best way to set your pos­ture and find the right bal­ance is to stand up­right with your feet just less than shoul­der width apart. Now place your shaft of your wedge across your hips. Then lean your up­per body for­ward so your weight moves over your toes, be­fore flex­ing your knees. This brings your weight back over the balls of your feet. From here, let your arms hang un­der your shoul­ders. That's the ideal set-up with good bal­ance. You should feel like a goal­keeper ready to save a penalty. The golf swing is such a fast move­ment, you need to be both bal­anced and alive. As the clubs get longer, I tend to make my stance a bit wider, but wouldn't try to hit the ball any harder.

Check­ing Your Align­ment

Ob­vi­ously, it is im­por­tant to aim in the right direc­tion, yet strangely, most peo­ple don't! Gen­er­ally I will lay a club or align­ment stick on the ground. How­ever, I don't place it on ei­ther the ball-to-tar­get line or the line of my feet, but rather par­al­lel to those two lines half­way be­tween them. The align­ment stick will then be be­neath my shoul­ders and I can set my body and club­face par­al­lel to that. Re­mem­ber it is ev­ery­thing – feet, hips, knees, el­bows – that needs to be par­al­lel, and that's why it is so im­por­tant to check. If you have any kinks in your set-up (your shoul­ders might be closed or your hips might be open), you'll have to make com­pen­sa­tions in your swing to strike the ball. My hips can get slightly open ev­ery now and again, and that's why I need to check.

Fine-Tun­ing Your Swing

I try to make sure that the club­head is the first thing that moves away from the ball in my take­away. This is a sim­ple move but one that peo­ple will of­ten get wrong. If the club­head moves first, it should start the club work­ing on a good path. Then, as I turn to the top of the back­swing, I re­sist my up­per body ro­ta­tion with my legs. From the top of the back­swing I'm then look­ing to sim­ply ro­tate through the ball and on into a smooth fol­lowthrough, with your right shoul­der aim­ing to­wards the tar­get in the fin­ish.

Judg­ing Dis­tances

Com­ing up short or hit­ting the ball long – these are the things that re­ally wreck your scor­ing. If you start miss­ing greens, you've got to get it up and down. So it re­ally is worth getting a real un­der­stand­ing for how far you hit the ball. When you get to a cer­tain level where your ball-strik­ing is con­sis­tent, you should head to the range and hit ten balls with your 7-iron. Mea­sure the five mid­dle ones and you'll get a good idea as to how far you hit that club.

Shot-Mak­ing

You can move the ball in your stance to change the direc­tory of your flight. So to hit a punch, for ex­am­ple, you should move the ball back in your stance. Im­por­tantly, when you do this you'll not only be re­duc­ing the loft but also strik­ing the ball more from the in­side of your swing arc (imag­ine the arc of your swing go­ing around you). So you have to ex­pect the ball to draw a bit, and I al­ways aim a frac­tion right to al­low for that. But from there I make ex­actly the same swing.

Driver Set-Up

With a driver, I widen my stance and move the ball for­ward be­cause I'm try­ing to hit it on the up. That's about all that changes re­ally. I tee it up quite high with my driver be­cause of the launch char­ac­ter­is­tics I'm after. It goes fur­ther when I launch it at about 10.5°. That's the op­ti­mum launch an­gle for me with re­gards to carry and roll. My driver car­ries about 290 yards and rolls out to 315. The other thing I try to do it keep mov­ing at ad­dress. It's a good idea not to stand there too long be­fore start­ing the swing as this can cre­ate ten­sion in your arms.

"You should feel like a goal­keeper ready to save a penalty. You need to be both bal­anced and alive"

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