Archived Newsletters - From the Range to the Course :
From the Range to the Course
by Joan King
One of the most often asked questions by amateur and professional golfers is, "Why can't I take my game from the practice range to the golf course?"
When you hit the ball well on the range, are confident, and then play poorly on the golf course, it is likely that you prepare for your shots differently in the two places, but expect the same results. On the wide-open range, most golfers are not concerned with the mental discipline that is required for scoring. On the golf course the score becomes the focus and the wonderful tempo and relaxed swing is left on the range.
Performance anxiety begins on the first tee. To be confident and play your best, you have to be relaxed and trust your golf swing. Deep breathing will help you relax. It takes considerable practice to be able to trust your swing mechanics. Hit balls with your eyes closed to experience trusting your swing. Also, practice the way you play. Train your brain by using your pre-shot routine with every shot on the range until it becomes a habit. If your practice routine and your on-course play routine are the same, your results will be the same, too.
Another thing to consider is your alignment and set-up. If you set up incorrectly, even a great swing won't produce a good shot. Every shot on the course is hit from a new position, which is very different from hitting from the same spot on the range without any regard to your target. Lay parallel clubs down on the ground to give your mind a visual image of the target line. Always pick a target for each shot so you will get feedback on how you are doing. And reinforce every good shot by congratulating yourself.
While you are waiting for your turn on the golf course, begin to access your sense of rhythm by playing in your mind a movie of the swing that you desire. See, or imagine yourself swinging in a perfectly smooth, easy, effortless, fluid, rhythmical motion. Remember what it feels like to have such an effortless swing. By doing this, you will slow down yourself down.
Most golfers think of mechanics when they are standing over the ball. They focus on a mechanical way to get the swing started. When you do this, you create tension in that part of your body. Your focus should always be on the rhythm of your whole swing, not thinking about a part of your body. Some of the ways you can access your tempo are as follows:
1. Imagine the rhythm of a pendulum that piano players use to regulate their tempo. A pendulum always moves with the same tempo whether the rate of speed is set for fast or slow. It goes back and through exactly the same every time, smoothly with no hurried, jerky motions. You want to swing every club in your bag with the same, easy, effortless pace of a pendulum. Your longer clubs will take a little longer to swing, but the tempo needs to be the same.
2. If you are an analytical person, you can access your rhythm by counting. Swing to a count of "one" (backswing)
pause (for the change of direction)
.. "two" (downswing). Or, you can use the words "back"
3. In Kjell Enhager's book "Quantum Golf," the golf pro describes accessing your "inner rhythm." When you are anxious, stressed or agitated, your body produces adrenalin and your internal rhythm speeds up. This will cause your external rhythm to speed up and increase the pace of your swing. It is easier to change the pace of your swing by first changing the image in your mind.
4. Auditory learners can access their rhythm by singing or humming a song that has the tempo they desire for their swing. Humming or whistling can help you to relax, slow your heartbeat, and reduce tension as well. Since auditory people like to walk with a distinctive cadence, it would help them to get out of the cart and walk to their ball instead of being driven up to it.
5. Kinesthetic (feel players) need to take practice swings on the tee feeling the kinetic energy moving from the feet up into the body. These golfers must "feel" the rhythm and how the swing works for them.
6. As you swing your club, internalize in your mind the swing of a golfer whose rhythm you admire.
Reminder: On the golf course it is time to "play" the game of golf. Let go of taking yourself too seriously. Thinking too much impedes your awareness. Don't prejudge your shots before you hit them. Let go of your internal chatter and your self-importance and focus on your imagery. Accessing your internal rhythm is your main goal. Use your imagination as a junior golfer; instinctive, intuitive and focused on hitting the ball to the target for the sheer joy of it.