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Can’t Take it to the Course


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I appreciate this original post is very old - but my feeling is there are a lot of us still out there who have this exact same issue and still haven't found a solution. So I'd just like to ask, again - has anyone actually found something to fix this??? I''m not looking for ideas from people who've never really had this issue - there are countless items on the net from pros etc - but from genuine sufferers who have resolved their issue.  I don't personally use the range much - I'm lucky enough to have recently got a small golf studio at home, which has been a godsend during lockdown when my daily practice improved my swing and strike hugely - or so I thought, until I stepped back out on the course and couldn't hit the b**** thing.  I can stand in the middle of a flat fairway, perfect lie, do a couple of beautiful practice swings, step up to the ball - and yuck.  As soon as I start the backswing it's as though my brain has been zapped and I'm all over the place. I can tell myself I'm just going to do a short backswing and not worry about distance - but my arms just won't stop and I overswing, and then lean back on the downswing. Please help !!!!

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The simplest answer to this problem is "get a better golf swing."

 

The obvious moves you can make to alleviate this problem: 1) pre-shot routine 2) well-calibrated expectations 3) playing from the appropriate tees 4) finding a good golf instructor that you actually listen to 5) realizing that beating a 7-iron ten range balls in a row is easier than going from Driver to 7-iron with a 5 minute wait in between.

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@Sueisablade, a few of things:

1. Develop pre-post shot routines. This will help focus your thoughts rather than letting them worry about the gravity/importance of the shot.


2. Really ingrain your swing. If you really practice, your swing is your swing and shouldn’t vary much just because you’re on the range vs a course. This really became most evident to me when it came to putting. As several on this forum can attest to, under pressure I used to 3-4putt regularly. I didn’t have a consistent stroke. But thanks to @iacas recommending that I really focus on my putting pendulums (my skill), I’ve have improved in this since my focus is on my stroke, not the moment. I still feel the pressure, but I’m not focussed on it. 
 

3.  Lastly, learn to enjoy to pressure (admittedly, I’m not quite there yet either). 

 

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10 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

5) realizing that beating a 7-iron ten range balls in a row is easier than going from Driver to 7-iron with a 5 minute wait in between.

Definitely.

I remember a few years back getting excited when I'd hit a groove on the range and bitterly disappointed when it didn't happen again on the course. That was tough lesson to learn.

 

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2 hours ago, Sueisablade said:

I don't personally use the range much - I'm lucky enough to have recently got a small golf studio at home, which has been a godsend during lockdown when my daily practice improved my swing and strike hugely - or so I thought, until I stepped back out on the course and couldn't hit the b**** thing.

Congrats. Having a home setup is very convenient and makes for efficient practice. I also own a golf simulator setup (foresight). I'll share some thoughts with you below:

- Having a home setup isn't enough; make sure you're working on the correct things for you. Working on the wrong things does you no good because you're only ingraining bad moves. I used to hit tons of balls on my simulator and felt good about things, but then I couldn't perform on the course. I was working on the wrong things. You should use your time efficiently and work on what you need to work on and not just hit balls in the hopes that it will "click." Get with a good instructor if needed and keep records of what you're doing. I used to use an instructor but I found what I needed and got away from overly technical feelings. I know what works for me and what I have to do. I've played my best golf because of this. I no longer spend tons of time on the simulator; I set my time limit and I have a goal for each session. Don't just blindly hit balls. You should know what you're trying to do before you hit a ball. For example, I know that for me, I like to do the following/have these feelings on approach shots: good setup, preset forward lean, face pointed at 0*, move off the ball some with my left shoulder, feel the club head hinge up vertically, and then on the downswing make the head "whoosh" and hit the ground after the ball at the same time. That works for me. I like to keep things simple and repeatable.

- Sort of related to the first, develop and keep to a practice routine. See LSW and other threads here for examples. I break it out into driver, approach shots, wedge play, and putting. As a general rule, I put more practice time toward driver and approach play, but when those, like right now, feel good, I spend more time on my wedge play and putting. You may also consider making voice memos, as I do, or write down what is working and what is not as a way to keep track of your progress. It also helps to keep track of your feels and that sort of thing.

- Remember that playing on the course is different (conditions of the course) from being on a simulator. At home, you've got a perfect, flat lie every shot, with not overhanging trees and rough to deal with. On the course you've got uneven lies, wind, overhanging trees, the pressure of making a score, hazards/OB, etc. That makes it more difficult. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you aren't performing somewhat closely on the course as you do at home on the simulator, your swing isn't as good as you think. It's not just a mental block. It could be a number of things, but I would start with contact. You mentioned above that you could be in the middle of a fairway and find a way to mess things up. That could indicate that you're not as consistent with ball-then-turf contact. Mats can disguise this and be more forgiving than the fairway or rough. Fix it. You need to hit down on the ball first and then the ground. That's why I like the feeling of "whoosh" the club head and hit the ground after the ball at the same time. That is my go-to feeling for all approach shots. I like it because it frees me up from overly technical thoughts and seems to stick around even when I'm not practicing a lot; life gets in the way at times. Moreover, nailing your ball-then-turf contact will help put your mind at ease on uneven lies. Additionally, you may have some issues with your face to path. Fix it. Be sure you know about the ball flight laws and can diagnose your issues. For instance, say you're fighting a hook or slice but you're striking it fine. That means your face and path are too different from each other. Marry them up more. Therefore, you may consider looking at your start line. If your simulator shows start line, great; if not, you may consider laying down an alignment stick, or if at the range, stick an alignment stick in the ground in front of the ball several yards away. For me, as a righty, sometimes I can have a hook going. So, when I have a good strike, I know that my path is probably too far right. I confirm this by looking at my start line (or azimuth on foresight). I like to see my ball start around 0*, plus or minus 3* left or right is fine for me because I generally hit it pretty straight. So, if my ball starts at 0* but I hooked it, I know that I swung too far right, so my feel is to swing more left (a cut feeling). That neutralizes me and gets me back to straight-ish.

- For wedge play, focus on distance control and trajectory, as the two are related. I have two basic shots--a chip and a pitch. With chipping, that's basically a short version of the full swing where I have forward lean and hit down on it. I can do this shot green-side or a full swing. As with my full swing, I focus on hitting down on the ball, whooshing the club and hitting the ground out in front at the same time. This shot comes in lower, just under 30* launch angle and has some spin. With the pitch shot, I open the blade up and try to slide the bottom of the club along the ground to keep the leading edge under the ball so as not to blade it over the green. I use this shot for shorter shots and when necessary. The shot comes out higher, over 30* launch angle with some spin and stops quickly, like a soft floater. You might do something similar--have a couple of basic short game shots with a lower flight and a higher flight. Then, work on getting your carry numbers.

- For putting, focus on read, bead, and speed. See other threads on this. I will also throw in another tip that has helped me--if you have a putting mat, depending on the speed of the greens you will play, rotate the surface on which you put the mat. For instance, when I'm going to play a course that has faster greens, I put my putting mat on my concrete garage floor because the ball will roll out more quickly. If I am going to play on slower greens, I put my putting mat on top of a rug because you have to "hit" the ball more. It's not exact, but it has helped me adjust more quickly when I get to a course.

I hope these general tips help you. Let me know if this helps. 

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17 minutes ago, ncates00 said:

Congrats. Having a home setup is very convenient and makes for efficient practice. I also own a golf simulator setup (foresight). I'll share some thoughts with you below:

- Having a home setup isn't enough; make sure you're working on the correct things for you. Working on the wrong things does you no good because you're only ingraining bad moves. I used to hit tons of balls on my simulator and felt good about things, but then I couldn't perform on the course. I was working on the wrong things. You should use your time efficiently and work on what you need to work on and not just hit balls in the hopes that it will "click." Get with a good instructor if needed and keep records of what you're doing. I used to use an instructor but I found what I needed and got away from overly technical feelings. I know what works for me and what I have to do. I've played my best golf because of this. I no longer spend tons of time on the simulator; I set my time limit and I have a goal for each session. Don't just blindly hit balls. You should know what you're trying to do before you hit a ball. For example, I know that for me, I like to do the following/have these feelings on approach shots: good setup, preset forward lean, face pointed at 0*, move off the ball some with my left shoulder, feel the club head hinge up vertically, and then on the downswing make the head "whoosh" and hit the ground after the ball at the same time. That works for me. I like to keep things simple and repeatable.

- Sort of related to the first, develop and keep to a practice routine. See LSW and other threads here for examples. I break it out into driver, approach shots, wedge play, and putting. As a general rule, I put more practice time toward driver and approach play, but when those, like right now, feel good, I spend more time on my wedge play and putting. You may also consider making voice memos, as I do, or write down what is working and what is not as a way to keep track of your progress. It also helps to keep track of your feels and that sort of thing.

- Remember that playing on the course is different (conditions of the course) from being on a simulator. At home, you've got a perfect, flat lie every shot, with not overhanging trees and rough to deal with. On the course you've got uneven lies, wind, overhanging trees, the pressure of making a score, hazards/OB, etc. That makes it more difficult. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if you aren't performing somewhat closely on the course as you do at home on the simulator, your swing isn't as good as you think. It's not just a mental block. It could be a number of things, but I would start with contact. You mentioned above that you could be in the middle of a fairway and find a way to mess things up. That could indicate that you're not as consistent with ball-then-turf contact. Mats can disguise this and be more forgiving than the fairway or rough. Fix it. You need to hit down on the ball first and then the ground. That's why I like the feeling of "whoosh" the club head and hit the ground after the ball at the same time. That is my go-to feeling for all approach shots. I like it because it frees me up from overly technical thoughts and seems to stick around even when I'm not practicing a lot; life gets in the way at times. Moreover, nailing your ball-then-turf contact will help put your mind at ease on uneven lies. Additionally, you may have some issues with your face to path. Fix it. Be sure you know about the ball flight laws and can diagnose your issues. For instance, say you're fighting a hook or slice but you're striking it fine. That means your face and path are too different from each other. Marry them up more. Therefore, you may consider looking at your start line. If your simulator shows start line, great; if not, you may consider laying down an alignment stick, or if at the range, stick an alignment stick in the ground in front of the ball several yards away. For me, as a righty, sometimes I can have a hook going. So, when I have a good strike, I know that my path is probably too far right. I confirm this by looking at my start line (or azimuth on foresight). I like to see my ball start around 0*, plus or minus 3* left or right is fine for me because I generally hit it pretty straight. So, if my ball starts at 0* but I hooked it, I know that I swung too far right, so my feel is to swing more left (a cut feeling). That neutralizes me and gets me back to straight-ish.

- For wedge play, focus on distance control and trajectory, as the two are related. I have two basic shots--a chip and a pitch. With chipping, that's basically a short version of the full swing where I have forward lean and hit down on it. I can do this shot green-side or a full swing. As with my full swing, I focus on hitting down on the ball, whooshing the club and hitting the ground out in front at the same time. This shot comes in lower, just under 30* launch angle and has some spin. With the pitch shot, I open the blade up and try to slide the bottom of the club along the ground to keep the leading edge under the ball so as not to blade it over the green. I use this shot for shorter shots and when necessary. The shot comes out higher, over 30* launch angle with some spin and stops quickly, like a soft floater. You might do something similar--have a couple of basic short game shots with a lower flight and a higher flight. Then, work on getting your carry numbers.

- For putting, focus on read, bead, and speed. See other threads on this. I will also throw in another tip that has helped me--if you have a putting mat, depending on the speed of the greens you will play, rotate the surface on which you put the mat. For instance, when I'm going to play a course that has faster greens, I put my putting mat on my concrete garage floor because the ball will roll out more quickly. If I am going to play on slower greens, I put my putting mat on top of a rug because you have to "hit" the ball more. It's not exact, but it has helped me adjust more quickly when I get to a course.

I hope these general tips help you. Let me know if this helps. 

Good comments @ncates00.  And I thought "War and Peace" was long.  Just giving you a hard time... 😁

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I find it so amusing that I’ve never gone from striping my 30 ball warm up and continuing it on the course. But when I’ve had that devastating shank-a-thon just before playing....it carries with utter precision  to the course.

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  • iacas changed the title to Can’t Take it to the Course

Many thanks to all of you who have responded - with a special mention to nevets88. When you say

'Don't just blindly hit balls. You should know what you're trying to do before you hit a ball. For example, I know that for me, I like to do the following/have these feelings on approach shots: good setup, preset forward lean, face pointed at 0*, move off the ball some with my left shoulder, feel the club head hinge up vertically, and then on the downswing make the head "whoosh" and hit the ground after the ball at the same time.'

I would say that's pretty much exactly what I do in both practice, and on the course in my 'practice shots' - where it all works and feels fine.  I'm not saying I always make a great shot - sometimes my timing or control is out and I make poor contact, hit it thin or fat etc - but the point is my body is doing approximately what I want it to.  When I'm on the fairway for real, with the ball there, I can feel it's wrong as soon as I start my backswing -  it's as though it's having a spasm and I just can't repeat the action. It's nothing to do with the lie - we have a practice ground where I can stand in short rough on a slope and still make my 'good' (ie intended) swing. 

I've just been reading up on the yips - which are described as 

a "brain spasm that impairs the short game." and a "focal dystonia," a neurological condition that provokes involuntary movements around specific actions

This sounds spot on except it's my long game that's affected.  I've also realised that it's nowhere near as bad on my shorter clubs (anything from my 26 degree hybrid down) where I'm only slightly affected - but my longer clubs and driver are hopeless. So I'm now thinking it is actually a version of the yips. Does that sound nuts?

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I've now done some more reading on yips and found this discussion (amongst many others)


I am now struggling to break 90. I warm up fine. Everything is OK. Then, get over the ball during a rouond and feel like I am wound tight like a rubber band. I get to the top of my back swing and just jerk causing all...

and can identify 100% with what's said here - so pretty sure I've found my problem, along with suggestions for working on it that I'm keen to try. Don't you just love the internet.

Thanks all

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