Updated: Oct 31, 2020
So first off, I think most amateur golfers have had the experience of hitting the ball extremely well on the range whether it be in a practice session or a warm-up before the round. Only to have this great feeling of control over your shots evaporate once the real play begins.
***Disclaimer: I am not a golf pro (and if you need help with your specific swing you should seek out a golf professional or instructor), but instead I am a physical therapist with golf specific training and a great understanding of how the body works.
There are two large reasons why this difference from the range to the course occurs. One has to do with how you judge your accuracy on the range, and the other has to do with how we get our body ready for real golf on the range.
So, let’s quickly talk about the aforementioned accuracy brought up in the above paragraph, before we get to the meat and potatoes of this article. Over the years through my personal golf growth and talking with golf/teaching professionals one thing that has been consistently brought up is how we judge our game on the range. We tend to hit the ball on the range with less specificity in comparison to what we expect on the course. We hit the ball with great contact and maybe we were generally aiming down the middle which is where it generally lands, so we feel pretty good about that one, right? Well the problem is this is not how we judge our shots on the course. On the range we want to remember that when actually playing we are generally shooting to (somewhat) small areas on the course during our round, therefore we likely need to pay much closer attention to not only where we are aiming on the range, but also where our ball in ending in relation to that designated area.
During our warm-up or practice sessions on the range we should be picking out specific flags, landmarks, or areas between two landmarks (simulating the fairway etc) to place our ball in order to practice more specific to the way we play. Another great tip I have gathered through the years is to change your aiming point frequently during your session. We don’t want to hit 200 balls at the same flag because… well that’s not authentic to actual golf. While this is one simple tip, try this the next time you warm up for your round and you might be surprised how much more focused on your game you become.
Alright, alright, alright. Now let’s transition to my actual area of expertise which is how the body moves and works. We will transition to talk about one other big factor we don’t often include in our practice sessions, which is the concept that – we don’t always hit off a perfect lie, on flat ground, with our feet in the same position, with the same wind conditions, while actually playing. Instead we often hit off of awkward lies with our feet in crazy positions that might alter our golf swings slightly, SOOOOOOOO we need to have this reflected in our warm-up as well. A warm-up is called a warm-up for a reason, we need to start getting our body ready for the 9 or 18 holes we are about to play and the stressors we are about to place upon our bodies (Different topic, but if you don’t have a good pre-golf warm up for your body….you need to get one). A golf swing by nature is a very aggressive movement that is often underestimated in how much stress and physical toll it really has on the body, there is a reason why so many professional golfers now train like professional athletes in sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and other “high” level sports.
The video to the left that goes along with this article will walk you through a great drill that is perfect for a short warm up pre-round, a practice session, or for individuals who feel hip tightness or lack of mobility might be affecting their game. Hip mobility is really why this drill was created, but it has evolved to also be a great simulation of multiple shots you will be hitting on the golf course. In this drill you will be placing your feet in 6 different positions that will either simulate a golf shot on the course and/or challenge your hips and body to complete a good golf swing that may be more realistic to what you may encounter on the course. Below are the 6 positions and what they simulate.
- Left foot forward with right foot back: Simulates hitting off a lie in which the ball is above your feet.
- Right foot forward with left foot back: Simulates hitting of a lie in which the ball is below your feet.
- Feet internally rotated (toed in): Challenging the rotation of your hips and upper body to maintain a good on plane swing to make contact with the ball. This one will challenge your backswing and finish due to decreased hip mobility allowed.
- Feet Externally rotated (toed out): Same challenge as listed above, however now the hips will be challenged in the opposite positions. (sounds confusing, but you will feel it!!)
- Narrow Stance: Simulates hitting off of a down-slope in which your bodyweight and swing will want to carry you forward. This position is also great for challenging you balance.
- Wide stance: Simulates hitting off of an up-slope in which you will struggle to get your body weight through the ball. You will feel how this alters your swing and lower body mechanics as you try to drive off you trail leg.
As mentioned in the video you can hit 3-5 balls for each position, but if you happen to struggle from a certain position or really feel it challenging your body don’t be afraid to his a few more.
Give this drill a try and as always if you have any questions about health-related items, this drill, or just want to chat with a physical therapist then reach out!
If pain is your limiting factor then seeing a specialist like myself, Peter Stanley, or a physical therapist/doctor/health professional that you trust would be the next course of action. Don’t let a small ache or pain continue to grow and stop you from doing the activities you love.
Remember we are Revival Physical Therapy and Wellness – We come to you and provide treatment in the comfort of your own home, office, or wherever is convenient for you in order to help you stay competitive in life.