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What helped you become a better ball striker?


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My ball striking is very inconsistent. I am a 6 hdcp but I'd like to be a 2-3. I noticed that when I play with scratch golfers one thing they always do is strike the ball pure on almost every shot. My tendency is to hit the ball thin. Has anyone used any mental cues, drills, swing changes that have helped them with this?

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For me, it was deliberately working to diagnose + solve the root cause of bad swing outcomes vs. trying to patch individual symptoms that led to dead ends. I did this by working hard to conceptually understand + feel what the ideal kinematic sequence should be and why. Doing all kinds of drills to learn specific golf skills + motions on the range and out on the course also helped.

 

I fall into the camp of people who are highly analytical, so I track various data points out on the course to build plans, get on Trackman all the time to see what's happening, and crafting strategies specific to whatever course I am playing.

 

My simple answer would be a passion for golf + an appropriate investment of time.

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My drills are start with 50% swings with the club your body position feels most natural with. For many it's the 5-6-7 irons. For me it's the 6 or 7.

 

Slow speed, abbreviated backswings, etc al.

 

Then slowly work up to full speed.

 

 

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Getting the correct feeling of the transition for my game. I've been focusing on handpath for awhile now, but only recently hit upon the right drill for me to experience hip rotation, rather than a fake slide-turn in the downswing.

 

Basically, I get to the top and take the club to slide it between my knees. Left hand simply pushes behind me toward my heels and it forced my hips to open correctly. Add in the right hand coming down on line straight away (tape on a mirror :D) and my arms are in front of me and I'm turning nicely on top of the ball

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This is going to sound like an oversimplification, but it all comes down to clubface control.

 

There is no singular moment where it all clicks; instead, it's kinda like peeling off layers of an onion.

 

Some of the steps along my journey have looked like this:

  • When I drive too hard with my right hand/elbow, I don't open the left side of my body, and the club face either stays way open (if I hold it off) or slams shut (if I let it go).
  • My left arm has a tendency to pull back and in through impact, and this causes a bit of a wipe through the impact area.
  • My right hand grip promotes too much club face freedom (aka "slop") and wants to close the face through impact.

Club face control and low point control are completely intertwined, and these two factors are really what impact is all about. You've got to identify the moves that affect your control, and then you've got to make adjustments to ensure you are able to maintain this control on every type of shot.

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My drills are start with 50% swings with the club your body position feels most natural with. For many it's the 5-6-7 irons. For me it's the 6 or 7.

 

Slow speed, abbreviated backswings, etc al.

 

Then slowly work up to full speed.

This, right here, is the ticket. Timing and sequence are so important in golf, and it's why this drill has been used by great players forever. Often I'll spend an hour hitting 75% of my practice balls with a reduced speed, full swing. I'll take a 7 iron and try to hit 80-100 yard targets (my stock 7 is 165).

 

This almost always gets me immediate results. I remember playing awful golf a week prior to an expensive pro event and was beyond frustrated with my game, barely able to break 80 prior to the tourney. Day of the event I was still lost, but had a lightbulb moment. I spent 40 minutes practicing like that, and finished 3rd and hit 33/36 GIR. It's a drill that teaches you ball control and to hit it solid.

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My drills are start with 50% swings with the club your body position feels most natural with. For many it's the 5-6-7 irons. For me it's the 6 or 7.

 

Slow speed, abbreviated backswings, etc al.

 

Then slowly work up to full speed.

This, right here, is the ticket. Timing and sequence are so important in golf, and it's why this drill has been used by great players forever. Often I'll spend an hour hitting 75% of my practice balls with a reduced speed, full swing. I'll take a 7 iron and try to hit 80-100 yard targets (my stock 7 is 165).

 

This almost always gets me immediate results. I remember playing awful golf a week prior to an expensive pro event and was beyond frustrated with my game, barely able to break 80 prior to the tourney. Day of the event I was still lost, but had a lightbulb moment. I spent 40 minutes practicing like that, and finished 3rd and hit 33/36 GIR. It's a drill that teaches you ball control and to hit it solid.

 

This is the way, I've been in a little ballstriking funk lately. Went back to these "30%" swings, focusing on posture, set up and grip. It's amazing how a few range sessions swinging like this will dial everything back in. You start to feel what it's like to swing the club again, not hit at the ball.

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If you keep hitting it thin sounds like there is a swing fault there causing you to do that. But the obvious answer other than seeing a pro to tweak your swing is just to take a proper divot after the ball (bottom out the arc after) and making sure your momentum maxes out after the ball. I think if a current swing flaw is causing this, you can consciously make adjustments to improve the strike through practice, but there could be other compensations coming into the mix that might not be optimal in the long run. That said, a teaching pro tweaking my swing hasn't yielded me better results yet since it takes so long to put in the changes and for my brain to accept them! The scratch guy I see play is always thumping through the ball and there is no chance of him hitting it thin ever.

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Look up "the strike plan" by adam jones.

 

I think you meant Adam young.

 

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My ball striking is very inconsistent. I am a 6 hdcp but I'd like to be a 2-3. I noticed that when I play with scratch golfers one thing they always do is strike the ball pure on almost every shot. My tendency is to hit the ball thin. Has anyone used any mental cues, drills, swing changes that have helped them with this?

hand path.

 

as a 6 you are probably a lot more consistent than you think but the 'body position' thoughts still prevent you from just having your hands put the clubface on the ball.

 

to go from a 6 to a 3 was to mess around with hand path. if you spray the face or use a dry erase marker on the ball you can take swings and see what it takes to get the ball in the sweetspot. i learned so much doing this. once i improved that, my body adapted. For years, i focused on the swing, arms, forearms, hips, blah, blah, but that is backwards. now, my clubface tells my body where to be. it's so much more fun and consistent now...and if i miss a shot i know immediately why and it doesn't follow me for the round.

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For me (HC low of 1.6, currently a 4.1), I am not an amazing ball striker, but decent enough, still have a few moments where I heel a driver or wood, it was lessons, countless lessons. I went through several pros until I found one I clicked with and we got to work. While grooving the swing changes, I would hit a few hundred balls several days a week. Now I only visit the range for occasional maintenance (I hate banging balls on the range and would rather spend time in the short game practice area).

 

What I have noticed is if I take more than a week or so off, my ball striking needs tuning again, and I have to drag myself to the range (I played quite inconsistently the past few years due to law school, hence why my HC is high right now). Once I lose my feel, it can take several trips to get it back, be it on the course or the range. To prevent this, I have been using birdieballs in the backyard to great effect. Not sure what I am going to do when I move to NYC to start my new job in September, going to be a challenge to keep the golf game in decent shape.

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Forgot to add, technology (actual club head data) was invaluable. Try to get together with a pro and analyze what is going on at impact to really understand your mishits.

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Look up "the strike plan" by adam jones.

 

I think you meant Adam young.

 

Yes!! When giving props it's good to get the name right. His book and video series has helped me immediately

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For me (HC low of 1.6, currently a 4.1), I am not an amazing ball striker, but decent enough, still have a few moments where I heel a driver or wood, it was lessons, countless lessons. I went through several pros until I found one I clicked with and we got to work. While grooving the swing changes, I would hit a few hundred balls several days a week. Now I only visit the range for occasional maintenance (I hate banging balls on the range and would rather spend time in the short game practice area).

 

What I have noticed is if I take more than a week or so off, my ball striking needs tuning again, and I have to drag myself to the range (I played quite inconsistently the past few years due to law school, hence why my HC is high right now). Once I lose my feel, it can take several trips to get it back, be it on the course or the range. To prevent this, I have been using birdieballs in the backyard to great effect. Not sure what I am going to do when I move to NYC to start my new job in September, going to be a challenge to keep the golf game in decent shape.

 

I hit foam Callaway balls off my rug into the curtains with wedges. I live in NYC. It keeps you sharp in the winter months!! Added benefit it has helped to naturally shallow my swing because if I'm too steep, my downstairs neighbors aren't too happy....??

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Long Thumb on the top hand.

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A few things that have helped me tremendously that likely would you that are not mechanically related are:

-I do my best to not hit a 100% full on iron shot during a round. I choke up and take more club, hit a half PW on a lower trajectory instead of a full on SW, etc just to take stress off of my mind knowing I have to make perfect contact to get where i need the ball to go.

 

-I'll choke up on a driver or a 3w off the tee and think I need to hit it 220 or so just to keep it in play on tighter holes. In reality I'm ending up at 250-265 with a driver and 235-250 with a 3W. If I have a forced carry and it's a 3w hole, but i'm not hitting the 3w good, I'll choke up on the driver. If it's a 3w hole and the wind is still in your face I'll choke up on a driver.

 

I just try to over do it now with taking too much club and to my surprise I'm not ending up going long nearly as much as I was worried I would be. I've gotten pretty good at hitting a 175yd choked down 4i on par 3's where I'd be swinging at 100% with a 6i hoping for the best in the past.

 

Also, make a note not to swing until you're committed to the shot and the club. Back away if you need to. If you swing scared it doesn't matter what you have.

In search of solid contact...
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I stopped trying to patch my swing with quick fixes and got to work making slow gradually tweaks over the last 2 seasons. This season I spent some time stepping back to think of what my body needs to do to create the impact I want and then visualize myself doing it.

 

Oh, and realizing that I am just way too close to the ball and have way too wide a stance.

Also, for me, the club must float in my hands, as zero grip pressure as possible (prevents me from getting to close to the ball) - knowing that as I get into impact that I will be gripping hard anyways - this has allowed me to make a loose, free moving swing and then as the club drops back into position go at it 120%! The bonus is that mishits don't affect me anymore - the club just plows through it regarding of whether I hit the ball clean, clip the grass 6 inches behind it, or hit an iron off the toe. The ball holds the line way better and loses little distance.

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I remember in one lesson that actually stuck, shortening my backswing, ironically mentally I thought I had a short back swing when back to video was where it should be for me as on a " prior to" full swing I was going past parallel. Even the thought of taking a 3/4 swing you are prob going further and completely made the face of my iron a much tighter impact mark, and ball went further for what it's worth as I was hitting dead center consistently. By no means a teacher, but changed my striking. (His lesson actually started me only bring club very short and gradually working to what worked best for me. All of that to explain, too much backswing basically wasn't allowing me to drop club in slot properly. So years later, when I feel something wrong, I try to start correcting with short back swings and smooth rhythm.

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