Skills will always trump style.
By Murray Smit TGSE Coach
As the saying goes, “there are no pictures on the scorecard,” but I have seen many players spend all their practice time hitting ball after ball on the driving range trying to engrain that “textbook swing.” Unfortunately most of these players are consistently disappointed with the scores they shoot when they get out onto the golf course. The aim of golf is to take as few shots as possible, and to achieve this you need to firstly understand which parts of your game are costing you shots and then determine what practice would be most effective at improving these areas. So many great players in history have been considered “unorthodox,” but all of them developed the necessary skills to produce good scores.
I have had great success here at TGSE using my player’s statistics to guide what needs improvement, and where we can save the greatest number of shots over the shortest space of time. One such player I began working with toward the end of 2015, Chalton Steyn, had a stroke average of 82,89. He was hitting 70,63% of his fairways, 53% of his greens in regulation, averaging 35,56 putts per round and making only 11,84% of his scrambles. While Chalton needed quite a few technical changes to his swing, which we got to work on straight away, I realised that this would be a long-term process and take some time to see reward. We decided to target the skills necessary for him to improve his shortgame and putting, by introducing a daily practice plan that incorporated a variety of drills. Through Chalton’s incredible work ethic and diligence he has achieved remarkable results. By the end of March this year, he had reduced his putts per round by 4.5 strokes to 31 and increased his scrambling to 55,7%. This enabled him to improve his stroke average by nearly 6 shots to 75,70, remarkable progress over such a short space of time.
The important message here is that changing the way something looks does not necessarily improve it’s efficiency, be sure to invest in an instructor who is willing to help you make those precious hours of practice count. Work out what really needs to improve for you to take fewer strokes and then find effective ways of practicing it. Spending your time in this manner is sure to help you play consistently better golf and therefore get even more enjoyment out of this great game.
Here is a putting drill that Chalton completes each day, he places 8 Tees around four separate holes at the following lengths:
1 Putter Length (Goal – 8/8)
1 Driver Length (Goal – 6/8)
2 Driver Lengths (Goal – 4/8)
3 Driver Lengths (Goal – 2/8)
He then hits only one putt from each tee, keeping score of how many he holes. This is great practice as it is highly transferable to the golf course, the better you get at it, the fewer putts you will take during your rounds. You are getting 32 different putts from a variety of distances and angles and only get one chance at each. 20 out of 32 is considered Chalton’s par, as per his goals at each distance.
Here is a bunker drill that Chalton completes each day, he places 4 cones at one driver length radius, around three separate holes. Once he has got 5 shots to come to rest within a driver length radius of the first hole, he can move onto the next. Chalton is required to keep note of how many shots it takes to achieve this at each hole, and this is how we can track his improvement. If you feel that 1 driver length radius is too difficult to begin with, don’t hesitate to make it twice as big until your skill levels grow.