I was beaten in a matchplay game the other day. It came down to me missing three greens with a couple of mid to high irons and putting poorly! Yes, I know, Anthony the “putting-guy” putting poorly…ha ha, very funny! What also hindered my success was my opponent making five one-putts in a row from 12-25ft, from the 3rd to the 7th greens (it was amazing).
I have no excuse for missing a couple of shortish putts and many long putts not finishing close to the hole. And, I had 25 putts the day before! – on slow to medium paced greens (I missed quite a few greens in regulation, but was saved by very good putting). I had been putting on these slow to medium paced greens for the month prior).
The next day in the matchplay game, we played on very fast, hard greens. With very little practice before the game (a couple of minutes only), I simply had no feel on the day. I kept trying but didn’t improve as the day went on.
[Note: it’s a good idea if you are transitioning from slow to fast greens to spend at least 15 minutes on the practice putting green before your round – to get the feel of the greens.]
The upside to the day? Some of the best driving I have EVER experienced (and a few good long irons on short, tight par 4’s). (I didn’t have much of practice putt which resulted in poor putting, but did hit balls on the driving range to warm up – which resulted in excellent tee shots…hmm, there is something in that!)
On this day my key was to try and be more relaxed and less rushed from the top of my swing and into the downswing. I was in the zone from the tee (I missed just one fairway out of 8 with the driver, averaging between 275-300 yards), and hit 3 from 3 fairways from the tee with long irons. As the round progressed, the driver was my “go to club”. I ripped driver’s up tight par 4’s and was getting longer as the day went on.
I was most definitely “in the zone”. I would go through a routine and concentrate on one key from the top of my swing, and boom – straight and long.
Another important factor which I worked on was to be relaxed. Being relaxed with your walking and attitude helps you to be relaxed on the transition from backswing to downswing – which slots the club and arms into an excellent downswing position.
I was working at being relaxed and simply thinking/feeling one thing when I swung, which was to “wait” a fraction on the transition – to resist the urge and built up tension one experiences when coiled at the top of the swing.
If “the magic-move” from the top is experienced successfully, the club and arms slot into the downswing perfectly, the body uncoils at speed naturally, the wrists unhinge and release the club into and through the ball.
This robotic “do less” transition is at the core of any great driving days I have had. And, it’s what I turn to when the pressure is on – a simple key.
The ingredients for “zoned-in driving”
Pick a specific target
Part of the lead up to an excellent drive, of course, is to pick out your target. A tree in the horizon is usually where I aim (a man made structure like a pole or tower also works well). Don’t casually aim: “down there somewhere,” at the whole fairway, where the tee points you, or at some part of the fairway. Focus on a specific target. Also, know the curve and height you want to see the ball fly on.
Pick a key/anchor that promotes good tempo
And finally, as I did on this day, “give in” to one thought/feeling (I kept thinking about this key as I casually walked around the course – over and over). For me, the key was to do less from the top of my swing – to feel the shaft in the first part of transition, in other words, to know where it is. “Give in” to one feeling/thought – an anchor. If you don’t know where the shaft is in your swing, your swing is out of control.
[This feeling/key from the top of the swing is not new to me, but it does take focus to execute it on each swing while your swing is loaded with built-up energy – as I mentioned before. It is very easy to not harness that energy into the correct downswing plane – easy to rush the transition and swing across or too much inside on the downswing.]
On the 2nd hole, a par 5, I had an approach shot from 100 yards (90m) from a fairway-bunker. For me, executing this shot well, comes from being relaxed – being very quiet with the lower body (feet and legs do next to nothing), and making a smooth transition by feeling where the club shaft is in the first part of the downswing. (To me it feels like it is an arms-swing, the legs and hips do very little.)
If I can sense where the shaft is in the first part of my downswing, my tempo will be good and I’ll make good contact. And on this fairway-bunker shot, I did make clean contact. The ball finished 20 feet from the hole. And yes, I did make one substantial putt on that day – for a sneaky birdie!
Take those keys and use them. Cultivate calm when you play, work on getting more relaxed as the round progresses – regardless of good or bad holes, and swing with better tempo.
If you have not yet enrolled in The Automatic Golf System/Magic Move Training course, I have in-depth training here (videos demonstrations by myself, eBooks and email lessons) on creating a better, more consistent golf swing.
Key points covered include:
- How to swing with better tempo and consistency
- How to find a key or two that is right for you – that will help you create a relaxed move from the top of your swing (helpful all the time, and vital when you are under pressure trying to finish of a good round)
- How to focus on precise targets for straighter shots
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