Learn from Mr. October, Stay Within Yourself

There is trial and error in the game of golf. No way around it. I believe some golfers recognize this way more than others, and golfers who play and practice within themselves are able to grow and learn from their trial and error more easily.

I had the good fortune to give the great baseball player Reggie Jackson a series of lessons when I was in Southern California in my early professional years, and it struck me within the first five minutes of the first lesson of how he recognized this.

He came to the course with two other ball players and immediately after their arrival, the other two younger players were pounding drivers while Reggie was patiently working with a 7 iron. Reggie pointed over and said, “See, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and that’s how I’ve learned. I’m new to the game and I don’t need to be doing that right now. Pounding drivers is a lot of fun and feels good but I know I need to be right here, with this club learning fundamentals.”

Reggie was exactly right. Here he was, strong as an ox, with the ability to hit it a mile, but he had the discipline to resist the urge to pound it, in order to develop his understanding of the fundamentals and learn how to stay within himself.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I believe in going after the ball, but doing so within yourself is vital for being able to do so repeatedly and consistently. Here are some practice pointers for learning how to stay within yourself and grow in your understanding of your game:

Work the wedge. Practice the pitch, chip, chip, pitch, half wedge, flop, bump n run, wind cheater, and more. To develop your full swing, practice with the wedge more than any other club in your bag. There is a sequence to the motion in the golf swing, and these small shots with their various ball positions and adjustments will help you learn the timing of your swing. It is like learning to dance.

Do you jump right out on the dance floor and go as fast as possible right out of the gate? No, you get the steps down slowly, and then as you gain confidence in repeating, you then start to quicken up the pace. So using the wedge is rehearsing and getting the steps down slowly; something all golfers need to continually do.

Hit shots on the range with varying percentages of power. Take your 7 iron and hit some balls full length of backswing but half (50%) power. I’ll bet you will be surprised. That golf ball is going to fly farther then you thought it would. Then move up by 10% increments and hit some shots swinging 60%, 70%, 80% up to 100%.

This is a great way to learn about how to keep the club swinging on a good path and plane. Also, a great way to learn about the best tempo for your swing. You may just find that when you swing 90% and 100% that the club has more of a tendency to get yanked off the correct path and plane and not fly as far and accurate. Try this with a hybrid or 5-wood too; you’ll probably have some fun and you might even find your balance improving.

On the range, hit at your usual 8-iron green with your 7-iron. Really try and land 7 irons on that green. By taking a club more to hit to the target, you have to stay within yourself. You are also going to learn how to keep the flight of the shot lower by practicing this way which will give you more ball control.

This type of control can come in handy when trying to hit greens and also when playing on windy days.

I hope these pointers help you with your game. Read all of my columns on the Lone Tree Golf Course’s website at www.LoneTreeGolfCourse.com and look under “The Course” and “Your Pro’s Corner”.

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