How to Practice: 2. SKILL

Boys are typically much better chippers than girls! And it's not because they're more creative or the fact that they're stronger physically which allows them to hit a broader variety of shots. It's because they love to practice 'dumb' and crazy shots! Boys continually strive to outdo one another and I believe it's via this innate behavior that they learn to hit those amazing and skillful shots around the green. Ever seen a female trick shot artist? Hmmm...

My approach to developing skill is that we take this 'outside the lines' approach to practicing the shortgame and apply it to every element of golf. From driving to putting we can develop our skill and our ability to control the golf ball by spending time purposefully hitting 'abnormal' golf shots. Watch...

When practicing to develop your skill challenge yourself to become better at intentionally controlling the following elements of a golf shots:

  • Distance
  • Launch direction
  • Peak height
  • Curvature of the ball flight
  • Where you strike the ball on the face

When practicing 'outside the lines' change your intent after every second shot. Use a variety of clubs, targets and lies. Keep in mind it's really easy and fun to practice these elements when you have a TrackMan, but they are entirely doable without any technology. Here are a few ideas:

The 3 Ball Strike Point Challenge

The 3 Ball Strike Point Challenge

This drill is great fun for golfers of all abilities and ages. All you need is a can of Dr. Scholl's Odor X foot spray. I firmly believe we become better at completing any task when we learn to complete it a variety of different ways. Shot 1 is outside the vertical line, shot 2 inside it and shot 3 is on the line.

The Spin Axis Challenge

The Spin Axis Challenge

When taking on this challenge you want to use a 6 iron and try to hit the biggest hook or slice possible for your opening shot. From there the objective is to progressively reduce the amount of curvature until you get to a straight shot. If you can get 9 shots, as in the example above, you're doing very well.

When practicing to develop skill I cannot encourage you enough be creative, have fun and think outside the box. You can even hit one-handed or one-legged shots! Close your eyes, change your grip, hit it out of divots - anything goes. Come up with your very own, out of the ordinary practice session. Now get out there and start spending some time practicing like a teenage boy...

Here is the first article in my series on how to practice:

How to Practice: 1. SWING — Andrew Rice Golf

A Better Downswing to Reduce Blocks and Hooks

As we all know most golfers tend to struggle with fading and slicing the ball, but there is a large portion of the golf population, typically lower handicap players, that struggle with hooks and the occasional block. This article is for you!

There's a huge correlation between between a golfer's club speed and their handicap. The higher the speed, typically, the lower the handicap. The key is being able to manage the golf club while generating higher club speeds and that can only happen with a proper pivot and more specifically, a proper downswing pivot. Here's how...

As you begin your downswing you want to feel the following:

  • The weight remaining on the trail foot for longer
  • Cast your net! More rotational and less lateral
  • The legs separating slightly
  • The handle of the club working out or in front of you while the clubhead stays behind you

The objective here is to get the clubhead traveling less outward and along a more neutral path through impact. Getting your body to rotate on the way down in more of a 'merry-go-round' fashion and less of a 'ferris wheel' fashion will deter the clubhead from getting too far to the inside.  

Try this feel slowly and with soft shots before working up to full swings. You'll be amazed at how challenging it is to actually stay back and rotate versus driving forward. Stick with it and realize that in order to improve the quality of your shots you're going to have to improve how the clubhead communicates with your golf ball.

Thanks for reading and if you have a friend who you feel might benefit from this information please share! 

Why Do I Hit Offline Shots?

Fore! We are all capable of hitting amazing golf shots, yet it is those mind-numbingly bad shots that ruin our day and erode any measure of confidence that we may have been hanging on to.  The question we all would like to know the answer to is - why? Why was that shot so far offline when I've been hitting the ball straight just about all day? What is the primary cause of my inaccuracy?

My experience is that most golfers tend to look in the same place to find answers to their problems.  Just like husbands tell their wives on every bad shot she might hit - "You lifted up!" Well, so to do we tend look towards the same area as a cause for our bad shots.  Talking with my students it appears that far too many golfers are of the belief that bad shots are caused by a swing that was suddenly over the top or under plane - in other words the clubpath was different and that's what led to the offline shot.  This is even a favorite for the golf commentators on Sunday afternoons - if a golfer hits a shot left coming down the stretch you are very likely to hear Nick or Johnny chime in with, "Well, he came over that one..."

Teaching with TrackMan has taught me that most golfers' inaccurate shots are caused by one of two factors:

Golfers tend to be fairly consistent with their clubpath.  Keep in mind that this is a general statement and not all golfers are consistent, but my experience has shown that golfers that work at their game tend to have a good measure of consistency when it comes to the direction their clubhead is travelling at impact - clubpath. It may not be an ideal path or what they are looking for, but consistent it is!

Consistency to your shot pattern comes from passive hands through impact and a predictable point of contact on the face (even if it's not in the center!)

Please note that there is a mistake in my video! The face does not determine where the ball finishes, but rather where it starts! Sorry about that....

If you would like to find out what's causing your shots to veer offline contact me at andrew(at)andrewricegolf.com to set up a TrackMan lesson or to discuss an online lesson.

Golf Impact Drills

In order for a golfer to improve their ball striking they must get into a better impact position.  Here are a few tried and trusted impact drills to help you get to where you need to be: (Use a seven or eight iron when a club is required in all of the drills below)

  • The first drill is the down slope drill.  Simple enough!  Just watch for allowing your upper body to sneak down the hill as well - try to ensure your head remains over the ball.  At address, make sure you maintain a regular ball position.

Downslope Drill

  • The impact bag drill.  Another fairly straightforward exercise here, but the benefit lies in the details.  When the club impacts the bag be sure to get the shaft to contact the upper part of the bag before the club head gets there.  This will ensure that the handle leads the clubhead.  Also, save your joints, club and impact bag by not whaling away at the bag too hard.  You just want a feel to carry over to the real deal.

Impact Bag Drill done Correctly

  • The 'hip press' drill.  This is a great drill that will give you a very good sense of body position at impact and also provide you with an amazing stretch.  If you slice or fade the ball this is for you! Set up to a ball without a club and your hands on your hips.  While maintaining your head position over the ball drive your hips as far toward the target as your body will allow.  Your back heel should come off the ground slightly as you feel the back leg straighten.  It will feel like you are pointing at the ground with the big toe on your back foot!  Hold for five seconds and release.  Afterwards try this with a club in your hands.

Hip Press Drill

  • The towel/line drill works wonders for compressing the ball and taking those ideal 'bacon strip' divots.  It ensures that the golfer shifts the weight onto the front foot at impact.  Practice as pictured, making sure the towel provides a slight amount of elevation and all the ensuing divots occur forward of the line of golf balls. 

The Towel/Line Drill in Action

To get a little more sizzle on your shots, irons or woods, try the above drills!

I look forward to the Open Championship tomorrow.  Golfweek has a great slideshow that captures the vibe.  The weather looks good and the rough looks brutal.

It seems that the two Scottish greats, Monty and Sandy Lyle are feuding over who should be Ryder Cup captain first and who cheated! Shame on ya wee laddies!

I look for Padraig and Rory to perform nicely! Here are the latest odds. 

Enjoy!