Why is it so difficult to play this game?
I mean, it should be easy to take a stick and hit a ball that is sitting still, make solid contact and send it towards your target!
Conceptually, it sounds easy.
Practically speaking, it seems the most difficult task in the world. The pros make it look easy, therefore it should be easy.
I guess that is a large part of the attraction of this game they call golf.
From time to time we all can visualize the perfect shot, go through our pre-shot routine, step up to the ball and make the perfect swing, sending the ball up in the air with proper trajectory and distance landing in the exact position we had envisioned it.
Simple in concept, difficult to execute.
If you have been bitten by the golf bug you will understand exactly what I mean.
We have all hit those perfect shots. It is those perfect shots that raise our blood level and gets us excited as we just accomplished what it is that we set out to do.
But why can golfers not repeat this time after time?
More specifically, why can golfers go to the driving range and hit good shots more often than on the golf course?
This seems to be the epidemic of golf.
Players are unable to take your range game to the golf course.
The best description I have for this is that while on the driving range you have a countless supply of golf balls, teeing it up on the largest fairway in the world with very little or no pressure to execute the swing perfectly.
If you make a poor swing you grab another golf ball and do it again. No pressure!
Having said that, the golf course is a whole different beast.
One ball, narrow fairway or green, trees, deep rough, sand traps, and water hazards. All this awaits you as you hit the first tee.
Can you feel the tension creeping into your swing?
The fact is that in most cases it is the tension that destroys your swing and ultimately sends your ball in the opposite direction that you had intended it to go.
It is this tension that changes your golf swing. It is this tension that changes your personality from a friendly, positive and happy individual to a grumpy, negative anti social jerk!
Yes, the golf course can do amazing things to all of us.
I work with many players each week. The goals differ from player to player, but essentially are all the same.
They want to hit the ball further and more consistent that they did before, lowering their score and therefore increasing their enjoyment of the game.
The process begins by evaluating their swings and then educating and developing areas within their golf swings that will assist in achieving their goals.
CPGA golf instructors pride themselves on delivering the proper technique all golfers need to improve their swing and achieve their goals.
This differs from player to player as each golfer’s needs are different.
And so the process begins. Basic swing fundamental are the first thing that we as instructors look for.
Grip, stance, alignment, posture, ball position and finish position.
This is the starting point to all great results, as if you do not start properly or finish properly your result is likely to be less than desirable.
From here comes the swing motion itself.
It is critical to ensure that your body rotates and you transfer your weight properly as you take the golf club back into your backswing to ensure that you are able to consistently fire through the ball.
As you practise on the driving range, you may notice that more times than not you are hitting the ball further and straighter than you did before.
Of course this is a direct result of making the necessary changes to your swing motion to make your body more efficient.
It is the efficiency in which a golfer swings that creates consistency.
Now you are ready for the golf course.
Excited for what the first tee shot and subsequent shots will bring as you head off to the first tee.
Tee the ball up and once contact is made the ball responds exactly as it did the game before you took your lessons.
Why is it so difficult to take the range game to the golf course?
In my 20 years experience I have not only lived this frustration but have counselled many golfers to overcome this most frustrating reality.
Generally speaking, there are only a few swing fundamentals that will cause different results on the course than the driving range.
They would include: grip pressure too tight, poor alignment and a poor finish position.
First of all, tension is the root of all evil when it comes to the golf swing.
If you are not relaxed, then you are likely not going to hit the ball very well.
Tension tends to begin in your hands and works it way throughout your body.
Tension can be noticed in most cases by how tightly you hold your golf club.
You want to be sure that you your grip pressure is light enough that the golf club will not spin in your hands but relaxed enough that someone could pull it out. Imagine holding a baby bird.
A proper grip pressure is one that would not allow the bird to escape but also one that would not kill the bird.
Gripping a club too tightly in most cases is a direct result of having little confidence in one’s ability.
Build confidence by learning the swing fundamentals, practising them properly on the driving range and then taking it to the course.
A confident swing is a free and relaxed swing.
The next step is to ensure that you are lined up properly to your target. Most players tend to aim themselves directly at their target.
Of course, they do not take into account that they tend to slice the ball 20 yards.
Therefore, by aiming themselves directly at their target rather than 20 yards left (for right-handed golfers, opposite is true for left-handed golfers) will tend to cause the ball to end up considerably right of where they had intended the ball to go, if they make contact at all.
Finally and most importantly, golfers that have difficulty taking their driving range swing to the golf course will tend to have difficulty swinging to their finish position.
The finish position is considered the most important position in golf and one that seems to be mysteriously missing on the course.
A good finish would include all of your weight on your front foot, your belt buckle facing your target, club above your shoulder pointing towards the ground and your back foot rolled up on your toe.
Even thought the ball is gone, everything you do up to the point of contact will determine where you finish.
If you finish short of a full finish position then you have likely gripped the club too tightly, which can create a poor finish as well as poor contact.
When going from the range to the golf course, be sure to relax your grip pressure, align yourself properly to your target and always finish. Doing so will assist in taking your range game to the course.
Play well and have a great week of golf.
Scott Bergdahl is the head professional at Lakewood Golf Resort near Sylvan Lake.
His column appears Tuesdays in the Advocate.