The second part of the series “How to Improve Your Long Game” focuses on the details of how you can put more focus on the ball and end up where you need to be on the green. Focused practice is a key element of improving your long game, and it goes far beyond putting more power behind the drive. It is the accumulation of small details that make the long game more successful.
As all golf academies will teach you, getting more out of your long game leaves you some room in your short game.
Focus on the Ball
Too many people make the mistake of focusing on the destination, especially in the long game when some think that power and distance make up for everything else. Consider this: If power and distance are all that matters, how do you plan to get on the green when your ball is not just in the sand pit, but buried in it? You can prevent this from happening by putting more focus on the ball than the power behind it.
By the time you get to the point where nothing matters but the ball itself, you should already know where you are going. More than that, you should have your body lined up to get the ball there. With all this in place, the ball is all that matters.
You have picked your spot, and you can see how you are going to get there, having accounted for wind, the slope of the green, and any hazards in between. Now you need to set up for the shot. Remember that you are not swinging the club with your hands or arms, but with your whole body. Your hands are what holds the club in place, and your arms are the pendulum that swings your weight. It is the body that gives direction and power.
With your lead foot anchored, keep your elbow close to your hip. This will force you to turn your whole body when you make the swing, so that your body follows through facing the direction where you want the ball to travel. This technique also puts power in the body rather than the arms.
Swinging the Club
Lift your foot late – As you swing your club, you are going to follow through by lifting your foot. The foot should come off the ground as late as possible, right before the ball is released from the club. In this way, the energy of your body maintains its focus and you can get more distance from your swing. The sooner your foot leaves the ground, the less distance you will get.
Keep your grip loose – You want a firm hold on the club, but you do not want to clutch it too tight. If you grip it too tight, you are trying to use your hands to drive the ball, when you need to use your whole body. A looser grip allows your hands to do nothing more than hold the club so your body can drive it.
These tips may seem general, but it is impossible to give personal tips without seeing the way you play. For a more in-depth and personalized experience, look to a golf training program such as the one founded as the International Junior Golf Academy, in Bluffton, South Carolina.