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The Key to Golf Improvement: Making Movement Changes

Golf is a game that demands precision, patience, and continuous improvement. Many golfers, regardless of their skill level, often find themselves frustrated by their inability to make meaningful progress on the course. They may spend countless hours hitting golf shots aimlessly, hoping for the elusive breakthrough. However, as legendary golf coach Pete Cowen asserts, improving at golf isn't about hitting balls relentlessly; it's about making essential movement changes that lead to better shots and a more satisfying golfing experience.

The Misconception of Hitting Balls Mindlessly


Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. 15 minutes of quality practice is more effective than 8 hours of poor practice.


When golfers first step onto the course, they often bring with them the mindset of hitting a moving target, akin to sports like cricket or tennis. The golf ball, unlike a cricket or tennis ball, sits stationary on the ground, waiting to be struck. Consequently, many golfers fall into the trap of fixating on the ball itself rather than the movement required to make a successful shot.


The primary issue arises when golfers prioritise hitting the ball over understanding and perfecting the necessary movement. They may spend hours on the range, hitting hundreds of shots, but if their technique remains flawed, they are merely ingraining poor habits. This approach not only hinders improvement but often leads to increased frustration.


The Importance of Learning Proper Movement


In contrast to the misguided notion of hitting balls indiscriminately, the key to golf improvement lies in making fundamental movement changes. Golfers must learn how to move their bodies correctly to achieve optimal results with each swing.


One effective way to understand this concept is to look at the example of Korean golfers, who have gained notoriety for their exceptional performance on the global stage. Their success can be attributed, in part, to a unique approach to practice. Korean golfers often train in facilities with limited hitting space, such as driving ranges with 50-yard nets. In these confined spaces, they prioritise developing precise and repeatable movements.


Instead of obsessing over the outcome of each shot, Korean golfers focus on improving the quality of their movement. They understand that refining their swing mechanics is the first step towards consistent success. This approach allows them to create a strong foundation, ensuring that when they do hit a ball, it's more likely to be a good shot.


Quantifying Effective Practice


To illustrate the effectiveness of this approach, consider this perspective from Pete Cowen: In a typical round of golf, a player might hit around 40 full shots, with each swing lasting approximately one and a half seconds. This amounts to a mere 60 seconds of actual swing time during the entire round. Of those 60 seconds, only a fraction result in genuinely good shots.


Now compare this to a focused practice session where a golfer spends 15 minutes working on their movement. In that short amount of time, they've dedicated ten times as much effort to their swing compared to an entire round of golf. With the right guidance, this dedicated practice can lead to significant improvements.


In the quest to improve one's golf game, it's crucial to shift the focus away from mindless ball striking and towards making meaningful movement changes.


Golfers who embrace this philosophy may find that they can make significant strides in as little as 15 minutes a day. While the temptation to hit balls endlessly may persist, the wisdom lies in understanding that quality trumps quantity. By making movement changes a priority, golfers can experience a more enjoyable and rewarding journey toward mastering the game of golf.


At Simon Buckley Golf Coaching, we try to stay away from tips where possible and we help to build your golf game. As the late great Harvey Penick once said Golf tips are like aspirin. One may do you good, but if you swallow the whole bottle you will be lucky to survive.


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