It’s the new year, are you ready to make it your best golf year yet? If you want to learn how to make some swing changes and shoot your lowest scores, I’ve got you covered.
Making swing changes is always a scary feeling but usually necessary to break through plateaus and improve to reach your ultimate goal. In most cases, the majority of golfers don’t make swing changes until they’ve hit rock bottom.
The times when you’re ready to quit, throw your clubs in a lake, and start watching more football on weekends. But for some golfers, they choose to make swing changes based on achieving a big goal. Planning to change your swing vs. having to change is very different.
This way, you can schedule your practice time and avoid any big golf trips or tournaments when going through changes. In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to make swing changes so you can start playing to your full ability in 2019.
Before you start tinkering with your swing, hiring an expensive coach or buy a bunch of gadgets, what’s the point of changing? Why are you trying to change your swing in the first place? Are you …
- Experiencing pain when you swing?
- Not liking the way it looks on camera or what your friends say?
- Not liking the shots your swing is producing and hate having to scramble all day?
- Having this issue with all clubs or your driver only?
- Are you trying to break 100, 90 or 80 for the first time?
Clarity is power.
And when you’re changing your golf swing, it can be a bit uncomfortable and frustrating. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons (i.e. your swing creates pain or you want to improve) and not because you read another Golf Digest magazine.
Make a clear goal so you know why you’re doing this because any change is inevitably hard. Is this going a band-aid fix or a long-term fix? As long as you know why you’re doing it, you’ll have the perseverance to see it through.
The more you’re changing in your swing, the longer it’s going to take. Smaller things might take a few days while bigger changes might take a few months. You just never know, so make sure you are committed to the process by finding the right time to make your changes. Find a downtime of the year where you’re not going on a big golf trip or have any tournaments upcoming.
Remember, it’s going to be uncomfortable and awkward in the beginning. And if it isn’t feeling that way, you’re probably not fully committed and doing it wrong.
Anytime I’ve made a major swing change it feels so awkward at times I can barely remember how to take the club back.
Planning is so crucial when making swing changes as you don’t want to ruin a bucket list trip to Pebble or a fun weekend with the guys in Myrtle Beach. Plus, you don’t want the stress and pressure to perform well for tournaments when you’re going through a transition.
Doing it could lead to a hybrid of your old swing and your new swing which is no man’s land in the game of golf. Remember, for most amateur golfers, having fun is the number one priority.
Now that you know why you want to change your swing and when you’ll do it, next up is finding someone to help. Coaches, for the most part, can help you speed up the process of learning how to change your golf swing. There’s a reason that everyone on the PGA Tour has a swing coach, mental coach, and trainer.
Everyone benefits from having a coach. Finding a coach is easier said than done though. The biggest tip I recommend is finding someone with a similar body type to yours and finding someone you enjoy spending time with. If they’re just there for a quick buck, get far away.
You want to find someone that has your best interest in mind, not just another income stream for them. Tiger had Hank Haney guide him to a massive change in 2004 and Butch Harmon before that. Phil, Jack, and so many other greats all had coaches too.
Don’t forget, you can also find coaches at local golf clubs, golf stores with practice facilities and even virtual coaches.
When it comes to learning how to make swing changes, I always recommending documenting the process. If you can’t measure it (and in golf’s case, see it), you can’t manage it. Think of it as big weight loss transformation, you want to document your results from A to B.
I recommend that you learn how to video your swing so you can record it on a weekly basis. That way you can easily compare your new swing to your past swing. This also increases your awareness of your swing and makes it easy to spot old, bad habits. Plus, having them on your phone will make it easy to watch on the range!
According to research, one hour of visualization is worth 7 hours of practicing in the real world. While sitting in a room visualizing your new swing isn’t as fun as being on the links, it can drastically speed up the changes.
According to Psychology Today, “Brain studies now reveal that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory. So the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualization.”
This is how Roger Bannister became the first person to break the 4-minute mile. In fact, Olympians and golfers like Jason Day, still regularly use visualization to compete at the highest levels.
Instead of thinking about banging more balls at the range, find a PGA pro who is swinging like you want. Then, watch clips in slow-mo on Youtube of what you’re trying to do. Imagine yourself making that move and even keep a club close the TV to practice and visualize.
Once you’ve worked with a coach or at least a buddy who likes teaching, the next step is to take it to the range. Remember, don’t take it directly to the course, make sure you’re practicing at home and the range first.
If you’re dealing with less than ideal winter golf conditions, use practice drills in the mirror or in your garage. Start by doing slow motion rehearsals of the new move you’re trying to learn. Remember, focus on what you want the arms and body to do, not what you don’t want.
Do these drills 50-100x per day, every day so you ingrain your new habit.
Remember, the older the habit, the more time it takes to replace it with a new habit that will help you shoot lower scores.
If you really want to boost your practice sessions, think about using a launch monitor to track exactly how far you hit each each club. Plus you get instant feedback on parts of your swing (like spin, path) that you would normally only get from an instructor.
If the weather does allow you out on the range, make sure to start practicing your new swing with the shorter clubs first. If you go out and start trying to pipe drivers, good luck ever making that change!
For the most part, you want to ingrain the feeling of new swing changes with a 7-iron or less. Start slowly with a pitching wedge and work your way to longer clubs as you get more comfortable. These clubs are shorter than long irons, hybrids or woods so it’s easier to make your necessary changes.
Everyone wants the perfect swing but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you do it if you’re scoring well.
Don’t forget that at least half of all shots come from 125 yards and in (if not closer to 75%). While swing changes are important, don’t take too much time away from your short game or you’ll never have the scores for your hard work.
Make it a point to spend at least ⅓ or ½ of all your time working on the shots under 125 yards. While it’s not as sexy as hitting woods and drivers, it’s going to make you a much better golfer. Just look at the PGA Tour, everyone hits it so long and close to the greens. It’s scrambling and making putts that make the money.
Never forget the old saying, “Drive for show, putt for dough.”
Patience is key to improving as a golfer. Think back to Tiger switching to Hank Haney in 2004. Everyone thought he was nuts for changing his swing and he went a year without a victory (and this was in the Tiger era). Then, he went on to win several majors and tons of events until his Thanksgiving incident in 2008.
Remember, old habits aren’t easy to break, stay consistent with your changes. You have to have the mentality, “Trust the process, don’t’ rush the process.” Nothing good ever happened overnight. Do the little things and I promise with due time you’ll see big results.
You can’t expect to do the same things and expect different results. Mix up your practice routines, record your progress and have fun! When things inevitably get hard, don’t quit. And don’t put more pressure on yourself either by playing in tournaments or even keeping score for that matter.
Remember the saying, “Train it so you can trust it.”
Once you train your swing changes at home and at the range, then take it to the course. That way you’re training fully so you don’t get out onto the course and start thinking mechanical swing thoughts. That pretty much never works.
Take one new swing thought to each round and focus on that. Hopefully, these tips will help you learn how to make swing changes and make this your best golf year yet!