A Winter Improvement Program – Setup

The rain has come and it won’t let up until March, if that. Time for the Winter Tune-up.

What I want to do in the next few weeks is go over a things you could do to improve your golf for the 2013 season. We all say we want to do that. We play around with a few things we read in the golf magazines, and before we know it, it’s time for the new season and we haven’t made the progress we intended.

So, I’m going to lay it all out for you. What to do, and in this order. Every Thursday, you’ll get something new to do and a week to practice it. Hopefully, by the time the series ends, you have built a number of improvements into your game. Let’s get started with the setup.

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If you were going to hang a door, you would ensure that the frame is square, the door is the right size, the hinges are on straight, and that the latch lines up with the strike plate. Any one thing that isn’t quite right and you’ll have a door you have to wrestle with every time you open or close it.

Your golf swing is the same way. When your setup is right, your swing naturally falls out of it. When something is wrong, your body gets carried off in directions that make hitting the ball harder to do well or in the same way consistently.

One of the things I will be doing from time to time in this series is suggesting you get a lesson. There are times you can’t learn from reading what it is you’re supposed to do, and get it right. Now is one of those times.

Sign up for a lesson in the setup: grip, stance, posture, aim. I’m not kidding. Get a lesson for just this. It can take a full half hour, and it is a lot of stuff. You might want to bring a notebook to write down the important points.

When you get home, practice your grip, stance, and posture in a full-length mirror, looking at yourself face-on and down the line. You can buy a mirror on a stand for less than a round of golf.

Take your grip and set up to a ball, step by step, 30 times a day, starting over completely every time — let go of the club, walk away from the ball and start over. If you’re learning new habits, you have to repeat them. Knowing what to do isn’t enough.

Practice your aim on the practice tee, since you really need to have a distant target to aim at. This bit is more important than you know. Any pro will tell you the number one cause of bad shots is poor aim.

None of this is very sexy, and practicing it can get kind of boring. There are, however, so many ways you can ruin a shot before you’ve even moved the club. Eliminate those ways and then you can worry about your swing. Accomplished musicians practice their scales. Golfers practice their setup. Enough said.

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