A Simple Work Station and a Great Pre Shot Ritual
Entropy is science term that describes any systems natural state as one of chaos. To many of us this would accurately describe our golf game as well. When you finally get your iron game going, your driver starts misbehaving, and when that gets worked out you can’t seem to make a short putt - on and on it goes in a frustrating tail chasing circle. In your quest to play well it may seem as if you are always putting out fires.
The game is difficult to be sure and will always challenge us, which is a big part of its appeal, but let’s not get too frustrated. Effectively dealing with golf’s entropy requires a proactive approach and not a reactive one. Most of the migration in your swing mechanics over time are created or precipitated by a change in your physical fitness or unintentional changes in your set up. Finely tuned athletes will always subconsciously adapt swing movements to slight changes in grip, ball position, alignment, and posture. The good news is that these set up fundamentals can be held in check by creating simple work stations (in every phase of the game) and incorporating an effective pre-shot ritual in your practice.
Using your full swing practice as an example, I would suggest the following: purchase a wood dowel rod or a snow plow stick (let’s the driver see where your yard begins so he doesn’t tear up your grass) and keep it in your golf bag. Place it so that it points at the outside edge of your target. Then place your practice ball on inch inside the stick. You can use this reference to cultivate your ability to aim your club face, and align your body to the target. It will also serve as a feedback device for swing path since you will be able to see if your divots are parallel to the stick. Next ritualize your set up that you can pay attention to its fundamentals. I usually get my grip first checking my hands alignment relative to my right shoulder, aim the club face, and then as I set my feet to the target I run a visual check for the proper ball position. Having reference on the ground is absolutely critical because without it, it is impossible to be sure that your set-up fundamentals are correct.
Creating work stations and ritualizing your set up to ensure good fundamentals will allow you to play more consistently from week to week and month to month. As always investing a little extra time and attention up front will save you time and frustration on the back end when you don’t need those emergency practice sessions. Best of luck! - James