Monday, March 26, 2012

Narrow Your Focus (Playing Drill)

Tighten up your ball striking by using this mindset on the course

This drill is to be done while playing a round.  My two coaches, Dr. Bob Christina and Eric Alpenfels, strongly advocate this way of playing.  What you do is this:  mentally divide the fairway in half on your tee shots and pick a side of the pin on your approaches.  On tee shots, pick either the left side of the fairway or right and attempt to hit it.  On your approach, pick the portion of the green to the right or to the left of the flagstick and try to leave your ball on your chosen side.  This "shrinking" of your target will narrow your focus, bringing your attention to a much more defined area of acceptability. 

How I did:
This one is difficult to carry through your entire round.  I have to stay on myself with every tee shot and approach, making sure I've picked a side and made a swing towards the smaller target.  The more I do this the easier it gets, and I've found my ball striking improves every time I play this way. 

Beginner- Pick a side of the fairway and try to hit the center of every green

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Land Them Soft

Develop touch for short chips with little green to work with

What to do:
Take your highest lofted wedge and 5 balls to the chipping green.  Pick a flat spot near the green with room to back up and hit progressively longer chips to a target on the green.  Select a hole 5 paces from the fringe, or if there is no hole mark the spot with a tee.  The space between your tee/hole and the fringe is the "acceptable zone".  Now, from one yard off the green hit 5 chips in a row attempting to land each one on the green, not letting it roll out of the "acceptable zone".  Do this 5 times in a row with each of your 5 balls and you may move back 1 pace.  Repeat this process, pulling off 5 "soft landing" shots that do not roll out of your boundary, then moving back 1 pace.  Attempt to make it back 10 paces, executing 5 quality shots in a row to finish.  If you do miss a shot, either landing it short of the green or letting it roll out of the zone, start over from the distance you currently play from.  Do not completely start over! 

How I did:
Using my 60 degree L-wedge, I finished this drill missing only 4 times.  As the distance became longer it obviously became more difficult to hit a shot long enough to carry the fringe but soft enough to keep it short of the hole. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Drive 5

Gain feel and confidence for most challenging drive

What to do:
After hitting some shots on the range and getting warm, grab your driver and reflect on the most challenging tee shot you have ever faced... one that you have struggled with in the past.  Draw a fresh image in your mind's eye, seeing the hole stretching out before you in great detail.  Set right and left fairway boundaries by picking out 2 distant trees, flags, or other easily seen items on your range.  The fairway you've created with these points should be very close to the same width as the one you envisioned.  Now you're ready to proceed with the drill.

Going through your full routine first, attempt to hit 5 drives in a row into your fairway.  Before hitting each shot, conjure up the image of your most challenging tee shot faced, go through your routine just as you would on the course, then pull the trigger.  If you complete this drill, gain confidence and know that you can hit the fairway under pressure. 

How I did:
I just thought of this drill today... think I will use #18 at Mission Inn's El Campeon.  Almost every tee shot there presents a challenge, but this one definitively sticks out.  It's a sharp dogleg right with water running along the right all the way up to the green.  There is a bunker and jungle left of and through the fairway, and a tree just right of the tee preventing a corner-cutting high draw.  Adding to the challenge is the fact that the water pinches in 200-240 yards from the tee, pretty much forcing the player to hit driver.  Finally, there is almost always a strong prevailing wind coming from in and from the right.  So, the shot one must hit is a low 260-290 yard fade.  You must miss the tree and its overhanging limb, not hit it too far into the palmetto forest, but not fade it too much into the water.  The fact that it's the last hole of the day adds a bit of pressure as well.  Sound like fun?  That's why I chose it :)

Beginner/Intermediate: Hit 3 in a row into your fairway