By Jeff Ritter
One of the biggest differences between recreational players and the pros is the ability professionals have to exhibit a higher level of control over their golf swings. This control is not only a component of the mechanics associated with producing various shot shapes, but also the speed at which each swing is made.
This "Start Your Engines" challenge comes from a drill Davis Love Jr. taught Davis Love III back when he was developing as a player. To create a higher level of awareness for sequencing and rhythm, Davis was directed to make "Full Swings" with his driver hitting the ball only a short distance. He would then gradually increase pace extending the carry until he was swinging at full capacity, achieving max speed and distance.
Years after learning of this practice, I was watching Davis play in the J.C. Penney Classic. Faced with a shot of 200 yards over trees to the green, Davis told his caddie, "Give me the club that will get me over the trees and I'll get it there." If my memory serves me correctly, he hit a towering 7-iron 200 yards to pin high. Seeing his thought process in action, I couldn't help but think that his training in developing the skill to gear up or down aided his ability to pull off that shot.
Tour players are rarely playing at full speed. Instead they have a zone which allows them to exhibit their best rhythm, while producing a reasonable combination of distance and accuracy. They have a high level of body awareness and can adjust speed or movement to meet any situation. Recreational golfers, however, always seem to be locked in at full throttle, possessing relatively low body awareness and a constant "go for broke" mentality.
As it relates to learning or making a swing change, pace is critical. If you're always operating at full speed it's tough to have an awareness for how you're moving. Just like listening to a radio with bad reception, the static makes it difficult to hear the music. This "Start Your Engines" drill is all about training yourself to swing through different gears as means of building awareness and rhythm. The awareness that allows you to develop a better golf swing and the rhythm that delivers the pace that allows you to consistently hit your best golf shots.
Demonstrate that you have the patience to master this swing speed challenge and you'll be one step closer to separating yourself from the competition.