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Practice smarter

The 'fantastic and fun' practice trick tour pros use to improve their golf swings

January 12, 2023
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CharlotteVibePhotography

When the ball starts going sideways, most of us head into a state of panic: What am I doing wrong? Where's the glitch in my technique? How can I fix it? Quickly, we risk becoming overwhelmed with intense technical thoughts that will leave us more confused than ever.

No golfer is immune from falling into that trap, but tour players (being tour players) often know the route around it.

In a long heartfelt Instagram post about one of his students, PGA Tour pro and former U.S. Amateur champion Ben An, Golf Digest Top 50 teacher Sean Foley touched on lots of different elements of coaching: the ups and downs, the emotional, mental and physical.

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Chris Graythen

Foley ended with a brief note on the technical—and some interesting insight that the rest of us can learn a lot from.

You can read (and see) for yourself below, but in a nutshell, Foley says An was hitting too far up on his driver, so they practiced hitting the driver off an ultra-low tee, and even off the ground.

Practice the opposite problem

"The low tee helped us get back to a zero attack angle without any technical interference," Foley writes, adding, "Shaping the ball is a fantastic and fun way to work on your mechanics."

Even though it's strange to think about practicing something you wouldn't do on the course—or even, in some cases, practicing mis-hits—it's something pros do often. When they're struggling with a certain problem, they actively try to do the opposite problem, and in the process often bring their swing back to a more neutral state. Like tipping a bucket of ice cubes into a bath of hot water to bring down the temperature.

The best part—and the reason Foley calls the process "fantastic and fun"—is because it doesn't require any heavy-handed technical thoughts.

How you can do it

All of which is to say, the rest of us should be doing more of it. Here's a few easy ways for you to get started:

1. If you're struggling with hooks, practice trying to hit some huge slices. If your problem is huge slices, try the opposite: Try to hit a few duck hooks.

2. If you're Angle of Attack is too steep (aka, your divots start looking huge), practice hitting a few irons off a high, driver-sized tee—something Foley says he does often. An was hitting too up on the ball, so Foley did the opposite: Practiced drivers off a low tee.

3. If you're hitting shots off the toe, or shanking them off the heel, practice hitting your ball off the opposite end of the clubface. It will build more awareness around where the center is.

Practicing the opposite can often help resolve an issue in just a few swings without much thought. And don't say you're not good enough to try it, because it's not true. Do it the next time you're at the range, like pros, and it'd be time well spent.