Read an Excerpt
Three Steps to Improvement
The Jim McLean system we use in our schools really boils down to a pretty simple three-step plan for getting better. Every instructor goes through this simple pattern with every student as we make necessary changes. Those steps are (1) What am I doing now? Today, on this date, what exactly am I doing? Not what I hope I'm doing, not what I think I'm doing, not what I was doing last year, but what I'm actually doing at the moment. (2) What should I do instead? If a Supreme Being appeared and granted me any golf swing I wanted, could I demonstrate it or even explain it? Probably not. More realistically, what should I do to correct the flaws I have and improve to the point where I have a swing that works effectively? (3) Finally, how do I make the change? Here is where this book comes in. In it are the concepts that will help you make the necessary changes.
Of course, that requires a very clear understanding of your golf swing and your areas of strength and weakness. Most amateurs don't have that understanding, simply because they've never taken time to analyze carefully what they do right or wrong, or because they don't know what in the swing causes good or bad results. Ideally, use a good camcorder and a VCR so you can tape your swing, and use the information in this book to critique it. Remember, there are three other areas of the game for your self-critique as well. In our schools, we use video and a computer system to determine your swing faults. You can't take advantage of that, but you can take your own video and compare it to the positions you see in the photographs in this book.
And you definitely should sit down for an houror so and honestly assess how you play golf. Ask yourself some hard questions, and don't fudge on the answers. Here's a sample list:
- What is your best score in the last year?
- What is your best score ever?
- What is your current handicap?
- What is the lowest your handicap has ever been?
- How often do you play?
- Do you warm up and hit practice balls before you play?
- How often do you practice?
- What is the average length of your practice sessions?
- What percentage of your practice time is given to the long game and to the short game?
- Are you a good driver? How many fairways do you hit per round? How far do you carry your tee shots with a driver? What is your average driving distance, carry and roll, under normal circumstances? (Be honest with this because it's critical. If you're not sure, go out on a fairway late some evening, hit several balls, arid step them off.) Do you hit the ball high (too high?) or low (too low?)?
- Have you always been a good driver--or a bad driver?
- What type of driver do you use? Is the loft and the weighting correct for your typical ball flight?
- What are your normal shot tendencies? Do you fade ball slightly from left to right? Do you slice it badly? Do you push the ball to the right? Do you draw the ball slightly from right to left? Do you hook it? Do you pull it to the left? Is your normal shot a combination of any of these? What is your bad-shot tendency?
- How is your iron play? How many greens do: you hit in regulation each round? If that number is low, is it because bad driving leaves you in a poor position, or is it because of poor iron shots?
- How good or bad is your short game from off the green? From a reasonable distance around the green, how many times do you get up and down in two, out of how many chances during the course of a round? Do you have trouble pitching the ball? Are your chip shots finishing too far from the hole? What percentage of your bunker shots do you get out and on the green on the first try? What percentage of the time do you get up and down in two? What is your biggest problem in the bunker, skulling it over the green or hitting the shot fat and leaving it in the sand?
- How good a putter are you really? How many three-putts do you average each round? Do your long putts tend to wind up long or short? What percentage of your three- and four-foot putts do you make? Do you tend to miss your putts to the right or to the left? Do you have trouble reading greens--are you often surprised when the putt breaks less or more than you anticipated?
- How good is your course management? In retrospect, how many strokes did you waste with ill advised shot selections? How many strokes do you waste by taking low-percentage gambles instead of playing the high-percentage safe shot? How many times a round do you play a shot that you haven't practiced or are not particularly skilled at, rather than a safer shot that you know you can make and that will put you in a decent position for your next shot?
- How does your on-course ball-striking compare with that on the practice tee?
- Are you able to relax on the golf course, or are you extremely nervous?
- What techniques do you use to relax?
- Do you visualize your shots?
- Do you have an image of your golf swing?
- How mentally tough are you? How do you handle pressured situations? Does self doubt creep in? Do you become overly nervous under pressure? Do you let your mind wander to the consequences rather than focusing on executing the shot at hand?
These are the basic questions you need to ask yourself. Many others will help you further analyze your swing and playing tendencies. Armed with honest answers, you then can find information in this book that will help you work on and improve your most serious problems.