We would all agree that the best players in the world share the common trait of being very consistent. On most shots, the golf ball does just what they ask of it and even when they do miss, they don't miss by much.
That kind of consistency is something we all aspire to, but unfortunately many of us sabotage our progress because we’re not patient enough. We look for that quick fix, that magical short-cut. It’s tempting to chase the latest swing fad or buy that latest training aid, but as Titleist Staff Instructor Justin Parsons shares in the video above, golfers in search of consistency are much better served by developing some good, basic habits and staying the course.
“My advice,” Justin told Team Titleist, “is to target a few key fundamentals and be regimented in your approach. Find little routines and methods that work for you and then stick with them. Of course, you can always work on improving your swing and develop new techniques, but do it within the framework of a consistent setup, consistent alignment, consistent ball position and a consistent pre-shot routine. Being able to do those things the same way, all the time, is the best way to add to your overall consistency.”
Check out the videos below, in which Justin covers each of these crucial areas in more detail. Be patient and practice these basic skills until they become second nature. You’ll soon see that your golf ball is much more obedient than it used to be.
Thanks for the help, Justin!
To learn more about Justin and the instructional programs he offers, check out the Performance Center section on the Sea Island Resort website. Check Justin out on Instagram and Twitter, too!
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Consistent Aim and Alignment
To aim properly, both your clubface and and your body need to be properly aligned to the target. By far the most efficient way of aligning your clubface is to use an intermediate target. Pick out something small, two to three feet in front if your ball and in direct line with your target (a leaf, pebble, imperfection in the turf, etc.) Align the clubface square to that object and send the ball straight over it. Practice by putting a golf tee out in front of you when you practice and get used to flying your golf ball right over the tee.
To establish proper body alignment, become acquainted with your lead shoulder as you aim your clubface and address the ball. Get familiar with where your lead shoulder is positioned in space, relative to your target. As you glance from your ball up at your target, be aware of your lead shoulder in your peripheral vision. You’ll develop a sense of when your lead shoulder appears too far away from the target (open alignment) and when it’s too close (Closed alignment). Soon you’ll learn to use your lead shoulder to orientate and dial in your body alignment. And when your body alignment is correct, your swing direction, your club path all have a much better chance of being consistent.
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Consistent Ball Position
Ball position can move around a great deal in short period of time. Sometimes it’s purposeful – you might move the ball further back in your stance, for instance, to hit a lower trajectory shot – but sometime ball position can stray without your being aware of it. This is dangerous because to strike the ball cleanly, you want your ball to sit right above the natural low point of your swing arc.
On an iron shot, if the ball is positioned forward of that low point, your club will strike the turf before you make contact with the ball, resulting in a fat shot. If the ball position is back behind the arc’s low point, the club is still on its downward path as you make contact. Often times, the lower portion of the clubface will contact the ball, not the center. The result is a thin shot.
Though we may not be consciously aware that our ball position is off, we humans will do whatever it takes to hit the ball. This usually involves making a compensation in our swing in order to reach the ball, wherever it’s lying. This could be a early cast, early extension or a lateral slide, but no matter what the move, it’s an extra complication that is difficult to repeat and leads to inconsistencies.
To safeguard against wandering ball position, Justin recommends establishing a baseline. By using an alignment rod and building a routine for establishing proper ball position, you’ll always have a way to self-correct if things get a little off-track.
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Consistency in the Prelude to the Hit
Watch a professional golf tournament and you’ll quickly notice that players settle into shots and pull the trigger in a wide variety of ways. Yet, despite the different waggles and shirt tugs between players, they are all remarkably consistent when it comes to their own individual routines. In fact, Justin has timed many of the world’s best and he’s found that tour player pre-shot routines are consistent down to the mili-second.
Why are elite players so precise in their pre-shot choreography? Because once they commit and take that first step forward in hitting a shot, they are on auto-pilot, in a mental state that gives them the best possible chance of hitting great shots consistently.
The good news is that getting into this state of relaxed focus is a trainable skill. It takes no special athletic ability to build an effective pre-shot routine. It just takes some experimentation with what works best for you, followed by many committed repetitions of the segment of the pre-shot routine that Justin calls the “prelude to the hit”.
To practice effectively, Justin suggests timing your prelude. Go through your pre-shot routine the next time you hit balls and use the stopwatch on your smart phone to monitor the time it takes from your first prelude step forward to the ball to when your club strikes the ball. Work on matching that time from shot to shot and soon, you’ll have a routine that gets you in the same rhythm and mental state every time - a big time secret to hitting consistent golf shots.