Rescue Kit
By Snyper on 8/2/10
Matt Snyder is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

Everyone starts his or her rounds the same way. We all stand there on the first tee with high hopes of a round full of great swings, perfect putts, and lots of birdies. However, at least for me, it doesn't always seem to pan out quite the way that I pictured it before my round began. So, what do you do when you are out there on the 5th hole and you realize that this is going to be a long day? Well, I'm going to give you a few suggestions that I think just may rescue you from a round that is on its way out of control.

First, you need to begin by slowing down your back swing. A nice smooth takeaway should lead to a better transition to your downswing.

In most cases, tempo is the guilty party that is ruining your day. Without a proper warm up, it is very easy to begin your round with a changing tempo that usually results in a lot of quick swings. So, when you feel like the first few holes have become nothing but a fight to keep the ball in play, start thinking about smoothing out the tempo of your swing. To do that, focus on making your swing a progression of acceleration. First, you need to begin by slowing down your back swing. A nice smooth takeaway should lead to a better transition to your downswing. Now, a slower back swing does not mean that you should continue with a slow downswing. Remember, your swing should be consistent acceleration. So, after a nice smooth back swing and a good transition, you want to accelerate through the shot to a balanced follow through. You shouldn’t feel like you are swinging your guts out and trying to crush the ball, but you should feel as though you are gaining speed as your swing progresses all the way to your finish. Be sure to focus on that slower start and acceleration through the shot in your practice swings. And, it might not be a bad idea to add a practice swing or two to help feel that tempo. Remember, slower is better. The idea is to slow the entire swing down to regain control and feel. Don’t worry about sacrificing distance. First of all, you’ll probably hit it farther. Secondly, even if you don’t hit it as far, at least you’ll be able to find it!

My next suggestion will not only help get your swing back under control, but it will also aide in your efforts to regain your tempo. Item number two in the rescue kit is a shorter back swing. In my experience, it is the fastest way to better golf. It is amazing to me how often so many problems just go away when a player shortens their back swing. Most players have no idea how far they take the club back, and usually, it’s too far. Regardless, when your round is heading towards hours and hours of frustration, you are probably taking a longer swing than you normally do. So, whether you have a naturally long or short back swing, you should try to cut it down a little. Shortening and slowing down your back swing is going to allow you to swing with a great tempo and make much more solid contact.

Instead of aiming at the fairway from the tee, aim at a stripe of the fairway or a tree in the distance.

Lastly, focus on small targets. It’s the classic aim small, miss small approach. A cliché, yes, but it works. Instead of aiming at the fairway from the tee, aim at a stripe of the fairway or a tree in the distance. When you are approaching the green, pick a target in the middle of the green. FORGET ABOUT THE PIN! We’re not trying to go low here, we are trying to rescue our round and keep it to a manageable and respectable number. So, don’t just aim in the direction of the green and pray that your ball finds the short grass, be sure to pick something in the distance that lines you up with the center of the dance floor and put a nice smooth swing on it. Next thing you know, you’ll be putting for birdies instead of bogies and your round will be saved in no time.

I know how frustrating it can be when you realize that your swing is just not where it needs to be and you’re not even halfway through your round. Your playing partners are killing your pride and lightening your wallet. Well, now you need not worry. Thanks to your rescue kit, you’ll be able to stop the bleeding and avoid an entire round of frustrations and struggles. Just focus on a smoother tempo, a shorter back swing, and choosing the proper targets and you’ll be able to save yourself from certain golfing death.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of oobgolf.

photo source

[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
Great thoughts. :)
Banker85 says:
i always stand on the first tee dreaming of being close to par when i finish. This is the hard part for me... I know i can hit the shots, but for some reason i just dont sometimes and that gets my brain in a bad mood. I totally agree about the slowing down part of your article, when i am not making solid contact that is the first thing i try.
mjaber says:
I remember hearing Faldo talking about Ernie Els swing, saying that his name was the perfect swing tempo. His backswing was "Ernie", his downswing and follow-through was "Els." It was weird to hear at first, and then he (Faldo) literally narrated over a replay of Ernie's swing and it was just that. I've used that swing thought and it helps, backswing (1,2) downswing/followthough(3).
Swingem says:
I agree on all points. I've also found that, for me, It's best to forget about score ,or where I am in relation to par until after the round. Prior to the round I might spend some time visualizing certain holes or shots, but on the first tee I am only thinking about my target in the fairway. Additionally, don't bear the burden of every bad shot, if you hit a bad shot, take the consequences and forget about it, focus entirely on the next shot. I've seen guys drag the memory of every bad shot with them for the entire round, like Jacob Marley's chains, forged link by link. They try to free themselves with low percentage "hero shots", and end up adding another link to the chain. Remember, have fun out there!
TeT says:
My son plays stringed instruments and I picture the maestro waving the wand to set my tempo... Works great when I remember to do it....
dmce says:
I agree with Swingem, try to put those bad shots behind you or you end up using a few to put yourself in a bad place.
wordent says:
could not agree more....tempo kills more rounds for the average golfer than anything else. Always watch your tempo!
magundus says:
It's all about confidence and being able to overcome those bad shots. I play my best when I know my next shot is going to be a good and play my worst when there is any doubt. Sound mechanics are a big part of the game too but ultimately we have to train our minds into believing we can hit good shots each and every time.
Optimus Prime says:
It all makes good sense but bringing it to mind on the golf course when you're 3 or 4 strokes over par is the hard thing. For me, it's always something different. Tempo might be the culprit on one shot but a poor/short chip shot might be to blame on the next. Then a poor tee shot followed by a 3 putt. It is the old snow ball effect.
glenrich says:
I think I'll just start every round with the Rescue Kit. No sense in waiting...
Matt Otskey says:
I agree with Matt's second point. SHORTEN YOUR BACKSWING. Think about hitting a 3/4 7 iron instead of a full 8 iron and you will be so much more consistent.

Something to add as well... We have all heard and most agree that golf, and most sports for that matter, is "a game that is played on a five-inch course - the distance between your ears" (Bobby Jones.) I have just finished the book called "Mindset" by Carol Dweck and it has changed the way I approach a round and my score. Sometimes, I get in a funk where if I make a bogey or two in a row, I begin to worry about my final score going up and up. When this starts to happen now, after reading this book, I take the tools I've learned and ask myself, "what did I learn from that hole I bogeyed, and what do I have to do to avoid making that mistake again."

In my opinion, being in the proper mindset is the only way to play to the best of your ability.
stedar says:
@ Matt: Being in the proper mindset is right on. Mid handicappers like myself fall into the same trap - trying to play catch up golf. There does not seem to be much separating a 2 handicapper from a 20 - consistency and self-belief. A low handicap player trusts in their swing; what I find: mid handicappers try to make the swing happen. Therefore, getting the mind in the game first, then work on each shot and if it doesn't go to plan, learn and move on :-) - never try to catch up!

Thanks Matt...
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