This blog is written by one of our Smashing instructors and former LPGA tour player, Deb Eldridge. Some of you may have met her at the Smashing Nines events so you know how awesome she is and how lucky I am to have her as a part of the Smashing team. If you want to connect with Deb, her contact info is at the bottom of this article. She teaches in the Ancaster and Brantford areas.
When teaching students, I always ask about their practice habits. Many women golfers have regular pre-shot routines, but do not incorporate practice swings into their golf games. Some players don’t want to hold up play, some don’t want to ‘use up’ their good swings, and some don’t realize the important role that practice swings have. As a teaching professional, I am a firm believer in practice swings that are executed correctly.
A practice swing is intended as a rehearsal of your swing. The goal of a practice swing is to get the feel of the shot you are about to play. There are many variables that change from shot to shot – the length of the club, the lie of the ball, how level your stance is, ground conditions, etc. By taking a practice swing a few feet away from your ball, you can prepare yourself to hit your shot. But the practice swing must be done as closely as possible to your real swing in order to benefit from it – set up for your practice swing and swing fully, just like you would do if the ball was there. Half-swings won’t give you the feel you need for your shot. Try to find a spot where your stance is similar to your shot’s stance – so if your ball will be above your feet for your shot, try to take your practice swing on a similar incline. And always use the club you are about to hit with as shaft lengths change with each club.
Players who avoid taking practice swings out of concern about slow play are both right and wrong. It is always good to be aware of the pace of play, and keeping up with the group in front of you is ideal. But there are ways to incorporate practice swings that won’t add time to your play. Try taking your practice swing while your playing partners are walking to their ball, or while they are choosing their club. And if a practice swing leads to a better shot outcome, you will even speed up play as a bonus.
So use a practice swing as part of your routine. Use the club you are about to hit with, find a similar stance to your shot, swing fully, and do this while waiting for your partner to get ready. You should see better shots as a result.
Deborah Lee Eldridge