The days in Ayrshire are getting longer, the grass on the Ailsa Course is getting greener – it’s the perfect time to pick up your golf clubs and get ahead for the season!
Michael Sweenie, manager at the Turnberry Performance Academyand Level 2 TPI-certified specialist golf coach, knows how easy it is to fall out of practice over the winter months; so here is his Spring Clean Your Golf Swing guide to make that transition back into the game as easy as possible. Michael has some easy tips for novices and seasoned players alike to ensure that 2014 is your best golf season to date.
1. Dust off those clubs
So the golf season is well under way, but where is a golfer without his tools? Now is the time to rummage around in the garage, find your golf clubs and give them a good dust and a clean. You might also want to sew up that hole in your trousers and replace the shoes that you have been promising yourself you would do since October too. After all, failure to prepare is preparation for failure and checking your equipment in advance means that you are ready to go the minute you get the opportunity to get out on the course.
2. Set SMART goals
It is also essential that you approach the game with the right mental attitude so it is important to sit down and set objectives, but these must be SMART goals. There is no point in setting a target if it is not specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, so look back on your last season and think about where you want your next season to end. It could be that you want to focus on your putting or on your distance shots, or perhaps you have a more general goal to better manage the time you have to practice, or to get your handicap down. Whatever the goal, a good golfer always has something to work towards and if you are struggling to see what direction you should take next, the Turnberry Performance Academy has a number of specialist golfing coaches who will be more than happy to help.
3. Assess your game
Now that you know where you want your game to be, your strategy for getting there is most likely to work if you know exactly where you are starting out from, and after the winter break a Complete Game Assessment is probably in order. From your technique and your posture to your mental approach to golf as well as your motivation behind playing it, the TPI-certified professionals at Turnberry's Performance Academy can use the state-of-the-art game assessment software to assess your game in its entirety and analyse where your strengths and weaknesses lie. As the science behind the game of golf is constantly evolving, so is the development of equipment to help golfers optimise their performance. Particularly relevant to those who have been using the same clubs for a number of years, as well as to those who have changed body shape of the winter months, the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Turnberry can check that you are using the right equipment and point you in the right direction if not.
4. Get training
With the foundations in place, your focus should now switch to creating and putting into practice a training programme to help you realise your goals. If you do a Complete Game Assessment at the TPA then the specialist coaches will be able help you put together a plan, but it is also fine if you want to create your own training programme. Just be realistic about the amount of time that you will be able to commit to your training. It is all too easy to slip into the trap of over promising how much training you can fit in, then becoming disillusioned when you start to fall behind your training plan. It is much better to be kind to yourself and set out to do the easiest of exercises that will help you increase your strength over the season, than set the bar too high and never feel a sense of achievement.
5. Focus on the short game
As the great saying goes, “drive for show, putt for dough”. Whilst it might be tempting to spend your time practising on the driving range and impress your friends and competitors with a strong driving shot, it is equally as important for a golfer to commit to learning to love his wedge and putter. Particularly for those at the beginning of their golfing journey, the player who focuses on short game technique first can expect the long game to follow suit soon after.
6. Enjoy yourself
Finally, and potentially most importantly, it is important to occasionally question why you play golf. If your motivation behind playing is anything other than person enjoyment, it may well be worth thinking about what you are actually getting out of it. Golf is a fantastic game, but not an easy one, and learning to play is a learning experience itself. When you are playing, when you are training, when you are thinking about your next game, it is of the upmost importance that improving is something that you want to do, and for the right reasons. It is supposed to be fun!