This article is co-authored by Shawn Clement, founder of Wisdom In Golf
By now, the resolutions you made at the start of the year regarding your golf performance and general health have either become a habit (nice work!) or a distant memory (join the club!).
If you're like the majority of people that struggle to make their resolutions stick, and find your game stuck at a constant plateau year on year, then perhaps you could benefit from some guidance.
Many people make resolutions or set goals without knowing if they are realistic or developing a plan for how to achieve them. This can lead to doubt, confusion and the tendency to give up when faced with the first obstacle or sign that things aren't progressing as hoped for.
The teams at Wisdom in Golf and Golf Fit Pro have seen thousands of golfers try to get better through coaching, fitness or a combination of both. The people that we see achieve their goals tend to plan effectively, measure their progress and realise that making lasting and tangible improvements takes time and is rarely a linear process.
When listening to our clients tell the story of what they have tried and failed to achieve in the past, we hear the same mistakes over and over:
Classic Golf Resolution Mistakes
Golf Resolution 1 - "I'm going to improve how my golf swing looks"
Classic Mistake - Chasing positions in your golf swing, instead of feels and outcomes
This is one aspect of golf learning and instruction that has been absolutely ground to a pulp and has seen the worst results throughout the decades. The reason??
Example of an external thought: “use the sole of the club as a grass cutting tool (which it is) and whip the grass clippings towards the direction you want to start the ball."
The human anatomy is already designed to use leverage through the arm-wrist-hand anatomy to hinge and load the arm-club unit, and the self preserving nature of the brain-body connection shifts the weight seamlessly to the lead leg and foot to use the ground to move the body out of the way up until it is time to release the grass clippings into the direction we want the ball to fly into.
When you cut the grass, the ball compresses into the club’s face where the loft is and the ball magically leaps into the stratosphere on it’s way to the target and bliss then floods the brain with all the right chemicals making it very addictive to practice to keep feeling that feeling over and over again.
So, easy to keep the resolution when you have fun and bliss front and centre!!
Golf Resolution 2 - "I'm going to quantify my on-course performance"
Classic Mistake - Keeping stats for fairways and greens hit to inform directional control
The most popular is “trying to hit the ball” and the second most popular answer and close second is “I forgot” or “I blacked out” and the third most popular answer is “don’t hit it over there”.
All 3 of these are complete disasters in the making and the main reason golfers are so scared out there and simply play with hope and fear. Now here is the proper sequence of events:
1 - choose a flight plan that you want to send the ball to
2 - choose an intermediate point in front of the ball at just 6 to 12 inches from a down the line vantage point which is using your binocular vision (the human’s accurate vision)
3 - predict that the ball will be in the way of your task-action to the direction of initial ball flight to the right or left or over the intermediate point.
4 - activate the pre-motor cortex by asking the brain “what is the feel of that effortless action whip through the grass in that direction which feels powerful and easy to produce where I could do that task all day as if it were my full time job?
5 - oh yeah, about like this! And you are mor staying with your task all the way into the picture
6 - observe flight and contact without judgement, because it has been proven that we are incapable of repeating our tasks exactly the same way. Which means we cannot ever make sure of anything which means if you even try to repeat, you will fill your system with tension and anxiety which will annihilate performance and cause you to choke.
Classic Fitness Resolution MistakesFitness Resolution 1 – “I’m gonna get more flexible”
Classic Mistake - Chasing rotational mobility / flexibility gains with limited understanding of how to achieve them.
In my experience, there are 3 key components to improving mobility - Self Massage, Stretch, Range of Motion
Self Massage is basically improving the tissue quality of muscle and fascia (connective tissue) through basic massage techniques using a foam roller and spiky ball.
Stretching is simply looking to lengthen the muscle.
Range of Motion is using the improvement tissue quality and muscle length and take the key joints through range of motion.
The video playlist below provides an example mobility routine for the hips - a major contributor to rotation and power in the golf swing. 1 set of each exercise for around 30 secs each side x 3 per week should get on the right track.
Fitness resolution 2 – “I’m gonna get more powerful, so I can hit the ball further”
Classic Mistake - Loading up the bar before developing the required stability and core strength
Lifting too heavy, too early not only increases the risk of injury, it can also limit your power producing potential. We need solid stability and core strength to be able to transfer power gains to our golf swing. If we don’t have a strong, solid base and the core muscle strength to transfer ground reaction force to the upper body, it can be a bit like firing a cannon from a canoe i.e. not very effective!
The video playlist below provides some basic level exercise ideas for strengthening the key muscles around the hips and core. Try 3 sets of 10 reps for each exercise, 3 times per week.
If you would like to access a golf fitness service that organises the goal setting, measurement of progress and planning for you, then check out the following options: