Except for those rare periods when you're firing on all cylinders, most of your rounds are spent avoiding a negative trend in your swing; for example, a tendency to block the ball with the driver, or that annoying tail-hook that creeps up in your iron game. Sometimes you're successful, but when those tendencies get the best of you, they can destroy your game.
The truth is, the gap between where you are and where you need to be is often small; it only feels a mile wide because you're so accustomed to your well-tooled swing. Sometimes the only thing that will give you the subtle shift you need is practicing a dramatic swing change.
Work With Opposites
For years, Corey Pavin's preshot practice routine included a loopy, over-the-top swing that would likely produce a dead pull or weak slice if he actually used it to hit the ball. But there's a method to his madness. Pavin's natural tendency is to deliver the clubhead too much from the inside into impact (leading to blocks and sweeping hooks), so he practices the opposite-out-to-in-before each shot. The practice swing has the effect of shocking his system, balancing out the tendency to come from the inside, so he can swing straight down the target line when it counts.
Pavin's philosophy is great for the practice tee. When you get a nasty case of the blocks or duck-hooks, don't try to fix it by swinging straight down the target line. Chances are your body is so used to swinging from the inside that it won't allow you such a subtle adjustment.
Instead, shock your system by going in the opposite direction: Try to hit a big cut. You may find that it produces a perfectly straight shot, which shows how much your body is stuck in its ways. Hit 50 to 100 balls this way and your body eventually will adjust to making the out-to-in move. Then, when you go back to your "normal" swing, the tendency to come from the inside will be reduced.
If your tendency is to come over the top and cut the ball, practice with a hook swing; hit a bucket of balls with a Hubert Green-type swing, taking the club back outside the line then looping it around to the inside on the downswing.
Private Lessons 1999 Times Mirror Magazines, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.