Johnny Miller: How to build a repeatable swing on the driving range
Some guys get good by playing a lot. Others need to dig the secrets out of the dirt -- or rather, the green plastic of a driving-range bucket. I did both. I used the range to experiment and to build a swing I had confidence in. The course was where I tested my swing to see if it held up under pressure. You probably grab an hour of range time just as often as you get to play. (Hey, you have a job, right?) So, attention, range-rats: Here's the Johnny Miller way to get the most from your practice sessions.
GET LOOSE FIRST Before hitting any balls, take 20 easy swings back and forth while holding two clubs. It's a great warm-up and stretch, and by the 15th swing you'll feel looser. It'll also help you increase the length of your backswing (hello, power) and oil up your wrists so you can more easily release the clubhead.
START AT HALF SPEED Begin with half swings, using your sand or lob wedge. Here, you're looking for good tempo. Focus on getting a feel for the weight of the clubhead, and on catching the ball in the center of the clubface. Don't worry about how far it's flying.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT As you lengthen your swing, pay attention to your weight shift. I like to deal in percentages, so I look for a 50/50 (left foot/right foot) split at address, 20/80 at the top, 80/20 at impact and 90/10 at the finish.
RUN THROUGH YOUR SET Work your way through your wedges, then 9-iron and 8-iron, taking a half dozen swings with each. From there, skip the odd-numbered clubs. (You don't want to overdo it.) With each club, make the last two swings hard, because that's how you attack the ball under pressure. And pay attention to your 6-iron shots. Less forgiving than short irons, the 6 reveals the true quality of your swing.
FINISH STRONG Finally, hit about five drives. You'll be tired at this point, but stick with it and hit another 10 balls with the short club of your choice. Why? These are the swings that truly accelerate improvement. If you can hit good shots when you're beat, you can easily do it when you're fresh.
JOHNNY KNOWS BEST
Here are three guys I'd want in the booth with me:
- Tiger Woods. Who wouldn't like to pick that golfing brain? Tiger plays everything close to the vest, but if he had to talk, maybe he'd open up more.
- Jack Nicklaus. I don't have all the answers, but Jack does - and I mean that in a nice way. That head holds more golf knowledge than anyone in history.
- Lee Trevino. I replaced Lee at NBC when he jumped to the Champions Tour in 1990. While I have the nuts and bolts of the game covered, I can't hold a flame to his personality and storytelling abilities.