The biggest reason why most weekend players fail to make huge improvement strides is that they don't know exactly what to work on. This swing stagnation underlines the importance of coaching, because going it alone is tough. On your own, you have only ball flight to gauge progress, and if your flight consistently stinks, what do you do? Sometimes you'll stumble upon a tip or a swing thought that helps you play better for a while, but that rarely lasts. A blind squirrel can find nuts, but most of the time he goes hungry.
If you don't have a coach, don't sweat it. In the 1970s, I developed a drill that's a foolproof, Johnny Miller—guaranteed swing fixer. At the time I was missing too many shots both to the left and the right. I felt I was swinging off plane, which annoyed me, because I know how important it is to stay on plane. If you don't take the club back on the proper path and, more importantly, don't swing through on plane, you've got no chance for crisp contact. But it's darned near impossible to see what plane you're on when you swing at normal speed. So I made half swings with my driver, and I noticed something: I hit the ball perfectly straight when the blur created by my driver flashed directly in front of the target in my through-swing. It happened on every single good strike! If the blur appeared right of the target, the ball went right; if it appeared left of the target, the ball started left.
It was so effective that I named it "Johnny Miller's Blur Drill." Here are the steps:
1. Make easy half swings with your driver (the bigger clubhead creates a bigger blur).
2. Through impact, look toward your target.
3. Notice where the blur of the clubhead is as it reaches hip height.
4. Adjust your swing until the blur passes directly in front of, or slightly left of, the target.
I love the visual nature of this tip. You have to do many things correctly to properly blur the club in the right place, so it's better to use your eyes than to obsess about positions and angles. And since you're making actual swings while you're trying to get on plane, it's easier to feel what your body should be doing. Yes, this drill is unconventional, but it works. It stops you from casting, coming over the top and swinging too inside out—common errors that bedevil all players. Put another way: Think of this drill as playing darts—just throw the clubhead right at the bull's-eye. The Blur Drill helped me straighten out my ballstriking four decades ago. I have no doubt it'll help you, too.
JOHNNY KNOWS BEST
My picks for the three greatest influences in the game:
- Arnold Palmer taught us that golfers could be inspiring and have charisma—and that golf is actually cool. His movie-star looks, wild corkscrew swing, and his ability to connect with fans gave the game a whole new swagger. Hey, we call him the King for a reason
- Jack Nicklaus taught us all how to play as modern professionals by combining high achievement with high moral character. I mean, Jack won everything, and he did it while spotlessly maintaining his role as husband and father. The Golden Bear is the gold standard.
- Tiger Woods taught us that golf could be played at an almost superhuman level. His mental and physical advantage over the field was brand-new. He also taught us how big golf could be. Never again will one man bring so many non-golfers [or so much money] into the game.