The No. 1 request I get from my students is “I want to be more consistent.” What they mean is that they want their ball to fly the same way every time. I call this “consistent output.”
The first thing I teach my students is that to get “consistent output” they need to give themselves “consistent input,” which is the things they focus on during and before their swing. If you change your swing thoughts frequently, forget them or change the degree to which you are committed to them, your input is inconsistent. With inconsistent input, it is unreasonable to expect that your output will be consistent.
But if you’re like me and watched a lot of the Olympics this month, then I’ve got a great way for you to start building a repeating swing.
At the Olympics, we get a chance to see judged sports such as gymnastics and diving much more than usual. In order to do well in diving, athletes must not only commit to the outcome (for example, complete the two-and-a-half inward dive) they must perform the dive with precise technique. Their focus is then easily guided by their goal. To get a high score, one diver may need to focus on a smooth approach to their jump off the board and another must focus on keeping their feet together.
You should work with a teacher to identify the “feel” or “feels” that will help you hit good shots. You may need to feel your tempo, your balance or focus on the plane of your backswing.
Having selected a specific swing feel or feels for your next round, make the following your goal for the round: I will focus on my feels so well that if golf were a judged sport, I will get perfect 10s in the one or two areas that I am focusing on.
One player’s feels might be “establish good aim, make a smooth takeaway and be balanced in the finish.” The goal for the day will be to average 9.9 on aim, 9.5 on a smooth takeaway and a 9.0 on a balanced finish. Without this judged-sport mentality, most players will hit a shot they don’t like (the ball went left) by the second or third hole, analyze what went wrong and modify the feels they would use for the next shot. This begins the process of inconsistent input and is a major reason why so many players find it difficult to improve. To enjoy consistency in output, you must first commit to consistency in input.
You also need to accept that consistency is not perfection. When you get tempted to throw out your swing feels, just remember that the best players in the world only hit 12 out of 18 greens. They play three holes and only hit two greens. You need to accept that feel in golf is elusive, even for Tiger Woods. So set reasonable goals. If you try to be more consistent than is reasonably possible, you’ll simply magnify your inconsistency.