For most of us, time is a major issue in trying to get better at golf. Whether it is work, family or other obligations, time to practice can be a challenge for many. Currently, practice time is not something I have in great wealth. With that in mind, I know I cannot start trying to prepare for summer tournaments once the summer gets here. So, whether you're trapped inside during the winter with snow, or just in your busy time of year, how do you progress in a way that is beneficial to your long-term improvement?
As I said in my last post, each area of the game can be unpacked in great detail to find the focal point for development and improvement. For me, I know that my ball striking (both driving and approach play) need to be better in order to compete at an elite level. When unpacking these two areas of the game there are two major things to consider: technique and skill. There is a major difference between technique and skill. Technical issues certainly make it harder to develop skill and will be limiting in some of the shots that can be hit. Skill is how you put the technique to use. There is an array of skills in each area of the game and all of them can be developed differently.
During this time of year, with very limited time on the range and no time on the course, my goal has been to get stronger and faster. The thought is that if I can get stronger and faster in the off-season, I will be able to focus more on dispersion patterns when I am able to practice and have the distance needed to compete. This is also the order in which I teach new golfers and kids: Learn how to move the club and your body, learn how to go fast, learn how to hit the ball, learn how to make it go straight. The added benefit of strength and fitness will hopefully make practice more manageable, as last year when I got back into practice after a winter of nothing, it was a challenge not to get fatigued quickly. And the best part of this focus is that I do not need to be at a course or have daylight to do the work.
What it looks like:
There are two main components to what I am doing: Strength training and Speed Training. For strength training I am using the Fit For Golf App and following along with the yearlong program. At the moment I am working the Mass program and doing resistance training 3x per week. I work in one cardio session a week on the Peloton Bike and then do a mobility routine every day. For speed training I use The Stack. The Stack is a weighted training program that uses AI to outline a program based on your current measurements. I do the program 3x per week and have finished 16 sessions. Each session takes about 30 minutes including the warmup. Finally, I get in one speed session per week on the range with my driver. It is 3-sets of 5 balls, as fast as I can swing.
A normal week looks like this:
Monday - FFG Mass Phase 1 WO A - 9pm after everyone goes to bed
Tuesday - Stack Session Foundation Program - either 7am before first lesson or 9pm
Wednesday - FFG Mass Phase 1 WO B - 10pm after night lessons
Thursday - Stack Session Foundation Program - 12 pm during naptime on Dad's day.
Thursday - Speed session - 10pm after night lessons
Friday - FFG Mass Phase 1 WO C - 9pm after everyone is in
Saturday - Stack Session Foundation Program - 7am before first lesson or 9pm
Sunday - Peloton HIIT ride - 12pm during nap time on family day.
This work takes up the small amount of free time I have most weeks, where I could either relax or sleep. I don't want to do it all the time and while I usually feel better once I'm done, often times I debate on whether or not it's worth it. All of this work is designed to help me get faster, in an effort to be able to drive it better and shoot a few shots lower in an event 8 months from now. And the work doesn't guarantee any result. The only thing I know, is that if I don't do it, I'm not giving myself much of a chance.
Since I'm not playing any golf, the only progress I can look for is progress in training. The strength training is very easy to track with the app with the basic question of, can I do more weight than I did last week? The Stack does a wonderful job of monitoring progress as well and giving you a score for potential distance.
The biggest thing I am looking for in all of this work is for my driver speed to go up when I'm actually hitting balls. The weekly speed session hitting balls is my biggest test.
As you can see, there has been a big jump since I started back at the beginning of the year. But what you might notice is that my most recent session was a bit slower than the week before.
When I look at progress, I think of the stock market. If I look at any one point in time, it may not look good. But the more I zoom out the better it looks overall. My "hope" is that I am putting in good quality work, and by sticking to it, overtime I will see long term improvement. It is also why I measure everything. That way I can look back and remind myself that while this week might not have been as good as last week, it's still a lot better than a month ago.
Progress is hard. I will continue to repeat that. It is incredibly easy to get discouraged. I encourage everyone to try and figure out where you are in each area of your game and look at things you can measure to see if you are going in the right direction, and hopefully that helps you stay on task.
In the next article, I am going to write about how stats should be used, tracked and what actually matters. I hope you find this interesting and as always, feel free to respond with any comments and subjects you want to hear about.
And while it would be nice to have more time to practice. They make the time away from the course well worth it.