Approach Shots

Always take practice swings from behind your ball. Here’s why

Welcome to Shaving Strokes, a new series in which we’re sharing improvements, learnings and takeaways from amateur golfers just like you — including some of the speed bumps and challenges they faced along the way.

How many times do you take your practice swing from next to the ball prior to hitting your shot? Probably about 75% of the time, right?

10 reasons why you should *always* take a practice swing
By: Kellie Stenzel, Top 100 Teacher

While this might feel comfortable because we’re all eager to quickly go from practice shot to executing the shot — without losing that swing feel — GOLF Top 100 Teahcer Trillium Rose says this isn’t the best way to do it.

As I continue my quest to break 80 for the first time ever, Rose and I recently met up for a 3-hole lesson, with the top instructor giving me all sorts of pointers along the way. So take a look at the video and practice swing tips, with some further explanation below.

Why to always take your practice swing from behind the ball

While breaking 80 is my goal, there’s no way I’m just magically going to shave 8-10 strokes off my game in just one given round. Sure, miracles happen, but to instantly lose that many strokes is too much to ask.

That’s why it’s important to chip away at my goal, gradually seeing progress by changing up my habits — which includes my pre-shot routine as well, which helps me evaluate and commit before addressing the ball.

In the video above, Rose walks me through the importance of taking my practice swings from behind the ball.

“Do your practice swings back here,” she instructs me as I’m preparing to setup for my second shot.

Doing this in your practice swings can make you hit it longer
By: Zephyr Melton

“[We do this] for a variety of reasons. One, it just keeps the thinking away from the actual hit, so you get a sense of what you’re actually trying to do and you keep it separate from the actual hit. Thinking here [behind the ball], feeling there [at address].

“The second reason is because, if you do your practice swings [from over the ball], then you need to realign yourself; which just takes too much time.”

Rose says that, by taking practice swings behind the ball, it helps provide confidence in your aim and alignment by providing a much wider lens. By scanning the grass in front of you, you can identify possible hazards to avoid as well as safe landing areas.

She also says that you can use something like a leaf to place a few inches in front of the ball to help with your aim.

“I see a little leaf, so set your face up exactly where it needs to go,” she continues. “Set your face up, set your feet parallel to that, give one last look, and then you pull the trigger.”

Finally, Rose says that taking my practice swing from behind the ball gives me a better opportunity to feel the lie of the ball.

In this instance, the ball is a little bit beneath my feet, so taking practice a few feet farther back helps me work on brushing the grass with the bottom of my club, ensuring I make flush contact.

“You can feel like you’re low, and you can pick up a couple cues from the environment,” she adds.

Using my 5-iron from about 205 yards out, I hit a clean shot that goes straight to my target. On a long par-5 like this, I can now confidently walk to my third shot with a chance to knock it on the green and make birdie.

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