GIVE YOURSELF THE “ACID TEST”
By Greg Schulz
It would be best if each range practice session began with a number of ¼, ½ and ¾ length pitch shots with your sand wedge. Not only is it a small swing to get your muscles warmed up, but it also helps you build up to the full swing, and of course, it’s a REAL shot which occurs multiple times during every round of golf. After this warm-up, choose a 6, 7 or 8 iron to focus on the set-up and swing changes you have been working on with your PGA Professional.
Consider concluding your range practice sessions using your 3-wood with the ball on the ground. The reason for the 3-wood is to TEST if swing changes have truly occurred. In high school, we created “acid tests” in chemistry class to ultimately eliminate all guesswork of what was in your vile. In golf, I call it the “acid test” since you can’t “accidentally” hit straight and long 3-woodshots, due to the margin for error being at a minimum, nearly eliminating “false positives” (outcomes which “hide” flaws making you believe that swing changes are actually set in place). If you use your driver, with the ball propped up on a tee, the tee actually “hides” some of the possible flaws in your swing. Irons can also hide some truth since the combination of the shorter shaft and greater loft will reduce sidespin and the extent of off-line shots (more false positives).
Swing using your 3-wood with the ball on the ground WITHOUT judging, getting angrier trying to “fix” anything. Remember, you’ll need a “uncontaminated” test to be able to judge whether your swing is really changing to the degree you think it is. If your ball flight is not straight or long enough, that’s OK, just know that you can always go back to 6-8 iron and alternate between the 3-wood from the ground and irons. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the % of straighter and longer results with the 3-wood based on your personal golf goals and dedication level.
Please practice with maturity and realize that it’s OK to “fail” with poor ball flight IF you understand the root causes. If you’re not sure, consult with your PGA Professional again. Use the 3-wood acid test as a benchmark goal for your long-term progress and be patient as you continue your journey in the game of a lifetime.