Mr. 58, Jim Furyk may have one of the worst technical swings in golf. His infamous looping swing would at best be called inefficient. This swing has also produced the lowest PGA Tour round in the history of the sport. Adam Scott, who is considered to have one of the best swings in all of golf has only finished inside the Top 10 in strokes gained approach 3 times in a 20-year career. Both players have stellar careers and Major Championships to back them up, but very different approaches to the golf swing. Having a swing as pure as Scott’s is never a bad thing, however, many golfers think it is the most important thing. What we really want in our golf swings is control, the ability to make tiny changes to our swing to produce the desired outcome. The only way we can build control in our swing is by practicing to increase our skill, not our technical prowess.
Skill practice is different than technical practice in two major ways, most importantly it minimizes repetition. When you play golf if you are hitting the same shot as your previous one something has gone horribly wrong, therefore, why would we practice hitting the same shots over and over again? Give yourself no more than 5 to 7 of the same shots to the same target and see how much more difficult the practice is. The second major difference between skill practice and technical practice is that every shot's result is measured and graded on a pass/fail scale. When in skill practice each shot needs to be tied to a goal such as three out of four chip shots inside 3ft from 30ft away. This goal gives you the need to roughly measure each shots proximity so you know exactly where you stand, just like when you are playing. This consistent measurement and attainment of goals is really what will lead to improvement in your game. As you repeat the same drills over weeks you will continue to make goals more and more difficult, as the goals get more difficult your skills get pushed even further, and are forced to improve. This is the magic formula to improvement in golf, not if your club is on plane at P3.
Skill practice focuses not on how we hit the ball but where we hit the ball. This kind of practice allows a player to come over the top on the ball, as long as they can control it. In the short term, skill practice will give the player a far better understanding of where their ball is going and they can truly come up with a plan to attack a golf course. The real magic happens when you continue to develop skills over time. Short-term skill practice will do a great job of giving an honest assessment of where your golf game is and what you need to improve on. As you continue completing these skill drills you will slowly see your misses get smaller and smaller because you will learn to control your swing. Instead of trying to build a new golf swing learn to master the one you have, if after weeks of skill practice you see no improvement then, and only then, is it time to focus on improving your technique to unlock the next level of skills.