For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties …. well, you know what to do!

At the Plum Creek Range where I teach, I really enjoy observing the variety of swings that take place. Some good, some not so much, but I always appreciate the effort.

In most players however, I don’t observe much method to their practice. They just get a bucket of balls, maybe do one or two stretches, then start hitting shots.
All of your practice should be “purposeful” to get the most bang out of your time spent, here’s how you can make that happen. Note that I’m not talking about the sequence of the clubs you use ie: short clubs first, driver last, that’s actually a matter of personal preference. I know players that actually like to start with their longer clubs first, because their ball flight provides better swingpath and clubface feedback from a less lofted club than it does from a more lofted club.

I’m referring to a sequenced method for purposeful swing practice for every club in your bag – putter through driver.

  1. Practice your setup for the shot each time you change clubs. Practice “stepping in” to the shot for five repetitions without actually hitting the shot. Step in, step away. Do it five times each time you switch to a new club.
    • “Stepping in” to a shot means that you place your rear foot in position, then you set the clubhead in position behind the ball square to your aimline, then you position your left foot and make final stance and weight distribution adjustments. Each step is done deliberately and with precision, not casually. As long as we’re talking about precision, get into the habit of being very precise about your default ball position for each club. Way too often, good players get a bad result from a swing because they got sloppy in their ball position.
  2. Concentrate on your swing mechanics for three to five shots. If you are feeling good about your swing after these three to five swings move to the next step. If not, keep swinging until your mechanics feel good, even if it takes your whole session. You can’t progress to the feel stage of practice until your swing feels right and is producing the expected result.
  3. Concentrate on your initial ball direction, your aimpoint, for three to five shots. This means using something for feedback. For your mid to long irons, woods, and driver you could use one or two shafts or alignment rods (48″ fiberglass driveway marker rods, $2 at Home Depot) stuck in the ground several feet in front of you to define a line for your ball direction. When you use one shaft or rod, you are trying to start every shot right or left of the shaft. When you use two shafts or rods – for more advanced players and for shorter swings – you define a more precise channel. As you get better, move the shafts or rods closer together. Use this method for full swing shots as well for chipping practice at a chipping or putting green. You’ll be surprised at how much more accuracy you’ll develop by practicing this way. Always wrap the rod or shaft with pipe insulation or stick a pool noodle over it ($1 at the Dollar Store) so that misses don’t carom off dangerously. Always set up so that it’s safe to do this, meaning be judicious if you are in a crowded area. 

    For putting aimpoint practice, set up a gate drill – putt from a fixed spot 18″ back from a couple of tees spread just a bit wider than a golf ball. The objective is to stroke the putt through the tees without touching them. Move the tees closer as you get better. Incidentally, this drill is the best drill that I know of to check if the setup you are using is good for your personal putting stroke. Starting your putt on your intended aimline is the first fundamental of putting that must be mastered.

  4. Leave the aimpoint training aid(s) in place, and for your full swing shots concentrate on hitting your specific target while swinging freely with a relaxed mind. For your chipping and putting, execute your swing or stroke while concentrating on your target and the speed of the rollout of your chip or putt. Hit half of the rest of your practice balls this way.
  5. For the remainder of your practice balls, make swings swings without any training aids in place. Concentrate fully on your target for full swings, and on making your chips and putts exactly as you would if you were playing instead of practicing. Pay close attention to speed on your chips and putts.

If you take the time and effort to practice this way, I give you the seldom bestowed “TCT Guarantee” that you’ll show improvement. 🙂

Love your practice, enjoy your golf,


Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.