Turning a Good Practice Swing into a Solid Real Swing

Asheville Golf Home

Dear Jitterbug,

I am the proud possessor of a beautiful practice swing, but it doesn’t carry over to my real swing. It seems to me that if I can do it without a ball, I should be able to do it with one. I need a thought or suggestion to help me make them the same. Have any?

Ray Smith

Jitterbug Gang Fan


You didn’t invent this problem, Ray; there’s not a golfer alive who hasn’t experienced the same frustration.

To get a bead on why, let’s start at the beginning.

You step into the practice swing in a relaxed posture. Your legs and arms are soft, your mind quiet. Your feet spread only a comfortable distance as you address the imaginary ball.

Arms still easy, you take the club, without hurriedness, to the top, and change directions smoothly, allowing the club to pick up speed as gravity will have it. Responding to the weight of the club, you glide to a finish, and park, free of any tendencies to tip right or left.

Now it’s time to address the real ball, to hit your real shot, the one that really counts.

Like a man made of concrete, you step in and spread your feet unnaturally far apart, perhaps to scratch some sort of stability itch. Next, you extend your arms, engaging the muscles in your torso and upper thighs needed to reach for the ball. From there, with so many muscle groups on full system alert, you lose all sense of swing, as there can be no swing in the company of tight muscles.

After the jerk takeaway here comes the strike back at the ball. Maybe you time it just right (have an equal number of jerk and counter-jerks) or maybe you don’t. Either way, good or bad result, it doesn’t feel like your practice swing.

My advice, Raymond, as you strive to make both swings feel the same, is you contrast the two not just at the completion of your motion, but from the very moment you draw the club from the bag.

Mr. Vaughn:

The real difference, it seems to me, between most folks’ practice and real swings is how they prepare themselves for the hit.

People come into the impact area when executing a practice swing the way they should with a ball; that is, with no anticipation of club and ball contact. Golfers swing through a practice swing, and hit at an actual ball.

It’s as if golfers perceive the ball to be heavy, and in so believing, attempt to muscle it into the air.

If you don’t believe me on that, go buy yourself a sleeve of plastic golf balls, the ones that won’t fly twenty feet no matter how hard you swing. It will take you about five swings at a practice ball-swinging at something with no appreciable weight-to find out just how smooth you can be when the perception of a heavy ball is taken out of the equation.

Lord Berry:

If you want to make real strides in golf, simply judge your next 5,000 shots not by the where the ball comes to rest, but rather, the fluidity with which you swing. With the outcome taking a backseat to qualities of flow and rhythm, over time, you’ll enjoy better results as well.

Asheville Golf Home

Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner

Ask Jitterbug - Author Bobby Steiner

About the Author

The following are a list of golf teaching columns generously donated to us by teaching professional and author Bobby Steiner. Bobby teaches golf at The Practice Tee in East Asheville during the summer months, and at The Westin Mission Hills Resort during the winter.

You can reach Bobby at: www.bobbysteiner.com or bobbysteiner@msn.com

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Teacher a Good Player

Do you think it is important that a teaching professional be a good player?
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Turning a Good Practice Swing into a Better Real Swing