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Who’s back golfing this week?

Not touched a club in over 2 months?

Worried that your swing will look & feel like an Octopus falling out of a tree?

Having nightmares that you’re going to wiff your 1st tee shot?

Moped putting on your mind? (putt, putt………putt,putt,putt).

Follow these 4 simple steps and be back playing your best golf sooner than you think –

1 – Mirror swings
Use a mirror or the reflection from a window to check out that your basic positioning is where it needs to be. Pay attention to the key stages of your swing – Address position, half way back, top of backswing, change of direction, impact and follow through. Lots of deliberate practice, slow motion swings with or without a ball is the most effective way of regaining that ‘muscle memory’.

2 – Over speed training
After the enforced lay off most of us have gained a little extra weight and lost a little speed. So expect to see your distances to be a little shorter than normal initially.

However you can get back to where you should be and gain a few more yards on top by adding some over speed training to your routine. Ideally we should all have a set of ‘Speed Sticks’ in our locker. Speed sticks are a set of 3 golf club like sticks that have a calibrated weight in place of where you’d normally expect to find the club head. These 3 weights get progressively heavier and so harder to swing faster. The first stick is slightly lighter than a normal driver, the second is around the same weight as your driver and the third is slightly heavier. If you are unable to get hold of a set of speed sticks then the next best alternative is firstly an alignment stick or a club shaft without the club head. Second, your own driver and third your own driver but leave the head cover still on, thus adding some weight.

So the idea is to get out of your comfort zone and swing as fast as you possibly can, absolutely no consideration for technique, except for your normal grip. The 2 worst bits of advice that where ever muttered by the local Sunday morning experts of swinging slow and keeping your head down certainly do not apply here.

Step 1 – Right handed swings as fast as possible x 15, 5 x lightest, 5 x medium weight, 5 x heaviest weight.

Step 2 – Left handed swings as fast as possible, repeat as step 1.

Step 3 – Right handed swings as fast as possible with added step change. As you complete your backswing move your left foot half a step to your left, ala Happy Gilmore style. 5 x each stick

Step 4 – Left handed swings with step change as fast as possible. 5 x each stick.

Step 5 – 3 Swings with your own driver as fast as possible.

Look to spend 10 – 15 minutes on this routine 4 – 5 times per week and if done correctly you can expect to see a return of 5 – 8 miles per hour club head speed, a potential 15 – 20 extra yards off the tee.

3 – Short Game feel
Anytime you have a lay off the first thing to go is usually your touch. Therefore, I’d advise everyone to prioritise the short game, starting with putting and work progressively back from the green after that. Avoid any technical thoughts to start with and focus mostly on making good contact. Where are you striking the ground? Where are you striking the ball on the club face? Nail this down first of all and then secondly look to add a drill in order to benchmark exactly where you are at. One of my favourites is a simple ladder drill that can be done with putting, chipping or pitching –

•Pick a flag or place a tee about 30 feet from the edge of the green and hit your first shot as close to it as you can without going over.
•Each ball becomes the target line for the next shot; if any shot goes over, pick them all up and start over.
•The aim of this drill is to get as many balls as you can in a row without going beyond the previous ball.
•The drill becomes very challenging as you near the edge of the green.
•Control the difficulty by choosing a slope that either increases or decreases your margin for error.

I also like to do this drill by just throwing balls under arm, without a club when coaching juniors and beginners as a great way to challenge their hand eye co ordination.

4 – Check your grips
Golf grips tend to dry out, especially if left indoors for a prolonged period of time. Sweat, oil, dirt and grime from our hands causes the top layer of the grip to become shiny and a little slippy over time. If you want to avoid tension on your first day back on the course then you’ll need to take away that outer shiny layer and underneath you’ll find new tacky rubber. No need for a vice like grip anymore.

Step 1 – Gently rub some medium grit sandpaper over the grip, ensure that you don’t scratch the club shaft.

Step 2- Cover the grip all of with washing up liquid.

Step 3 – Scrub with hot water and a coarse nail brush or scrubbing brush.

Step 4 – Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Ensure that no suds are still visible, you don’t want these popping up again next time you play in the rain.

Step 5 – Towel dry.

These 4 steps will help you get back on track within no time but remember golf like most things is a little different now and there is no telling if it will return to its previous state any time soon. So enjoy your next round and treasure every shot, the good, the bad and the ugly all the same.

Mark Heinemann

PGA Professional & Killarney Golf Academy

087 2209663


Originally from Shropshire, England Mark has been based in Killarney, Co Kerry, South West Ireland since 2002 and is Head Professional at Killarney Golf & Fishing Club. Mark coaches players of all ages and abilities, helping students to utilise their natural abilities so they can consistently shoot lower scores and become better golfers.