By Robert Bicknell

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October 8, 2006

Create an emergency "Boot Disk" for your swing…

Every night before bed, my two year old daughter will insist that she and I practice English. First, she will point to items in the room which she knows and say the name for it. After this is done, I will point to an item she doesn’t know and say its name in English, which she repeats.

The first half of this ritual is repeated in the morning.

Apparently even a child knows the best way to learn is by repetition. Perhaps, nature programmed kids to be instinctive in this, I don’t know. However, my daughter seems to understand the need to positive reinforcement after the fact. It’s a pity that very few golfers understand the need for it as well.

I have taught golfers for over 30 years and one thing that I am convinced of is that the lesson you’re taking won’t "kick-in" until the next day because your brain needs to chew on the information, digest it and try to make sense of it while you sleep for application the following day.

Many times I see players go to the range, desperately trying to fix problems in their swings right before going out for a round of golf. In most cases, any "fix" is usually short-lived and falls apart before the second nine because the brain didn’t have time to chew on it enough.

I try to advise people to go to the range before a round to warm-up and find their swing for the day. If you find that you’re hitting fades instead of draws, go with it. That is your standard shot for the day. If you’re hitting wildass hooks, then you need to apply rudimentary first aid just to survive the day, but any real permanent fix will have to wait until later. You really don’t want to overburden yourself with swing thoughts, fixes, or mental band-aids before a round.

If you watch the Tour pros, you’d be surprised to see most of them hitting balls at the range after the round.

What they are doing at the range is either fixing a problem which developed during the day, or reinforcing any positive feelings they had during the round. Thus, while they sleep, the brain chomps on this information and is ready to apply it correctly the next day.

In fact, many Tour pros admit that they would have a hard time sleeping that night if they skipped the post-round practice ritual.

After playing golf for 43 years, I pretty much know what I’m doing and spending time at the range only gives me an opportunity to screw up something that doesn’t need fixing in the first place. Thus, I go to the range to teach someone, to loosen up (and even then I have to keep a close watch on myself to avoid doing something truly stupid), or if I lost my swing.

Losing your swing is easy to do if you take too much time off, or if you are one of those dummies who read countless "how to" books. I never had a problem "coming over the top" until after reading an article on how to stop doing it, so now I avoid magazine instruction articles like Dracula avoids wooden stakes.

A great way to quickly get your swing back is to have a "emergency boot disk" available.

Everyone goes through a time when they feel they’re hitting the ball exactly as they want. This is the time to make a video of your swing. It would be best if a teaching professional did it as he can provide an audio commentary as well.

Then when your swing goes out the window, simply watch the video of yourself. Most often as not you’ll be able to get back on track. If the cure continues to elude you, have the professional shoot another video and you can compare them side by side.

Video is a awesome tool when used correctly but, like practicing after the round, not enough people take advantage of it.

Now if you will excuse me, I want to get back to searching to see if "Barney" makes a golf video for my daughter.

Hey, you can never learn the basics early enough…

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