If you find that travel and consistency in your golf game don't seem to go together, you might be interested in the latest book project from teaching guru David Leadbetter.
Leadbetter, who has written eight other books, produced countless videos and has taught scores of the world's top players, knows that it's tough for people to find time to practice and to practice properly. For those who travel a lot, this can be especially difficult, but Leadbetter has a new book that addresses the best ways to use what little practice time you have to create a more consistent game.
The working title is "Seven Minutes to a Better Golf Swing," which will probably be published in the spring. It introduces golfers to a lower maintenance, more compact, synched-up swing that promises more accurate results with much less practice time. It will paired with a couple of training aids, including a short club that golfers can use at their home or in the hotel room to work on drills.
"I'm a big believer in having a couple of little drills to keep the feel going," Leadbetter said.
For people who don't have much time to practice, it's all about creating "feel" efficiently, he said. And even if you did have a lot of time, Leadbetter doesn't recommend pounding golf balls on the range. In fact, he says, you'd be better off warming up with your short game and making half swings on the range, than pounding out a bunch of 7-irons and drivers. It usually translates into better rhythm and mechanics in the full swing.
A few years ago, Leadbetter said, he asked the late, great Byron Nelson how much he practiced during his PGA Tour record 11 straight tournament wins in 1945. The answer was somewhat surprising.
"Not at all," Leadbetter recalled Nelson telling him. "I was so afraid I was going to lose the feel. All I did was hit a few balls to loosen up. After a round, I did nothing. I was in such a good frame of mind. I had such a good feel for what I was doing.'"
In other words, when it's going well, hitting lots of balls is often a mistake. Golfers have a tendency to work into something they didn't intend, which leads to inconsistency. And when it is going poorly, it's also unlikely that you'll find the answer in the dirt, he said. More than likely, there are swing faults involved, and what you need is a lower maintenance swing, which is the crux of the new book.
One of the most consistent over the years was none other than Calvin Peete. Had he been a good putter, Leadbetter said, there's no telling how many majors he would have won. For 10 straight years (1981-91), Peete led the tour in driving accuracy.
His secret, other than having a right elbow that was fused because of a fracture that was never properly set, was the efficient way he swung the club, which serves as the model for what Leadbetter is teaching in his new book. In a nutshell, the backswing is shorter, the clubface stays closed for a longer period of time and there are fewer moving parts. And it's certainly easier to practice, about seven minutes, in fact.
As for other advice for travelers, Leadbetter is a big believer in flexibility and stability. He has a few exercises for both, including one where you get in a seated position against a wall and hold that position.
"If you want a good golf swing, you have to have stability in your lower body," said Leadbetter, whose academy is headquartered at ChampionsGate in Orlando. "Just sit against a wall -- even if you can only do it for 10 seconds. You'd be amazed how strong your quads get, going 10-15 seconds without a chair. Try to build it up to 30 seconds or a minute."
Doing the drills and exercises creates real feel. It becomes instinctive, not like a conscious thought.
And if you lose your feel, just hit some wedge shots. Don't hit every club in the bag, Leadbetter said.
"Make some half swings, 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock – just get that feeling of good solid contact," he said. "Get your rhythm going and your confidence going. You'd be amazed at how much that helps."