Probably what separates the PGA Touring pro and the amateur golfer is “feel.” Every pro I know can “feel” where the club and clubhead are at any point during the swing.
Not an easy task, especially for the weekend golfer.
Many amateurs struggle with the idea, concept, or understanding of how to develop “feel” for the swing. It is a process that requires time, patience, and practice.
Part of the process of developing “feel” for the golf club is through proprioception. This may or may not be a term you have heard, but it is vitally important to the golf swing.
Proprioception is a big word that, simply put, is defined as “knowing where your body is in space.” Essentially, it means consciously knowing where your body is when moving, what your limbs are doing, and in what order. To simplify it further, it is feel. Some of us are better at it, others worse.
The good news is that you can improve your proprioception, or your feel.
Think about this for a moment: what is one of the most important aspects of improving your golf swing?
It is “feel” for the golf club at every position within the golf swing. Beginning with address, into take-away, your backswing, downswing, and follow through. “Feeling” where the club is at every moment is key.
PGA Tour pros “feel” the club during the swing, or in other words they have excellent proprioceptive abilities. As a result, they have the ability to make the little adjustments that are crucial in the golf swing. Additionally, their outstanding level of proprioception allows them to know what is going on with their golf swing the majority of the time.
How do you develop your ability to better “feel” the golf club and clubhead?
First and foremost, your development of better golf swing mechanics is center stage. Understanding the mechanics and where the clubhead should be is the first step.
This allows you to consciously know and practice the positions of where the golf club and body should be at any moment in the golf swing. Mentally understanding golf swing mechanics allows you to have a “map” to refer to when developing your golf swing.
Secondly, when it comes to golf swing mechanics we look at practice. We all know the body learns a new movement through repetition. The mind and body learn either the correct or incorrect golf swing through practice.
This is the point where the proprioceptive or “feel” abilities of your body for your golf swing begin to form. The movement pattern begins to be ingrained as you continue to practice your golf swing.
This is where the third component of developing “feel” comes into play. The third component of developing “feel” is the body.
Golf swing mechanics are performed by your body, and, as a result, the body is critically involved in developing feel in your golf swing.
Developing feel is linked to your nervous system and the ability of the brain/nerves to input/output information efficiently.
Improving the process by which your brain and nerves input (learning the golf swing mechanics) and output (execution of the golf swing) has a direct effect on your ability to feel the club.
How do you improve the proprioceptive qualities of the body that directly affects your ability to feel the golf club? Improvement in this area lies within performing exercises that increase the efficiency with which the nervous system operates.
Exercises that improve proprioception and “feel” during the swing are called balance exercises. Balance exercises challenge the nervous system, creating more efficiency in the input/output system of the body.
Better balance allows for the body to learn new movements (i.e. golf swing) more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, these exercises increase the ability of the body to “feel” athletic movements like the golf swing.
In summary, we have three components that improve our “feel” for the golf club. Number one is an understanding of golf swing mechanics. You must have a conscious “road map” of the golf swing. This allows you a reference point to develop the correct swing mechanics.
Secondly, practice is required. The body learns through repetition. Practice allows the brain and the body to learn the movement sequence of the golf swing. Practice is also the point where the body begins to develop the proprioceptive qualities required for the golf swing.
Finally, you need to develop the proprioceptive capacities of the body itself through balance exercises. These types of exercises improve the input/output system of the body allowing for improved learning capacities by the body, better “feel” of where the body is in space, and a greater capacity to “feel” the golf swing.
All in all, it is a combination of developing these three entities within your golf swing and body that creates “feel” for the swing. They all work together and cannot be separated.
If you truly want to develop a PGA-Tour-type swing, you will need to have a better understanding of the golf swing, practice, and development of the body.