Keep a Golf Journal – Swing Thoughts Simplified

Golf lessons, friends’ advice, magazine how-to’s, golf on TV, our own experiments, and practice, practice, practice, practice – these are the good, bad and sometimes successful ways we get better at golf.

And then it’s crunch time. When we stand over a ball, the incoming, ongoing tumble of thoughts can be, well … confusing. Shoulder, grip, ball position, that darn right foot, whoops, what was that about the wrist, hello, we’ve started our downswing and who said what about the clubface, here we go. Heck.

It helps to write the good things down.

Golfers keep notebooks for many reasons – to set goals, keep stats, list practice ideas, track progress, chronicle an amazing afternoon or one awesome shot.

There are many good and personal ideas for keeping a golf journal. Read Sandy Wagner’s suggestions.

But I’m here to say that keeping a golf journal is a way to keep swing thoughts simple,

Five years ago I took a lesson on the bane of my golf existence – the fairway wood. After a half hour, eureka, I’d learned my 3 keys to hitting it. I wrote them down. Every April after a long Michigan winter I reread them in my notebook.

And then it’s crunch time – I’m standing in the fairway over the ball. I mentally check those 3 points, that’s all that’s in my head. And then I hit with confidence, clarity and (some) success.

And when it’s good I send a mental fist bump to the guy who taught me and told me to write it down.

Golf Journal Is A Golf Gem

There’s a fabulous golf improvement device, sure to improve your game, and it only costs a couple of dollars.  Run, don’t walk, to your nearest office supply store and pick up a notebook and pencil.  It’s one of the greatest golf aids around — your own golf journal.
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Golf is an endless LEARNING experience, so take notes!  Capture a lesson, log a practice, note a particular success on the course.

LESSONS LEARNED – AND RETAINED
Ever take a lesson, return to practice the following week and realize you’ve forgotten a lot?  Take time at the end of every lesson to review important points with your instructor.  Write them down – and write down your “homework” too.  You’re paying good money for this info – so keep it!
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To start with, make two sections in your notebook:

  • “Before I Hit the Ball” –  Use this area to collect notes on grip, stance, posture, aim, ball position.
  • “When I Hit the Ball” –  Collect info on the swing itself, things like club path, club face, weight transfer, etc.

With your instructor’s help, note your tendencies in both areas and specific drills to improve these tendencies.  Use drawings, squiggles, stick people.  Get creative.  With this basic framework you will have a working system to capture – and remember – golf information that is personal to you.  This will be very helpful when you go out to practice.

SPEAKING OF PRACTICE
Log your practice sessions: what you’re working on, what’s successful, what’s not, ball trajectory, questions that arise.  All this info will be very useful, giving continuity to your practices and info you can share with your instructor next time you meet.
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MORE IDEAS FOR YOUR GOLF JOURNAL
Expand your notebook and make it yours.  Use it to keep all kinds of info, memories and reminders.  Some thought-starters:

  • Current Calendar of Practice Club sessions!
  • Specific topics, like  “Chipping – What To Remember” or “Putting – Ideas that Work”
  • Equipment Wish List – clubs, balls, etc
  • People & Places – List of fun folks and great courses to play this summer!
  • Golf books to read, Golf blogs to look at
  • On-course journal – logging games played, where, with whom, highlights, etc.

The sky’s the limit with the information you put in your journal – and with the benefit you get out of it.  People who keep notebooks refer to them when they feel their swing getting off.  They can start to solve their own flaws – and be their own instructor!