Zombie practice: The mistake youre making thats hurting your game – Golf.com

By: Luke Kerr-Dineen July 8, 2022

Zombie practice is one of the concepts in Jon Sherman's interesting new book.

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Jon Sherman is a golfer, like the rest of us. But just like the rest of us, he isnt just a golfer. Hes also a husband, a dad, and a man running his own business.

Therein lies the problem which weve all become familiar with: How do we actually get better at golf, but with less time to practice?

Thats the central question that led to Jon launching his website Practical Golf, and the motivation for his new book: The Four Foundations of Golf (which you can buy on Amazon right here).

Jon doesnt write from the perspective of a coach, but rather, a player. One who has transformed himself from an okay single-digit golfer in high school to a plus-two handicap while practicing less. It took a lot of trial-and-error, Sherman says, but now, hes ready to share what hes learned.

I went through a 10-year period of just being a super unhappy every time I played, he says. Ive been victim to all the myths in golf, Ive made so many mistakes. I hope this book will help other golfers avoid that.

The end result is a clever, useful read that will undoubtedly leave an impression on golfers who read it. Theres no talk of swing philosophies in here Jon remains agnostic on those, and recommends sticking with a coach you like and trust.

Instead his book dives deep on what he calls the four pillars that he says will actually help you play better golf: Master expectation management, on-course strategy, off-course practice, and mindset.

If golfers can be more efficient with the way they pick targets, practice, and if I can just help people know what to expect from the game, Id be happy, he says.

Theres a lot of gold in the book, but here are a few concepts I particularly enjoyed:

Wondering why you never seem to get better, even though you are putting in the hours on the range?

I call it zombie range sessions, Sherman says. Golfers show up on the range and start rifling through a bucket. They dont take any time to think about what theyre doing.

That form of practice can actually make you a worse golfer, because youre not practicing anything in particular, or mirroring the challenges youll encounter on the course. If you want to make your practice work harder for you, pick a target with every swing, give yourself at least five seconds between balls, do your routine, and change up the targets youre hitting to more frequently.

RELATED: 10 research-driven tips to improve your range practice

Jons golf swing is weird, by his own admission.

If you took a video of my swing, Id guarantee you a lot of people would not know Im a plus-two handicap.

Yet he is, and its all because he says he stays laser focused on what matters above all else: Clubface control, and how it affects the ball flight.

I look at the ball flight, and work backwards from there, he says.

Jon says he goes through a checklist: Where is he aiming? Is the ball starting too far left or right of that target? Is it curving too much or too little? When he encounters issues, hell use what he dubs the fight fire with fire method. If his draw is starting to resemble a hook, hell practice trying to intentionally hit slices to counteract it. Hes fighting fire with fire, until he gets somewhere back to neutral.

One of the biggest concepts Sherman hopes golfers will take away from the book is how damaging double bogeys or worse are for your score. Eliminating double bogeys is, above all else, what will help you drop your handicap.

The difference between a 20-handicap and a high single-digit handicap isnt the amount of birdies they make, its the amount of double bogeys, he says.

The irony is, golfers will make big numbers most when theyre trying hardest to avoid them. When youre in the trees, or a comparable form of trouble, dont ask yourself how to save par. Ask yourself a less ambitious question: How can you make an easy bogey? In the long run, youll be better for it.

Its not about creating heroic, spectacular outcomes. Its about reducing mistakes, he says.

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brands game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLFs multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South CarolinaBeaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University.His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

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Zombie practice: The mistake youre making thats hurting your game - Golf.com

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