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Coming Back to the Game? Here’s a “SimpLe” Remedy for a Quick Return

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Michelle Wie West plays during a practice round for the KIA Classic at the Aviara Golf Club on March 23, 2021 in Carlsbad, California. Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The golf world is welcoming back one of its superstars with open arms this week, Michelle Wie West. 
Recent mother and US Open Champion, Wie West has not competed on the LPGA Tour since the PGA of America hosted the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June of 2019. It has been almost 2 years since her last competitive round. 
Do you ever wonder what a world-class player would do to get their game back into competitive shape?
It’s funny, not playing can promote bad habits. Of course, that begs the question, “But, if I wasn’t even playing how could I develop them?” 
Simple, when we are out of practice, we tend to be less consistent upon our return. No space is this more evident than in our setup. As we prepare coming off of a long break, it is priority number one to practice our fundamentals. Make sure you lay down an alignment aid. If you can find two sticks or golf shafts, I also strongly recommend placing one vertically in the ground about 15’ in front of you along the target line.
This simple visual training trick will really help improve your golf eyesight. That’s your ability to see the shot start and trajectory. Knowing your body is aligned correctly by the stick laying down and then seeing the ball flight with reference to the vertical aid is the most efficient way to get your alignment ready after you have taken some time off. Make sure you start away from the ball and walk into your setup. Don’t just rake balls in, make the most of your time and test yourself by getting completely ready for each shot.
The second preparation priority is to create consistent contact. Coming off of a long pause, we can have a tendency to move our body more than needed. It can be up and down, side to side. We haven’t felt contact in a while and that scares our golfing brain. That’s right, we have a left brain, a right brain and a golfing brian. We all know that golfing brain scares easily.
Take your setup and address the ball. Now bring your feet together side by side. The ball should be directly centered between the gap in your two shoes. Take a normal backswing and stop when your lead arm is parallel to the ground. 
At this moment the club shaft should be vertical forming a 90-degree angle to that lead arm. From there, swing forward and create a mirror image finishing position in the follow through. Your trail arm should be parallel to the ground and the shaft pointing straight up again. This “L” drill named for the shape of your arms will help simplify contact. Feet together, swing back to an L shape and through to an L shape.
You won’t believe your ability to quickly find crisp contact. As you build confidence with this drill, start to separate your feet. Don’t move those feet until you can consistently strike the ball.
Remember to step away and reconfigure your setup between each training shot. Believe it or not, soon your feet will return to their normal width and the ball will be flying off the clubface toward your target. You will have rebuilt your swinging foundation and are now ready to attack the course after a long layoff.
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