Eliminating My Big Miss – The Hank Haney Experiment

I am 1,100 swings into my Hank Haney experiment.  To review, Haney recommends for the time challenged golfer, to take 100 practice swings per day in your back yard (merely a 15 minute time commitment).  In week one I took the first 500 with a 5-iron.  In week two, I split the balance between a 5-iron and driver.  The last couple of sessions I have felt particularly strong and enjoyed some excellent rhythm and a confidence boost.

Yesterday, I changed things up and went to the range in the afternoon to see actual ball flight with the 5-iron and driver.  Smother hooking 40 balls will humbly reminded you why golf is such a damn hard game.  Just when I thought I was on to something good the pendulum of bad habits swung in my direction.  I left the practice tee discouraged but knew that I had a round to play the next day, and figured I’d better work some short game.  I finished up with a pretty good session on the practice putting green.

Now I am one of those players who generally plays like he practices, and the prospect of teeing it up a day after facing down a bucket full of Big Misses felt like crossing the U-boat infested Atlantic Ocean in an unarmed merchant ship.  I was dreading the surfacing of the Big Miss and can’t remember being less unenthusiastic about the prospects of playing a weekend round of golf.

I arrived at the course early this morning and headed immediately to the range, and figured it’s best to face your fears head on.  The warm-up was pretty good and I maybe saw five Big Misses out of 40 swings; a much smaller percentage, but just enough to keep the threat lurking.  Incidentally, I was hit by this same swing malfunction about a month ago in another pre-round warm-up, but a playing partner spotted my physical error and helped me with a band-aid fix before play, so I was armed with this little bit of knowledge.

I piped my tee shot on #1 but The Big Miss surfaced on the #2 tee shot.  Somehow I managed to save bogey and then it mysteriously disappeared and I played the rest of the front nine and the first two holes on the back striking it solid and straight.  Then BAM!  Four Big Misses in a row led to two straight double bogeys (the second of which was nearly a triple), and I though I was done for the day.  I stabilized with the band-aid and managed to birdie #16 and #17 with some solid swings and limped in without killing anyone, and carded a six-over 77.  Despite the strong finish, I am questioning the wisdom of the daily practice swings.  Should I continue if there’s a chance that I’m practicing a mechanical fault with no ball flight feedback?   I did hit 11 GIR last weekend and 12 in today’s round, which is over my season average of eight.  Maybe it’s working and I can’t see the forest of incremental progress from the trees?

Any thoughts or recommendations to stay the course or abandon for something else?

23 thoughts on “Eliminating My Big Miss – The Hank Haney Experiment”

  1. Brian,

    It takes 21 days to form a habit. I golf it takes twice that! Your earlier posts indicated that the drill was working, maybe this is the case of 3 steps forward and 1 step back. I would try it for two more weeks. Besides, if the miss hits are less than normal, I would suggest it is working!


    1. Jim, I will stick with it thanks. Any suggestions for in indoor training device for the winter? Need something that will simulate a club in terms of weight displacement but not be long enough to put holes in my ceiling. I ruined a couple of drop panels in my basement last winter swinging a club upside down. Thanks! Brian

    2. The ’21 days to form a habit’ myth is just that; a myth. Forming an ingrained muscle response varies greatly from person to person and also depends on what the task is.

  2. Every rule is meant to be adapted, IMHO. Or at least most of them. I remember Paul Azinger saying something like all players have to be active in our instruction and take what works and toss what doesn’t. I like the swing thing and even mentioned it in a blog but i don’t do it everyday. If it’s not working for you maybe just focusing on any 1 of the 5 fundamentals – your grip, alignment, etc. is a better thing to do But I completely relate to the roller coaster experience and wish you well in the coming rounds.

      1. Copy that. The more I think about it the more it sounds like alignment especially cuz you had some dead straight strikes on the ball. One test for that is to address the ball at the target line then close your eyes and stand up straight and take your left arm assuming you are right handed and swing it round to point where you think you’re aiming with your left shoulder. Turn your head slowly and open your eyes. If it is alignment then your left shoulder and finger won’t be pointing to your desired target but more left or right. i found i do great aiming in the back yard but on the course i have a natural tendency to open my stance and hook as a result of compensation. I only just realized this after failing miserably at doing anything pn the range 2 weeks ago. ….. My 2 cents. Stay well and determined. Cheers! SVGOLFER

        1. SV, my tendency is to line up square to sometimes closed, which will cause the pull. On the odd occasion I will release one early which exacerbates the pull into the hook. Right now I’m hitting it pretty good but that image of the big snapper is etched a little too deep in the subconscious for complete comfort. Then getting hit with four in a row last weekend was like striking out with the bases loaded twice in the same inning. You go into a little bit of shock. I recovered though and will continue to work it. Gotta focus on one thing at a time and not get too technical. Thanks!


  3. I personally think that it is important to actually hit golf balls to practice. I judge a lot of my swing faults based on the sound my club makes with the ball. You can tell a lot from the sound you make and the direction of your divots. If you do not have time to hit balls, practice swings are definitely good to do, but I do recognize the importance of actually making contact with the golf ball. And if you cannot fix your swing right before a tournament round, just play your miss. I have played in countless tournaments when I had just aimed WAYY left and played my monster fade. Although they did not go far, I was still in play. Good luck!

    1. Nikki, thanks for your seasoned perspective. I’m with you 100% on hitting balls, as there is no substitute for seeing actual ball flight. Unfortunately, you hit it; with me it’s a time issue. I feel the practice swings are helping, but it messes with your head when you think you are doing good work and get hit with a boatload of big misses when you introduce the golf ball!. I was actually hitting into a backyard net for awhile and getting the benefit of good/bad contact feel, but I still couldn’t see direction because the net was too close. Fortunately last weekend, I had a WOOD band-aid that got me through the round and I think trying to get as much play in as possible is my preferred option. Appreciate the comment and I love some of the articles on your blog! Good luck in your upcoming competition and I’ll be sure to read your updates! Regards,


  4. Brian I have tried the haney 100 swings a day method and found that it helped me gain confidence that I was working on my game, but like your experience, I would go to the range and expect much better results that I saw. There is just no substitute for seeing the ball flight in my opinion.

    1. Have you read Tour Tempo by John Novosel? He is a proponent of simulation without ball contact and thinks that bad ball flight can work as a negative reinforcement. You see where this is going? Anyway, the gist of his approach is to improve your timing and he’s done some fascinating research on the swings of tour players and amateurs in an attempt to capture good timing. I tried it yesterday with excellent results, but my sample size is too short. Got to give it a couple more rounds and then I’ll review the book. You should have a look if you haven’t already. Thanks! Brian

  5. Wow, such good information. As a high handicapper, I understand the frustration on believing you are doing what you need to do to improve your game and not seeing results.
    I tried the 100 swings a day for a while with the medicus iron. I did find it helped. My theory is do what you can to improve your game. Anything is better than nothing.
    Thanks for the great post. Brian,


    1. Tina, I’m not sure anything is better than nothing because I’ve learned that practice makes permanent, not necessarily perfect. The lesson was a hard one and has been reinforced several times with different devices/methods. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for a trained eye, and for the player to observe actual ball flight. Hope your “Big Miss” can be managed more easily than mine. Thanks for stopping by!


  6. Hi Brian, I tweeted this and just got a reply from Hank.
    Here’s what he had to say.

    U hit 11 and 12 greens when u average 8! @AuthorTinaGayle:The Hank Haney Experiment wp.me/p1yTLV-12i #golf #lessoningolf @HankDHaney”

      1. No. I watch him all the time on TV. I just added his name to the tweet so he’d learn about your experiment. I’d want to know if I was him. After all, he makes his money on people who have success with his suggestions.

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