Swing Changes and Speed Bumps

This winter I embarked on a mission to enhance the fundamentals of my swing.  I was sick and tired of wandering aimlessly through the world of high 80’s and 90’s golf.  My plan was to work with an instructor who was focused on the fundamentals of the swing.  Once a week I met with my instructor and we talked a lot about the golf swing and walked through some drills that would help me piece those fundamentals together bit by bit.  If you want to see my workouts and session notes you can see them here My Winter Swing Tune Up.

I didn’t hit a ton of golf balls during the sessions.  The sessions were more about getting a visual, understanding what I needed to do and then taking an assignment home to work on.  Again, at home, I didn’t hit a ton of balls because I was focusing on basic fundamentals.  I worked on my set up, grip, grip pressure, shoulder turn, hip turn, back swing, follow through, impact position etc.  All of this work was without hitting a ton of balls.  See a pattern emerging?

My update today comes out of a bit of frustration, but also out of a new understanding for what it takes to make a swing change.  I have played three times so far this season and have twice shot in the 100’s.  I haven’t shot a round in the 100’s for the past three years and I can’t tell you how frustrating it was.  It was frustrating because I have spent countless hours in the gym and in my apartment working on these new fundamental changes.  When i went to the course for the first time I was fired up to show off my new swing.  I knew how sound it was and I was confident I could put up a great score.  What happened?  I was lost on the course.  I didn’t know where my ball was going on each different swing.  I began to doubt the changes and started to fall back into old patterns just so I could get around the course.  Needless to say I was humbled.

After these two miserable rounds I went to the range.  Let me rephrase that, I went to the range A LOT.  There was no way that all of my winter work wasn’t going to pay off.  I re-read my notes and re-evaluated my rounds.  When I was at the range I could just feel how I wasn’t getting my club face closed at impact.  Everything else felt great, but why couldn’t I get the darn clubface closed?

I went through my check list:

1) Is my set up comfortable and solid?  Check

2) Is my alignment proper?  Check

3) Is my grip correct?  Check

4) Is my grip pressure correct?  Check

5) Is my takeaway correct (not rolling my left arm over)?  Check

6) Is my weight transfer correct?  Check

7) Is my transition smooth and not rushed?  Check minus (it could be smoother)

8) Are my arms staying connected to my body throughout the swing?  NO

There it was.  My left arm was clearly getting away from my body on the back swing and especially on the down swing.  This was making it impossible for me to close the club face at impact.  I started to focus on this as my swing key because everything else felt great.

The change was instantaneous.  When I kept my arms connected the club fell perfectly on plane and closed square at impact giving me a solid hit and a straight ball flight.  I even went back out to the course and validated it with a round back in the 80s with little to no effort.  I actually didn’t play great at all and easily put myself back in the 80s.  If I had gotten up and down a few more times my round would have been close to being in the 70s for the first time ever.  That was an encouraging thought for my third time out and after two rounds in the 100’s.

The entire point of my work this winter was to solidify the fundamentals of the swing into my muscle memory.  I think I have done a good job of that, but my initial speed bumps showed me that I need to stay persistent at checking that my fundamentals are in check and working properly.  Even if 7 of my 8 fundamental check points look good and one is off it can break down the entire swing.  It is encouraging to know that I am able to identify my speed bumps and fix them which I have never been able to do in the past.

Now all I need to do is clean up my short game rust and I will be on the road to my first 79!  Wish me luck.

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4 Comments to “Swing Changes and Speed Bumps”

  1. Here’s to 79! Maybe a half marathon would help your short game? Just sayin…

  2. Oh man, you are going to call me out on that one already? I might have to get on board as a motivator.

  3. Learning and playing in this fashion has got to be tough because to be successful on the course, you’ll ultimately need to get to where your checklist is reduced to maybe one swing key and then let ‘er rip. Train it and trust it. Shoot, maybe you’ll enjoy a surprise week real soon, kinda like Tiger did at Bay Hill.

    Good luck and be patient!

  4. I guess I should have clarified more. Once I honed in on keeping my arms connected that was all I had as a swing thought. The other fundamentals were already in place. It was just, arms connected and swing smooth. Results spoke for themselves.

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