Posts tagged ‘golf anxiety’

July 11, 2012

Morning Golf is a Stress Reliever

I got up this morning and got in 9 holes at a local public course and still made it to my desk by 9am.  I used to do this all the time when I lived up closer to the course, but I haven’t since I moved closer to downtown.  This morning made me realize just how much I miss it and just how realistic it is to get some golf in during the week even with a full work schedule.

The golf wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t bad either.  I had one scramble Par, which I now treat like birdies, and another great up and down for bogey from a shot that normally would have terrified me and led to a double or triple.  It is still crystal clear that I absolutely must clean up my short game if I want to break 80 this summer.  I am on a mission to find a way to get some indoor practice both at my apartment and at my gym at work.  I have a few ideas that I think just might work.

Besides the short game, my full swing actually felt really good and I attribute that to my decision to go back to two swing thoughts I used to have some success with.  The first was to swing 80% and think about having an oily swing.  Too often in my past rounds I have tried to muscle the ball and really hit it with speed only to spray it all over the course.  Last summer when I was playing well my swing felt effortless and I got a bit of that back today.

The second key was to be relaxed and natural in my back swing.  Recently I have been trying to produce a swing that looks “correct” according to the pros on TV and magazines.  The reality, for me, is that I am not flexible enough to have a completely straight left arm on the back swing.  It creates tension for me and gets me into all sorts of bad positions simply because my body doesn’t move that way.  This morning I allowed myself a slight bend in my left arm at the top of the back swing and it very quickly helped me hit the ball more consistently.  I wasn’t fighting my body during the swing and it felt natural.

The last good piece about having this relaxed and natural feel to my swing was that I was actually RELAXED while playing.  I wasn’t worried about my score or the shot at hand.  I was able to stay in the moment and hit some good shots when I needed to.  All in all, I was very pleased with this mornings progress and will need to make my way out there again very soon.

 

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May 9, 2012

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.

April 26, 2012

My Winter Swing Tune Up – Part 5

Since my last meeting with mike I took 4,000 reps across three of the drills I mentioned last time.  The one drill I didn’t track was the drag the club down the line drill.  The reason for this is because this drill can be very effective without massive amounts of repetitions.  I did it a few times every night just to get the feeling and I really feel that this was sufficient.  I focused mainly on the set up to impact drill, the handle to impact drill and the rope swings.  I really enjoy the rope swing drill even though it is tough to get just right.

When I got to the meeting Mike and I discussed how he recently went to a chiropractic office and got a full physical evaluation.  He was having trouble clearing his left hip with his longer clubs and the guy at the chiropractic office told him that his left hip was definitely weak and considered a power leak.  He suggested that I go for an evaluation and I think he is right.  I am going to try and look into it this week.

After we were done talking I hit a few chips and they were pretty good.  Each time I go my impact position is getting better and better.  My chips are starting to feel better, sound better and look better.  The anxiety I used to have around chipping the ball is quickly dissipating as I am working through all of these drills.  I am much more comfortable and confident standing over the ball now as opposed to five weeks ago.

After I hit a few chips Mike told me that I was going to have my “aha” moment at this lesson.  When he said that I thought he was full of it, because how could he predict when it would all click for me?  Strangely enough, he was right.

He had me hold a golf ball in my right index finger and my thumb and take my back swing and try to throw the ball at a ball set up where I would normally have a ball I was trying to hit.  On my first throw, I threw the ball a good two feet behind the ball.  The next few got closer but they were going way off to the right.  The reason this was happening was that I was flipping my hands and not pushing my hands (the handle) through the ball.

Next, he moved the ball about five feet out in front of me and told me to throw the ball at that ball.  This was much easier for me to do and when I released the ball it was going straight and not off to the right.  Mike was trying to show me that my visual needs to be throwing my hands, and in particular my right index knuckle, out in front of the ball instead of directly down at the ball.  The reason this clicks for me is because I tend to bring the club back a bit from the inside, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily.

The next thing we did was take a golf ball and put it in between my index finger and thumb and then grip the club and hit chip shots.  I was visualizing throwing the ball in my fingers out in front of me at an imaginary ball.  This is when my chips really started to sound, look and feel really good.  I was having my “aha” moment.  I dropped the ball and hit a few shots without it and still trying to visualize throwing the ball.  I was able to do it fairly consistently and I was getting excited.

Next time I am bringing my 9 iron and we are going to start trying to take some of these fundamentals to more or a full swing.  Until then I am working on throwing the ball at a ball in front of me as well as swinging a club with a ball in my fingers and against the shaft.  The other drill I am working on is taking a shaft and holding it almost like a javelin on the handle between my index finger and thumb and taking my back swing and pointing it at a ball in front of me.  I am working on extending my right arm and keeping the angle of my right wrist in this drill.  I am going to do as many concentrated reps of each as I can over the next week, but I am not going to set a numeric goal this time around.

I am also going to add another piece to my workouts this week.  I went and got a chiropractic assessment this past week.  I wanted to see my range of motion and physical limitations and determine where I can work on my strength and flexibility in my swing.  I was pleased to find out that I am not that terrible in my range of motion and flexibility in my swing areas.

The doctor pointed out two key areas that he saw room for immediate improvement.  The first was in my hip flexors.  He said they were noticeably tight and probably restricting my hip release in the swing.  He gave me a few stretches to really open them up and I have been doing them every day at least twice a day.

The second area he mentioned to me was my upper shoulders and the muscles under my shoulder blades.  He said that my upper shoulder muscles were really tight and the muscles under my shoulder blades are weak.  This causes my shoulders to almost give out when they come down from being extended.

Both of these problems are largely caused from sitting at a desk all day so I am working on my posture as well as a few rehab exercises and stretches.