April 17, 2013
If you are anything like me you desperately want to get better at golf. You think about your swing at night, at work and maybe even while out at dinner. You probably even stroke putts and hit chips somewhere in your home. You watch golf on the weekends and you read about it during the week. You have taken lessons, purchased strange training aids and struggled to get significantly better. I am guilty of all of the above and I am beginning to think it is more of a detriment than anything else. The reason I say this is because the more I think about my swing the worse it gets. I’ll explain.
I recently came back from a six-day golf trip in North Carolina. While I was on the trip I played a lot of golf. I played so much golf, I didn’t have time to think about my swing. I never had a long period of time where I was sitting at my desk wondering what my next round would hold. My next round was always the next day. The next range session was only a few hours away. It was easy to let go of some of my swing thought anxiety because I knew I had a chance to work on it in the very near future.
Now I am back in Chicago and I am thinking about my swing again. I’m thinking about it a lot. Sitting at my desk not knowing when my next round will be is causing me to think about my swing more than I want. Since I have been back, I have played two rounds of golf. They were my two worst scores I have ever shot on this course. Being stuck at a desk and having two terrible rounds of golf to reflect on is causing me to think about the mechanics of my swing way too much.
Last night I went to the range to pound out some of these new demons. I bought a large bucket and went to work. I knew my grip was a bit off, as was my takeaway and my release just wasn’t getting the job done. I was determined to fix all of these things. Want to know the result? The WORST bucket of balls I have ever hit. I was hitting my pitching wedge a good 20 yards left of my target. 20 yards!!! I was furious.
I bought a second bucket. This time I said to myself, “keep your head still and hit down on the ball.” The result? A bucket full of golf shots. I started to hit the ball straighter and further by just trying to smash the ball into the ground. I wasn’t worried about my takeaway or my angle of attack and blah blah blah. I have written this before, but over thinking the swing is an absolute game killer.
A lot of mechanics goes into the golf swing. My experience so far has been that over thinking those mechanics can be a real pitfall. This might be a gross over simplification on my end and I recognize that. My experience has shown me that getting the swing thoughts out of my head is the best way for me to play golf. There are a few more range sessions in my near future as well as a few early morning 9 hole outings before work in order to keep working on my game. If I don’t have something on the horizon I know I will let myself fall back into over thinking and analyzing my swing.
July 11, 2012
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.
August 26, 2011
I finally took the time to video tape my swing the other night at the driving range and I wanted to share. When I look at my swing the first thing that jumps out at me is the fact that I take the club too far back. I know this is a problem I have, but I have yet to find a drill or swing thought that really helps me fix it. In all of these swings I don’t feel like I am swinging 100% but it is clear that my backswing is going back too far.
The second thing I notice is that my take away seems to be too far outside of the ball. I don’t know if this is really affecting my swing that much, but it looks funny to me. All of these shots were actually good results, but it is clear I have flaws in my swing and I have room to improve in a bunch of areas.
I sent these same swings to the guys over at FixYourGame.com and am interested to see what they have to say about the swing. Hopefully they don’t rip me apart too bad. I will be posting their video lesson based on these swings as soon as I get it back from them. If anyone else has comments or tips please feel free to send them my way. I am all ears and am eager to hear what people have to say.
Full Speed Swings
Slow Motion Swings
June 9, 2011
Golf Digest published an article today breaking down the press conference where Hank Haney basically said he thinks the future of golf will be more influenced by innovations in equipment and NOT innovations in teaching. The link to the article is HERE if you want to read it for yourself and I suggest you do.
I have two problems with what Haney is saying here. First off he is a golf instructor who has a full line of golfing aids in golf stores across the country. His name is a commercial staple of teaching and improving your game. He has a TV show where his teaching alone improves the average golfer. Second he is making a very direct “This or That” statement. He is basically saying that golf’s future will be most affected by innovation of equipment alone. How about BOTH. Why can’t golf’s future be pushed forward by new innovative teaching methods AND new innovative equipment? It seems like a very defeatist attitude for a teacher of the game.
I also don’t agree with him when he says there won’t be some new teaching method that makes the game easier. Says who? Says Hank Haney? Guess what Hank? You are a great teacher but you are not the only golf teacher in the world. You may think you have all the teaching methods figured out, but you can’t predict what great golf mind will potentially come along down the road. The comments seem quite egotistical and off-putting to be honest.
If these comments had come out when he wasn’t announcing his new endorsement deal with Adidas and Taylormade I still would have raised my eyebrows, but the fact that he said them when he did makes it even worse for me to swallow.
I am not discounting the fact that equipment is getting much better and can help your game, but I don’t want people to swear off getting lessons and looking at the methods of teaching the game with fresh eyes and objective eyes. It will cripple the game as a whole if we think we can “buy a game” as he mentions. He does make a mention that people in general just don’t want to put in the time it takes to get better, which is probably true, but we love the game because it is hard and because we have to work at it. I take pride in the fact that I have worked at my game to be some what decent at the game. Far from good, but decent. I don’t want to be able to go to Golfsmith and pick up a new set of clubs that lets me shoot par. That is boring. That is not what golf is about and Haney should be the biggest proponent in the world for hard work to earn it. Seems like a cop-out to me.
May 20, 2011
Recently, I have given a bit more attention and notice to the divots I have been taking out on the golf course. In the past I was a bit afraid to take a healthy divot because I felt like I was going to hit every shot fat and I really didn’t understand the concept of the divot. I understand that there are guys out there (Steve Sticker types) who are good enough to pick the ball clean, but I am not that kind of player or nearly that good.
I haven’t had a chance to read Tom Watson’s new book yet, but I can already tell I am going to enjoy it and learn from it just by reading a few excerpts online. Watson acknowledges that a golfer can learn a great deal about the quality of their golf shots by looking at their divot. I have to be honest that prior to this year I never spent much time looking at my divots or really caring about them. If I hit a shot thin or fat I would just say, “oh I came up out of that shot or I hit behind the ball.” Now, I am trying to focus on hitting the ball first and leaving a shallow divot a few inches in front of the ball. Now when I hit a thin shot I don’t leave much of a divot and if I hit it fat, my divot is much deeper.
The hardest part about this concept for me is the lack of a grass driving range in the city of Chicago. The feeling you get when you hit the ball first then take a clean divot is unmatched on a mat. I am not sure how to get around this, but I would encourage all golfers out there who want to get better to take some time to look at the divots they are leaving out on the course. It can tell you a great deal about your alignment, swing path and shot shape. Be a student of the game and learn from your time on the course. It will make a difference in your enjoyment of the game!
May 19, 2011
I am working out in the suburbs this week at a client and I quickly realized that there is a grass driving range just down the street from the office. I brought a few clubs with me yesterday and utilized my lunch break to get a little practice in. I thought I would have the range to myself since the weather wasn’t great and it was right around noon. Boy was I mistaken. Just like me, there were TONS of people out hitting balls on their lunch break. The range is just across the street from a business park and the stalls were filled with guys wearing ties and dress shoes.
It was cool to see so many people out actively working on their game in bad weather and in the middle of the day, but it got me thinking about the nature of golf practice. Is there any other sport where numerous people will go out on their lunch break and take part in an utterly frustrating and sometimes demoralizing game? I’m sure there are a few people out there who go shoot free throws, bowl a few frames or throw the baseball around but not nearly in the numbers that people go out and practice golf.
In all the years I have played sports I have never experienced the amount of frustration while practicing as I have with golf. I have played competitive sports my whole life and have put in countless hours of practice that has been rewarding and made a tangible difference to my playing ability. Golf is not the same. I have often left the course or range feeling like I have taken steps backwards and lost all confidence in what I had been previously working on. I really believe this is unique to Golf. I am not saying that players don’t experience setbacks in other sports, but how many times have you seen people at the range slamming clubs on the ground or expressing their frustration in a very visible manner? I can’t remember a time when I have been at a crowded range and not seen someone have a minor melt down due to frustration.
Regardless of that frustration factor we all still come back for more! It blows me away how much we are willing to put up with in terms of frustration to try and get better at this game. What blows me away further is that people think they can get better simply by going to the range and hitting balls with no foresight, keys to work on or outside help to assist them with their swing. It is never going to happen. Never ever. Just hitting balls to hit balls is more detrimental and increases the amount of frustration we normally experience. I can’t stress enough the importance of utilizing your practice time with a focused approach that is aimed to helping your game.
Pounding balls at the range to pound balls never got anyone on the Tour. Try and focus your practice where your game needs it the most and by all means take a lesson to identify glaring bad habits that you are most likely engraving into your muscle memory at the range. When you go out and practice with an attainable goal in mind you will leave feeling much happier and optimistic about your game. Trust me, it makes a difference and you will feel much better walking off the range and enjoying a small laugh to yourself at all the players slamming their clubs in frustration.