Latest notes from the range

Not a good practice round yesterday, as I got myself wrapped up in too many silly swing thoughts. So back to the range today to work on things and restore a bit of confidence.

And I got my swing back.

My focus was simply on moving the club away from the ball with my arms to start the swing. I hit my best shots when my grip was light and my arms were relaxed and I could really feel the weight of the club head.

My arms move backwards across my chest, and then my shoulders and then hips turn naturally (in reaction to) the movement of my arms as I complete my backswing. I keep everything very stable; constant spine angle and knee flex.

I don’t really think about the downswing. Provided I have got into a good backswing position, a correct downswing seems to just happen. I was striking the ball well, hitting my 7 iron 150-160 yards (with range balls on a cold January Sunday), generally straight. I could feel things happening in the right order (right side clearing) and I was getting into good finish positions.

I hit a lot of wedges too and was getting good results with the same swing – nice crisp, accurate shots.

Rhythm & Tempo

Porvided I set up well and get myself into a good position at the top, it feels very much like the difference between good and bad shots is rhythm and tempo. Bad swings tend to happen when I am too quick and/or I don’t complete my backswing.

I’m going to focus on this, I may need a swing trigger.

Mental Aspects

I’ve got to realise that going on to the course with swing thoughts doesn’t tend to do me any favours, certainly more than one. I need to focus on the target instead, my strategy for the shot etc.

A consistent pre-shot routine is needed too.

I do need to start using the Tour Striker for some of my practice too.

DON’T make the turn

Most of current golf swing teaching is based on what is considered the modern, rotational swing. A lot of emphasis is placed on getting your pivot right, body driven swing, maximum shoulder turn etc. One plane, deep turn, big weight shift.

One plane, deep turn, big weight shift.

Trouble is, that’s really bloody difficult for the average joe like you and me.

So in one of my many experimentation sessions at the range, I found myself making no conscious effort to turn my shoulders at all and I was striking the ball much, much better. I’ve since been back to the range two or three times, focusing on keeping my shoulders very square to my target line, with no conscious effort to turn them. They do move of course, and I don’t try to resist them, they just don’t move as much or as early as they used to. I used to start my swing by pretty much moving everything in one piece, at the same time; shoulders, arms, club and hips – with very inconsistent results.

And then interestingly, as is often the case, I have managed to validate my findings on the old interweb. Leslie King, a renowned teacher from the 60’s and 70’s, had this to say:

‘The swing is started by a backward movement of the left hand and arm

Now let us repeat the left hand and arm movement with a club in the hand. Keep the shoulders still and move the clubhead back moving the left hand and arm as described. Now since the shoulders are square (at address) the left hand and arm can only move the clubhead back towards the ball, along the arc for a distance of about a foot before being blocked by the square position of the shoulders. Try this.’

I promise you it works. I set myself up well, with good posture including knee flex (Leslie King also makes a big thing about maintaining right knee flex, something else I’ve been doing anyway), and basically imagine my body is scaffolding that isn’t going to move. It’s just going to support the swing of my left arm/ club unit. I start the swing by simply moving my left arm across my chest and my shoulders naturally turn when the left arm meets them and forces them too. But they aren’t moving first (or dipping, or tilting) and they are no doubt not moving as much as they used to. I’m sure my hips aren’t moving as much either. Less moving parts = less that can go wrong. It is also the most simple way of keeping the club on plane.

Even modern teachers are giving the same advice. Monte Scheinblum, not really my cup of tea generally but very popular, put this out on YouTube (I don’t take any notice of the ‘Cast’ bit):

My shots are straighter and longer – and that’s with my hybrids, driver and 3 wood, not just my irons. The fat and thin shots are vastly reduced. It feels right, even if intuitively I want to control the swing with my shoulders thinking that is how I will get power.

It’s actually easier too, and seems to have eliminated my lower back pain.

This is a major turning point for me I feel and I if you happen to be reading this I strongly suggest you give it a try. Turn less, let your arms swing.

Even more on loading into a firm right side

Think Inside the Right Foot

Perfecting Lower Body Stability

Latest practice notes:

Driving

Pretty good, generally on-line and carrying about 230 yards on average. Would comfortably be 250+ if I could lower trajectory a bit, but I’m not complaining given I couldn’t even hit driver a few months ago.

  • Feet perpendicular, no flare.
  • Stable lower body, maintain knee flex, right foot planted.
  • Hover the club-head at address, seem to hit the sweet-spot more often.

Irons

Getting better, fewer fat shots. Same keys as driving, but I don’t hover the club-head with irons.

What I am working on now:

  • Loading into right side properly – slight lateral shift (including movement of head) on backswing. Firm right side, keeping weight on inside of right foot.

Wedges

Not good, just seemed to have forgotten how to hit them. I think I have got them back on track though, with the following plan:

  • Set up ball in middle of stance, slight forward shaft lean, a bit more weight on left side.
  • Swing feels like both arms feel very straight and I just swing them straight back and straight through.
  • Swinging back to 8pm equates to a 50 yard pitch with the SW. Choking down to the bottom of the grip and exactly the same swing equates to 25/30 yards.
  • Same swing with PW to about 9pm equates to about 100 yards.

Chipping

Lost my touch a bit but technique isn’t going to change.

  • Use 8 iron.
  • Club quite upright, with putting grip (no interlock).
  • Putting stroke, simply back to about 7pm, and back through.
  • Take the club back very slowly.
  • Use the toe.

Putting

Not good. Back to the drawing board.

Speciality Shots

Bump and run – club up, narrow stance and shorten swing when I have a tricky approach shot or uneven lie.