Lots of experimentation and tweaking at the range and on the course.
A few ideas…
- Setting up with the club-head a couple of inches behind the ball at address. Stumbled on it by accident and weirdly it really seemed to improve my ball striking. No other thoughts, just set up and go. This is quite a popular method for driver (not irons), I think it works because it stops your shoulders from opening up (and making you go OTT) and keeps your centre of gravity in the right place. I’m going to keep working at it because early indications are it works and it’s very easy to do.
- Focusing on earlier wrist hinge – wrist hinge (right wrist bending back) , not set (up). Makes my swing very compact and keeps club on plane. One of those moves that worked really well at the range but very inconsistent on the course. I’ll keep it in the locker but more interested in the one above for the time being.
- Narrow stance – covered in another post but can be a quick fix mid-round if you are hitting a lot of fat shots.
- Shortening the swing – as above, just helps tighten the swing up if you are getting long and sloppy. Think about swinging the left arm to a clock face position e.g. 10pm for a full swing.
9 holes today in reasonable condition, just a practice round. Driving was a bit wayward, irons better but still too inconsistent, short game was major highlight and putting pretty good considering I never practice it too.
My 25/30 yard and 50 yard wedge play was good. I got creative around the green with a PW and 8 iron and hit some lovely shots and I can pop a high soft one up with my 60 degree wedge too but it is harder.
Need to get a proper round under my belt soon to see if my scores are improving.
I was focusing mainly on my wedges today at the range, dialling in my distance control using an imaginary clock-face as my reference. It was going well, and got me thinking that I should be doing the same thing with my full swing, as I’m sure I have a tendency to get very long and sloppy resulting in poor shots.
So I tried it with a few irons (5, 6, 7) and the results were promising – certainly no loss of distance and it felt a lot more controlled and compact with a better transition. Need to practice it more but focusing on the left arm going no further back than 9pm (parallel) seems to help (it probably goes a bit further in reality, 10 or 10.30pm, with momentum in a full swing but still prevents overswing and gets everything starting back down at the same time.
Shorter backswing works!
Almost every golfer has a backswing that is too long…
Heavy rain and mist, for about half the round I couldn’t see more than about 50 yards in front of me, so not great conditions. Started well, had a crappy spell for a few holes and then played the back 9 quite nicely.
Things to remember/ work on:
- I need to get much more consistent with my set up.
- Stance width – I know it needs to be more narrow than it has been (inside shoulder width, in line with hips).
- Ball position – in line with left heel for driver, in line with left ear for everything else (including short irons, but my stance will be even narrower so only just ahead of middle).
- Head stays on centre of gravity (sternum) until ball has gone (with every club).
- Grip down slightly on 5 iron, driver, 3 wood and hybrid for a bit more control.
- Hit my 2 hybrid nicely when I remembered to keep my head still until after the ball had gone.
- Wedges – need to feel more like arms and body move at same speed. Starting to manage my distances better by thinking about clock face (50 yards is about 8pm to 4pm and so on).
- Chipping – within 30 yards, use 8 iron to bump a little chip (club more upright, feet almost together, weight slightly forward). No more than 7 to 5 swing. If I have to get over an obstacle, use 60 degree, weak grip, 9 to 12 swing.
- Putted quite well by focusing on lining up squarely and again keeping my head still until after ball had been struck. Also left thumb straight down middle of shaft to stop any rotation of club.
- Driving was pretty steady again. Kept it in play, acceptable distance.
And this is what I mean when I refer to the fault of getting ‘ahead of the ball’ ( left). The tendency to activate the upper body too early in the downswing (to lurch forward with the right shoulder) creates the situation where the arms become trapped, the downswing is too narrow and the club-head actually slows down at precisely the time it should be accelerating towards impact. The problem here is that the swing has become congested, which makes it virtually impossible to extend the arms and enjoy any sensation of speed through impact – hence the bent left arm you see in the through-swing, known as the chicken-wing’, which typifies this cramped and powerless type of action.
A good impact position is clearly the result of a series of related good moves that precede it. Having established a good set-up position, with the ball opposite the inside of the left heel, weight 60:40 in favour of the right side, and the upper spine angled gently away from the target, I have been able to get fully behind the ball in the backswing – loaded up and coiled with power. The secret to then delivering that power effectively lies in the sequence from the top, the lower body supporting the change in momentum as I reverse the gears and begin to unwind from the ground up – but without driving excessively toward the target.
That’s key. The lower body stabilises the transition and the arms simply drop the club into a good hitting position. With my focus on keeping my head behind the ball (and my eyes are fixed on the back of the ball until the moment it’s hit) I then have the freedom to accelerate the arms, hands and club-head through to the target, and enjoy a sensation of ‘collecting’ the ball through impact. You don’t ever want to feel that you hit ‘at’ the ball; free-wheel the club-head and simply let the ball get in the way as you rotate and swing to a finish.
“During the downswing, there is a significant amount of force being applied in the forward direction.
To maintain balance and posture, it is necessary to keep the head still and behind the ball at impact.
“Chin it; chin it,” I tell my students. I am attempting to have my student’s chin point at a spot several inches behind the ball until well after contact with the ball.
In this way, I am insuring that the student holds his/her head still and behind the ball during the downswing. A Picard student can usually be identified by the excellent head position during the downswing.
“Chinning it” becomes a way of life for most students.
It is my belief that the head rises slightly during the downswing to apply maximum power at impact.
The head moving slightly up and back results in excellent posture at impact.”
Keep chin behind ball at impact
Narrowed my stance again today and my ball striking immediately improved. I hit some of the most flush iron shots I’ve ever hit; ball flying off the face and nice divots. I never get divots usually.
When I say narrow, I mean noticeably narrow – well within shoulder width. It almost feels too narrow. Ball position is middle of my stance and I need to focus on keeping my head steady – it’s virtually impossible not to have a descending blow with this set up and there isn’t any time to flip!
That’s it, no other swing thoughts.
Narrow Your Stance at Address
As an aside, I was driving the ball quite well today. Not going to win any long drive competitions but was playing for a gentle fade and finding the fairway more often than not.