October 2014 Update

As a golfer in Canada, one of the self-imposed statutes is that we have to try to squeeze as many “last rounds” in as possible around Thanksgiving because it it will inevitably snow, and you’re going to regret watching football or hockey on the coach instead of making that one last putt/hitting that one last bomb/striping that one last iron.

This season was a bit of a struggle for me.  My short game improved and my driver fairway hits also improved but I was clueless between tee to green.  Mid-season, my concerns about lost distance was real as I was starting to go 2 clubs up from my previous season and hitting 6 irons into 145y.  Distance is one thing, but I also lost all confidence in directional control as well.  Everything was a weak push or fade to the right or massive pull hook to the left.  Late in August, I was really struggling to just break 100 and started going through a series of rounds fighting not only the lost distance, the lack of directional control, but also the dreaded hosel rocket.

This isn’t fun…,plus, this is how my wife viewed me for most of this summer… 😉

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Fixing the Slice

Almost every tip from TV and magazines talk about fixing the nasty slice, which is is also the natural shot for most beginners to the game.  My struggles as a beginner was no different than most.  A typical round consists of more times spent in the trees on the right or playing an entire hole from the opposite oncoming right fairway (if lucky).  At the range, I was able to shoot a ball 170 yards straight out and then the right turn signal comes on and the ball takes a hard right towards the fence.  The same pattern would happen for anything longer than an 8 iron.  If the ball gets in the air, 90% of the time it’ll deflect off an invisible shield near the green off to the right.  The other aspect of these shots were that they are often weak high glancing blows and it’s a total fluke to ever find a fairway (on the right edge).  During my early golfing life, a 175 yard staying in the fairway would be a small victory in of itself!

These days, my misses are either pushes or hooks which is mostly a matter of clubface control that I’m working on.  I wanted to share my experience and journey from being a 90* slicer to someone who now fears the hook more than the slice.

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Lesson 5 – The Big Dog

This is part one of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Mar 21, 2014

Review

After 2 consecutive sessions on putting, it’s time to finally pull out the driver.

You might have noticed that I haven’t really placed too much emphasis on the one club most of us amateurs seem to be obsessed about.  Like everyone else, I want to hit it long and straight as well.  I also have a philosophy that as long as your drive is in play, you might lose one stroke from having to chip out sideways.  However, I’ve long learned that I can easily turn a birdie chance into a bogey on the green.  I can turn a simple green-side up and down into a double with a bladed chip.  And as of yesterday, I still have to warn/announce to my buddies “Okay guys, watch out, heads up, I’m going into the bunkers…”

Having said that, I’ve really struggled with the driver in previous years.  I ended my season two summers ago by putting my driver away because I kept mishitting it and couldn’t get off the tee box with it.  They were nasty tops or super pop ups that only moved me only 30 yards up, maybe past the next tee box if I’m lucky.  It was this experience that taught me I can lose one stroke off the tee and still score my average as long as I have a decent day around the short stuff.  Last summer, I started really gaining some distance with my drive.  First, I corrected my mishit problem by being alot more meticulous in my setup routine so I’m lined up properly.  I discovered I was just standing a hair too far away from the ball and it was causing havoc in trying to return the club face back to the ball.  I also toned down my ugly snap hooks simply by not swinging my arms around behind my body on the backswing and developed what felt “more up than around” backswing to get the ball closer on line.  This combination gave me some real confidence and instead of occasionally hitting the perfect drive to send the ball 230y the year before, I was now getting closer to average 240y, with an occasional bomb or two 260+ in the right wind and hole conditions.  My real issue then is just trying to hit center fairway.  At times, I couldn’t figure out whether this drive will go left in a big hook or go right in an ugly slice.

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Lesson 4 – Connected Putting

This is part one of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Mar 4, 2014

Review

So far, we’ve only worked on iron strikes but one thing I mentioned early to my coach was that I needed help on my short game.  Today, we did a little diagnosis on my then terrible putting.

He had me set up and watched me hit some 10 foot putts  (which I missed fairly consistently, I might add).

The diagnosis is not good!

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Lesson 3 – Setup

This is part three of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Feb 22, 2014

Quick Recap

In Lesson 2, we worked on a better takeaway to avoid getting into a stuck position on the way down.  Today, we’re going to just refine it a little bit.

Analysis

After  a week of practice, Rob sees that my takeaway is a little too outside now and we continued to make small adjustments to my set up today.  He continued to analyze my swing and give me suggestions, mostly on my setup.

I often hit towards the toe of the clubface and he shifted me to be a hair closer to the ball.  I can really feel the difference between an off-center face contact and one that catches the sweet spot.

I tend to set up a bit open to my target.  So he offered a few thoughts for me to try.  Have my left arm higher than my right, and have that right elbow less rigid, slightly bent and tucked against my body.  And then try to keep the arms connected to the ribcage throughout the swing.

Finally, along with the tension comes a pretty firm grip.  After seeing some pushes, he asked me to loosen my grip abit and see if it helps.  There’s definitely a bit of a sweetspot in terms of holding it loose enough not to have tensions in the elbows, but holding it firm enough to have enough face control on the club.

Recap

Sometimes, it’s one thing to hear and “know” what you’re supposed to do.  But it’s a totally different thing to be able to actually do it.  I don’t really think I truly “got” what it’s supposed to feel like to have less tension and to have the arms more connected to the chest until I started working with the Faldo Preset Drill just recently (into the summer months now).

Looking back, I can finally connect the feeling of less tension and more connected arms very clearly with everything Rob was trying to get me to do over the winter months.

Let’s (Not) Get Stuck

This is part two of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Feb 15, 2014

Quick Recap and Progress

Last week, Rob showed me my obvious flip at the ball so it gave me something to work on at home.  I tried working on the drills indoor at home and I find it’s pretty hard to tell- I can always bring the club back with plenty of forward shaft lean if I swing in super-slow-motion but when I feel confident and try to record a full speed swing, I still couldn’t get the hands back in front of my body- it is trailing way too far behind me and now, I see pretty clearly I have to flip at the ball to have any chance at not catching the ball with a wide open face.

The Fault

Today, Rob was a lot more demanding- I guess the pleasantries were over and it’s time to get down to business.  I warmed up with an 8 iron and he started keying on one of my more obvious faults- one which I’ve been fighting since I’ve started this game.

I can’t seem to help but start the back swing with my hands, suck the club to the inside, and feel like my power comes from swinging the club around behind me.  So much so that my elbows is way behind, outside of my torso at the top of my backswing.

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The Flippopotamus

This is part one of a seven part series documenting my Winter lessons as a bogey golfer trying to improve.  You can read the Intro here: Winter Lessons Series

Lesson Date: Feb 8, 2014

Review

Rob started out by having me warm up while watching me on video and asking me questions like:

  • What is your usual miss?
    • It’s wild.  Left pulls and right pushes/slices.  He says it’s more a hook than a pull after I started missing some left.
  • Do you hit it fat?
    • No, generally if I miss, it’s a thin shot.  I’ve gotten so good at it that I have no fear fairway bunkers.  Greenside bunkers can get ugly.
  • How’s your distance?
    • Messy.  Can easily be one club differences depending on the day.  A 150y 8i one day but 140y 8i on others.

I also mentioned I feel like my ball flight is pretty high and I have lots of difficulty playing in the wind. Continue reading