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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I’ve learned early on to never be too complacent about your swing or show any signs of disrespect to this game of golf.

Last season, iron play was a real strength in my game.  I felt confident and was not afraid to attack the ball at 80-90% knowing that I will make close to center contact and get decent results.  Consequently, my backswing was well controlled and I never try to overextend knowing that I have all the distance I need with a short, compact swing.

Oh, how quickly things can change!  So far this season, I’ve been able to maintain reasonable scores relying solely on straight (but shorter) drives and a half decent chipping game.  I haven’t been able to hit solid irons much.  Well, last Friday, not only did my irons play continue to get worse, I also lost my drive and started delivering massive OB slices that I haven’t seen in my game for awhile now.  The result was losing a bakers dozen balls in one single round.

It all started after I watched myself on video a couple of weeks ago:

Immediately, I saw:

  • A straight right leg and reverse tilt to the target side at the top that I didn’t realize before;
  • My arms and hands are playing catch up behind me still, giving me a bit of a flip at the bottom.

Those things, along with some serious distance lost (my 8i is my 135y club right now vs 150y last season) caused me to start looking at changing things.

Reverse tilt- I started to work on getting my chest more over my right hip with some mixed success.  By keeping my right knee flexed, I can feel alot more tension in the torso and right hip at the top of the swing.

Flip- I worked on keeping my right elbow closer to my body and try on keeping it bent longer into the downswing.  This is something I can do without a ball in front of me but put a ball in play and it all disappear again.

What Next?

This entry is really just to remind myself to go out and just play golf instead of trying to hit all these positions on video.  I know I do have to work on these things but maybe just not mid-season.  It’s better to just play with what I’ve got for now and then try to introduce changes in the off season.

In the meantime, I’ve been hitting the range just to hit balls.  I’ve had mixed success going back to my native swing and started to see some stronger ball flight again as I gain more confidence making solid, centered contact.  I’ve been using my optishot simulator and figured out a slower, more controlled take away gives me a way to up the measured swing speed from 70 mph to 78-80 mph which is much closer to what was going on last year.

Funny- the only difference between the slower swing and the faster, smoother swing?  Trying to go fast (but end up steering the swing) versus knowing I have it in me, and trusting myself to just take it easy.

ps. In case you’re wondering, I used a Casio Ex-FC100 camera at 210FPS.  It’s a compact little camera that’s capable of taking videos up to 1000FPS but at lower resolutions.  It’s a couple years old so I’m sure there are other camera options out there today.

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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