Showing posts with label swing mechanics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label swing mechanics. Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Call the Shot! - How we did it..

Thanks to everyone who commented on the 'Call the Shot' page. There was a great response on Twitter, Facebook and of course, the 'Call the Shot' page on this blog.

Here's a video of my buddy @russellggolfer playing the shot. From what I recall he used a 58 degree wedge, ball central, club open a tiny bit and weight favouring left side.

We'll do another one soon... thanks again everyone!

By the way, I have tried to play this shot several times since and failed miserably. : )

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

We gotta get right back to where we started from...

If you've read this post, you probably already know that three years ago I made it down to an 11 handicap and then decided to change everything about my game, and I mean E V E R Y T H I N G.

I felt that a complete refit and overhaul was necessary to get me to single figures. There was something about the way I was playing back then that made me think I'd peaked as a golfer, my skill level couldn't get me any further. Some disagreed and thought I was crazy to embark upon such a seemingly sadistic journey. At times I thought they were right. For a while I went back up to 14, which was soul destroying. I generally hovered around 12 for most of the three years, scrapping out results with a new swing I couldn't trust, and moreover a new swing which put extra pressure on my (already average) short game.

After almost 3 years of lessons and hundreds of hours on the course and driving range I've arrived at my first milestone. I'm right back where I was when I decided to change everything. Back to an 11 handicap.

Perhaps from the outside, it seems nonsensical to celebrate such a milestone. Nevertheless, I'm smiling.

During the process of change I sometimes thought I had completely scuppered any chance I had of becoming a better player. I started to think that I'd added too much mechanical action whilst subtracting a substantial amount of personality from my game. Now I know this is not the case. Despite the long and winding road, I now know 100% it was worth it.

Lately I have been producing very good results even when I'm not playing particularly great. Furthermore I'm shooting in the 70's about 80% of the time whereas before it was more like 20%, if that. I've made it back to 11 without firing on all cylinders whereas in the past I needed to work hard to get to and maintain that handicap.

This time round it's going to be different. A few years ago the number 11 represented the end of the road. This time it represents the beginning.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

No guarantee.

I may have mentioned this previously so apologies if I'm repeating myself (a common habit of mine), repeating myself.

That last bit was a joke.


I had a great season of golf in 2009, at the time it felt like I was on a one way journey to a single figure handicap. I made it to an 11.2 handicap but ran out of competitive opportunities towards the end of season to get down any further. At the time I had what I would now call a natural swing. It wasn't textbook but it was mine. It was quite short and flat with a strong(ish) grip. As a result, on a good day I was hitting a nice controlled draw and was averaging about 275 / 285 with my driver. Chipping and putting was going well too. Usually I would be on or around the green in regulation.

For one reason or another, I decided that if I was to improve any more the following season, a complete game rebuild was required. I set about making the following changes to my game :

1. I had lessons to help me build a more 'textbook' 'on plane' swing. This involved: 
  • adopting a neutral grip
  • an 'L shaped swing'
  • a bigger shoulder turn, 
  • a backswing that started with my lower half shifting towards the target.
2. I started practicing a new pitching technique, left foot slightly open, more 'armsy' swing.
3. I changed my putter from a blade to a two-ball styled model.
4. I changed my clubs from cavity backs to muscle backs.
5. Bought a new stiff shafted Nike VR driver and ditched my regular shafted TM burner
6. I switched from AD333 balls to Pro V1's.

Having set all the above changes in motion, I was sure that I was now on a path to becoming a 'proper' golfer on the way to a 7, 8 or 9 handicap. I practiced all through the winter, not as much as I would have liked, but still more than the average golfer I'm sure. 

In the spirit of keeping this post short and (not so) sweet, let's cut to the chase. In the interim since I started making the above changes, here's a brief summary of the impact all of the above has had on my game, both positive and negative :) :

  • The new rotation / swing change caused me to injure my back and I needed 3 months of physio, I guess I started using muscles I hadn't used before by introducing a bigger shoulder turn!
  • My putting worsened, right now the two ball is on eBay and I've gone back to the blade!
  • It's given me a general feeling of wonderment about whether I enjoy playing as much as I used to.
  • I get more spin on the ball around the greens, sometimes to my detriment.
  • I have a huge overswing with my driver, John Daly style!
  • I hit it further but my draw is gone and I now have a fade / lethal slice at times.
  • My mental approach to the game worsened, instead of staying in the moment, I became more results orientated.
  • I won a few minor events and have come very close to winning club major events (lost in a playoff this year).
  • No improvement in handicap, I'm pretty much at the same level although I trust my game a lot less than I used to and can be quite erratic to say the least.
  • On the upside, I've shot lower scores than ever before but only in friendly games, never in a competition. (My best round is 74, prior to lessons it was 76).
Personally I feel I've had a hellish time of it since making all these changes. But I'm going to persevere, I have to. I can't go back to that old swing, can I? Sometimes I'm tempted! I'm not happy that my handicap hasn't improved in two years but hopefully one day I'll see it was all worth it. 

Maybe next year.

That's what I said last year. Can anybody offer me a guarantee? :)

See you around! (Until further notice, I'll be in the right hand copse of trees about 200 yards up).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Do you trust it?

I don't care if your swing is chicken wing, over the top, short and flat or a happy Gilmore, you have to trust it.

Certainly at my level, or perhaps any level in golf - there's no such thing as the '100% all of the time perfect golf swing'. OK, you could argue that Rory McIlroy's looks pretty good but even he misfires from time to time. I've had many lessons, made lots of changes and introduced some new techniques to my game to increase accuracy and distance. This is something I enjoy as I think it's important to be dynamic, always forging ahead and looking for improvement.

However, once you step onto the first tee in a club competition or a knock around with a few friends with a few pounds at stake you should be in trusting mode and not thinking about swing mechanics as that tends to create doubt.

Do you trust your golfing ability?

Lately I haven't trusted myself 100% on the course and I've let this doubt, indecision and tension find its way into my game. As a result I've dug out my many golf psychology books in an attempt to focus on the most important part of the game, that 'other' game which is played in your head when you're on the golf course.

I've been rereading Dr. Bob Rotella's book 'The Golfer's Mind'. There are many great mantras in the book which can help you to get into the trusting mentality. Last night I read a chapter on 'Trust' which stated that its 'better to trust a flawed swing' on the golf course than to start thinking about it mechanically in the middle of a round. A great philsophy but a challenge for someone such as I, always tinkering with my technique!

To hell with it, I'm going to try and play with whatever swing I bring with me on that particular day even if it does turn out to be my grandma's!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

There's more to winning than swinging.

Back to winning ways

I played in the monthly stroke medal at the golf club last Sunday (5th June). I played pretty well, ending up with a nett 67. I didn't think I'd win, but wasn't 100% sure because it was a very windy day, so in the back of my mind I thought I had a chance. I wasn't obsessing over the result, a couple of days passed by without me finding out where I had finished overall. Then, on Tuesday I received an email. I opened it up and this is what I saw (please note that I've removed surnames for obvious reasons):

Needless to say, I was very pleased! It was a good medal to win as it qualifies me for our annual 'medal winners' tournament, not to mention the boost it gives to my '2011 order of merit' ranking.

Now I could go on about how I should have had a a nett 64 or even moan about the two 7's on my card. Those of you who've read my previous posts will know I've been swing rebuilding over the past few years and made a lot of changes during the Winter. But this post is not about swing mechanics, shoulder turns, changes I made to my grip, stance, posture or what could've been! Let's just say this post is for those of you out there who KNOW you can win, but for one reason or another things have not gone your way just yet. You've got the game, so why aren't you producing the results? For the record, that's the question I've been asking myself for the past few months. I stopped asking it on Tuesday. :)

There's no denying that practice is vital and whenever I'm preparing for a competition, I put in the hours beforehand, let's assume that you do the same. If you're not practicing enough, I recommend that you start! It's one of the reasons you're not winning. But there are other things you can do that can help you get to the top of that leaderboard, next I'll list four of these areas and give you examples of what helps me to work on them. As they say, 'different strokes for different folks', so what works for me may not work for you - but hopefully my experiences will be of some help to someone out there.

I've practiced, I feel I've got the game, what next?
  1. Build confidence
  2. Cultivate patience, especially on the greens
  3. Learn to let go 
  4. If you need to, let it out!
1. Build confidence

There are many ways to build confidence in your game but here's one that works for me.

It doesn't matter how many lessons I've had, how many hours I've practiced or how often I'm told my swing looks good, I'm one of those people who absolutely needs to see a video of my swing at least twice if not more times a season. I can't play consistently without doing so. I don't have eyes in the back of my head so when the club is behind me on the backswing, I don't have any idea where it is. This uncertainty tends to fester and grow in my mind, the only way I can swing confidently is to watch a video of my swing, usually shot from a couple of angles. I find that this helps me to build confidence, once I've watched a few good swings I can stand over the ball and think 'I know I'm swinging well, I could see that on the video earlier.'

2. Cultivate patience, especially on the greens

You can't possibly win every competition you enter. You can't possibly hole every putt. The day before I won my competition I had no less than 5 putts lip out on me. Instead of getting frustrated, I thought to myself, 'Maybe tomorrow or maybe another day they'll drop'. And they did!

Previously, after having a day where multiple putts lipped out, I'd go home feeling the golfing gods were against me and I'd complain to anyone who'd listen about how unlucky I'd been. This 'poor me' approach didn't serve me well, for the next time I played I'd be so tentative over putts that they'd either miss by miles or continue to lip out.

The only way I could get through this vicious circle was by practicing patience. So how's this for a motto?: 'They didn't drop today, and they might not drop tomorrow but I'm going to be patient because they WILL start dropping soon!'

It worked for me :)

3. Learn to let go

In recent months I've been very tentative over almost every shot, whether it was a tee shot, approach, chip or a putt. A few days before my win, I started to stand over the ball, lock onto my target and then push myself to have one final thought before swinging. 'I don't really care where this ball goes' :)... As ridiculous as it sounds the ball started to go where I was aiming much more often as a result of this pre shot routine!

4. If you need to, let it out!

Last bit not least, I'll admit I don't have the patience of a saint. If things aren't going my way I tend to get a bit frustrated. I'm not one of these people who can keep quiet, I've tried and it doesn't work. Now, I'm not saying you should start throwing clubs around the place or swear at the top of your voice anytime things don't go your way. BUT, if you hit a bad shot and you're the kind of person who gets frustrated, I suggest you let it out in a controlled way. Good term, lets call it 'controlled agression'! Once you've scolded yourself after your sliced drive or misread putt, move on and forget about it. Never carry the woes from the last hole the next one.

Also on the subject of 'letting it out', I've found online forums and social networking sites such as Twitter to be very useful. I've met some cool people on there, many golfers going through the same rollercoaster stuff as the rest of us. A few words of wisdom from a fellow golf addict can go a long way to helping you get through those times when your game is not going as well as you'd like.

And with that, I'll end this very long post.

Thanks for reading, let me know how you get on!

Friday, 27 May 2011

First tee nerves - Incidence #1

A few years back, I was playing Golf near Ft.Lauderdale, Florida with a few friends. One of the guys in our group was not a regular golfer, and he was clearly very nervous.

On the first tee he stood over the ball and swung the club. He missed the ball completely and watched as the club left his hands, flew into the air, over his left shoulder and then out of his field of view. I followed the club as it careered through the air, flying directly towards a guy in the group behind us waiting to tee off. He heard me shout and leapt out of the way in time. It was just as well or he'd have been clobbered. After he'd gathered himself, the chap who'd almost been taken out by my friend had some choice words for him. I felt for my buddy, he was nervous - these things happen. It was hilarious though.

Needless to say, my friend gets a regular reminder of that day, but as you'll see if you keep reading the blog, he's not the only person to ever embarrass themselves on a golf course!

What about you? Do you have any funny or interesting first tee stories?

Monday, 23 May 2011

IBG Observation #2: 'ONE AND' - 'TWO!'.

This sign hangs above my front door on the inside. I put it up there in the hope that it would be the last thing I see every time I leave the house to go to the Golf course. It's been there for about 5 years. Sometimes I remember to look at it on the way out, but whether I see it or not, I'm not sure it helps. I've struggled with my swing tempo ever since I started playing Golf.

I think everyone has their natural tempo / rhythm or whatever, an internal clock if you will.  I've always tended to swing quickly and aggressively, I think it's my natural inclination to do so. It causes all sorts of problems for me on the course, usually manifesting in a mega slice or a disastrous hook.

Lately I've been working on this. I've had all kinds of advice, my favourite of which is 'your back swing should take twice as long as your throughswing'. As a result of this, recently I have just one swing thought when practicing or playing. I slowly take the club back from the ball saying (to myself) 'ONE AND' from beginning to end of the back swing. Then I say 'TWO' as I begin the down / through swing. It's a practical way to keep the back swing under control and on a consistent plane.

Very often my swing gets quicker as the round progresses, so I constantly have to remind myself of the 'ONE AND TWO' rhythm. Overall I find it helps.

If you are struggling a bit with control and accuracy, perhaps you try to 'swing easy and hit hard'?

Happy Golfing!

See you around.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

IBG Observation #1: Put a little bit of yourself into everything you do.

About 9 months ago, I decided I wanted to become a better golfer. My handicap was 11 but I felt that I couldn't improve on that as I had an unorthodox swing. I decided to have lessons. I decided to learn the perfect golf swing.

4 lessons and possibly 100 or more hours of practice later, I'm worse off. My current handicap is 13. But hopefully all is not lost, the past few games I've had have suggested that the lessons are starting to pay off. It's been a long road, but we'll see whether my decision to completely change my whole game pays off or not. Stay tuned!

Somewhere on one of my many hard drives, I have a video of my swing throughout the years, starting from 2006 up to 2011. It's amazing how it has evolved over the years. I was a serious hacker back in 2006! Maybe I'll dig it out and post it on here at some point.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to get all introspective and tied up in swing mechanics. (Actually I'm fed up with swing mechanics.) It's to share my first pearl of wisdom. Let's call it an observation. I think I mentioned already that playing Golf has taught me a lot about life. From time to time I'll share these observations on here. Some may be philosophical, some humourous, some may be downright ridiculous. There's no particular order, this one just happens to be #1. It doesn't necessarily mean it's better than any of the ones that will follow. Actually you might find it boringly obvious. It certainly isn't rocket science!

Before I had lessons, I had a 'unique' swing. It was far from perfect but I felt it was mine. I sort of felt that I knew what I was doing from time to time. I think I've heard some of the Golf gurus on American TV refer to 'owning your swing'. Maybe that's what it was - I owned it. Results were pretty inconsistent, but on a good day I could pick a target and get reasonably close with any club. However my setup was wrong, as was my movement (and countless other things) which is why I decided to have lessons. I started working with the local pro and began to seek 'perfection.'

Weeks and months passed, I hit thousands of balls. Some of the movements I learnt from my lessons 'bedded in' quickly but others were more difficult to get used to. I struggled at the range and I struggled on the course. Everytime I stood over the ball, at least 8 things would go through my mind in relation to grip, stance, posture, swing etc. My swing looked great but the ball was going everywhere but where I was aiming. I'm not joking when I say I discovered new areas on my home course! One day, I joked on twitter that I'd hit my tee shot so far right of my target that I had to play my second shot from a neighbouring county. Secretly I was worried that my game was gone.

But then I had a mini breakthrough. One night whilst watching Jim Furyk hit a tee shot on TV, I pondered on the nature of perfection. I listened to the commentator describe how Jim used a combination of recommended techniques in conjunction with his own 'style'. I wondered if all the lessons had taken the 'me' out of my Golf swing. I considered that 'perfection' could be many different things to many different people.  I questioned if my lessons had washed 'me' out of my own swing.

The next day I drove to the course and on the way, I reminded myself of the new gameplan. I was going to take what I'd learnt in my lessons and combine it with my natural approach to the game. I wasn't going to maintain a 'robotic' swing anymore.  I was going to put a little bit of myself into my game. And the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I decided not to think about swing mechanics again (Well at least not until the end of this season, it's OK to rebuild a little then :). I think it's working. Lately I'm more relaxed. I have a more athletic swing than before (thanks to the lessons) but it's no Tiger Woods. It's more of a Furyk!

It doesn't just apply to Golf. No matter what you aspire to do, there will always be a guru, a book, or several books, or someone you know, or someone who knows someone, or a guy on TV, or ... well you get the point... there will always be something or someone out there that claims to be able to help you 'perfect' whatever it is you are trying to get better at. And whilst these sources of information can be very useful, remember that a healthy mix of objectivity and subjectivity can go a long way. Maybe even 300+ yards!

Don't become a robot.

Put a little bit of yourself into everything you do.