Trusting your insticts

When it comes to putting I think as amateurs we often don’t trust our instincts.  When I’m putting poorly my speed is off.  But what happens is that I will take some practice strokes that feel right, but when it’s time to actually putt, I won’t trust my initial practice strokes and I’ll either hit it harder than I need to or not give it enough juice.

Today I set out to reproduce my practice strokes.  And my speed was pretty much right on all day.  I think though this is one of those habits that just needs time.  It takes time to trust your instincts.  At least for me it does.  But I think in the long run this will be a key to reaching scratch.

Play like you

I have a little unique move in my swing.  I haven’t seen anyone else do it.  I don’t think it’s wrong, per se, but it is unique. On the backswing, I let my head rotate with my torso, then when its time to start the downswing, my head quickly rotates back forward, like it was at address.  It seems that when I try to keep my head from rotating at all, the dreaded OTT move shows up, and when I let it rotate, it doesn’t show up.  I hit a lot of great shots today letting it rotate.  Like I said, I have never seen anyone else with this move, but a lot of great players, have their own way of doing things.  If it works right.  Maybe this is an important part of my swing.  Besides getting rid of the OTT move, this quirk in my swing, also gives me a lower ballflight.  I think that’s because I’m coming in a lot shallower. I was a bit surprised at how straight many of my shots were today.

When you look at the PGA tour, a lot of great players have unique moves.  Look at Jim Furyk, JB Holmes, Camilo Villegas, Lee Trevino, Jack Nickalus, etc.  I don’t think my goal should be to have a text book swing, I think my goal should be to have the best swing, that I can have, based on my body type and what what works best.

Hitting the ball with your entire body

After a few days away from the game (10 actually) I went to the driving range today.  Amazingly the swing thought of throwing the club down the range was still firmly ingrained and I was hitting some really good shots.  I began to play around with a new swing thought to see what would happen.

1. The no shoulders swing.

As I’ve been documenting a battle with an OTT move I realized that the first thing that usually happens with an OTT move is that the shoulders turn before the hips do, sending the club over the top.  So this thought went like this: don’t rotate the shoulders on the downswing.  Now obviously you can’t not turn and still hit the golf ball.  This thought does really force the hips and lower body to turn first.  I had one swing with this thought that felt like the perfect swing.  It was with the driver, the club I fight OTT with the most.

I hit one drive with this no shoulder swing, and the swing felt slow.  At impact it felt like I hit the ball with my entire body, and even though the swing felt slow, the contact was completely solid.  The ball sailed over the back fence at 240 yds.  It seemed that it hit the apex just above the fence, and I have no idea how much further it carried but it was the best drive I had hit in some time.  It was dead straight and it had an awesome trajectory.  In Five lessons, Ben Hogan talks about hitting the ball with your entire body.  I don’t think I had ever truly experienced that until this swing.  It was pretty amazing and something I want to feel on every shot.

Throwing the club down the line and ingraining new motions

The more I work with this swing thought, the more I like it.  It really is a different sensation to feel like you are throwing the club down the line.  It makes an inside-out swing much more natural for me.  Although it is still too early to tell, I think this will make a huge difference in my ball striking.  I am continuing to practice with my video camera there.  I want to see what happens on all my swings, both the good ones and the bad ones.

I read something interesting to ingrain swing motions.  60 repetitions, every day for 21 days.  That’s the minimum to ingrain a new motion.  The beauty is that I can swing at home without having to go to the range.  Although I’m not actually hitting balls, I can video tape my swing, and make sure that I’m ingraining the correct motion.  19 days to go.

Dreaded Swing Flaws and a possible OTT cure

OTT.  I hate those letters.  They stand for Over The Top.  One of the worst swing flaws a golfer can have.  I have been fighting an OTT swing for years.  I have always been looking for a cure and I think I’m getting close.  I thought I didn’t have it that much.  I have been practicing with a video and making beautiful swings indoors.  So I thought I was over the OTT issue.  However I took the camera to the range and an interesting thing happened.  My practice swings were beautiful.  On plane, and in perfect tempo.  The club would drop to the inside.  It was a beautiful thing to watch.  However when it was time to hit the ball, an ugly OTT swing would replace the beautiful practice swing.  Ugh.  And it kept happening over and over.  I would  record a few practice swings (perfect), and a few actual swings (ugly).  The thing was that my ugly swings actually hit a lot of good shots.  I think that’s why I didn’t think the OTT was that bad.  Anyway, seeing that on video made me realize that I needed to make a change.  I would suggest video taping a practice session and comparing practice swings to actual swings.  You might not believe the differences.

So like I said, I think I found a few keys to getting rid of OTT.  The first key is the thought of throwing the club down the range.  Surprisingly this gets my body to do a lot of the right things.

The second key is a little bit of a Furyk like move.  The way I see it, is that if my body wants to go over the top, it is because it’s compensating for something.  Take the club back too inside, and you almost have nowhere to go but over the top.  Take the club back feeling like it’s too for out in front of you, and my body naturally wants to bring it inside.

So I went to the range with these two thoughts.  Man was it good.  I was hitting a lot of shots very straight.  Maybe a hint of a draw, but pretty much perfectly straight.  I didn’t hit them all straight, but enough that I noticed a difference.

Why start this blog?

There are a million golf blogs out there so why did I create this?  And what the heck is a Zen Chili?

I created this blog because I have a burning desire to become a scratch golfer.  Currently my USGA handicap index is at 11.8.  That does not make me a terrible golfer, but it is not where I want to be.  I want to be at an idex of 0 or even a plus if all goes well.

I want to share with the world any ideas, thoughts, drills, exercises or breakthroughs I think of as they pertain to becoming a super golfer.  I want to people to share their ideas and experiences as well.  This will not be an easy journey.  It will be full of ups and downs.  And I hope you enjoy it.  In the end I hope I can inspire, and connect with other golfers through the unique struggle/pleasure/hell/heaven that is golf.

Zen Chili is a nickname that a friend of gave back in high school.  It always fit me well.  I tend to be very zen like sometimes, deep in thought, contemplating things.  But I can be extremely passionate and fiery.  As my zest for golf shows.