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This great game of golf means something diffrent to all of us.
Because this game is so challenging, it constantly inspires me to do better. I love the fact that although I can always get better, I’ll never master the game. Because it is an unmasterable game, similar to life. Lessons learned in golf, often apply to my real life.
Even when I don’t play well, there is always a reason to come back and play again. Whether it was an amazing drive, a great approach shot, or a missed opportunity, the game of golf never stops challenging you. That is awesome.
As I’m working on the practice/swing actual swing issue I keep learning and experiencing keys to the swing. As I wrote, it was a shock to see for the first time the difference between my practice swings and my actual swings. I am more convinced than ever getting these to match (getting my actual swing to look like my practice swing) will be a game changer.
A few key swing thoughts are making a big difference.
1. Quiet upper body
If you look at a typical over the top move, what you will see is that a lot of things start to get funky in the upper body as the swing unwinds. Extra movements creep in.
I’ve also noticed that on my best shots, the upper body feels very quiet. It feels like there are no extra or wasted movements. It simply flows from the top down.
Becoming conscious of this feeling has helped me to hit more consistent shots. It has also had the effect of lessening the over the top move.
2. Finish around
Over the top moves get the swing very steep. When you look at an OTT swing on video what you’ll see is that the club finishes very vertically. When you come in so steep it is nearly impossibke to finish with the club moving around you. Imagine Tiger Woods hitting a big draw. See how his club finishes around his body. When you come in steep you can’t do that.
The thought of finishing around also has another benefit. When I watched my rehearsals of finishing around I noticed that my hands automatically dropped rather then moving out like in a typical OTT swing. This is a big key to coming from the inside and on plane.
Although today’s practice session was productive and I began to see a match between my practice and actual swings there is a ways to go. I realized that I’ve ingrained this OTT move over years of golf. It is going to take a fair amount of practice to ingrain these new movements while hitting a ball. I love the fact that I can have a technically correct swing in my practice swings because it means my body knows how to do it. I think it is just a matter of training it to do what it knows, while hitting a ball.
In order to ease this transition I am going to try something. I have a white foam golf ball that is very soft, so soft that it can be hit indoors. The important thing is that it looks like a golf ball, it’s the size of a golf ball, and my body should respond to it like it’s a golf ball. But because it is a practice tool, I think I can combine my practice swing, with the signals to my that I’m hitting a golf ball. It should bridge the transition and make this process easier.
I think that many of us, because we want to hit the ball far, end up with an over the top move. We are trying to use our muscles to speed the club head. So we start down quick. There are two problems with this:
We can’t sustain it.
If we start down quickly, we need to sustain it otherwise we end up slowing down before we get to the ball. This leads to an actual decrease of clubhead speed. If we were able to sustain the acceleration with our core turning quickly out of the way we would be ok. However most of us don’t have that kind of core strength or flexibility. Since we lack that flexibility and strenght, we then must allow our body to to catch up to the swing. However the way that we do this is we allow the swing to slow down to match up with the core. If we did not slow the swing down we would probably pull hook it.
We are working against gravity.
Gravity is our friend and if we allow it to work with our swing we can actually create a ton of clubhead speed.
If we allow gravity to help us accelerate the clubhead then we can begin to feel a gradual acceleration, resulting in actually much greater clubhead speed than rushing down at the ball. But we can’t really feel a gradual acceleration because the downswing happens in such a short time. If we can’t feel a gradual acceleration how do we create it?
Allowing gravity to speed up the clubhead
Rather than thinking of creating it, we need to allow it to happen.
As we reach the top of our back swing, the club slows down then comes to a stop, then changes direction. This is the point at which gravity can help us build club head speed. As our arms drop, the the club head lags somewhat behind them. If we don’ rush it and we don’t tighten our muscles then we can allow the rest of our body to contribute to the club head speed we are generating. If we don’t force it, we can allow our arms to remain supple, instead of tightening the muscles. Supple arms generate more clubhead speed. As we allow the clubhead to lag, gravity acts on it, and our body rotation, multiplies the speed. It becomes like a bull whip, where a simple, not quick motion, ends up creating a ton of speed (so much speed that it breaks the sound barrier and you hear that CRACK!).
Because we are not rushing with our arms we don’t need to slow the core down to let the arms catch up, in fact we can increase core rotational velocity leading to more speed. At this point it is a matter of allowing gravity to work, trusting that it can move the club head faster than our muscles. In short if you are rushing down from the top you are working against gravity and slowing down the clubhead.
Had a very good practice session. In the past couple of days some things have begun to click regarding this problem. I wish I had video’d todays practice session because I hit so many good shots, with what felt like a short simple swing (without any loss of distance). It is too early to call this issue resolved, and it probably will not be until I’ve fully internalized and ingrained the new feeling, or whatever this new feeling evolves into. I’m guessing it will take at least a few solid weeks of work to see the real fruits of this but I had a great ball striking day today. I will get into the solution as I become more confident that it is the right way to go but I will give a hint at it now. Gravity. That’s the hint, chew on that for a bit.
Although I do love full swing practice, I’m making it a priority to practice short game, especially if I can’t fit in a 2 hour full swing practice. I think even practicing short game for 20-30 minutes can make a huge difference.
Today although I didn’t get to use the driving range, I did get to use a really nice short game practice area. I worked on chips from about 15-20 yards, and my focus was to get them within the magic 3 foot circle. Because I knew that I wasn’t going to get the full swing practice I really focused on the chips. And I think that focus made all the difference. I made short little practice swings that felt right, then did my best to execute the practice swing. The practice green was really fast (much faster than I’m used to), I was chipping on a downslope, and the fairway around it was tight. I’d say that I got about 60% of my chips into the 3 foot circle, another 20% within 6 feet, and the last 20% between 6 and 10.
My 60 degree swiss army club
I was practicing with Tim yesterday and he was a little surprised that I do everything around the green with my 60 degree wedge. My initial reasons for using the 60 degree wedge exclusively was that I wanted to master one club before I added the others. I wanted to know that I could take one club to hit low running chips, low checking chips, high lobs, little cut lobs etc.
I have also found that using one club, that I don’t have to guess as much when it comes to short game. I know I’m using that club. I figure out what kind of shot I need to hit, where I have to land it, take a couple of practice swings until it feels right, then match my swing to what I rehearsed. Is it optimal? Probably not.
I should learn to use a variety of clubs but I feel that I should do that after I have sufficiently mastered one club. I don’t know if I’m leaving shots on the table. But I feel that being able to pull off all those different type of shots, and just picking a landing target, clear through enough clutter that I believe it saves me more shots than it costs me. I think there is also a practical issue. Do any of us non-professionals really have the time to learn all those shots with multiple clubs, to the point where we can pull them off 8 out of 10 ten times? I would say, sadly, no. Most of us don’t practice short game enough as it is, how can we be expected to master all those shots with all those clubs?