A few years ago I realized I didn’t need a golf training facility to videotape my swing, just a camera or phone with video. It’s interesting to see how my swing has changed over the past few years, in that it hasn’t really changed much.
My swing’s fallen apart the past few weeks and I went back to check the footage for obvious flaws. One thing I noticed was how my left arm extends out toward the ball almost immediately as I take the club back:
I watch a lot of professionals’ slow motion swings on YouTube and I’ve never seen a pro’s left arm break the yellow line during the backswing. Instead, the shoulders move more steeply around the spine and the left arm stays close to the chest.
It becomes very difficult to swing inside-out from my takeaway position as my arms don’t have any more room to extend to the ball. Basically, my entire swing is ruined within the first 5%.
The crappy weather to start Memorial Day weekend gives me a great opportunity to correct this at the driving range before going back out on the course. Like any significant swing change, it might take a while before I get consistent results, but at least I can easily check my takeaway as each swing gets started.
It may not be major tournament level adversity, but I showed up to the course on Saturday without my 58 degree wedge. After frantically searching my car for a few minutes, I realized I left it behind on the 18th hole the last time I played.
Once I accepted I would be playing my round without it, I took to the practice green with my 54 degree. Luckily, I had a few minutes to spare before my tee time and hit various shots I might need for the day - chips, pitches, and lobs.
After a solid round, I was surprised my up and down stats actually improved. I only hit 2 greens in regulation, but had 4 up and downs for par and only 3 holes worse than bogey. Only one time did I need the 58 degree - when I missed the green wide on 18 and had an uphill pitch to a small, downhill landing area.
Even before Saturday’s round, I felt I was under-utilizing my 54 degree wedge. I’ve already ordered a replacement 58 degree Nike wedge from eBay, but I’m thinking the 54 degree club will be my default club around the greens going forward. The reduced loft makes solid contact easier. It also means not having to land the ball so precisely just to reach the hole. I’m excited to get back out there and give the 54 degree some use.
It’s a bit too cold to golf today so instead I went to GolfSmith to demo some new drivers. I bought my Callaway FT-5 a few months before starting this blog in 2009 and it’s time for an upgrade. The FT-5 has definitely treated me well, but I’m starting to lose distance and I think I need more than 9 degrees loft to improve my driving accuracy.
I did some research last night and set my heart on a TaylorMade RocketBallz RBZ. The reviews are incredible, and with the release of the R1 and Rocketballz Stage 2, the price dropped under $200.
I was able to a demo the RBZ at GolfSmith and man did it feel good. The ball flight monitor wasn’t working, but I could tell the shots I was hitting were awesome. They don’t stock the adjustable shaft model anymore (and the salesmen couldn’t care less about making a sale), so I hurried home and ordered it for cheaper at Carl’s Golfland. What a steal!
Next time on the range I expect to be giddy and swearing like this guy. It feels like cheating. I’m not even sure how this club is legal.
The golf season finally starts this weekend with 50 degree weather (barely). I’m probably going to hit up the range Saturday and definitely playing 18 on Sunday. I’m feeling strangely confident for not having played in 5 months, but it’s probably just excitement from having a chance to play that’s squashing any apprehension about being rusty.
I haven’t thought much about golf since my last round on September 22. But with the new year comes the imminent start the new golf season. New trips to plan. New equipment to buy. New promising tips to improve my game.
I reached a number of milestones last year including dropping my handicap under 15. My main goal for the new year will be adapting an “old man game,” meaning dialing back distances, hitting more fairways, and keeping the ball out of trouble.
Spam I’ve received from golf websites tells me it’s going to be up to 57 degrees this weekend. The unseasonably-except-in-2013-we-don’t-have-seasons warm weather will give me a chance to get some reps in at the range. I should plan what types and how many shots I should hit with each club…
This clip was recommended to me by YouTube. I’m dying to try it out but the weather has not been cooperating. Judging by user comments and some practice swings, it could potentially be the best tip of all time.
My streaks of consecutive weekly rounds (minus the honeymoon of course) ended unceremoniously on Saturday, July 21. With confidence waning after a taxing Connecticut golf binge, I unraveled at Marine Park Golf Course and hung up the TRUE linkswears for a while.
I was back on the course about a month later with a different mindset. Since improvement so late in the season was unlikely, I was just going to go to the course with the swing I had and make the best of it. The course happened to be a resort in Vermont, and I didn’t have enough room to pack my own clubs. To my surprise, I hadn’t really lost anything coming back from a month layoff. Even with rental clubs and none of my fancy accessories, I put up a respectable score with few major mistakes.
I’ve been playing regularly since and have been putting up good scores. There’s still plenty of life left in the 2012 golf season, and I plan on being out there on the course.
This Sunday I leave for my annual* golf extravaganza with Darren. This year’s trip includes three of the finest courses in the Northeast. Scoring here won’t be easy. My goal is to break 100 at every course, and shoot in the 80s at least once.
* Would love it to be annual but happens more like every 2 or 3 years
Rated: #5 overall in CT (Golf Digest), #4 public in CT (Golf.com), #15 public in New England (New England Golf Monthly)
Lake of Isles - North
Rated: #7 overall in CT (Golf Digest), #1 public in CT (Golf.com), #2 public in New England (New England Golf Monthly)
Lake of Isles - South
Rated: #3 overall in CT (Golf Digest), #22 private in New England (New England Golf Monthly)
I ruined another round last Saturday by slicing two balls out of bounds. As I’ve been particularly hard on myself lately, I promptly hit the range after the round.
My habitual pulling and slicing is caused by an outside-in, or “over the top,” swing path. What finally clicked on the range was thinking about swinging in a circle on which impact happens from the inside (see rudimentary top-down diagram below). The green, inside-out circle is centered closer to my left side. To achieve the green circle, I really need to turn my hips and stay over the ball. Unfortunately, I have a habit of swaying away from the target and not fully turning my hips, resulting in the red circle path.
When visualizing the green circle, I hit plenty of really nice draws. I also hit some push-fades and hooks. I’m going to need more practice since clubhead release timing on this new path is quite different. I’m excited to put in the work, though, if it means exorcising my slice for good.
You know those workout disclaimers that say “consult your physician before starting an exercise program”? They really need one of those for golf swings - “Don’t make any changes to your swing without consulting a professional.”
Last weekend, I attempted to change my takeaway positions. In the process, I broke my current swing, wasted two days of practice, and perhaps set myself back a few weeks. At the time, I didn’t realize I had a one plane swing, for which a different set of fundamentals exist than a two plane swing.
In a one plane swing, the left arm stays close to the chest and right elbow stays close to the hip throughout the swing. In a two plane swing, the arms lift above the shoulder plane, and the right elbow stays high. I’ve always been a one-planer, and the two plane swing seems odd to me. However, the majority of professionals use a two plane swing, most notably Jack Nicklaus and Fred Couples.
Now that I’ve identified my swing plane, I can be more discerning when taking advice. To start, I’ve ordered Jim Hardy’s “The Plain Truth for Golfers,” which goes into depth on the different fundamentals for both swing styles. I’m also taking a close look at the swing of Player’s Champion Matt Kuchar, a classic one plane swinger. Jim Hardy says “Find the model that suits you, then work on the things that make your kind of swing better.”