Sunday, 4 December 2011

Clarity

Given the forecast and the persistent drizzle when I got out of bed at 6.30 am, the prognosis for golf yesterday was not good with gusty winds and squally showers on the cards. However as I pegged my first shot of the day up at 8.00am in the company of good friends Colin Osborn and Matt Davis there wasn't a breath of wind and there were breaks in the clouds. The course was pretty wet after several days of rain but still in good nick for the time of year.

I wasn't expecting much from the round and was using it as an opportunity to get some on course practice in rather than worry about posting a good score. I was dutifully surprised to hit a majestic opening 3 wood into the 228 yard first that flew high and with a nice touch of draw and which found the putting surface with ease. A nice par to start.

I wouldn't say the remainder of the round was a shambles after that but it was a real mixture of some decent shots and the odd horror. However most frustrating was the fact that every single iron shot seemed to be heavy. Fat shots and winter golf are not a good marriage and it really took its toll on confidence and scoring.

In a fit of pique I decided to hit a bucket of balls in the afternoon to prove to myself the swing, and in particular the stuff I'd been working on, were on the right track and that it had all been some sort of one off aberration. In truth I would probably have been better off staying in the warm.

Every now and then there are real Fellini moments and I had one at the Downshire Golf Complex. One of those that follow this rollercoaster ride of a pursuit towards lower handicap and golfing glory is their top teaching pro called Rhys ap Iolo. He has said via twitter that he was concerned that what I am being shown in my lessons and then trying to execute are not necessarily compatible. It was this that in part was the catalyst for my thoughts on looking at my current teacher and how my progress seemed to have stagnated (see http://threeoffthetee.blogspot.com/2011/11/tears-before-bedtime.html)


Rhys ap Iolo - switched on a golfing light in the brain

I was coming to the end of what was a fruitless basket of balls as he wandered past having just given a kids lesson. He watched me hit a couple and took a quick video. What he said was so simple, so bang on the money and such an eye opener. Basically, the first part of the swing is fine. Not perfect but functional. Regular followers know that I have a tendency to come up in the shot on the downswing and lose spine angle and my current teaching pro Paul Harrison has tried to fight this by making my posture more upright and turn more on top of the ball.

What Rhys showed me was that basically the club was so far behind me on the way down, it needed the magical dexterity of the street magician Dynamo to get it back to the ball properly. I am not that talented. All he wants me to do is feel as though the club is travelling as far left as I can get it through impact and imagine I have a winter mitten on my right hand and to throw that behind me as I follow through.

Quite simply it gets the club far more in front of the body on the downswing. This will get me turning better through the shot and most importantly give me the room needed to deliver club on ball. Although it is going to feel as though I'd hit everything straight left and even as if I'm coming over the top (usually a big no no) with the way I swing I need to trust it and believe and it will go straighter and with a more powerful compression.

Behind all this mumbo jumbo was a simple message. Stick with the slightly lower posture I preferred (I'd found the new change difficult to embrace and stick in the memory) and change the way the clubhead travels. Nothing earth shattering. I only had a few balls left to try and get it working but it was clear from those and the way they flew better than the bucket that had proceeded them that there was method in the madness.

I was limited time-wise today but was desperate to get out and try it. Initial signs are good. The one thing that did disappoint was the fact that I videoed what I was doing and although it felt infinitely different and impact and direction were 100 times better the swing itself and particularly the clubhead direction wasn't as radically (if at all) to the left as I'd hoped. It had been a real OMG (Oh my god) moment when I started hitting 9 irons and they were longer and straighter than anything in recent memory. It seemed to work through the bag but there was a lack of consistency once we got to the 6 iron and beyond. It might have been me getting quicker in the tempo as time got short but the session had reinforced Rhys's comments and those where I'd managed to get the club in front were very, very good.

I am definitely going to work on this again tomorrow night. How can something so simple clarify the issues I've been having. It does beg the question why the position of my club on the downswing hasn't been picked up before and such a simple fix offered. Questions will be asked the next time I see my current teacher though. My thanks to Rhys though for taking the time to stand there and watch the failings of a golfing fool and hopefully after a few sessions I'll be able to get something on film to send him and get some kind of positive feedback that I'm on the right path.

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