As promised, I took the plunge on Thursday and had a lesson with a new teaching professional. I'd opted for Rhys ap Iolo at the Downshire Golf Complex near Wokingham as he has been following my exploits via Twitter and had contacted me to say he thought he could simplify the approach I had been following and get rid of a number of my swing faults.
I have to admit to being quite nervous, not only laying my golfing imperfections to a new set of scrutinising eyes but because I had a winter league match with my golf partner Mike Stannard on Saturday and was worried any changes that were too dramatic would leave him to fend alone against a formidable pairing.
Rhys is an advocate of the Plane Truth System http://www.planetruthgolf.com/ which sets about exploring whether an individual has a one or two piece swing and working from there. After filming and watching me hit a few, Rhys delivered his verdict. The results were no great shock although the explanation was a real light bulb motion. In essence I was coming in way too shallow into the ball and my hands were following a down the path line through impact. This meant not only was I having to do 101 things to try and get the club square at impact (hence 101 different bad shots) but it meant the club path and follow through and club path weren't good. The hands are dominating the arms at the top of the back swing and the club points across the line
As this was only an initial thirty minute lesson the focus was primarily on the takeaway with a feeling that the club is much wider, with the left arm turning lower and tighter to the body. I have to say that I was expecting to hit a few horrors as it is much flatter that I'm use to but the ball striking was a revelation. I am giving myself more room to turn, can come down steeper without feeling my arms are trapped and the club face can travel back around my body after impact in a much more neutral position.
I've attached a link to a video Rhys took to emphasise the point. Ideally my hands need to be closer to the red line and there is still a loss of spine angle and head movement, but its a case of one step at a time. The Plane Truth system talks about every golfer having positive and negative swing faults. If you picture a see-saw the idea is to work on these until the flaws are ironed out and the swing is 100% balanced.
I have to say I really enjoyed the session and Rhys has given me a lot to think about and work on but initial signs are very promising. He seemed to see some potential and has said single figures is a realistic possibility next season although I haven't had the heart to show or mention my chipping which makes my long swing look positively Luke Donald like.
I hit the range last night to try and work on the changes I've been shown. One of the biggest plus points of seeing Rhys and using the Plane Truth system is they have a fantastic website pupils can use which has access to lots of drills and tips for each fault. Rhys flags up the issue and it links straight into a breakdown of the cause and a video showing what should be done and the drills to go away and work on.
The range was bitter and with the car saying it was only 2 degrees and a howling wind blowing I opted for a small basket of fifty balls. I was conscious of really getting the club as wide and as far away from my body as I could in the takeaway, into what is termed a laid off position with the club face pointing at the sky. From there I need to just rotate back through the ball and the club needs to exit to the left with a feeling of my right palm facing upwards. The changes compared to what I'd been doing are huge but the results were pretty good and quick to come. I know I'm probably not technically correct yet and Rhys is quite a strict task master, but only because he wants each player to get the most from their game. The ball striking just seemed so much easier and the majority of the shots if not straight would have been playable and the flight was so much higher and crisper.
It's early days still but I'm definitely looking to pencil another session in soon. Everything just seems so much clearer now and I feel really energised about my golf again. I've had so many false dawns and troughs that I need to be wary but I do think the change in teacher has made a huge difference. Sometimes it just takes a different point of view to make it slot into place.
The problem would be taking this massive change onto the course and with only 50 range balls under my belt before the 1st round of the Winter knockout, I 'm pretty sure my partner Mike was as nervous as I was. Would it be a disaster, would it work, and if it came down to a pressure cooker finish would it hold up and could I rely on it? So many questions to answer and you'll have to wait to find out exactly how it went!