Sunday, 5 February 2012

Slow Learner Or Harder Than Expected

Way back in 2011, well actually the week before Christmas (but doesn't it feel a long time ago?) I had my first lesson with Rhys ap Iolo at the Downshire Golf Centre and we embarked on changing the swing I had into a one plane swing. The logic was sound. Make it a simpler motion and once embedded it will make it easier to repeat. That leads to lower scores, my handicap gets cut, I win a few competitions and Rhys gets muchos kudos for being a brilliant teacher. All great stuff and after my first lesson I was already hitting it better.

Christmas came and went and I enjoyed a few rounds of golf. I was hitting it pretty solidly and the work on the range was still good but bit by bit it seemed to wane until the last round I played where it was truly abject in the Saturday roll up. I was suddenly hitting no more than ok on the range and the swing didn't feel as it had done. Fortunately it was my second lesson yesterday and I hoped that the work I had been putting in would have served me well.

In the end it took three shots for Rhys to conclude that we still have a long way to go. My swing had become more upright and I wasn't getting the club anywhere near far enough behind me and that it was crossing over the line at the top. I had known this was a problem from filming my swing but hoped it would be easy to remedy.

Sadly not and as the lesson progressed we tried a couple of different techniques. Eventually Rhys worked out that if I took the club back, stopped and then made the downswing it would give me time to connect everything together. Should be easy right? Well you know me and even when I got back and stopped in a perfect (or passable) one plane takeaway I still managed to make it hard and the next move was to initially move up and not start the downswing. Twenty plus years of swinging back too far and it's like a tic and almost a sub-conscious move of the arms wanting to go further on. In the end he wired me into a weird harness that really restricted my ability and I was only able to make half swings so we could focus on coming down and getting the club moving round in the follow through and not flat and down the ball line. Again a generic problem ingrained in poor coaching and years of practise.

We found that if I placed a ball a few inches inside the line and in front of where I set up at address and then focused on making a proper one plane turn back, stopping, and then trying to hit the ball inside the line it got the club coming down steeper, I could compress more and finally begin to turn back inside on the follow through.

I have to say I think I tried his patience. I was really trying and although I understood where we were going and trying to do I was having one of those days where brain and body weren't wired in together and one failed to react to the other and I sensed a touch of frustration on both sides. In fact it got so bad, there was talk at looking at the two plane swing which involves a change of grip as well if things don't click into place. I am really comfortable with the one plane even if I can't replicate how it should work all the time and the grip is as comfy as a pair of old slippers. You know how hard it can be to break new shoes in sometimes and multiply that by ten and you've an idea of how tough I think a new grip and swing will be. It is certainly a wake up call to get this swing on track.

I stopped off at the range on the way home for a quick bucket of balls before the snow arrived. I decided to ensure every swing was as Rhys instructed and so made the back swing, paused and then hit the shot. I spent a lot of time on the "ball inside the line" drill and made some good contact with most of them although the ball flight was left of the target. I wasn't too fussed as I was looking for the feeling of the right shoulder being more on top at impact and hitting down and then turning back inside.

The snow duly came and so there wasn't a chance to work on it further today. I am pretty frustrated as I thought I'd made real progress after the first lesson but clearly some habits are hard to break. Still in the spirit of the new glass half full Homer for 2012 we'll learn from this step back and come back more determined to get it right. I've found a good drill or two on the Plane Truth pupil website and so I can really work on those at home and put the effort in on the range too.

I always thought of myself as a quick learner when it came to all things golf. Maybe old age is creeping up and the brain and body are starting to get old and confused. I wonder if Rhys can teach using those flash cards kids use to learn to read. Failing that I wonder if I can make a swing and keep my dunces cap on my head. Maybe, just maybe this one plane malarkey is actually a tougher nut to crack than I thought and the initial results led me into a false sense of security. Coming from a more upright and flawed starting position with regards to my swing it was always going to be hard to trust any swing going more behind my body. Until we can get the initial movement back into a decent back swing sorted then we can't really look at the downswing and correct the shallowness of that.

Problems, problems. Still if there's one thing I relish in golf it's a challenge so I say bring it on. I've another lesson booked in for February 16th and so it is a race against time to get this sorted. I've a clear picture in my head of where the club should be and Rhys is going to update my pupil file so that will help as an aide de memoir and we can go from there. Lets have it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Martin,

    I really empathise! After years of scoring better than my swing deserves ( thank god I can putt) I decided to get it sorted once and for all this winter. I chose another One Plane coach, Clifford Gough at West Hill.

    My experiences have been uncannily similar, early improvement followed by decay and embarrassment.

    Poor Cliff must think he has landed a spatial deaf mute, whose body fails to respond to even the most simple instruction.

    That all said, the One Plane teaching has allowed me to understand where I go wrong - apparently I'm shallow, the wife has told me this for years! And the drills Cliff sends me are simple and easy to understand. The big lesson I have discovered is to concentrate on one and only one thing at a time. At the moment it's 'take away' for me. My body cannot respond to instruction based upon making multiple adjustments to varying parts of the swing.

    Good luck, I'll continue to follow your progress.

    Billsy Billsy

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