It worked which is why I could play to a 10 handicap but it needed a lot of consistent work to maintain it and keep it synchronised. On a good day it was playable but when the timing was off it was an untamed monster. I am under instructions to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and not to hit full shots. I need to get to position one, half way back, stop, check and then move the club into position two at the top of the back swing and stop again and check that. From this static position I need to feel the club coming stringht down on a much steeper path, collect the ball and into the finish.
All well and good and I am renouned at my club for the amount of practice I put in. What I'm not good at and never really have been is having the patience to stand there and just rehearse and swing the club without hitting balls. To me it has always been the acid test watching the ball fly. However as Rhys has tried to drum into my head, we need to break thirty years of ingrained faults. In essence we are going back to the beginning. I need to re-learn the correct takeaway, not swing too far and lose spine angle and lift and get the club in the right place to make a good down swing.
I did work hard on everything. It feels strange as you'd expect and the transition from the new position at the top down onto the ball isn't there yet. Lots of big hooks in particular indicates the path isn't right. However it's essential we get the initial move correct first so that is where the focus of attention remains.
I've filmed a swing showing the process. Bear in mind it is only the first session so there is a lot still wrong. Bear in mid also that Rhys would prefer me to stop at each check point and not make such a full swing as this. You can see how the club still wants to track across the line and how it is going to be a huge task to break that particular fault. Break it I must if everything that is to follow is going to slot into place.
I am pleased with progress. Rhys has already critiqued my work and given me a pointer to bear in mind. I have basically written off a lot of playing time over the winter. What am I missing? Frozen greens, muddy fairways, cold, wind and rain. If I can work hard and diligently on my new swing, allied to sharpening all aspects of the short game and putting then I'm going to be fast out of the blocks next year.
To be honest while my swing, despite its foibles, was functional if not great, it was my short game that has always held me back. I putt reasonably, but could hole out better from 3-8 feet. I am good from close range and don't three putt that often. It is the chipping in particular which has prevented the handicap from falling quicker. I chip like a 28 handicapper in comparison with my peers and it has been a mental frailty as well as a technical ineptitude that has stopped me. I've been caught between a traditional chipping technique and the linear method I adpoted last season. The break I've had, enforced as it was, has cleared my head. I'm ready to go back with Rhys once we hone the full swing skills and have a blank short game canvass on which to paint a better picture in 2013.
I'm off and running. I actually feel better after the session today than I did coming out of the lesson on Friday. At the moment the crux is to get position one nailed completely and into position two. There is another booked for a week on Friday. Rhys and I can review, assess and add another block into place. Slowly, slowly but the process is underway and I couldn't be happier to be getting it sorted once and for all.