It's been a funny old week golf wise. Having finally got back on the course last weekend I wanted to work on my game at the range, consolidate and have my short game lesson with Rhys ap Iolo on Friday. The weather was a huge factor with heavy rain and gusty wind. I had the afternoon off work on Tuesday and there was a break in the weather and I hit the range full of anticipation for a solid session.
What transpired wasn't what I had been hoping for. From nowhere, I acquired a dose of the dreaded socket rocket, J. Arthurs, shermans otherwise known as the shanks. It is the most destructive shot in golf. It comes from nowhere but it absolutely drains a player of any shred of confidence. I had warmed up well enough and my wedges were fine but as soon as I swapped to a 9 iron I was slamming the ball into the bay wall. I've had issues before but not since going to the one plane swing. There have been times in lessons where Rhys has changed something and I was convinced I'd be bouncing the ball around the teaching bay but never actually did. Now I was faced with a real outbreak. The problem with the shanks is the tempo gets quicker out of fear and frustration. Even if you go back to basics and drills there is no guarantee it will improve. Whoever said a shank is close to the perfect shot is at best an optimist.
The reason for my problems are usually traced back to a simple flaw. My weight moves forward during the swing onto my toes. In simple terms everything then moves forward by an inch or so so when the club returns to the ball instead of the sweet spot sending the ball into air, high and straight, the hosel strikes it and it goes low and right. Horror.
On the plus side, I went back to my drills. Take the club back halfway. Stop. Back to the top and stop again and then back to the ball. One ball at a time it started to get better but I was scared on every shot. Tempo was shot. I finished on a high of sorts with some decent strikes but it really knocked the recent confidence I'd built up for six.
I had planned to have a day off on Wednesday but I spent the day in work fretting about it and worrying something major had gone wrong with the swing change I'd worked so hard on for the last three weeks or so. I had to get back on it and so I was back on the range mat straight from work. I was very wary and perhaps over cautious and so was pulling a few early shots left where the club wasn't releasing. The good news was it was a very short dose and I only had one semi-shank out of a large bucket of balls. I can live with that and the quality of the strike was much more solid. Once I had worked out I needed the club to be exiting low and left I was back on it.
I had written much on Twitter all week about a short game lesson on Friday with Rhys and the need to banish the short game demons lurking within my golfing psyche. All was set and I was looking forward to it. However much as the shanks had scuppered my expectations for consolidating, illness and in particular a savage migraine meant I had no choice but to postpone the lesson. I was in no state to stand there and swing a club and retired to my pit to recover.
The weather today was dire. It has been raining almost since first light and there was no way I was going to venture out onto a sodden course. I'm playing the first round of the winter knockout tomorrow and I've a feeling that even if the club is open at all it will be sodden and all but unplayable. Not only will I have to contend with the horrendous conditions but my partner is currently on the way back from a holiday in Vietnam and due to land at 5.00am. As we aren't off until nearly midday, I'm worried about getting around in time, but even more concerned that jet lag will hamper my partners performance.
So I've had a double dose (shanks and illness) and my partner is flying halfway around the world from warmer climes into the harsh, wet reality of winter golf. What could possible go wrong? As I'm working on major swing changes this winter my partner Mike Stannard and I have placed no real expectations or hopes on the Winter knockout. We are taking one game at a time and if we take an early bath then so be it. Of course should we make progress and as the swing changes Rhys and I are making bed in, along with an improved short game, then I'm sure our competitive juices will salivate and we'll become far more serious about it.
The short game lesson has been re-booked for next Wednesday. I hit the range this afternoon and the swing is behaving a little better and so I can stand on the 1st tee tomorrow with a modicum of confidence and hopefully provide my partner with some solid support. The short game lesson next week is a big step. How can such a small swing cause so many problems. It is partly in my head and partly indecision in technique. I'vebeen stuck between a rock and a hard place and have been persevering with the linear method of chipping, which uses the bounce a lot more, as opposed to the conventional method of hands and weight forward.
Not the week I was looking for. I had high hopes and great plans. I knew there would be backward steps, but never for one moment thought it would come from the shanks. I thought it would be an inability to understand and incorporate a new move or swing change. I thought I'd be posting tonight about my new found Seve like short game repertoire and new found inner calm. Still we'll see what the match tomorrow brings and it will be good to test my progress to date in a competitive environment. It promises to be an exciting ride one way or another so I'll strap myself in and ride the roller-coaster.