Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Penny Has Finally Dropped

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has taken nine months and a number of lessons but I am pleased to say the penny has finally dropped. I had another lesson with Rhys ap Iolo at the Downshire Golf Centre last night and was anticipating a review of the back swing changes I've been working so hard on and maybe nurturing and refining the work I'd been doing.

What transpired was the best lesson I've had with Rhys. It was an extended version and due to be an hour although Rhys as ever was generous with his time and it lagged to at least an hour and a quarter, which meant we weren't trying to cram a lot of work into a short time frame. However the most pleasing aspect was the fact that every time Rhys gave me a tweak I was able to tell him how it felt, where I thought the club was and where it had travelled. We weren't bogged down in too much technical stuff and I could finally work more on feel which is how I've always learned best.

To be fair to Rhys, he had so many layers of faults to strip away before we had a basic model we could mould and work with. Now, with Rhys giving the work I had down on the takeaway the seal of approval we could move it forward again. The old swing had always been too shallow into impact but until we were in a position to get the club in the right place at the top there was nothing that could be done to fix this and still allow me to make any decent contact with the ball.

Last night we worked hard on impact and being able to compress down onto the ball better. It isn't just impact that is important but the path the club is travelling on and so the exit and follow through were looked at in detail too. In fact, we ended up working it out in reverse and understanding how the club exits into the follow through let me figure out where it needed to be from the top into the ball.

As I have already said, the fact that I now have a good understanding of what I need to achieve and to a large degree how to do it has fired me up. An example of how you can get more from something working more efficient came when I was working on a stop/start drill. As I had been doing with my back swing work, I took the club halfway back, stopped, to the top and stopped again. I was then trying to focus on just returning the club to the address position to collect the ball and then ensure I made a proper turn into the follow through. I hit it perfectly. Bearing in mind there were pauses and it wasn't a proper swing I was amazed that Trackman said I'd carried it 153 yards. This would have been the top end of my six iron range flat out with the old swing. Less really can mean more. Add in the technical bits such as the club only being one degree open to path at impact, optimum launch angle and spin rate and it reinforced just how much progress I've made.

The penny drops and I can feel and understand where the club is and how it needs to travel - Hallelujah
As always, there is still work to be done. One of the biggest things I need to guard against is the killer position with the club getting across the line. An age old fault the new takeaway has addressed. The danger is the more I focus on the club coming down steeper, more in front of me and turning on the right path, the less I will be aware of where it is at the top.

Rhys has suggested my range work needs to be evenly split with one ball working on the back swing and the next on the steeper downswing and how the club exits. I wrote on here about buzzing from my ball striking at the range this week (make sure you check it out!) and feel from the quality of the strikes last night, that with the club now beginning to travel correctly that this can only get better.

I have to guard against old faults and ingrain the new technique. I also need to shift the focus and look at the short game. While my swing in all its incarnations has allowed me to get the ball around the course to some degree or another, my scoring potential has always been held back by an inability to chip and putt regularly.

I've charted my short game woes in inglorious detail over the last two years or so and it really has been the one thing that has stopped Homer's Odyssey from sailing into the land of peaches and honey and a single figure handicap. Part of it has been getting trapped between a number of styles and technique and part of it has been a mental block and a lack of trust over the ball. One has always fed the other and so the spiral downward continued. Rhys and I are going to start to address this with a short game refresher next time. Now I have an understanding of where the club is suppose to travel it should be easier to get it working better on a shorter shot.

I can't wait to hit the range tomorrow (Sunday) and put last night's work into action and put the hard yards in to get the changes right and ingrained. I'm confident I can get it right and if the six iron results last night are a taste of bigger and better things to come then it will be good. I am under no illusion that having not been on the course for two months or so it won't necessarily be perfect when I do get back out there. Hitting ball after ball at the range isn't the same as the one chance you get on the course but as long as I trust what I've worked on and don't go out with any expectations for a round or two I think results will come.

It has been a long journey to get this far. There is still a long way left to go to realise my potential. At the ripe old age of 46 (and nearly a half on top) this really is the last chance for body and mind to make such big changes to my swing and allow me to get as low as I can. Not only that, but a better, repeatable swing will place less strain on an ageing body and let me potentially play good golf for longer. For now though I am going to enjoy what I've achieved so far and relish the fact that at last the penny has dropped.

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