Sunday, 24 November 2013

Back To The Learning

The 2013 wasn't fantastic. No getting away from it I'm afraid and while there was some really good stuff there was a lot of poor scores too especially in competitive play and the handicap has gradually risen from 10.1 to 11.4. Not good.

As regular readers will know from my last post it was back to my regular teacher Rhys ap Iolo for a golf lesson a week ago. We made a couple of changes to ball position and flattened it out a tad and it was good. Rhys showed me a swing from a year ago in December 2012 where the club was still travelling way too much on the inside, getting trapped and was way too shallow. He took one from the start of last weeks lesson which showed a huge change to the path. In fact, the path had steepened a fraction too far and was a little over the top. To a large degree this was no bad thing as the club was much further in front of me at impact so I had more room to compress down and exit further to the left. Better by a mile but something that needed fixing.

This is the first video. A lot of nasty stuff in here from a technical perspective. To some degree it was surprising I was able to get as close to single figures as I had. Given the lack of a reliable short game to back up the poor swing, I would argue I deserve some degree of credit for playing as well as I had for as long as I had. I have always wanted something simpler and more reliable.

This second video shows a much better path and I have actually taken it a fraction too far and the club now travels a little too far over the top. Much better but not right. The solution was to move the ball position further back, only by a ball diameter at most. What Rhys also did was to get me to feel the right shoulder was moving as far away from my right ear as I can. This made the plane a little flatter.

Here is the final act after the changes were made. A much better path and if you pause the video just before impact, the shaft is perfectly parallel and it's just a question then of turning down and through and exiting to the left as I've been working so hard to do all year.

There are still a number of issues and many of you will recognise a lot of lateral movement. As I get to the top of the swing my spine angle rises and into impact it looks as though I really stand up. It is something I am not happy with and would like to change to add a degree more consistency. I've already spoke with Rhys about it and it is actually something he is comfy with at this point in my journey. this is something I will come back to but not yet.

I've been working hard on it at the range all week and I've been pleased with the progress I made. Friday night was a very good session and I went out to the course on Saturday full of hope. The opening tee shot was a ghastly slice and out of bounds and I have to be honest, it sucked all the confidence and belief the hours at the range had installed. I managed to get it round, of a fashion, until the seventh hole where I hit another shocker. It was another that felt really cramped for room and it went straight right never to be seen again. Rightly so. It was nasty.

I made a closing pair of par's to shut out the front nine. The back nine was a mess. I made a mess of the tenth and eleventh but found the fairway at twelve. I missed the green but made a bogey and so felt a little better. Until the thirteenth tee. It is a 186 yards and I pulled the hybrid. I repeated the horror swing from the seventh tee. Straight right and so cramped for room. After that my mind was shot. I was thinking so hard about technique and trying to keep the ball in play that it became a rather forced swing and an objective in getting it round. I am not happy. I didn't enjoy my game at all. It wasn't what I wanted or had envisaged.

However it was time to park the long game and the swing changes I've made. Today was a trip to Pachesham Golf Centre in Leatherhead. This is where I got fitted for my Ping clubs back in the summer. It has two superb short game areas. The first one has three distinct greens for pitches from 10-30 yards, another for those 50-55 yard shots and a final one at the 70-75 yard mark. It also has a well kept bunker with a nice big lip.

There is also a chipping area with plenty of flags to aim at and a number of areas to use. I've wanted to use this facility for a while. It is the best within reasonable travelling distance and which has public access. The short game is where the focus of my attention will be this winter and Rhys has already done a little work with a chipping lesson way back at the start of the season.

Today was a chance to meet Liam McCrossan who is going to give me a short game assessment. I wanted someone who didn't know my well documented short game issues to cast a fresh set of eyes over what I'm doing. We had a good chat before hitting the chipping green as that is the main bone of contention

To be honest what we saw on the video was nothing new and basically a regression into the poor address positions Rhys had spoken about on a cold and damp chipping green. The head and sternum are too far back and so the angle of attack is too shallow. He moved the ball back a little, got the weight back onto the left hand side and the only significant change was to my address position. He is trying to get me to mimic the impact position so I can just make a shorter and crisper swing on a slightly steeper path. Much better and more comfortable over the ball.

The full blown assessment is taking place after Christmas to look at the other aspects and tidy up bunker play and pitching as well as a session in the Mark Roe putting studio to have a look at the whole putting game.

I've always said the Winter is the best time to make changes. I am pleased with where my swing is now, even if the course is still chewing me up every week and I can't recreate the good work on the range when it counts. I need a fully functioning short game to take pressure off all the other facets of my game. It is one of the only gripes I have with Royal Ascot, that there isn't really a specialised short game area where members can work on this vital aspect. As I've mentioned there really isn't access to this anywhere locally which does make it hard to do the right things more often.

There is a lot going on with my game as always. I love it. I love the hard work in making changes permanent and the swing and game better and even more so when it comes off on the course. Rhys has done a fantastic job to date with making it better and once Liam has given me an independent short game assessment I can work in conjunction with Rhys and utilise Liam and the Pachesham short game facility to make it second to none. I need to regress to my junior golfer days where there was no fear. Look at any kid at any course or range and they instinctively do it. No thinking, no questioning. It is going to be more about jettisoning 30+ years of golfing knowledge and going back to basics. Get the short game right and the rest follows and Homer's Odyssey to single figures picks up momentum again and 2014 will be a fantastic year. It is all there for me. I just need to reach in and grab it.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you need to stop thinking so technical and just take it up from the basics with your chipping. A great way to improve your chipping is to play your chip shots like you would a putt. Quite literally the same action, the same rhythm, albeit with a little bit of forward shaft lean (hands forward), and gradually introduce more weight onto the front foot as you become more comfortable with the concept. The application of a chip shot is purely to deliver the ball over an area where you cant putt, and so in its essence should be played as simply as possible!