Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Quest For Single Figures 2018 - Part One - Line In The Sand

Welcome back. If you've been following recent events you'll know that I recently had an hours lesson at the London Club in Kent, with one of Golf Monthly's top 25 coaches, Paul Foston. Firstly a big thanks to both Paul for his expertise and input and to Golf Monthly for putting this on and the London Club for being such generous hosts.

I put two videos up of the lesson on my youtube channel. If you haven't checked these out, you can click on the links below. While you are there, don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already done so, thumbs up both videos (youtube loves a good thumbs up) and if you have any comments. please put them in the comments section and I'll respond.

Golf Lesson With Paul Foston - Part One (Live Lesson Part One)
Golf Lesson With Paul Foston - Part Two (Live Lesson Part Two

It has been a hugely frustrating time since the lesson as my back has been playing up and playing and practice has been severely restricted. However I've been hugely enthused and engaged again with my golf since coming back from the London Club and it has renewed my belief that there is a single figure golfer lying within and that I'm capable of releasing him. Also, if you've watched my youtube videos or seen previous blogs on here you'll know that my job was in danger and I was in danger of redundancy. I'm pleased to say that situation has been resolved, I am still in gainful employment and can get back to working on my game.

As the title says, this is the start of "The Quest For Single Figures 2018" and I took some footage at the practice ground at Royal Ascot on Sunday 15th October. In fact, the ball striking was pretty good, something Paul Foston commented on in the lesson, and dispersion was a little better than it has been. I recorded some shots and put it on the youtube channel and you can switch over to see it by simply clicking the link below.

The Quest Update #1

As you'll see, technically there are still a number of glaring issues including a cupped wrist, swinging back too far, standing the shaft up in the downswing and flipping the hands at impact. Apart from that it is quite functional!

I am now beginning the massive task of unpicking a swing built over the last thirty plus years, sort out the major issues, and replace those with the stuff Paul showed me at the London Club. For me, this really marks a line in the sand. A mark of passage and the end of my swing in it's current incarnation.

In fact there is an air of synchronicity with it all. I started my 2017 golf season with a handicap of 14.0 and as I draw this line under everything, the handicap is.....14.0 so for all my bad days and the odd good ones (I did have a win and a second this season) there has been no change at all in the handicap. I am under no illusion that this will increase over the winter, partly because the course will be playing its full length in the damp, cold conditions but also because these changes will take time to bed in, especially in a competitive round with the handicap on the line.

I have a series of things I need to achieve to make my swing robust, compact and functional as Paul demonstrates on film. The first of these has two distinct stages, shortening the swing, losing that additional six inches of swing I put on each one that takes it too far and causes me to lift up, and then getting rid of a cupped wrist and getting the wrist flatter or even bowed. Let's be perfectly clear about this, it represents a major change, almost going back to the very beginning and trying to rebuild a swing from scratch and it's not going to be easy. Losing the extra six inches and the wrist position is going to take many hours, loads of balls, work at home and patience.

Until I have these components fixed, I can't move onto stopping the shaft standing up, although I am hoping a better back swing position will allow a better transition and turn. The club seems to move down and out and I need to be getting the shaft becoming more shallow and the butt of the club moving out towards the ball. Again this is massive and will be a huge undertaking.

I have a game plan to see how far I get by late January/early February and take that down to Paul's state of the art studio in Kent (Paul Foston Academy). Hopefully I'll have made good progress and Paul can tidy up the remaining issues and get me ready for a fast start in the 2018.

Of course, I appreciate that working solely on the long game and the swing changes isn't going to be great in terms of a) boredom, b) developing new faults and c) hindering the other facets including chipping, pitching and putting. I am formulating some plans to develop my short game. Again if you have watched the youtube channel you'll see some pitching challenges. I plan to develop these further and add some chipping challenges too. Here are the links to my original pitching challenge and my second attempt which shows how far the technique had come on. Had I putted better in the second one I could have had a career day out.

Original pitching challenge
Second pitch challenge

Of course I can't forget putting and I will be working hard on my stroke. I'm not overly fussed by the number of putts holes especially on bobbly winter greens. I will work hard on those important two and three foot putts. I did a recent blog on a great training aid I use regularly, the No 3 Putt. Check out what I said here and a link to see it in action (No 3 Putt blog). It's something that really helps and I plan to work with it all winter and once the greens get back to normal come next Spring.

One thing I will be doing is keeping statistics. I did start this last year in good faith but I have to be honest and say compiling it by hand and doing it on a spreadsheet was laborious. I'm going to look at some of the apps and software out on the market and see if there is anything that meets my needs.

I'm a firm believer in keeping statistics as a way of improving. It has to be better to set challenges and goals rather than bashing balls aimlessly at a range target without any correlation of whether your accuracy, distance control and technique has improved. As I've stated, I've already started on pitching and done two from 40 yards. I need to get out over the winter and get some more from different distances. Add in some skills tests to work on the chipping and bunker play and that area of the game will have quantifiable data to chart progress. Again before we really hit the 2018 season in March I'll invest in a few short game refresher lessons just to hone the technique further. If of course I struggle over the winter then I'll look at this area and some tuition earlier.

I hope the renewed air of optimism an positivity I'm feeling since coming back from the London Club is permeating through. Alas my back has been knackered but I did play in the Pro's Day at my club, Royal Ascot, last Saturday to show my support and because it was off the yellows so a shorter course. I struggled to turn with my back in the first few holes but ended up with a respectable 34 points. As this was the first time trying to put Paul's ideas into practice I thought, given the injury, it was a better than expected return. Certainly there were enough good shots to give me encouragement.

All in all then an end of an era and a start of a new chapter and "The Quest For Single Figures" starts today. Check out the video link of the swings and see where the base line technique is. I think over the months you'll see that shift and improve. Add in the grind on my short game and come next March I'm going to be in a very happy place and ready to hit the season fast. Of course I'll keep you abreast of progress so keep your eye out for new footage on the youtube channel (subscribe and you won't miss anything, especially those of you Stateside) and for more posts on here.

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