Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why the Heck Do I Have to Figure Out Something Big about My Swing Right Now?

Don't tell anyone, but after getting up at 6:30 am Monday for an 8 am meeting on campus, I snuck out to The Course Formerly Known as the Easiest Course in the World and shot a 1-under 73 playing a couple of balls on the now-9-hole track before returning to work. Not a fantastic number, considering it has 3 reachable par 5s (although I did eagle one of them!). But I figured out something about my swing that got me an extra 10-30 yards off the tee and got me hitting my irons about a club further. It's so simple you're going to think I'm an idiot for not noticing it sooner.

Basically the only thing I worked on was making sure I transferred my weight as completely to my left side on the downswing as I possibly could (I'm a righty, in case that wasn't obvious). I still don't have the timing completely down, but a little lateral slide with my hips as I'm rotating them seems to be what's netting me the added distance. Some of the distance gains are attributable to my knowing the course and knowing where the dry sides of the fairways and where those distance-adding little ridges to try to land on the far side of are. But the key thing is that I was able to reach ones I had rarely ever been able to reach before. It wasn't particularly hot and the wind wasn't particularly strong in my favor, but I hit a few wind- and ridge-aided drives in the 290-to-300-yard range, to places in the fairway or just off it that I couldn't remember hitting from. All of a sudden, it was easy for me to hit it 270, even on drives I didn't full connect with or drew too much. So while it's true that there are very few penalties for errant drives on that course, and I could swing more freely there than virtually any of the courses I'm playing regularly in the Hamburg area, the feeling of almost stomping down with my left foot during my downswing is certainly something I want to keep and become more accustomed to.

The timing of this potential insight is certainly frustrating--as was my performance in all the tournaments I entered this summer. Now that the semester is in full swing, I may not be able to get out on the course all that much the rest of the year and I certainly don't have any tournaments left to test it in. But it does give me something to look forward to for next year....


Mike said...

Just a thought...

The slide is probably helping you drop your hands and arms from the top a little better. When you do that, you don't lose your wrist cock as fast, so you have more of it when your hands get to the hitting area. Or to put it a different way, when you think about the hip move, you don't use your hands and arms as early in the swing.

Here's what it's doing: Your "stomp" turns your hips and simultaneously drops your right elbow closer to your side, then the rest of your downswing happens. It's almost like the "stomp" is a slingshot to start your downswing.

It's a common move in classic teaching. I bet that "stomping" feel is something Tom Watson gets too.

The Constructivist said...

So it's not just getting my weight more to the left that's giving me the distance, it's also that I'm accidentally improving my downswing, too? Cool!

My early instruction focused so much on the backswing that I never really knew what to be trying for on the downswing for most of my golfing life. That feeling of letting my hands just drop at the start of the downswing was something that really helped me out last year, but I think playing narrower, more penal courses this year got me steering it and staying back more than usual--and definitely more than I should. The key challenge for me will be to take these "swing feelings" back to what are now my home courses!

Mike said...

No, it's not just the shift to the left, but a whole series of good things that the shift is setting into motion. That's the way a good golf swing should work.

If you have trouble "keeping" your improvement, let me know -- I have a simple drill specifically for helping groove that drop. But as long as you can do it naturally just by thinking about "stomping," don't worry about it. All a good drill does is teach you a feel you can remember, and if you've already got a good feel you don't need a drill.