Working on Things
I’ve been taking some time the past couple of weeks to try to get in 100 practice balls each afternoon, as I’ve been experimenting with various tweaks to my swing and shotmaking. I’ve played a fade most of my life – inspired by Mr. Hogan probably – but have “perfected” that shot pattern to a point where I have severe difficulty moving the ball right to left when I want to. Because our golf course really favors a draw on a number of holes, my early New Year’s resolution is to tweak my swing a bit so that I can move the ball right to left more consistently when I call upon that shot.

So, I’m having to re-think a lot of the little pieces of my swing that make that fade so consistent, to see how to modify them to allow that draw to be worked back into my quiver of shots. Since I was a little kid, I was always taking things apart to see how they work. Of course, lots of those things didn’t always go back together as they were, and often I would have a few little pieces left over. Reminds me of the scene in the movie “Doc Hollywood”, when the shade tree mechanic hands Michael J. Fox’s character a box when he says he’s finished with his Porsche, and says “we always have some parts left over when we’re done”.

Anyway, that tinkerer’s mind is now dissecting my golf swing to focus on how it’s put together to produce a pretty reliable fade, and a straight ball as my norm. I’m having fun doing this just as I would when I take anything else apart. I’m setting the parts aside and “numbering” them, making notes of how they go back together. Yesterdays’ session produced a couple of “epiphanies” for me as I tackle this project, and I thought I would share those with you, in case any of you want to dissect your own swings this off season:

  1. Check grip pressure. Our natural tendency when we try anything new is to experience an increased amount of tension in our bodies. In golf, that almost always translates into a tighter hold on the golf club. In my particular case, I’m trying to rotate my hands a little faster through the impact zone and it was causing me to grip the club a little firmer. So, just the opposite was happening. I quickly learned that one of the building blocks of this draw-biased swing I’m chasing is to keep the hands light on the club so that they can release more easily. The key here is that a light grip on the club is imperative to better golf shots.

  2. Work S-L-O-W. I’m learning some new positions in the takeaway and top of backswing . . . in the first move down and through impact . . . and a lower, flatter follow-through. This is a lot to digest and incorporate into the golf swing, so I’m working a lot in slow motion. That means hitting 7-irons about 120 yards or so, rather than my normal 150. What this slow-motion allows me to do is focus on the precision of my moves, rather than the speed of them. That will come with practice and learning.

  3. Feel for it. What we are seeking when we try to incorporate any change to our swing is to be able to feel when we have done it right. To me, that means focusing my mind on where my body parts are at all times, and what they are doing, rather than focus on the shot. As counter-intuitive as that might seem, for me it works to make me more aware of how my own swing works, so that I can be my own swing coach and “fixer” when things go wrong. I always turn to my golf professional when I need help, but he can’t be there in the middle of a round when thing so south. You need to know your own swing intimately.
So, I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but I’d like to hear you guys sound off on what changes you’d like to see in your golf game for the 2012 season. And maybe the rest of us can help you figure out how to get there.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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