November 24, 2014

It’s been two weeks since I started working out at the local gym and following my fitness trainer Tony’s strategy of working on things that will improve my tone, endurance, and yes, my golf game are – at least to my eyes – starting to pay off. My primary goals for this year: avoiding the mistakes I made last year and implementing good practice techniques – are part and parcel with what my swing coach Alex Black also wants me to focus on this year; better posture and ball position at setup and address, and focus on making solid contact. Alex also wants me to spend the majority of my buckets of balls on four clubs alone: driver, 8-iron, 9-iron, and pitching wedge. Personally, I also want to make an attitude reset as to what I am attempting to accomplish in the coming year: less focus on score, more focus on the golf experience in God’s creation.

If there is one common theme that is running through each of these strategies, it is gaining confidence through repetition – the thought being, if you follow a particular axiom consistently the results you receive will also be consistent. Both my executive swing coach Dr. Jim Suttie and Alex have all stressed that the focus on scoring is futile: you can’t control the bounces or the conditions whenever you play a round of golf; you can, however, control your approach and technique based off of what you have perfected from your work at the range. By and large, if you follow a consistent approach to ever swing you make, and your technique is sound, more often than not good things will happen.

The same holds true at the gym, where it is critical to follow good technique when doing any kind of weight work. If you don’t you can hurt yourself and set yourself back in a serious way. And the foundation of that technique begins with good posture: chest out, back straight, shoulders back. Do that, and you’re making the most out of what you have. Which is the same when it comes to your golf setup and address.

Back at the range on Sunday for the second straight week, I’ve tried to take everything Tony and Alex have stressed to heart, and I feel as if I’m not just hitting the ball better, but practicing smarter. I know many swing coaches focus primarily on the short game – and there is something to be said about that – but I agree with what Greg Norman has said, which is, it all starts off the tee. The more often your second shot is off the short grass, the more likely that no matter what happens from then on you’ve got a good shot at making a good score. So today, like last week, nearly half the balls I hit were with the driver, focusing on correct set-up and ball position (no more playing it even a smidge forward from inside my front foot), with one swing in mind: hit it through the uprights. So far, so good.

Beyond that, I spent the majority of my balls hitting pitching wedge, 9-iron, and 8-iron. Some full, some three-quarter, all focused solely on making solid contact and to a predefined spot on the range. There’s a lot to be said about taking more swings with your short irons as opposed to, say, distributing you balls equally amongst all your clubs like I’ve always done. It makes sense: you’re practicing with clubs you’re going to hit more often than others during a round. Second, these are scoring clubs – the more accurate you are with them, the more likely you’ll make the most of scoring opportunities when they come your way. Most of all, they teach essentials like good contact and tempo – something you can replicate with your other clubs. Finally, I’m focusing on the whole aspect of the range experience: the camaraderie with familiar faces I see, taking my time to enjoy the breeze, the trees, and the various birds that frequent the range. If the only thing I’m focused on is hitting balls I’m missing the whole point of the experience.

With Tony’s help I’m learning about and feeling muscles I never knew I had and the essentials of good posture. With Alex’s help I’m back to practicing the essentials of the golf swing and attempting to erase bad habits resulting from 20+ years of playing the ball too far forward in my stance. I’m now two weeks into my range work for the 2014-15 season and in no rush to take my game to the course. It’s more important to feel confident with my swing and knowing that I’m putting into practice all the right things. Right now the important thing is to get it to the point where it all feels natural. I’m getting there.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments (0)
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