June 1, 2016

Wednesday, 3:50 PM. Sculling, chunking, and shanking a bunch of pitching wedges, 7-irons, and 5-irons.

Wednesday: 4:15 PM. My swing coach Alex Black is complimenting the return of my power fade as I launch one 5-iron after another into the azure ozone of a warm June afternoon. Almost as if the iron woes of the past several weeks had never happened.

The difference? A single move Alex has been working with one of his students, a member of the UCLA golf team, on. The move itself is pretty simple, and one you can actually take to the golf course with you. Take your normal backswing, whatever it is, and on your downswing step into it, not unlike David Ortiz stepping into a fastball. And be sure to take your divot as you do it.

I had reached out to my swing coach Alex Black on a whim. I’ve been hitting my irons so poorly lately, and worse than that, I’ve felt completely off-kilter and unable to bring the club head square to target. The shanks that have returned with increasing frequency are bad enough, but it’s my confidence being shaken that has bothered me more than anything else. All I’ve been doing these past few weeks – even when my scoring was good – was playing defensively and not trying to screw up. It’s a bad place to be in.

Alex only needed me to take three swings before he stopped me right there. “You have no transition”, says he. “And even if you look like you have one it’s a faux transition, like long after the fact. All the shanks, sculls, and fat hits are simply the result of not getting your weight off of your back foot and onto your front.”

“And the yanks?”, I ask.

Alex smiles. “The yanks are from doing whatever you’re doing without extending your arms.”

Alex takes me over to his cart and shows me a video of his student practicing the “one step move” at some range in sunny SoCal. His swing looks picture perfect, like he ought to be at least on the Web.com Tour.

“He’s got a great swing”, I say admiringly.

“He’s got work to do just like everyone else does”, replies Alex. “Just like you do.”

And that’s how the remaining 40 minutes of our 50-minute lesson goes. Me hitting golf balls with the one step move. They’re not all perfect at the start: my body is so used to falling back everything feels foreign. But I warm up to it and soon I get the hang of it: I’m pulverizing 5-irons, then 7-irons, then the dreaded pitching wedge I’ve somehow forgotten how to hit.

The first few wedges are butt-ugly. But the last five are picture perfect: little clicks that dot a piece of driving range 100 yards out the size of a beach towel.

“Perfect”, says Alex. “Now, like it says in the Bible, go forth and multiply.”

I head back to the range and hit a small bucket of balls. I love the power draw, love the way it looks, love the way it feels. I feel indestructible and the fact that this is a drill I can take with me, not just as a take-away from this lesson, but to the golf course itself for my practice swings. It’s the drill that gets me away from my “death move”.

It’s one of the best $80 I ever spent. Now all I have to do is put it into practice when the strokes count.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
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