Yesterday I got a chance to hit balls for the first time in nearly four months. Chamber of Commerce weather: the sun shining bright, 74 degrees, and the driving range at Kokopelli Golf Club packed with men and women of all ages. Still feeling a little woozy from the flu, but I just had to get out and give the new clubs a look-see. The verdict? I have to say that, between using a different eye and trying out the new hybrids and woods, everything went OK. The adjustment to using my dominant (lead) eye was fairly seamless as soon as I got used to playing the ball just a tad further back than what I was used to. A few balls were topped, but I chalk it up to just getting a little more familiar with the hand/eye coordination.
The new clubs are fine: the Big Berta hybrids have a little more substantial feeling than the old RAZR/X ones I had, which always seemed so light that they were like twigs in my hand. The Big Berthas have a little more weight and a bigger club head; I found them easier to take an easy swing with. The XR 16 fairway woods and driver I wasn’t able to try out with more than a ball or two – after about thirty balls I was already sweating my brains out and feeling fatigued from being sick – but they all seemed just fine. At my level of competency all you’re looking for are clubs that feel good in your hands to swing, anyways.
I left a dozen balls or more behind and was really interested in seeing what it would be like to putt and chip with a different eye. I’m pleased to say I really didn’t notice much of a difference. Again, I think I have to play the ball just a smidgen back in my chipping and putting stance to accommodate what my lead eye sees as opposed to what my trailing eye did. But it all went OK.
Over all, I’m very pleased at my so-called “coming out party”. In particular, I was very pleased at my overall swing and tempo. As I mentioned in my other post, while I hadn’t actually been hitting balls these past four months, I’d been thinking about golf in more abstract ways, and one of those ways involved my whole approach to swinging a golf club. For some reason, I kept going back to that Hunter Mahan article in the February 2015 issue of GOLF Magazine and his seven keys to hitting irons – in particular, his comment about practicing how you want to finish. His point being, if you can finish on your front foot, hands high, chest facing the target, and completely balanced it really doesn’t matter how you get there: you’ve pretty much guaranteed yourself a successful shot. And that’s what I tried to do yesterday: in fact, I found using my lead eye made it easier for me to stay on top of the ball and therefore promote a better finish. And it showed in the number of quality results. So I was very pleased about that.
And so, the first test was passed. I was hitting off of mats because of all the recent rain, so this weekend I hope to head out to my old haunt of Superstition Springs and hit off of grass and do a little more putting and chipping to see how it all still feels. Then next week, if the weather holds, I’ll be playing Stallion Mountain and Las Vegas National in Sin City. No expectations, just seeing if I can move a golf ball around a course.
I know one thing: the days of hitting large buckets every week (or more) are over. From now on, whenever I go out I’ll just hit a small bucket, and even at that perhaps only a dozen balls or so, solely to work on rhythm and timing. I just think you fall into bad habits trying to do more than that. If I can hit a small bucket and play a round of golf every three weeks or so I think I’ll have achieved the right balance I’m seeking. And I’ve got a great new Hawaiian shirt to show off in Las Vegas and when Goodboys weekend comes around!