September 4, 2017

It felt kind of funny as I took a couple of practice swings at the Papago Golf Course driving range for the first time since Goodboys Invitational weekend. It had been a little over a month since I’d even looked at my clubs, and the swings I was taking felt awkward and unnatural to me, but I was embarking on a new journey swing-wise – one far different than the swing I had patched together for Goodboys weekend.

And patched together was the word for it. Ever since I started getting the itch back to hit golf balls again, I’d been doing a lot of thinking about my golf swing and re-reading the blog posts from the weeks leading up to Goodboys Invitational weekend. And, truth be told, while I still think I struck the ball better that weekend than I had ever done in any Goodboys Invitational weekend prior, the fact remained that I went into the weekend without my 5-wood and hybrids as reliable weapons, and it killed me. I mean, how right can your swing be if it doesn’t translate to all the clubs in your bag? Not to mention the fact that I had played lousy the Tuesday before Goodboys weekend at Green Meadow and only “found” my driver the next day while playing nine holes at Trull Brook. So whatever I was able to patch together for this year’s Goodboys weekend still left more than a little room for improvement.

As folks who frequent this blog know, I’ve always been a huge fan of LPGA golfer Paula Creamer. She’s sexy and adorable, but a fierce competitor with a swing that’s just drop-dead gorgeous. Fellow Goodboy “Killer” Kowalski thinks her swing plane is too flat on takeaway – and I can see where he’s coming from – but I love-love-love the way she goes down and gets it on her downswing. Look at her wide stance with the driver and the way and how early her back foot comes up as she drives through the ball. I also like the way her knees are bent at address – she seems to have a better weight distribution on her feet than I typically do. But what I really like most is her tempo, and how long her swing is to generate the power she seems to get without swinging hard. Taken together, since I really don’t have a swing I can call my own at the present time, why not start from scratch and see how it goes?

And so that’s what I decided to do upon my return to the range for the first time since Goodboys Invitational weekend. I was hoping to hear an announcer say over the loudspeaker, “And now, for his first appearance since his runner-up performance in the 2017 Goodboys Invitational: Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard!” But alas, there was none, and no one seemed to notice my arrival. But I felt different: I had worked hard on my swing prior to Goodboys weekend and had seen first-hand the results of all that hard work. I knew if I had to, I’d find the swing I had six weeks ago and try and fine-tune from there, but there would still be that issue with the 5-wood and the hybrids, so I felt a certain sense of freedom in trying a different kind of swing simply for the hell of it.

I took a lot of practice swings without a ball in front of me – far more than I would normally – because I wanted to try and get my footwork right. If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few years, a good golf swing is built from the ground up, not the bottom down. It felt totally alien to me, but I was content simply with trying something different. The first few 8-irons I tried hitting were all topped as I tried to get the timing down: it was clear I would have to slow my swing down in order to get it right. But once I did, I was pretty darned happy with the results. One of the things I wanted to fix immediately from my Goodboys Invitational swing was to eliminate the slightly-closed club face at address I was using and keeping during my very upright take-away. I know it was kinda-sorta working for me, but I also knew in the back of my mind that all I was doing was cheating. So getting the club face back to neutral at address and then mimicking Paula’s down-swing also meant putting a premium on not jumping at the ball; if I did it was a big pull to the right.

For this first range session all I wanted to do was hit 8-iron, 6-iron, 4-hybrid, and 5-wood. If it didn’t work I’d call it a day and just go back to working more on what I was doing before Goodboys my next time out. So after a bunch of 8s, I dropped down to my 6-iron. Once again, while there were more than a few sculls as I tried to find the right tempo, I finally got it down and really enjoyed the higher trajectory I was getting from having my club properly set at address. The day wasn’t too hot, so I grabbed a water and took a few moments to look at a new set of high clouds coming in from the southwest from Tropical Storm Lidia before heading on to my 4-hybrid and 5-wood:

The moment of truth had arrived. My hybrids had been a mystery to me prior to Goodboys Invitational weekend but there were times I really needed to hit them during that weekend and they cost me strokes. I was hoping this new swing approach might result in something different. I took a bunch of practice swings, again to get my timing and footwork down, then dropped a ball. A big hit, long and straight followed by a pull, a push, a scull, but then another monster hit straight. What I noticed more than anything else – once again – was the trajectory I got when I caught it good. Higher and softer-landing than anything I could ever remember hitting since I got these clubs. And the same thing was true with the 5-wood: three swings that went boom-boom in the zoom-zoom room with the same lovely, high trajectory I’d suddenly got addicted to seeing scattered around a couple of sculls and pushes where I didn’t get the timing right.

For me, it’s now all about results, the predictable kind. Follow the axiom and you’ll get the desired results. Go off the reservation in any way and the results become unpredictable. I’m not 100% sold on the Paula Creamer swing yet, but let’s just say I’m very intrigued by it. It’s going to take a bit of work, but starting this weekend I think I’ll try to hit balls on a weekly basis to try and further refine the footwork and the timing this new swing requires. But if in the end it means finding my hybrids and 5-wood, it would be make me one happy dog, fer shure! I’m having a lot of fun trying something different, but it’s only because of all the work I had put in this year leading up to Goodboys Invitational weekend that makes taking the risk and diving head-first into a different pool – at least swing-wise – worthwhile.

It will be interesting to see where this ends up taking me.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:27 | Comments Off on The Paula Creamer Experiment
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