Professional Help

Since returning from my covid-forced golf abstenince, my golf game has been terrible. It certainly wasn’t professional before courses shut down, but when I returned, I could barely hit an iron in the air. After the initial joy of being able to play again wore off, I grew increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t fix my irons, and hundreds of range balls were doing nothing but irritate my wrist. I sought professional help.

Yesterday, I took a lesson. I just recently joined the club I play at, so I’d only met the pro three days earlier. The pro had never seen my swing before, and I got the sense that he was under the impression I hadn’t played much golf. My warmup irons did little to dispell that notion. Naturally, the lesson that resulted was as basic as lessons come. It dealt largely in the fundamentals, and the pro explained some pretty basic concepts of the game of golf to me. I thought about filling him in that I’d played hundreds (thousands?) of rounds, but ultimately I decided that going back to the basics could only help, given my current predicment. I went with the flow.

For the lesson, and the rest of the day, the pro didn’t want me hitting off of anything but a tee. He made a number of changes to my swing and setup:

  1. He changed my grip from a double-overlap I’d been experimenting with to guard my wrist to a single overlap with the right thumb and forefinger extended down the grip for additional control.
  2. He had me set up a hair closer to the ball, and showed me a more regimented way of setting my feet’s width by club.
  3. He changed my takeaway, and gave me a checkpoint to work toward, where the clubface looks slightly closed when extended all the way back. He suggested that that checkpoint (from the perspective of the player – it looks longer on video) be as far as I extend the club. The rest of the club’s movement would be controlled by the next part of the lesson:
  4. Which was, turning my back to the target (duh). For the sake of practice, we turned this step and the previous into two distinct sequential motions.

All in all, the backswing he taught involved less lift (once again, duh) and more of a sidearm motion toward the ball.

He also gave me some good checkpoints to use to assess my progress on video.

  1. At the start of the downswing, the shaft of the club should intersect the middle of my shoulder (vs basically standing straight up from my steeper old backswing).
  2. Just before impact, the clubhead should be left of the ball (indicating an in-to-out swing).
  3. After impact, the face of the club should be slightly open, indicating that my grip prevented a flip/shut clubface.

After the hour-long lesson, I hit balls for another half hour, off a tee (except for 2-3 I tried off the grass), then chipped and pitched in the short-game area for another hour or so. It was scorching hot, my wrist hurt, and I struggled to reproduce the positions and good-contact successes from the lesson, so I began to doubt the lesson.

This afternoon, after watching the Taylormade Covid skins game, I went back to the driving range to give it another try. I hit about 100 balls, using an iPad for video and my mevo for data, and frequently checking those checkpoints on video.

I went in trying to trust the lesson, and the results were pretty decent. Not every shot was good, but my swing looked better on tape, felt better on impact (most of the time), I made good progress toward ingraining the ideas we’d covered.

I think we’re on the right track. You can see one of my better swings (with a 7-iron I believe) in the video below.

After my hundred shots on the range I hit another 40 or so chips and pitches at the short game area, then practiced putting for 5-10 minutes (mostly from 5-15 feet – I haven’t practiced putting much since the restart, since they’re still working to spruce up the greens to in-season speeds).

(Thanks to Barstool’s Fore Play golf podcast for providing excellent entertainment for my practice).

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