It’s been a long time since I checked in here. A big chunk of that delay is because I got Coronavirus (ugh 2020). The good news is that I think the 10+ days of isolation in Connecticut might have helped my golf game.
A few weeks before I got Covid, I took a great lesson from my pro in Virginia. He pointed out to me that the moment of the body turning will unhinge the hands naturally at impact, so I don’t need to do anything with my hands or arms after getting them to the backswing. A drill for this involves swinging the golf club horizontally, like a baskeball bat, to practice letting the momentum of the turn unhinge the hands. This change not only boosted my swing speed a ton (because you can generate more rotational velocity closer to the center), it also gave me a lot more control in my hands, since they’re doing less to actually deliver the ball at impact.
Just before I got the virus, I was struggling to translate that insight into my irons and wedges and to shorten my swing overall. Watching Sung-Jae Im’s incredibly slow backswing at the Masters, I realized that slowing down might be the answer.
I haven’t yet hit a full iron or driver with this method, but I have been able to dramatically shorten my backswing in practice (and put the club in a better position) and hit some very nice wedges off of a mat I purchased on Amazon ($50 for three surfaces. So far not bad).
Today I went out to the yard to work on pitching distance control. Using the extra control in the clubface, I was able to deliberately set the clubface in my slow backswing hinge, allowing me to reliably hit 50-yard pitches within a yard or two. It feels a lot like the method that worked for me when I was at my playing best, just after high school.
I also tried some chips using the “Phil Mickelson” setup (from a Youtube video where he gives his three keys to chipping). Lefty suggests keeping your weight forward, keeping your hands/shaft forward, and keeping your ball position either forward (for high shots) or back (for low shows), but never middle. Obviously I have no cause to doubt the short game legend, and the tips seems to work as I chipped around indoors with some foam balls and a mat.
Staying on the Masters theme, I took some inspiration from (Masters champion!) Dustin Johnson, who bought a putting mat to practice while he was isolating for Coronavirus. I just putted into a Masters putting cup I already had, on carpet, but I feel like I’ve improved my stroke, and I switched back to my high school putter which seems to be more reliable.
To try to maintain my speed, I’ve also been doing a few dozen fast swings with the orange whip every day.
Maybe it’s false confidence, but I think I’m in a good position to come out of this isolation 3-4 strokes better per round than when I started.
I’ll keep you posted after I put everything to the test on real grass.