Slice Of Heaven – Corner Of Hell

heaven and hellQuick pop-survey:  How many of you have shanked your first five balls in a driving range session and left the facility feeling great about your game?

The marvelous thing about golf is that you can experience firsts at any age or stage and this was mine today.  I think ex-heavyweight champ Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until you get hit in the mouth.”  Well my plan today was to leverage all the good swing habits I’d built through my off-season indoor workouts into some solid ball striking.  If five straight shanks to start your season don’t hit you in the mouth, nothing will, and I was lucky the pro didn’t throw me off the range before I put one in someone’s eye socket, but I managed to right the ship and here’s how.

Readers of this space know I’ve been experimenting with the Nine-Shot drill in an effort to add shots to my repertoire.  Admittedly, this is not an easy practice technique since it requires you to work the golf ball in both directions with multiple launch angles, all the while using a variety of clubs.  You must steel yourself to move onto the next shot when you mishit one and continue to focus patiently on ball flight.  This drill saved my range session and my discovery is important.

Normally during a bad range session, you end up trying too many fixes, usually out of frustration or desperation and hope to stumble upon the right one; we’ve all done it.  The beauty of the Nine-Shot is that you are focused on executing a shot with a particular shape and trajectory, not on mechanics.  However, to make the shots, you consciously alter your ball position, alignment, and swing path.  In the event that one of these fundamentals is the cause of your original fault, you are likely to stumble upon it simply executing the drill.  Today, I found that when I moved the ball position forward, my contact immediately improved and the shank move was gone.  Why?  Because the forward ball position changed the bottom of my swing arc and forced me to move a little weight backwards on my back-swing.  Yes, the shank move was being caused by a reverse pivot.  Where that came from I do not know, but once I identified, all sense of normalcy returned.

The “ah ha” moment happened when I left the course and realized that I had solved a serious swing flaw without even trying.  I’m confident that this drill has value and you should give it a try.  Yes it’s hard to do but the benefits are worth it.  I can’t wait to battle test it during a warm-up session before an actual round.  I suspect it’s a big confidence builder and confidence usually leads to a good day on the course.  Good luck if you try it!

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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5 Responses to Slice Of Heaven – Corner Of Hell

  1. Brian

    If we can leave a practice session after learning anything…..the session was a huge success.

    cheers
    Jim

  2. I can’t even count how many times I have had this happen to me. I have gone to the range beyond excited to show off and groove my new swing habits and the results are simply garbage. I have never used the 9 shot drill to get out of it, but I generally fall back on trying to hit a fade. The switch from thinking about all the mechanics to simply thinking, “hit this one to the right” always produces results. There is definitely something to be said about trying to hit shots rather than trying to make swings.

    • Brian Penn says:

      I am really excited about the prospects of this one. When you think about it, you’re only changing ball position and alignment with the 9-shot. Two key fundamentals. And you don’t monkey with all the extraneous garbage thoughts. Generally speaking if you focus on fundamentals you control the chaos.

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