2012 golf improvement plan – Early returns are in!

I’m six weeks into my improvement plan and I’ve got some early feedback and lessons learned to share.  To reiterate, the plan was to work on core strength and conditioning in hopes of better ball striking and to couple that with the rollout of new short game and putting techniques from Stan Utley.  I’ve got three rounds under my belt and have noticed a definite increase in distance with my driver and short irons, probably due to the faster clearing of my hips on the downswing and a better ability to maintain my spine angle.   While I’m enjoying the added length, I’m struggling with distance control on the short irons, as some fly the new distance but others do not; probably to be expected.  Nevertheless, hitting driver – pitching wedge into par fours where I used to hit 7-irons is a big plus.  Big mistake last time out, though.  I wondered what it would be like to do a core strengthening session the morning before a scheduled round.  All day I had the shakes and my back tired midway through the round causing several very loose swings.    Maybe next time just a little stretching is in order.

I’ve had mixed results on the short game.  The putting changes have been solid and the move to a right hand dominated stroke is working great on the lags.  I’ve rolled in seven birdies in the three rounds and feel my distance control is good.  My chipping has been good, probably because of all the winter work on my living room carpet, but greenside pitching has been terrible.  I never got comfortable with the new techniques and have hit several very thin while under pressure and it seems the problems have infected my sand game which is normally very reliable.  A post round practice session last Sunday indicated that I was not turning enough on my backswing and the touch and feel returned when I made the adjustment.  However, it’s easier to do when it doesn’t count so I’ll be interested to see some improvement during this weekend’s outing.

As Bob Rotella says in Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect, “you’ve got to train it and trust it.”  With the pitching, I’ve done neither and am definitely thinking too mechanically on the course.  I want this so bad after getting a taste of the possibilities, but need to practice these changes and exercise some patience until they sink in.  Are we there yet?