Avoiding Rookie Mistakes During A Swing Change

homerHave you ever gone on a crash diet 10 days before your annual physical so you’ll have good “results” to report to your doctor?  Or do you start brushing and flossing fastidiously three days in advance of a dental check-up?  Or do you ever clean your house before the cleaning lady arrives?  I don’t know the name for this behavior, but I’ve been engaging in it in advance of my professional swing instruction to start the 2017 golf season.  For some reason, I feel the need to have my game in the best possible shape before instruction starts.

Readers of this blog know that I have always been a swing tinkerer and this winter has been unusually mild in the DMV – irresistibly perfect for swing tinkering.  Recently, I’ve taken a lot of film of myself on the range and have been comparing my swing to various PGA and LPGA professionals side-by-side, and looking to combine the advice I last received from my instructor with some better swing positions.  As part of this exercise, one of the moves I made was a rookie mistake, but before I detail, I’ll repeat the most important advice I’ve ever received (or given),  “The best swing instruction is provided under the watchful eye of a trained PGA professional.”  A seasoned pro has seen it all and probably has a fix for what ails your game.  Go see him or her.

That being said, Saturday morning, I decided on a change I wanted to make and headed off to my school field with a bag shag and pitching wedge.  20 swings later, I was thrilled and excited as shots were flying true and straight and my optimism was overflowing.   Armed with a tee time for the next day, I figured I’d hit the range after lunch to practice this change with all my clubs.   Normally the day before a round, I’ll play a simulated game on the range at the upcoming venue.  I tried this with my swing change and shots were flying all over the lot.  There were big pulls and huge banana push slices; nothing was solid or straight.  I was crushed and bewildered.  How could this happen when only a couple hours prior, I was nutting everything in the field?  With five balls left, I had the wherewithal to lay down an alignment stick and saw that I was very closed on my setup.  I finished up and headed to the putting green.

The rookie mistake I made was losing focus on the swing change.  I got distracted by trying to prepare for a round that didn’t matter.  Fortunately, I was able to course correct, with the alignment stick being the clue.  Yesterday, I arrived at the golf course and went immediately to the range, where I laid down two alignment sticks and just hit my warm up balls at a single distinct target.  I had made up my mind to not focus on short game, score, or putting, and just concentrate on the swing change.  Aligned correctly, all the goodness from the session in the field returned and I was thrilled to hit 10 GIR on a long tough golf course.

Key takeaways for rookies and veterans alike:

  • Stay focused on the change.
  • Be patient.  Be resilient.  Understand there will be ups and downs.
  • Look for a positive; any positive.  That’s why I went to the putting green after my disastrous range session.  It helps to leave the session with even the smallest bit of encouragement.  You don’t want negative thoughts about your game dwelling in your head.

Good luck with any changes you are making and play well!