What I absolutely love about my instructor is that he’s half swing coach and half psychologist, and is very adept at both. The subject of changing swing thoughts came up during yesterday’s lesson. I had mentioned that during a late fall round last year, I had “found something” on the front nine and started pounding my driver and nutting my irons the rest of the game. But when I tried the same thought the next day, I couldn’t hit a thing. I know, I know, this has happened to everyone who’s ever played the game and is one of the great wonders of the world, but his reply was simple and correct. “You need to have a series of swing thoughts that work, and be willing to change. The quicker you can recognize it’s not working, and settle on one that is, the better you will play.”
I have been seeing the left side of the golf course recently. To diagnose, he had me hit some shots and took some swing video and identified the issue as a quick wrist flip at the contact point which was caused by under rotating my upper body. This results in a pull or worst case, a smother hook. Nothing new for me, and it’s funny how your faults keep reverting to your habits learned over the decades.
Last season was a breakthrough for my ball striking, as I had taken several full swing lessons, and made great progress. But I reminded him how difficult it was to play with all these mechanical thoughts. My requirement for today’s lesson was to eliminate this Lou Groza drop kick, and keep it simple. We set to work to find a trigger to get me to rotate my upper body and pull my hands through the hitting zone. Over the next hour we worked the following:
- Fire the right shoulder at the ball: Not very successful
- Pull the grip down to the ball: Moderately successful
- Slow the tempo a bit and try to hit a slight push: Very successful
I was pleased with the results of #3 but images of tee shots that are tighter than a gnat’s rear end started creeping into my mind, with TPC of Myrtle Beach at the forefront. I told him I didn’t think this would work on the course because I needed to be thinking about hitting my ball at the target and not away from the target. I also mentioned that I had been swinging a club in my back yard in the evenings and still didn’t feel connected because I was chicken-winging my left elbow on the follow through. When I said that, he suggested I, “keep the triangle on the follow through.” The triangle is the shape your fully extended arms make with your chest. If I did that, it would be, “impossible to hook the ball.”
For the rest of the lesson and a half hour afterwards, I hit balls with this very simple image in my mind: “Finish like Tommy Fleetwood.” If you watch him, he’s got that sawed off fully extended finish. It feels like everything he hits is a punch shot. I tried this with great success and noticed my weight had fully moved to the outside of my left foot and I was in balance at the finish.
Here’s a great photo of Alvaro Quiros maintaining his triangle. If I can get here, I can play.
Right now, this feels a little unnatural but is easy to implement because it’s simple. My plan is to use #3 above when this swing thought no longer works, and try to find a third that will provide a go-to rotation of on course adjustments.
Do you have a rotation of swing thoughts that work? Please share if you do!