Two weeks ago, I added a new golf exercise/drill to my weekly workout and the short-term results have been excellent! I drew some inspiration from a post Jim put up at TheGratefulGolfer on an 89 year young gentlemen he played with who shot his age. I figured I better get cracking if I was going to play in that league.
I’ve observed from some swing video that my left leg is slightly bowed when I connect which is a power drain and consistency killer. A year back, I tried snapping my left knee on impact and nearly wrecked my leg. But starting in January, I’ve been doing squats and deadlifts as part of my workouts and my lower body feels stronger. What better time to correct this fault.
This drill I’m sharing is offered by the Rotaryswing.com website. I am not affiliated with them and have never taken or paid them any money. They call it the Dead Drill and I have no idea why. I started working the drill just holding a club to my chest. I’d take it through the three steps and do one set of 30 as part of my exercises. The first 20 were incremental (stopping at the check points) and the last 10 were at full swing speed. If you’re doing it right, you’ll feel a stretch in your left oblique muscle after 30 reps.
A week ago, I hit balls on the range and for the last six, tried this move. Wow! Straight and solid contact on every ball with a mid-iron. I left the range hopeful. Later that afternoon I went with a gap wedge up to my school field and hit about 20 balls. It was awful as I laid the sod over half of them, but chalked it up to fatigue and didn’t quit using it in the workouts. Saturday, I decided to ratchet up to three sets of 30 in my workout and afterwards my oblique was confirming why they call it the Dead Drill.
The next day I played The Salt Pond in Bethany Beach, DE. This is an executive course with full length par-3s from 100 to 200 yards, and a couple of par-4s. Nothing extraordinarily difficult but you need to strike it well to score. I didn’t warm up and teed off at 7:30 a.m. With every swing, I’d rehearse the drill three times then pull the trigger. My irons came off like rifle shots. I hit 14 greens and shot even par. Now before you say, “Brian’s got himself a nice WOOD band-aid”, I’ll reserve final judgement until I play a few rounds where I need to hit driver. One key I noticed was how in balance I was at the end of each swing. It really felt great and I’ll provide a future update.
Here’s the drill video. Just skip to the 12:20 minute mark to pass over all the sales stuff. Play well!
Teed it up today at my local muni to get the season underway and if today’s round is an indicator of things to come, it’s going to be a great year. I’ve been working on conditioning as part of my 2012 improvement plan and was just dying to battle test myself and boy did I come through. Normally on opening day, I tee it up with no swing thoughts and no expectations and just try to bang the rust off, but today was different. Along with the exercise program, I was armed with new short game and putting techniques, courtesy of Stan Utley, and was testing out my spankin’ new Bushnell V2 rangefinder and there were no disappointments.
On the exercises; the most useful was the opposite end swings designed to build club head speed. I found these awkward at first but noticed after a couple weeks that my finish was much more in balance with 90% of my weight correctly distributed on my left foot and my body was fully rotated. Today I came out of the chute with an aggressive move and felt in balance the whole round. My short irons were dialed in but more importantly, I was taking big solid divots flying straight at the target, which were inconspicuously missing last year when I was pulling up and out of my spine angle on the downswing. The feeling of balance and ability to go after the ball was exciting, and at the end of the day, I had 10 GIR and had rolled in three birdies – exceeding any and all expectations. Yes there was rust, and I still need work getting comfortable with the new pitching techniques, and just to keep it real, I left the course with a slow burn about a missed 4-footer straight uphill for birdie on #18. :(
There’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow and it might be a short while before I play again, but this early taste of success was important because it validated the hard conditioning work I’ve been doing for the last month. Again, the target this year is to play twice per week and practice less, and I can’t wait to exercise tomorrow! See you in the gym.
Every year I seem to try something new in the off season in hopes of improving my game and this year will be no different. Last year was a concentrated effort to improve my swing through regular film review, construction of a backyard hitting platform, and a lesson with Fixyourgame.com. The two prior years, I focused on short game and mental approach and while I feel I’ve improved in each attempt, a quick review of my KPIs shows otherwise:
I’m not the only golfer out there who’s stuck at the same level no matter what they try, but I firmly believe you need to change something that’s not working. The biggest source of my frustration is my ball striking. As a 5-handicap, who’s on-line index at the end of 2011 was down to 3.9, I’m flabbergasted that I failed to average even 50% of my GIR. There’s untapped potential in there and a reasonable improvement target is 11 GIR. This would yield a scoring average drop of nearly three strokes per round even if my putting stats did not improve. The lesson with Fixyourgame.com was enlightening and demonstrated that I lacked the sufficient radial motion in my swing that makes true consistency possible. I found it very hard to correct my loss of spine angle on the downswing.
The other day I took a few tests recommended by Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and confirmed what I suspected; I have terrible range of motion in my shoulders, hips, and ankles. This is precisely what you need to make an effective golf swing and is clearly the source of my inconsistency. Any attempt to correct a swing flaw without the physical capability to make the change will be impossible. So 2012 will be the year that I work to improve my balance, power, speed, and agility, and let those improvements deliver a better golf swing as an artifact. TPI recommends a program that I ran through in about 45 minutes and has got me hurting in places I never knew I had muscles. The plan is to work these exercises three days a week through the end of February and then hit balls in early March and hopefully get a positive read on what improved flexibility and strength can do for my ball striking. Can’t wait to get started!
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