Yesterday I took four shots of swing video. There are two down-the-line and two face on segments with a 7-iron and driver. I picked out a couple things to work on before and during today’s round and will let you know how I fared, but would love to have your feedback. Please send in any and all suggestions and observations!
I’m just as frustrated as you about the impact the virus is having on golf. But let’s heed the great advice from Stephen Covey in his 7-Habits of Highly Effective People. “Focus on what you can influence (your game preparation), and not your circle of concern (the virus).” Work on your game and do not get consumed with all the bad news circulating. Assuming your course is closed and you have tons of time on your hands, there’s a few Do’s and Don’ts to prepare for a great re-opening. Let’s take a look.
CREATE A PRACTICE STATION
Mine is in my back yard. I have a driving range mat, a bunch of golf balls, and three soccer cones. I set the mat on my patio and the cones at 5, 10, and 15 yards out.
I chip balls with different wedges at each cone trying to hit the cone on the fly. I use a high, medium, and low trajectory chip. This provides hours of fun and is great for rhythm and timing. Don’t have a driving range mat? Try an old piece of carpet. Take care though not to create divots in your back yard. It doesn’t show well for your July 4th barbeque. I also have one of those portable driving nets in the garage that I haven’t taken out for years but am ready if I need full swing contact. Lately, I’ve been hitting magnolia cones with a driver. Makes for a perfect bio-degradable projectile that doesn’t fall apart. Here’s an original how-to video:
I love what Jim at The Grateful Golfer has done in constructing a home hitting station in his garage. His build out was pre-Corona, but works great as well, check it out!
INVENT A GAME
Fortunately, I live close to a school field. Go find one. With school closed, it’s always empty and perfect for an afternoon of practice with a bag shag and a pitching wedge. For that matter, try all your wedges. Last time at mine, I invented a new game. The baseball diamond cages are roughly 150 yards apart. I start at home plate on one end and use one club and one ball, hitting full and partial shots until I can clank a ball off one of the cage poles at the other diamond. Each attempt is a par-4. Improve your lie within six inches in any direction on all shots. Great fun!
GET FIT- CROSS TRAIN
If you have a home gym or free weights, now is the time to start using them. There’s a plethora of workouts you can even do without weights. Here’s a great one from Sirkisfitness that is fast and protects your back. Before COVID, I had been lifting in the gym. Now I lift at home for an hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work. On the weekends, I’ve started playing tennis and taking non-playing walks on the golf course behind my home. The variety of activity is great for fitness and for keeping the mind clear.
In Maryland, our courses are closed for play and practice. In Virginia, they are open. Both states have stay at home directives, but exercise is permitted. I make the short trip to the Old Dominion and have conducted full-game practices under carefully controlled social distancing guidelines. After watching this video from Dr. David Price (New York physician on the front line of treating COVID patients), I have confidence I can protect myself in any social setting, including golf courses and practice facilities. The video is educational and empowering and is definitely worth a watch.
OBSESS WITH COVID COVERAGE
Protect yourself and others with reasonable precautions but don’t devolve into consuming the 24-hour COVID news cycle. Watching the daily death count is bad for your mental outlook and saps your energy. Focus on positive news, work your game fundamentals and fitness. You’ll be in great shape when courses are re-opened.
I’ve begun to see this with several friends who play and some that don’t. They are trying to social distance alone. The isolation is taking it’s toll mentally which is translating into physical difficulties. The mind and body are connected. We need social interaction even in this difficult time. If you can, get out and walk, talk to your neighbors and friends face-to-face while keeping your necessary distance. Have a dialog with front line workers like health care providers and grocery clerks. Tell them how much you appreciate them. I know we need to keep our distance but remember that full isolation can start to feel like solitary confinement. Don’t forget to call on friends and family who are isolating by themselves.
This is Masters week which signifies the traditional start of the golf season. One of my favorite activities is to play golf on Masters Sunday and plunk down for an afternoon of delight with my favorite major. Not happening this Spring. The Masters has been moved to November. No worries, because rather than concerning myself with the schedule, or if the participants are going to be affected by frost or falling leaves, or how closely the tournament will be played in proximity to football, I’ll focus on my game, my health, and my mental outlook. How about you? Hope you find these thoughts are helpful.
Two weeks ago I came home from the course incredibly frustrated with my inability to hit the ball. I had been working hard on a change to keep my backswing on plane and was disappointed with the lack of progress under game conditions. Hitting big pulls with every club in the bag created a mental grind and was putting too much pressure on my short game. My daughter took this video snippet of my swing in the backyard and BANG! On went the light bulb. What do you see that might cause a big pull?
My take: My stance is too narrow and my right toe is angled out which creates an unstable base for me to coil against. I’ve got a little too much weight on my left side at address and my club is still coming too far inside on the backswing. As I complete my shoulder turn, I continue to raise the club with my hands, which causes me to lose control at the top and finally, I slide my weight forward instead of turning and hitting against a firm left side. Presto, I’ve got my big pull, not to mention a slew of other potential problems.
The fix: It’s never a good idea to fix too many things at once but I saw this as an opportunity to do most of the corrective work before I swung the club (in my setup) and only employ a single in-swing thought. So I widened my stance, squared up my right toe, and shaded my weight to the right at address. My only swing thought was to take the club back outside the line and after my shoulder turn had finished stop the backswing. Essentially, I felt like I was taking the club back way outside with a 3/4 swing but felt fully coiled and in a strong controlled position.
Validation: I tested my theory in an adjacent field with about 15 balls and a pitching wedge and my shots were flying strong and straight. The following Saturday I practiced short game and before I was finished hit a few 7-irons and drivers with the same positive feedback. The next day I played 18 after warming up very well and hit 13 greens and shot even par. Today (Wednesday) I was back in the field at lunch with my pitching wedge and continued to enjoy the excellent contact. What’s next? Well we all know that in golf momentum is fleeting but I can’t wait to play again. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait another 10 days. I’ll try to stay sharp with some practice and will post an update after my next round. So send me links to any swing videos of you and let’s get to work!
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