So, after the first disastrous range outing, I went back to do a bit more research and study. One of the interesting thing I went through was this guy called Jim Venetos (https://www.youtube.com/user/jimvenetosgolf). He advocates the simple concept of playing from a ‘position’. I.e to present your position before you take a swing. So, set your position on impact, and that’s your position from your swing. This means, he sets up to address the ball, but then closes his entire body at address to promote the inside out swing. He makes it sound so easy. And also, his videos are always taken in a jungle, forest, desert and shows him whacking golf balls into nowhere. VERY interesting, but not for everyone, as he doesn’t take any traditional approach to the golf swing. However, I do see his swing resembling the one-piece takeaway we are trying to work on here. Another thing I felt I did not do in the first session was to turn my body more, and downwards (i.e the shoulder points down as opposed to across, where I end up straightening my body).
I also went through Saguto golf and Nick Taylor who are more pronounced Stack and Tilt advocates than Venetos, and realised in my first range session, I was shifting my head to the right still, and allowing my hands to be high on the back swing. From these videos, I am now made to realise that the flatter the swing becomes, and more rounded, the swing becomes shallower and less ‘diggy’, which has always been my swing. I dig the ground as I always have been thought that a descending blow will get the ball higher and further.
So with all these mechanics in mind, I trudged to the range, fearing that it will end up sucking as bad as the first session.
What a difference a session makes.
Again, I started with short irons. Crisp.
Long iron 5? Bad. Again, I wasn’t hitting it well, but I felt a little more control now, as instead of just stacking left, I am focusing on keeping my head still, and try to move my shoulder downwards as opposed to across. I am chunking the long irons, but my 8-iron is suddenly coming off hot.
Now the biggest difference? Hybrid.
I wasn’t able to hit my hybrid at all in the first range session, which is frustrating, because my M4 23 degree has always been my go to hybrid and I’ve always hit it fairly well, though not extremely far.
Today, the M4 was hitting shots that I’ve never seen before.
When I connect, the sound was solid, with a satisfyingly loud click when you know you have centered it and the ball flight was like a howitzer shooting upwards and plunging into the net 170 meters away. From its trajectory, I am pretty certain that is going further than what my normal hybrid is hitting.
I have never hit the hybrid so crisp before. Sure, there were a few VERY bad ones. But even if I hit 2 out of 10 good shots, I know at least there is progress. In fact, I was so encouraged, I ordered another 100 and just started whacking it. I tried my driver without great results, but the very few ones that came off, yes, this was very different from the first session.
Conclusion of the second session: Progress. Honestly, anything is progress compared to my first session. But this was definitely encouraging progress. I could see where the power is from. Previously, I always thought – wider the arch, the more power, narrower the arch more control. But in keeping my elbows tucked into my left and forcing my body to turn (not my hands), and shoulder to drop downwards, I am aiming to get the top of the swing in a classic Hogan look:
Man, that is a handsome devil of a swing.
But that means moving that body and shoulder in a way I have never ever done before in 16 years. Mine has always been a minimum shoulder turn and even so, my back swing has been more lateral move of the shoulder where the shoulder is more or less level, as opposed to turning down (as above, where the left shoulder is pointing towards the ball).
Part of this is that I simply do not trust that my shoulder turning like Hogan will put me square with the ball. I always think by dropping my shoulder, I will chunk the club behind the ball as I am thinking I am moving closer to the ball.
But actually we are not. It’s an illusion. We are actually maintaining the distance to the ball by doing that, and allowing the club to circle around the body like a trebuchet. When we level our shoulders, we lose that relationship with our ball and we try to look for it on the downswing with varying degrees of success. We will still hit the ball despite of the level shoulders not because of it. All the years of golf has conditioned our body to get the level of variance down so we can still hit the ball, but when we need a swing to be called upon, it fails (e.g my 70 meter sand wedge shot to break 80 for the first time and completely shanking the shit out of it). A good article is here https://www.golfdigest.com/story/swing-by-numbers-new-study-unlocks-6-swing-secrets.
You can see when we swing level, our body tends to straighten up and on our down swing, we will need to figure out how to maintain that distance from the ball, so we drop down again or hope that the club magically becomes longer our your arm grows longer. But why would we want to do it, as opposed to simply swinging your shoulder around it?
Once this was implemented, I found that the point of impact was more predictable and more consistent. And surprisingly, without the arch (as I am trying to tuck in my right elbow to my side), I could still hit the ball, if not slightly further, then the same distance as I always hit my hybrid. But the most encouraging part was the trajectory of the ball.
The problem I still had was the driver. I can’t seem to get my driver to have a proper flight, as I am thinking I am hitting the driver down (as my weight on the left would prescribe) as opposed to hitting it upwards. Thus, my driver trajectory is generally low and not very far and skimming off the ground. But for a second session, there is enough encouragement that I seem to be on the right track.