Maid Permit, Passport and Contract Renewal 2021 Part 1

Honestly, this topic is turning out to be far more popular than all my golf writeups has been. It goes to show that either my golf writing (and golf) is extremely crap or Malaysians generally have major issues in knowing WTF is going on when it comes to maid permit renewals. I would gravitate to the second. Really, even I find myself coming back to these articles on this blog to refresh my memory everytime the maid renewal season comes up. So yeah, I go back and literally read my own blog to remember how to do certain things.

So now, its 2021 and this time, its the big one. I call it the 3 in 1. Maid Passport Renewal, maid Permit Renewal and Maid Contract Renewal! Let’s start with the first permutation:

a) Passport Renewal and Passport Extension: The Embassy

Now, keep in mind that when you want to renew a PERMIT, the passport needs to be ONE YEAR valid. It means it needs to have a 12 month window there. If you were an idiot like me (who never learned 4 years back in 2017), and just sort of assumed that it’s 6 months based on our normal expiry buffer for travelling, you’d end up in this blog thinking how absolutely numskull you were in doing that.  I am even more stupid in that I reminded myself not to be so stupid back in 2017 when the exactly same issue occurred – the issue of the passport not having 12 months validity left, and you want to renew permit, and you do not have the time to renew the passport (renewal of passport generally will be around 2 months). In my case, this is October and the permit is expiring in around 4 weeks. Well done.

So I now have the extra task to extend the current passport while waiting for the new passport. Why extend you ask? Well, it is so that I can renew the permit, O Simple Reader. Because the new passport won’t be out in time, before the current passport expires, therefore I need to extend the passport to another 2 years. Why 2 years? Don’t know. It seems this is the only option and it cost me RM96. So RM288 (for new passport ) + RM96 (for being stupid).

Now this is MCO, so in my case the Philippines Embassy has a sniper who will headshot anyone who comes in without an appointment. So therefore you need to get an appointment first. So head to http://philembassyklappointment.biz/app/public/ and in the drop down, select Passport Application.

You will then see ALL DAYS are FULL. You will. No matter what day you are reading this article, I double dare you to go to that site (as long as appointment is still needed), every day will be Full, from today to the second coming of Christ. What you need to do is to wake up the next day at 7.55 am. Or earlier. And quickly go to the website at EXACTLT 8 am. Not later. And you will be able (if you are lucky) to get some empty slot days and then select the hour you want to have the appointment. I suggest you take the earliest available slot (if you get it).

Fill in all the information, like name, address, email, phone number and make sure you get the appointment slip.

Once you have the appointment slip, bring your maid, photocopy of the passport data page, the passport itself,  the printout of the appointment slip and make your merry way to the embassy. Oh yes, please download the passport renewal form at

http://www.philembassykl.org.my/main/images/Passport_Form_2018-Renewal.pdf

And you can fill it up and bring it along.

Now due to the MCO, employers (and agents) are not allowed into the embassy, so you must give your maid the necessary money (just pass RM400 or so to be safe) and the specific instruction for her to EXTEND the current passport validity. Else, she might just happily renew the passport and then you are screwed, because you won’t have a valid passport to tie the permit to (new passport hasn’t arrive).

It will take pretty long for all process to finish. We took the first slot at 9 am and we were only done around 1 pm. So just chill, go to a cafe somewhere and get some work done while waiting. Don’t worry, there is more to come.

a) Passport Renewal and Passport Extension: The Immigration

The next step is to go to the Immigration. Why, you ask. Well, it is to inform them that the passport has been extended and that they need to make it valid in their system once more in order for you to renew the permit. Its similar to you asking them to change the passport when you get a new one. Except now, its just an extended old one. So later on, once you get the new passport you need to go to the immigration again and transfer the permit over to the new passport. Yeah, it’s dog work.

The first question asked is, does our Malaysian Immigration in October 2021 have any booking or scheduling system similar to the Philippines Embassy? You can look at http://sto.imi.gov.my/e-temujanji but it doesn’t look like it applies if you want to just extend the maid permit in their system. I don’t know. Anyway, I headed over to the Duta immigration at around 9.30 am. Its probably better to be there earlier since it opens at 7.30 am but I couldn’t be arsed about waking up so early. Make sure you bring the maid’s passport (no need maid), and that the passport already has an extension to it. You can photostat if you want, but you won’t be needing it (at least for me). Do note that the immigration only handles Foreign worker/maid processing up to 1 pm, so you need to get all these done in the morning.

Go up the escalator and make sure you queue up at the right queue. There is a room for Malaysian Passport, and another room for Foreign Workers/Maid. Once you queue up, just wait and then when its your turn, go in and there will be a temporary table there with an officer, take a temperature, and they will give you a form to fill up for COVID declaration etc. So good idea to bring your own pen to write it down. Actually even if you don’t fill it up, no one will know, because at the end you are supposed to put it back on the table, but I noticed many forms there were empty except for the temperature. One of those strange things, I guess of government process that is utterly useless.

Explain to the officer at the first table that you have extended the maid’s passport and you need to update the system. He will understand and instruct you to go to the first counter, and she/he will give you a waiting number.

Then you just wait. For me, it was just around 20 minutes or so and then my turn came up, I explained to the officer again , he took the passport and clickety clack on the keyboard, and in 5 minutes, he looked up and said, OK. I was so shocked at his efficiency I thought he was joking. I asked, “OK? Sudah siap?” He just nodded grumpily and waved me away like an annoying fly.

Wow. Talk about fast.

I didn’t believe their system would be updated in real time. I didn’t. I am a non-believer in the Malaysian Immigration department. So right after that, I went to my office, logged into MyEG and tried to do the permit renewal. Previously it stopped once I clicked proceed and said that the passport was not valid without 12 months.  I was utterly shocked when the system allowed me past that stage now, meaning that I could now renew my maid’s permit using the old, extended passport.

Syabas indeed, Malaysia, I am in tears on how proud I am of you. It is like seeing the child that everyone gave up on as being an utter idiot in school who failed his Matematik and Moral, become the first man to land on Mars and set up a colony there and terraform the entire planet and save mankind.

So now, half of the work done already – we still need to

a) Renew Maid Visa on old extended passport

b) Renew Maid Contract for 2 years

c) Transfer Maid Visa from old extended passport to new passport once received from Embassy

This feels like an RPG game where you have to complete side quests before you can win the game. Bring it on!

Putting Changes

It seems every MCO brings about a change in the golf game.

Possibly due to boredom and the closure of golf courses, I’ve taken the time over the past 6 months plus to revamp the swing and move from the conventional weight shift left-right and left again to a stacked left side. The result? Well, I am not playing worse as before. In fact, my score is more or less the same, hovering between high 80s, low 90s and occasional moving down to mid 80s and low 80s but never breaking 80. That’s pretty much how I play previously.

The problem now seems to be more in the irons and less of the driver/woods. Especially, the shorter irons which I generally pull left and the occasional struggle with the mid irons when I would shank it. I haven’t figured out why, but those blow holes are usually the 7/6-iron shanks. But the drive now is very much more consistent and distance wise, more confident.

Putting seems to be the problem now, so for this MCO, 3 things are being experimented.

a) Left Hand Low

I saw Jordan Spieth putting the lights out and tried his grip. Even though it’s indoors, and on a cheap putting mat – it works. It feels much more ‘intact’. In terms of the takeaway and stroke, it feels more one piece as opposed to my previous conventional overlap. Of course, it’s on a mat, so a lot of discount is needed on the results, but it does feel better, which is important.

b) Forward press

I never thought this would help, but it does. I always had a weight back a bit on my putter stance and sometimes hit up on the ball the same way as how I hit the drive. With the forward press, the putter face is more level and lower when it impacts the ball and it seems a lot more solid as opposed to my previous attempts to hit up – causing very inconsistent hits and often end up just brushing the damn ball – the way I did my eagle putt at the Impiana a few weeks back.

c) Head Up Putting

Now I probably won’t put this in practice just yet but have been experimenting this since a year + even before I knew there was a term for it. My original idea was that – if we threw a ball, we don’t look at the ball we are throwing, we look at the target. So why is putting different? Only recently I found out this is actually a thing that many other people are thinking – and saw Jordan Spieth do it as well. So, head up putting isn’t about staring at the golf hole, it’s about just loosening up without getting too caught up staring at the ball. What I do is to just look probably a few feet ahead of the ball, or to the break-line that I want my putt to go, blur my vision and just stroke the ball.

Blurring my vision is how you do when you disfocus your vision on purpose, same way as you would do when you are looking at a 3D magic eye picture and looking through the picture instead of at it. So far, again, it works but I haven’t done it much on the course except for some simple 9-hole games when we don’t have those previous RM5 hanging on the hole. But now that I know it’s an actual method used by the best putters in the world, why not??!

So those are the changes on the putting – let’s see how it works out as soon as this MCO is over and we are back out on the course!

A Review of Q1 2021

So after around 4 months into 2021, it’s probably a good time to review how the new swing change is shaping up. First of, for a couple of months, the lack of golf was evident, although we are getting back into the groove now (despite our COVID cases increasing!), so we are trying to get as much golf in before any lockdown occurs.

I do a 9-hole walk on Tuesday with a secondary set – a 917F 3 Wood with a putter and 2 wedges + 3 irons (5,7,9 – my old Mizuno MP-57). Honestly I think I play better without my driver as this 3 wood is only around 30-40 meters shorter.  So scoring wise there is good, but better is the morning walk, with just a range bag without trolley.

We’ve crammed in also a couple of rounds of golf in Mines, Glenmarie, Saujana Impiana, Palm Garden and the results were – varied. I think I am back to my scoring as previous before my swing change. Like in Mines, I scored a 90 and 84, Glenmarie – 100 and then an 88. Palm Garden a 92 and an 84 and Saujana Impiana a 92. Good scores? It’s more or less the bloody same as I would score before the changes!!

But.

I do feel the game is coming along fine. For Saujana Impiana, that 92 could have easily been an 87 or 88. I had 4 triple bogeys against a fair number of Pars and a birdie. Of the 4 triple, 3 were really ridiculous. One was caused by a six iron shank from prime position on Fairway. Second was a lost ball after a good drive that just skittered a bit to the left, but for some damn reason, we couldn’t find the ball (most frustrating thing in golf), the third was the final hole, after being on the fringe in 2, and proceeded to duff a chip and 4 putted into infamy.

Only the first quad bogey where I hooked 2 into the woods would I say it was unavoidable.

But the encouraging thing for Impiana was how I played the par 5s. The first par 5 (Hole 3 I think), I proceeded to birdie it after my second 3 wood shot left me only 40 meters from the hole. The next par 5 in the back 9 I thunked my 3 wood so perfect from the fairway from 240 meters that I had to run up and apologise to the group on the green because my shot ended up around 20 meters from the green.

And the final par 5, hole 17. Bombed a drive (or so I thought) to around 160m from the green, and hit my new 5-iron (I reshafted it to a graphite) for my first two-on Par 5 after such a long time. What proceeded after that would forever be part of golfing lore. But before that, the group behind us had a guy who bombed his drive even further, to 100m marker. In fact, it was extremely dangerous as we were around that area as well. So actually, the par 5s are quite short and dangerous in Impian especially if you are a long hitter.

Going for my eagle, my ball was resting at that part where the fringe and green met, so it had that tuft of raised grass. I didn’t think much about it but when I putted, brushing the stupid grass on the backstroke caused a sudden retardation of my brains and I completely lost focus and I literally molested the ball to not even halfway to the god-damn hole. Molested my eagle putt. What. The. Flaming. Fukuoka.

I just stared in disbelief at my partners, before they all started to rail on me for my failure. This is a devastating failure. Because then I proceeded to miss my birdie and was forever labelled the biggest choker of all time. DAMN.

That has nothing to do with new swing. This is to do with a new brain, which I cannot change.

Same thing as Hole 18. Hooked my shot into the woods and from a superbly difficult shot down the hill, through the trees with just a bit of opening, I hit a glorious hybrid to the fringe of the green from 180. I mean, even Mickleson will be proud. Celebrating at least a bogey, I cockily went up and duffed my chip. Ok, no problem, a putt from fringe should be fine. I overputted, and sent the damn putt 15 feet downhill, my uphill putt didn’t have legs and I missed my double bogey putt.

You see, failures are often not due to the swing. My swing (except for the occasional and unknown shank) is coming along nicely and distance is better, consistency is better on the drives. My irons are the ones failing me (short approaches) and my stupid putting is as bad as a Gremlin high on cocaine.

So, overall review of 2021? Good with the long clubs, everything in 100 meters, atrocious as can be seen by up down scores. Am I encouraged with the swing change? For sure yeah. Very encouraged.  Just completely shit around the greens, but that’s not due to the swing change.

MCO2.0 What a timing!

What is worse than having a really shitty game on the course?

When you have planned for golf and it gets cancelled by MCO2.0.

Now I get it. I get why we need to enter into a second phase of MCO. We have 3000+ cases every single day so yeah, I don’t think people are too bothered about playing golf. But, DANG! Just when you are getting used to a new swing and grooving in, this lockdown means another month (at best) or two months (expected) or 3 months (at worst) without golf.  I guess, it should sync up with the next time I go for a round, I would have my new wife (The TSi) in the bag.

My stack and tilt adventure has gotten me so far to a somewhat middle ground. I don’t think I can fully implement the stack and tilt yet – so I have sort of gravitated to keeping stacked on the left, and minimizing my head movement. I still feel my body shifting a little, and I can’t keep my elbows too tight to my body throughout the backswing, but it could be a combination of age/flexibility that makes this swing different from the classic S&T I see on youtube. I don’t know, I still feel the same on the backswing in terms of my arms movement, its just that I am stacking on my left this time throughout.

One of the things I observed when I did my fitting was that I was much more confident of my swing path. I demonstrated a consistent inside out swing with my misses to the left. So the fitter set me up to play on a nine hole (with just drives) and with the new swing, I felt I was able to at least manage my swing path much easier. With the limited movement and sway now, when I need to carve an inside-out swing, I make sure I start my path flatter and more circular. At some holes where a fade was needed, I started my swing path more straight to the back and steeper. In my previous swing, because I was moving my body back first along with my hands, my swing path was only one way, inside out. I could never fade to save my life. It feels much better to be able to call the shots when needed now, although this obviously needs a lot more bedding in.

Unfortunately the MCO2.0 is upon us, so practice is going to be difficult to get  in. What I am feeling now (positively) is that I am beginning to forget how my old swing was and this current swing seems to be almost like what I am getting used to.

Here Cometh the TSI

In almost 20 years of golf, I have been an absolute miser when it comes to equipments. My first set was a hand-me down Maruman set from my brother. After hacking around with that, I decided to splurge on an iron set – the Taylormade RAC LT. I honestly don’t remember how I purchased it – I think it was either second hand or it was on a fairly cheap sale. From there on, all my clubs were second hand, purchased from E-Bay or elsewhere.

I really don’t remember any club I purchase brand new. Even my Mizunos I am gaming now – the MP54 was a set sold to me second hand from a friend. My MP-57s were purchased second hand from a shop. All my drivers were second hand or on cheap sale – my first real driver (the first few years I was using those that came with the set) was the R510 I bought in Bangsar cheap sale. Then I got the R5 Dual from E-bay which I gamed for many years, before making the jump to the Hi-Bore Cleveland and Hi-Bore XL. Gamed that for a bit, then moved back to Taylormade – the whitewolf we call it – the R11. Because it’s white. And because we like wolves.

I gamed the R11 for the longest – I think close to 4 years before switching to a second hand Cobra Flyz+ (which I am using right now), for about a year + and went to buy on sale the Titleist 917 D2 which took a while to bed in but after getting used to it, was really smashing it. The Titleist by far, was the one driver that looked best, even if it was gray. But the shape was just perfect.

So I sold it off.

I sold it and a Titleist hybrid, a mizuno wedge, a Titleist 915 5-wood, a golf mat, a golf trolley, a Ping 60 degree wedge and I think a few more things that I can’t remember to prepare to purchase a nice Christmas Present for myself – a new driver. As in a really new driver.

However, in November, I decided to institute this swing change to move to stack and tilt, just as I sold off the Titleist. So, without a proper driver, I just gamed the Cobra for a few more rounds, at least until I groove this new swing in and have a more consistent way to whack the ball.

So, now, all ready to go, I headed to MST Superstore at the Federal highway for a fitting session and to try this:

A year plus ago I went for a session with these guys as well, as described here

Lesson Learnt: Don’t Binge Buy

Back then, my results were around

BallSpeed: 137.9

Total Spin: 2475

Carry: 212m

Total: 230m

Club Head Speed: 96.2mph

That was with my Titleist 917D.

Fitting into this TSi3 10 degrees with a Tensei AV White Stiff Shaft. My results were…meeh…

You would think it’s a lot of difference.

BallSpeed: 138.1

Total Spin: 2663

Carry: 215m

Total: 233m

Club Head Speed: 98.3mph

It’s slightly faster. But the spin is much higher and of course, things vary.  My longest drive was around 248m while my shortest were the hooks into the forest. Am still grooving this swing in so it’s not easy.

And honestly, trying out the TSi2 and the SIM MAX from Taylormade, I was able to hit these two slightly better.

But have you seen how the TSi3 look from the top? Take my money.

So against better judgement, and opting for the better looks instead of better performance, I told the fitter OK, I know I don’t deserve her, but I need to have her, so since the TSi2 is going for the same price as the 3 – why not the 3? It’s like you know that the vegetable burger that cost 20 bucks is good for you but when you see a same priced burger with double stuffing and wagyu beef next to it – why wouldn’t you go for it, even if it gives you a heart attack?

So there you have it. It takes 6 – 8 weeks for them to deliver – as the TSi3 is out of stock and the tensei shaft is also unavailable. But hey, since we are heading into another lockdown, I guess waiting won’t hurt anyone.

Swing Overhaul Part 8: Part by Part

Keeping last game’s takeaway in mind, I decided not to worry too much about positions and focus on basically one thing only – keeping my weight on the left (and also my head not moving much). The swing thought now is broken down into easier bits. Address the ball in a slightly closed position, keep weight on the left and shift my hips to the left a little. From that address position, I just take a way as how I would usually do. I don’t think about dipping my shoulder, or tilting my spine or even keeping my elbows close to my body. I just use whatever swing I had from there on while keeping my weight shifted to the left.

So another 9 hole, and finally, something began to click. I gave myself 10 games to embed the swing mechanics in. I am into my third game – 2 X9 holes and one 18 holes.

The first 9 and 18 holes were disastrous. But now, this time it was different. With the simplified swing thought in my head, I proceeded to rip the first drive down the fairway – a welcome sight, after 27 holes of train wreck.

My iron approach was pushed way right but at least there was contact, and I knew this was probably how I will proceed on from here on.

Throughout the entire 9, swing thought was simple – weight left, head still. All the other thoughts, on whether my shoulder was at a tilt angle, my right knee straight, my elbows connected to my body and all those – out of my head.

Without those thoughts, swing began to free up. And the concern just became distance and alignment. What a difference.

Sure, I still lost my 9 hole bet again, but I know for sure, I am on the right road to improve.

Swing Overhaul Part 7: 18 hole Tryout

The great Tiger Woods once said: “Achieving trust is always the final step with a change. That’s the hardest thing, taking Ranger Rick to the course.”

While my golf game is currently probably around 0.04% of hit level, this ranger rick quote still applies. We all can hit it on the range, but what the hell happens on the course?

Since my previous nine hole outing, I’ve gone to the range to sort out a few things and am getting more and more used to this Stack and Tilt. To an extent I felt fairly confident in accepting an invite to tee it up at Amverton for my first 18 hole with a new swing.

WHAT. A. MESS.

I really, really do not understand why the flaming heck I can be hitting great shots on the range but end up like an epileptic baboon when I am on the course.

Its strange, because while I am fairly comfortable with the changes, when I hit the course, I struggle to even hit the most basic shots. When I pulled my driver far left to begin, I knew I was in for a long day.

It was a game that was as unmemorable as anything. When you are playing badly, all holes sort of converge into a single messy experience and you don’t really remember anything except hacking the ball over and over. Therefore, I don’t recall anything much except for a chip in birdie and some good chip shots here and there. Otherwise, except for one good drive on the 10th hole (or was it the 10th?) – all my drives were either missing , topped or yanked. I probably shot close to 110 on total scores.

Would it be back to the drawing board?

Again, I don’t know what more can be done except to try to ingrain the whole feel more and more into the game and go out and play. The proof is there that I am hitting the ball better than before when I am on the range. I just need to ingrain it.

As I told my partners – it’s very easy to tell what’s happening but very difficult to actually fix it. I would address the ball – ok. I would do a takeaway, into the ‘slot’ – ok. It’s right at the top of the swing that everything breaks. My right elbow disconnects from my body, and then its an all arms swing –  my swing drops without connecting to the body so I have no idea where the clubhead is because the arms and body are no longer working together. I can feel the disconnect, but by then, it’s too late. The swing is already on its downswing and the transition is completely off.

One of my playing partners did make an interesting note: “When making changes, don’t try to change everything at once, but make it incremental. Small changes first and slowly move into it.”

I think it makes sense. I may be trying to tear down and build everything up too quickly. Maybe what I need isn’t a house tear down but a home renovation room by room.

That’s food for thought.

Swing Overhaul Part 6: The course

You always hear: I can hit it well on the range, but I cant do it on the course.

It’s very true and real hackers (and even Pros) will admit to this. You can hit it well when there is a level ground, and consistency on the driving range, but once you go out into the battlefield, everything changes. It applies to everything I think – from flying a plane, driving a car, riding a bike. I recalled when I had to drive in America for the first time. I downloaded a driving simulator a few weeks before I went to the states to get used to driving on the left hand side. My God, when I was in that American made Pontiac on the San Diego freeway, everything changes. It was the most stressful drive of my life.

And same here for golf.

I’ve been hitting it reasonably well (not great) on the range. I knew to translate this to the course would take a long time and I would struggle very badly for the first few games.

Was I every right. It was an early 9 hole tee off in my home course.

My first tee off (I used driver), I completely missed the ball and it just tottered over 10 feet. This is in front of a whole gallery of people watching. My second shot (simple 9 iron), I topped it again and it went around 15 feet or so. The next shot, I thought I was ok to use my hybrid since I was hammering it on the range. Another top, another 5 feet. Thank you, pick up the ball, move on.

Next tee, my driver at least contacted the ball but duck hook so badly it went out of bounds. Second shot, hybrid – topped 15 feet. Third shot, topped again the hybird to 10 feet. At this point, I sort of said, Shit, lets go with irons. So for that par 5, I used my 9 iron and for the first time, hit a flushed shot. Second 9 iron, with this new stack and tilt, hit it well but into the bunker. Bunker back and forth, pick it up, thank you.

Third hole, again, at least my driver hit the ball, but it was hooked. My eight iron was topped and then just chip on and 2 putted for bogey. Not too bad.

The next hole, par 3, I topped my hybrid again!! From there, 9 iron was hit well.

Finally on the fifth hole, was the first time I hit my driver the way I wanted. Boom. It was hot off the surface, unfortunately into the trees. From there, back and forth again, topping to the green.

Sixth hole, a so-so driver with a hook, but my next shot was the first time I pounded it with a hybrid and man, it flew. A perfect 9 iron then saw me hit green in regulation for the first time, and missed my birdie by an inch. This was a perfect hole for me and made me believe again I am on the right track.

Next hole, pounded right (so my driver seems to be sorting out) but after that, another back and forth sort of recovery.

The next hole my 3 wood tee off was topped , but my 2 iron shots were actually not too bad. And finally, the final par 3, I flushed my hybrid so well, it flew past the green 180 meters away. Great way to end it.

Conclusion: It was expected. I knew I would find it very difficult to hit the ball, because on the course, the expanse of it makes it very different. You feel different. You aren’t compartmentalised like you are on the range – everything feels very wide. Your body tends to revert back to what its comfortable with and for many many instances, I sensed even when I forced my weight forward, my swing invariably went back to my old way. I know this because I felt my elbows disconnected and my body stopped turning. Yet, I am firing my hips but without a body turn, my hands have no where to go but to come down, and began topping every single ball.

I know the issue – the body isn’t moving as a unit. It’s all dis-synchornised. I don’t feel any connection to my left at all and I have no clue where my hands and clubface is. Its all very disconcerting – as if I am learning golf for the first time.

My playing partners were curious, since my last time out with them, I was shooting in low 80s. I explained that this was a process I need to commit to, because my old swing had an expiry date. I had that since I was in my 20s. I just needed a swing for my 40s, 50, 60s and hopefully 70s.  If it’s going to take time, then I will take time.

But overall, even though I scored almost all tripe/quadruple except for a lone par and 2 bogeys and lost half a dozen balls – I felt positive about it. There were enough good shots in there that makes me believe the method works – I just need to get the execution correct!

Swing Overhaul Part 5: Knee Problems

So one of the conclusion of my previous range session where I was twacking the bejeezus out of the ball with the new Stack and Tilt swing, was that I began to feel my left knee a little sore the next day. OK – a lot more sore. I didn’t think SnT would cause knee problems, but the problem was the stand up motion and the straightening (or jerking up) of the left knee would be naturally stressful for someone who has never had that part of the body worked out before. While I liked the results of the swing on the golf ball, I didn’t really enjoy the results of the swing on my knee, which isn’t strong to begin with.

So again, back to reading and researching, and one of the ways I learn on how to alleviate knee problems was to flare out the left knee and feet. This is also advocated by Hogan, but I always thought this opens up the body somewhat for an outside-in swing path. But because I’m using a few concepts from Venetos where I pre-set my body in a closed position, the flaring of my feet generally doesn’t change my swing patch much. But what it theoretically should be doing is to relieve the stress of the knee, since my knee isn’t rotating as much. It’s like I am also pre-setting my knee post-swing.

Additionally, I found that the right knee straightening up too much lends too much weight on my already weak left side, which made it all the more uncomfortable, so for this round, I had to experiment with these concepts of flaring out the feet and ensuring I maintain a bit of flex on my right knee and not do the Hogan stance at the top of my swing.

The results was mixed, I am still getting used to my shoulder turn, but I did find that flaring out my feet did alleviate my pain a fair bit. I didn’t feel so stressed on the knee after a session of 200 balls (as opposed to 100 balls previous). I also tried working on the flex on the right knee and not have such an extreme amount of weight on my left, but maintain a bit more like 60-40 favoring my left. Again, these are tweaks.

But the driver swing is coming along. Although my stance now, with my flare feet makes me look like a clown, I don’t care because I was now blasting the ball the way I’ve never done before.

The other issue I find now is that because my right elbow is ‘connected’ to my body, I don’t get the super arch I try to get on my driver. When I do try to do it, my left arm ends up bending like below and this usually results in the club dropping without speed on impact.

 

This is why the advice of ‘Relax’ on golf swing is quite stupid. The golf swing is never relaxed. Sleeping on a hammock is relaxed. The golf swing is like a loaded gun. It has a tension associated to the body especially on the back swing, where it’s coiled with stored energy about to be released on the ball with the Wrath of God.

So to keep the left hand straight is a key thought and if it starts ‘breaking’ then you know you are overswinging. It doesn’t really matter, because even with a bit of a half or three quarter swing, I still can whack the ball further than I ever did with a ‘big arch’ swing.

I think the swing, after around 600 balls and four session on the range is shaping up ok. There is a drill I even do where I consciously just do a half swing with my right elbow tucked close to the body on my long irons. My five iron is still slightly problematic, as my 3 wood, but these are problems I already had in my previous swing, so it’s no big loss that I still can’t hit them properly. I would say, my driver right now is further than my previous, it’s more hot off the face, but the dispersion is a little worse – sometimes, the ball can go straight, sometimes left and sometimes right – a bit more than my previous swing.

But again, these are attributable to an overhaul of swing after 16 years. It’s not going to happen overnight. It will get worse before it gets better. I think with this mantra, I can try to get a balance of this SnT swing that fits the limitation of my body and see if I can play golf better, and more importantly – longer.

Swing Overhaul Part 3: Second Session and some progress

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.

Well.

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.