Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks (part 1)
Ending last year with the same “20” handicap as I started the year with, and no more confident 80 yards into the green, I decided this would be the year to shake things up and get my handicap down to at least a “15”. Feeling I was hitting the ball pretty decent I employed Club Pro, Adam Copeland, to just help with my short game and the “couple” of blow up holes per 9 that seemed to keep my handicap high.
Boy did I open Pandora’s Box! After watching a couple videos of my swing and hands on demo of what my swing should feel like, I quickly realized the number of “band-aids” and body adjustments I have made over the years to make better ball contact that ultimately lead further from my ideal and repeatable swing.
In a nutshell, my strong grip, closed stance but open shoulders, decreased hip rotation in the back-swing lead to early extension, casting and chicken winging in the downswing. Its no wonder I never took a divot and was just happy to hit the green… anywhere.
I have had two lessons working the new swing mechanics and I am amazed how good it feels to hit the ball well and with confidence…..on the driving range. I did not fare so well in actual play…..yet…..
So here is where the Therapist observing my transition comes in to comment:
So far this is a frustrating and fatiguing process! I don’t know how to feel at the tee box, 2nd shot or approach to any hole. What we commonly refer to as “muscle memory” is really neuro-motor programming which originates in the brain. If I change the way my body does something I am actually rewiring my brain circuits. The downside is that my system will be in a little chaos until I strengthen my new patterns but the huge upside is that in rewiring I now can be fresh my game and will be free to be a different golfer on the holes and shots that were problematic with my old swing.
My new swing mechanics comes with the added benefit of developing a pre-shot routine and improved course management. Though I am far from my goal of “15” or under right now, changing things up has given me a much deeper insight to playing this game and how to make it truly my own.
I will share more insights and thoughts next month in my encouragement to the reader to “change things up in your game”.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks (part 2)
A month into my new swing mechanics and I am happy to report my overall score and level of play is at least equal to my average play with the old swing. That being said, I do believe there is a bit of room for further progress bringing the strokes down from the 2 or 3 “blow-up” holes per 9.
I have relied on my pre-shot routine and focus on a few key swing thoughts to combat the old swing biomechanics from slipping back into my game, especially under more stressful situations. My particular “bad habit” of sliding and getting a little ahead of the ball on the downswing typically leads less than favorable ball position and course management.
To improve my biomechanics, I have changed back to my older and heavier perimeter weighted clubs to help me “feel” the head of the club especially at the bottom of my swing and enhance club release. In the gym I am working on improving core stability and resistive exercises that mirror my new swing mechanics.
My goal in the coming month will be to have only one blow up hole per 9 and improve my overall score by 5-7 strokes per round. To be continued….
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
It has been 2 months since I decided to change my swing mechanics and am happy to report the endeavor has been an overwhelming success.
I played in a match play tournament this past weekend and played better than bogy golf both days under a fair amount of pressure.
My partner and I placed in the top two of our team and went on to the tie breaking match which ended in a draw.
I feel like I reached a new level as a player this weekend and am still riding high and can’t wait for the Tuesday Game this week.
Since this is the last article in this series I would like to summarize some of the things that brought me success:
- I committed early on to change my swing and kept that focus even when my course performance was less than desirable.
- I practiced my new swing and reviewed the major swing thoughts daily for a few moments throughout the day but not obsessively…. Once I “felt” the correct swing and practiced it a couple of times I went back to whatever I was doing.
- I went back to my older more perimeter weighted clubs so that I could feel the bottom of my swing and my hands release.
- I worked on bringing practice park thoughts and relaxation to the course and during play.
- I focused on my swing tempo and let the club do the rest- amazing how much more accurate I am when I practice this.
- I made sure I had a smile on my face before addressing the ball- this really does work!
I hope my new swing chronicles have entertained and possibly encouraged you the reader to make the changes that bring you more enjoyment with this great game of golf. We have a great team here at Seven Canyons at your service. My thanks to Adam and Dave for their support and guidance.
Michael Rende, OTR