Last Updated on Monday, 23 July 2012 23:29
Monday, 23 July 2012 17:15
by Bryan Outram
A few years ago Tiger Woods' swing coach Hank Haney took on the onerous task of trying to fix the famously flawed swing of ex-NBA star and current basketball analyst Charles Barkley.
It was with that ideal in mind that your agent decided to embark on the ambitious undertaking of trying to realize improvement in a golf swing that has had the benefit of precisely one professional lesson - albeit from renowned local instructor Jack Westover of Vancouver some 40 years ago - to see if one really can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (sorry Mr. Westover, probably should have taken more lessons).
Last week was dedicated mainly to lamenting how I had not taken the time between lesson 4 and 5 to work on my own on the things John 'Ace' Aasen of 3D Golf Performance
had been educating me about.
We're continuing to focus on my hands and how their position in relationship to the clubface from address to full finish is the main focus of the entire swing process. John calls it my 'wrist conditions'.
Lesson Six - Stepping Into A Sequence
I was aware of some of my swing 'faults' when I first approached John with the idea of trying to correct them. Even though I knew of at least a few of those faults, I had always just lived with them and tried to find a way to make my swing work for me anyway.
Basically every time I swung a golf club I was hoping to get lucky with the result. The fact that I've been able to hover between an 8-10 handicap over the years is merely a testament to determination and an ability to get up and down from ridiculous places on a regular basis.
Of course that was all predicated on finding the ball after I teed off in the first place. I would often joke with my playing partners that I considered it a good tee shot if I could still see the ball when it was finished - because I always believed as long as I could find it, I could make par from almost anywhere. And I've been in some of the most unusal places you could imagine on a golf course.
Starting At Address We Want To Start The Sequence Of Related Steps That Will Comprise A Solid, Controlled Golf Swing
It's interesting how the concept of a sequentially oriented golf swing makes perfect sense when it is explained and effortlessly demonstrated by a professional who truly knows of what they speak and can perform the feat as well.
One of the more exciting prospects of this journey is to actually know where the clubhead is throughout the swing and to deliver it to the ball on a more consistent and productive basis.
In Learning To Take The Club Away With My New Stronger Grip And Back Of The Left Hand Parallel To The Clubface, I've Shown A Bit Of A Propensity To 'Pop' My Hands Away From My Torso On The Takeaway. This Is Something I'll Try And Be More Aware Of As I Continue To Work Through The Sequence Of The Swing
We've all heard of players wanting to 'own' their swing or at least being able to 'trust' it, especially if you find yourself in pressure situations on the golf course. Owning or trusting your swing can only begin when you understand what it's doing and where it's going from start to finish.
This is where the 'stepping in to a sequence' reference comes in. As John explains to me in the motion capture video of this lesson, I'm looking for a feeling of 'stepping into my right side', which then leads to taking the club up as the wrists are cocked.
As long as the 'wrist conditions' are consistent throughout, I'll stay on track to deliver the club back to the ball on the proper plane.
A Funny Thing Happened While Taking The Club Back....I Fixed It. I May Have To Change My New Mantra To 'I'll Fix It On The Way Up' Instead Of My Old 'I'll Fix It On The Way Down'.
There definitely seem to be certain elements of this new swing process that are coming to me easier than others, but that is a good thing as it at least shows progress and eventually each step or segment will flow into the next one.
Just prior to the shot taken below, I was actually in a very good position at the top of my backswing, but I managed to just come across the line a little before starting the downswing. I tend to believe that it's a function of wanting to start that dropping down motion from the inside.
But as is outlined by my teacher, that move toward the target should initiate from my left hip, not by pulling my hands down. That kind of move will only lead to the dreaded 'over the top' move that was such a beastly component of my 'old' swing.
Old Habits Do Die Hard - Even Though I've Done Some Good Things To Get To This Point, An Old Habit Creeps In As You See My Club Crossing The Line With The Assistance Of An Ever So Slightly Cupping Left Wrist...Aauugghhh!!!!
As the club begins its descent, shown below, it still looks to be heading close to the correct path but there is just a hint of the shaft heading over the top - a result of that old casting motion that has been present for so long in my swing.
Remember that what we are looking for is a sequence of connected movements, this is what creates the 'lag pressure' or 'loading' of the power in the swing so that the maximum clubhead speed can be created when the hands finally release through the impact zone.
So whereas a good golf swing may look initially like one long, smooth motion, it is actually several connected movements - each one triggering the next until the final explosion into the ball.
As Reasonable As Things Had Gone To This Point, It Became Apparent In The Next Couple Of Moves That - Well,They Weren't Really A Couple Of Moves At All, But Rather I Lapsed Back Into One All-Encompassing Move
If you watch the guy below - the one on the right, with the hat - you can see where he 'sequences' his moves, delaying the release of the clubhead into the ball.
You Can See How My Shoulders Have Already Begun To Turn Past The Ball, Where Tiger's Are Just About To Unload Even More Torque Down The Arms Into The Hands And Ultimately The Back Of The Ball
The earlier shoulder turn also contributes to swinging across the ball to the left, rather than continuing to hit out at the ball which will give the powerful right to left ball flight that we are looking for.
Finally, In Post Impact It Is More Evident How I Am Still Swinging Slightly To The Left Across The Ball Instead Of Out At It
Despite old issues affecting my overall swing somewhat, there were still a number of decent things taking place and above all else I'm developing a sense of how the components should feel and that gives me something tangible to work on at the range or when practicing the swing.
It makes hitting golf balls in practice a much more beneficial exercise when you have an idea of HOW you're trying to accomplish what it is that you're trying to accomplish. That is infinitley more useful than just randomly beating golf balls, hoping for the odd lucky one when good contact is made - and you've guessed correctly on the way down.
So there is evidence of some improvement. As the saying goes, 'One Step At A Time'.
The focus on the importance of controlling the hands is contiued next week where John explains the concept of 'Impact Hands'.
To view the video of this week's lesson click on the link below. It may take you to the video or to my 3D Golf Performance login.
It varies depending on how well I've done the linking. If you are taken to my login use this information to go to my student page and click on the video dated 7/12/2012 DTL (Down The Line) Plane Comparison.
Next Week: Lesson Seven - Impact Hands
By Bryan Outram
Bryan Outram has been editor-in-chief for Inside Golf for the past eight years.
More articles by Bryan Outram