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 Why you should see a golf professional

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Derek
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Join date : 2009-10-20

PostSubject: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:20 pm


My first post of 2014 … about what I did on the last day of 2013

From my previous posts, some of you might know that I have been struggling with my swing and my game for quite a while.  It got worse when I moved KL and a new job and found that I did not really have the chance to practice or play much.

To address my addiction, I would read golf magazines and watch golf videos online and of course chat about golf on GR.

When I did get a chance to practice, it was not as effective as I hoped.  I have no clear idea what I was practicing.  Sometimes it would be a mechanical drill, sometimes a mental approach … sometimes results were good, sometimes results were bad … some games were good, some were bad … no real link between quality of practice and quality of game

In the recent months, it got to a point where I did not know what to practice anymore and each session was leaving me less and less confident.  The last straw was early in Dec, 2 games in 4 days, and it was almost like 2 different golfers were playing.  First game was good, shot an 82 with indifferent putting (missed 3 putts from within 4 feet).  Second game was a nightmare, 102 and made 3 putts from 6-8 feet, otherwise score would have been much worse.

First game, I think I hit 12/14 fairways.  Second game, 4 OBs and 1 hazard off the tee.  The list goes on …

I went to the range determine to fix my issues, but nothing I did was able to give me 5 consistent good shots in a row, I left feeling even more frustrated.

So, on the last day of 2013, my work schedule suddenly cleared up, and my original plan to play 18 holes did not pan out (perhaps it was fated), so I decided to drop by JCC for a long overdue visit to my coach.

I first took lessons with Brad (aka punkrockpga) in April 2008 and he really helped bring my game to a level I was happy with, mid to low 80s with the occasional 70s thrown in.  The fact that I was able to dedicate time to practice regularly also meant that I was able get the most out of his lessons.

This time round, the challenge was different.  I went to him thinking that we were going to work on some mechanics, or a particular part of my swing that wasn’t quite “right”.  However, his first question to me clearly underlined the reason why he is the teacher and I am the student.

“Can you dedicate the time to work on your swing like you did the first 2 years you picked up golf?  If you can’t, working on specific mechanics might not be the best approach for you right now.  Let’s try to approach it slightly differently ….”

He then took out an Orange Whip swing trainer and asked me to swing it back and forth in a smooth motion and focus on tempo and rhythm.  After I got into a smooth rhythm, he then asked me to focus on whether I could identify whether the clubhead was throughout the swing.

I soon realized I was losing the sense of where the clubhead was as I initiated the downswing.  A couple more minutes, and I was able to feel the orange ball through the swing (or so I thought).

He then asked me to switch to an iron (8i) and feel the same connection with the clubhead.  It was harder, but soon I thought I could feel throughout the swing. 

So far, every swing had been made without a golf ball.  When the golf ball was placed, I soon realized that maintaining the connection through the swing was not that easy.  However, the approach of trying to stay “connected” was helping me to identify, by my sense of feel, where my swing was sort of “breaking down”.  At the initial stage, I “lost” the clubhead coming into impact and did not know where it was in the follow through.  Brad also commented that my follow through looked very jerky when I had a ball at my feet, compared to how smooth it was without one.

During the session, he constantly reminded me of the objective I was trying to achieve, i.e. To stay connected with the clubhead from start to finish, including post impact and the follow through.  I had been so focused on getting good impact that I had started breaking the swing down into parts without realizing it.  Also, it meant that my focus extended only to impact, after that my mind just shut down, which explains in part why, recently, when I have good contact, my direction is haywire, and vice versa.

It was not easy to get that feeling of staying connected, but when I finally managed it, to stay with the clubhead from the takeaway to the follow through and finish, it was fantastic.  And the results were good as well.

I had a good 30-40 minutes where I swung all my clubs from wedges to driver and felt the “connection”, or even if I did not feel it all the way, could pinpoint where I lost it.  And during that magical 30-40 mins, contact was pure and direction was good (for a social golfer).  I was smiling again, and I remember the confidence I used to feel after a good practice session.

Of course, the lesson was not a magic wand that fixed all my issues, after the 30-40 mins of magic, my back started aching (I had been at the range for more than 3 hours at this point) and it was getting hard to focus and the quality of the ball striking went down.

However, the most important thing about the session is that:

-          I now have a clear idea what I need to practice

-          I have confidence that practicing this drill will help me strike the ball better

-          I can practice this drill at home, in the car park, etc without a ball

-          I feel good standing over the golf ball again

Reflecting on my mindset before and after the lesson, I had obtained everything I needed from the lesson, but it did not arrive the way I expected it would come.  In a nutshell, that is why he teaches golf for a living and I play golf for fun.

I think for a lot of us who have had good/great games and struggle for consistency, we need to discover the right way/approach/mindset to practice to get better.  Also, finding a coach to help you discover what is your own best way to practice shortens the time considerably.  Trust me, my game has been steadily getting worse for the last 2 years by trying the “self-correcting” approach.  Not saying that I am instantly going to get back to how I used to play, but at least now I know what I need to work on, and I am looking forward to playing better in 2014.

So, if you have not visited your coach in a while, perhaps it might be worthwhile to see him/her again, you might be surprised at the outcome.

Finally, a shout out to my coach Brad (@JCC), thanks! And I’ll make the time to see you again soon (or at least sooner than the 24months since our last lesson) …


_________________
========================================
What's in the Bag

Driver: Callway X-Hot 10.5 with Fubuki 50S (pulled from a TM Burner SuperFast)
Woods: 19 Deg Callaway X-hot Proj X Stock S Flex
Hybrid: 22 Deg TM SF i70R, Cobra Baffler 25 Deg NS950R
Irons 5-Pw:  Titleist 704 CB NSP950 (Flex Unknown - think it is R)
Wedges: Perry Gear 52 Deg DG S300 and BFG 55 Deg KBS Hi-Rev, Tourstage 60 Deg
Putter: RIFE Antigua Island with Champ Large Grip
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schnell
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Join date : 2010-12-27
Age : 35

PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:31 pm

2 thumbs up for the sharing..should make a trip to my golf pro soon. Too much self correction and dependence on youtube golf gurus really messes with the head.

Thanks again for the indepth sharing derek...
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asahi
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Join date : 2009-12-19
Age : 39

PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:52 pm

Glad that you got it sorted out. Always a good idea to do so. 

Hope to have a game with you soon, Derek!
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flashpacker
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:08 pm

Thanks for sharing. Will see mine soon
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Nam Flog
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:17 pm

Super post Derek. 

I quote my coach "Lessons never stop".

Cheers
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fergo
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Age : 32
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:33 pm

Thanks for sharing! It is something to think about for me. Not so much of going to my coach but more of feeling the "connection". I guess I lost it trying to focus things like takeaway, weight shift, etc...

Happy New Year!
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samleecy
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:59 pm

Totally agreed=) Thanks for sharing!
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Derek
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:16 pm

An update on how my first game for 2014 went after my first lesson in almost 2 years.

I played at MBGC on 3rd Dec, 3 days after my lesson.  I did not have a chance to get in anymore practice since the last lesson, but thankfully, "Staying connected throughout the swing" was a simple enough message to remember that I knew what it was I needed to do ... actually doing it would be another issue.

The weather was great, a light drizzle that quickly stopped, and it was a windy day (in Singapore terms).

Hole 1 304m Par 4
At the Tee Box.  Closed my eyes and focused on feeling the clubhead move back and forth in a good rhythm all the way from the takeaway to the downswing to (where I normally struggle) a full followthrough.  Then stepped up to the tee and tried to maintain the smooth tempo and sense of connection.  Pretty good commitment, lost the feeling about halfway through the followthrough, but could not complain about the results.  In the fairway, with less than 100m into the green (strong tailwind and playing from white).  Played a 50deg wedge in, felt the connection but hit the ball slightly fat, but direction was very good, so ended up front of the green with about 30 feet left putting over a ridge.  Poor first putt, left 5 feet, good 2nd putt, Par.

Hole 2 - Par 3 118m
Playing into the wind, took a 9 iron.  Flag was left, remember too many times I hooked into the left water, so aimed centre of green.  Practice swing was good felt the connection.  Actual swing lost the connection just before impact (sudden bad thoughts of hooking left jumped into my brain) so ball blocked straight right, ended up right edge of green, about 40 feet from hole.  Good first putt left about 4 feet, good 2nd putt, Par.

So far so good ... staying connected through the swing was not proving to be easy, but the misses were acceptable and I was really benefitting from having a clear focus for each complete swing and not having to think mechanically about individual parts of the swing.

Hole 3 - Par 4 340m
Again, lost the connection just after impact, ball blocked right, luckily sailed over right bunker. Left 140m on slight uneven lie.  Took a relaxed 7iron (tailwind), good connection through swing but shut club face slightly, ball landed pin high but 20m left of the flag in the rough.  Took the first chip for granted and duffed it, took the 2nd chip while still frustrated and left it short, 2 putts for double bogey.

Hole 4 - Par 5 449m
Took a bit more time in the practice swing to make sure I was connected all the way through to the finish and hit a good straight drive down the middle.  With the tailwind, was tempted to go for the green in 2, but decided to play a 3/4 5H to the flat part of the fairway.  A partial wedge, grazed the hole with the first putt, tap in Par.

Hole 5 - Par 4 331m
Good connection and good drive again.  Middle of fairway.  Very happy because I have many bad memories of hitting the ball OB into the contruction site (now it is a building) on the left.  Was able to shut all those thoughts out by just focusing on staying connected.  Left about 118m into the green.  Play a PW (considering tailwind), and connection was ok, again lost it somewhere in the followthrough.  Expected the ball to kick foward (green slopes away slightly) but the damm ball just stopped dead (maybe backspin but could not see clearly).  Front part of green to a back flag on a downslope, too tentative on first putt, 3 putt for Bogey.

Hole 6 - Par 5 475m
Made the turn and we were now playing into the wind. Setup with my shoulders a bit more level to play a lower drive (my drives normally launch very high) but might have missed out how that would affect where I was aiming.  Good connection with club all the way, ball flight lower but ball started slightly left and drew slightly into the trees left of the buggy path.  Was lucky to have a clear shot in the rough, played a 5W and advanced the ball to 130m from flag (lost connection just before impact and hit slightly fat).  Took a 7iron, no commitment to connecting, made an undisciplined shot, hit it slightly fat (but good direction), left it 25m short of green (with another 8-10 feet from the flag.  Did not feel confident with a 56deg wedge after duffing 2 chips earlier, so took a hybrid and bumped it up.  Played a good shot, but ball got caught up in some weeds before the fringe, so just made it to the green.  One great putt and walked away with a Par.

Feeling really good about my game at this stage, 3 over after 6 holes with 4 Pars.  Thought crossed my mind that if I could Par the last 3 holes, it would be 39 and I would be on track for a 70s round.  What a BIG mistake.  In spite of my coach, and other accomplished golfers, constantly reminding me to play golf 1 shot at a time, it is not as easy to do as it sounds.

Hole 7 - Par 4 336m
Not sure if it was because I hit it left on the last tee shot, or if I was trying to hit the ball a bit harder, or because I thought I was swinging well so I could "give it a bit more", but I proceeded to block my drive to the right, straight into the gaping mouth of the bunkers on the right.  Played a good bunker shot out, but was left with 150m into the green with a strong headwing.  Took a 5H, and instead of staying connected, the thought that I HAD to hit it hard enough to get onto the green to make Par jumped into my head as I was coming into the club.  I proceeded to block the ball right and short of the green.  30m out, duffed the pitch, hit an indifferent chip, 2 putts, Triple Bogey.

Hole 8 - Par 4 381m
With the strong headwind, I did not expect to put it on in 2. So went back to focusing on staying connected.  Hit a really good drive into the fairway.  Left with 177m to the flag.  Decided to go for it with my 5W, hit a great shot with solid contact and managed to get it on the green.  Probably my 2 best consecutive shots of the round.  However, still 30 feet from the flag and wasted the 2 great shots with 3 putts for Bogey (a bit too aggresive on my first putt and missed the 6 footer coming back).

Hole 9 - Par 3 119m
Hit a good 9 (connected all the way) iron slightly past the flag, missed the birdie putt, tap in Par.

Overall assessment front 9
Shot 43 (7 Over)
Really happy with the lesson that I had translated into better swings on the golf course.
Having a clear thing to focus on did help to keep negative thoughts out
More practice needed on staying connected and keeping anxiety at bay
Need to work on incorporating staying connected with short game (had not tried it prior to game)
Aside from the hiccups with chipping, overall felt very happy with how I played.

Not going to give a hole by hole of the back 9 (need to get back to work), but in summary;
Started well with Par Par Bogey Birdie
Blew up the long Par 4 14th with a triple (drove into bunker followed by a loss of focus).  Followed up with 2 more bogeys.
Closed strongly with 2 Pars on 17 and 18 (made good putts for both) to finish 5 over 41.

Final score 84

The score wasn't that great, but I felt really good.  Key lesson for me was that having a good and simple mental key to focus on really helped me make good swings.  My screw ups were when I let emotion/anxiety/negative thoughts jump in as I was making my downswing.  However, I now have something to practice at home and at the range (where I can spare time) and I have the confidence this will help me be more consistent.

Of course, this might be the fairy tale effect coming soon after a lesson.  Will update again when I get another chance to golf again, but that is not likely to happen in the next few weeks.

Once again, I have to thank my coach Brad (aka punkrockpga) for identifying what I needed (not what I thought I needed) and helping me to enjoy my golf again.

_________________
========================================
What's in the Bag

Driver: Callway X-Hot 10.5 with Fubuki 50S (pulled from a TM Burner SuperFast)
Woods: 19 Deg Callaway X-hot Proj X Stock S Flex
Hybrid: 22 Deg TM SF i70R, Cobra Baffler 25 Deg NS950R
Irons 5-Pw:  Titleist 704 CB NSP950 (Flex Unknown - think it is R)
Wedges: Perry Gear 52 Deg DG S300 and BFG 55 Deg KBS Hi-Rev, Tourstage 60 Deg
Putter: RIFE Antigua Island with Champ Large Grip
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blee67
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:03 pm

One question Derek - How to with you like that.... never get 84 in mbgc before....
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ChrisD
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:33 pm

Blee, time for you to have a game with Derek so he can teach you how to do it.
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blee67
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:41 pm

ChrisD wrote:
Blee, time for you to have a game with Derek so he can teach you how to do it.

i am still waiting for his invite.... What a Face
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chien
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:52 pm

blee wrote:
ChrisD wrote:
Blee, time for you to have a game with Derek so he can teach you how to do it.

i am still waiting for his invite.... What a Face

Me 2.....
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punkrockpga
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Tue Jan 14, 2014 12:31 am

Thanks for the kind words Derek!  

I see it often, golfer comes to a session and says "Coach my swing is broken and we need to fix it." 
Sometimes it is in fact broken and there is a critical error either in the setup or the swing technique itself that needs to be addressed.  In which case attention is directed at the critical error, the necessary adjustments, and of course what and how to practice it so that it shows up when you need it most, on the golf course.
Sometimes, however, the swing is not broken and it's a simple matter of directing a golfers attention to something that they are overlooking.  In Derek's case there was an obvious disconnection between his brain and his body and his golf club and his swing was not even close to the smooth swing that I've seen him play some really good golf with.  By putting his attention on head of his golf club he was able to actually experience his swing and before long, there was the old famous "Derek Flow".
Not an easy exercise by any means but one that I've seen time and time again, do incredible things to peoples golf swings.
Another example that I often see is when students tell me that there swing is "Broken" because their ball won't' fly straight.  One left, one right, two straight, two left, one right, etc.  Then the conversation usually goes something like this…..

Me: "Where are you aiming?"
Golfer: "Straight"
Me: "Straight where?"
Golfer: Steps back off of the range mat to double check where in fact the ball will go if he happens to hit it square, then names the target.

If you are hitting golf shots with no connection to a specific target or ball flight (during the swing) I'd be very surprised if you weren't hitting it in many different directions.  As is often the case, getting the golfer connected to the target during the swing (there are many different ways to do that) will straighten that ball flight right out. Not always, but often.

While the swing is happening, the kind of connection to the golf club that Derek was talking about, or a solid connection to the target can often make critical errors disappear, just like that.  As is often the case, over thinking or analyzing or concentrating on the wrong thing during the swing can often bring out errors that wouldn't otherwise be there.  So when I'm looking at how to improve a golfers swing, I want to see the swing that flows and is connected to the target and then make that swing better, not the swing thet's being interfered with by a whole bunch of technical thoughts or doubts, or worries or whatever else golfers put in their brains while they do their thing.  

Speaking of brain's doing their thing, I just realized it's way past my bed time and I think my brain stopped doing it's thing a while ago so as much as I'd like to carry on with this golf ramble, I think I'll cary on tomorrow………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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PostSubject: Re: Why you should see a golf professional   Today at 8:31 am

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