Earnest Words

Lesson #1 of the New Year: Putting and Full Swing

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So today (when I wrote this blog post a while a go) was the first lesson of the new year, just two weeks after we were supposed to have it but… you know, there was rain in SoCal.

I started out putting since I was there before my coach showed. I did a spider drill for 5 of 8 and … I was not making very good contact at all. Then I was working on the 10 to 15 footer drill, using an alignment stick to help me “score” my lag putts.

When my coach arrived, she quickly corrected my putting stroke by having me focus on lengthening my backswing and shortening my follow through. We collapsed my alignment stick and then used my alignment stick to demonstrate the length of the backswing: go halfway back on the alignment stick and try to follow through to the end of the stick. This had an immediate effect on my consistency.

So that’s the first point of emphasis: good putting stroke fundamentals.

For my next practice putting, I will use my alignment stick to practice the correct length putting stroke.

(Ed. Note: I did not do this.)

Then we moved onto the range. I mean, she asked if I wanted to try chipping and I said, “well, it felt pretty good about my short game. But I had a lot of trouble off the tee in the last major round I played.”

“Okay.” She said and then “Do you have that app tracking your shots still?”

Yep. After I hit a couple decent/poor shots on the range, she mentioned, “well, you hit a lot of fairways and only one green…”

I laughed. “Well, not exactly. I was hitting like 3 or 4 shots to get to each green because the tee shots went 150 yards max no matter what club I was hitting.”

I was hitting the fairway … but when your first shot goes 50 yards… it doesn’t really matter.

So she watched me swing and … fixed it.

“I want you to turn your back to the target,” she said. So I did it and … would you know it? The ball started going further and straighter. And when I swung … it didn’t really matter. The ball went far and in the air.

And it was funny because I realized that a lot of my compensation, a lot of my errors, and a lot my problems were coming from a lack of rotation. I was trying to do things that I had felt when I was rotating properly but the root cause was a lack of rotation.

I remember on several rounds, I felt like I was swinging out of my shoes on every tee shot but was making excellent contact. But no, the “overswing” was me rotating properly.

I had a few chunks when I was swinging and my coach also diagnosed that: “You’re dropping your head down.”

We talked about how that’s probably why I can hit it okay when I use shorter irons because they’re more forgiving of hitting it fat.

So that’s what I have to work on for my practice and next round:

  • Turn my back to the target
  • Keep my head still (think about staying tall on my backswing)

So my new preshot routine is to take practice swing, emphasizing keeping my head still and focusing on rotating my back to the target. If I’m playing with a friend, I will have them stand perpendicular to me and I’ll try to show them my shoulder blades.

It’s hard to describe what was happening. I had it after our first few lessons, where the swing was effortless and every single swing was hitting the ball flush – and I now know it was because I was rotating properly. My butt, back, and hips are all sore because of the proper movement.

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