LAUREL - Lesson No. 3

Laurel, the following is the lesson plan from today's session, October 30, 2019.

GOLF TEMPO — Overall, we worked on fluidity and flowing movements.

I shared with you that golf is a game created centuries ago before it was called golf. Its first appearance was a simple stick and ball game that Chinese adults and children played as a healthy recreation and pastime. As time passed, humans figured out devious ways to make the tools of golf more and more complicated until it became the game it is today with way too many rules and too many tools—thankfully only 14 ill conceived sticks can legally be carried in the bag at any one time. My thought in sharing the beginnings of golf with you is to make the game of golf more playful for you so that you can begin to loosen up a little from so many swing thoughts and do's and don'ts. We want to avoid "paralysis by analysis."

We did arm and shoulder swings to emulate the ease of movement we want to achieve with your golf swing. We talked about how anything that feels overly restricted or constrained can interfere with the natural movements of your golf swing. With those natural movements of the shoulders and arms we engaged the forward hip shift you will make to initiate your downswing. At first, we did those shoulder/arm swings and every third time incorporated the hip shift. Then we began doing the hip shift with every shoulder/arm swing. Continue with this motion every chance you get without a golf club...just your natural body movements only.

SET UP —

We checked your set-up distance and it looked good and correct. I pointed out that with your driver set up your arms are very slightly past vertical toward the teed ball and that your wrists and hands are indeed past vertical, which is correct.

We checked your set-up distance with a mid-iron, and I pointed out that your arms, wrists and hands were vertical to the ground just as they should be.

The logic behind the differences in your arm position is that the driver's path will need a more shallow downswing so that its head swoops in at an upwards direction at impact with the ball, while your iron shots will take a more vertical path to the back of the ball.

BACKSWING —

I asked you to slow down and take the edge off your swing and we practiced it. The beginning of the backswing is a low and slow motion...straight back. Your tendency has been to take the club back on an inside direction by turning your wrists over instead of maintaining the perfect triangle of your arms, wrists and hands. By taking your club back low and slow and straight back with your triangle firmly maintained, you will be staying within your natural swing plane. Your shoulder turn combined with your firm triangle will automatically make the turn to the top that you were trying to achieve with your wrists and hands.

Additionally, remember you are creating an arc that is very similar to a circle and that circle should be maintained at maximum radius on the backswing...and very important...WITHOUT reaching outside your natural swing arc. Reaching takes you whole body outside your natural arc and it is almost impossible to get back to that arc with any consistency. So, reaching is a consistency killer. Stay within your natural swing arc with maximum radius. Stay smooth. Stay balanced. This will greatly improve your consistency.

WRIST-COCK —

I demonstrated how to make an early wrist-cock with the slightest movement during the backswing. When the shaft is roughly parallel to the ground you push the club's grip gently with your left hand until you have maximum wrist-cock. While practicing this procedure, check that your left wrist maintains its bow, or that it becomes bowed at this point and remains bowed through impact and releases just past impact to continue a natural line to the finish.

DOWNSWING —

We practiced delaying your downswing in order shift your hips forward to initiate the downswing. You will continue to try to hold off the club while your hips turn forward toward your target line. The club will follow an inside path to the ball and square at impact. You create the power in your downswing through your turning core [mid-section] while your club tries to catch up...and you're maintaining that wrist-cock until it must release to meet the ball. This creates the additional power through a quick whipping action at the bottom of your swing.

SWING TECHNIQUES —

With iron shots your backswing and downswing will mostly remain on a somewhat vertical plane, while your driver shots will become more shallow on the downswing as you allow the club to drop a little at the start of the downswing...this gets the driver moving in a swooping direction to the ball.

SQUARING THE CLUB FACE

Remember that when your ball is driving to the right off the tee it's likely that your club face is open and if to the left, then closed. A quick correction for the ball going to the right is to move your righthand into a stronger grip position and if to the left, then a weaker position.

WRIST & STRENGTH EXERCISE

I've recommended that you acquire an impact bag to improve the strength in your wrists, arms and shoulders. You can hit the bag, but I recommend that you simply hold the club against the back of the bag for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times per session...in the position we discussed...that is, how you look at impact with the club's grip angled well ahead of the club's face. If you feel any discomfort or pain, stop immediately. Come back to it later, but don't over do it as you may cause an unintended injury that could set you back.

VIDEOS —

I would like two videos of your full swing on Saturday or Sunday. Maybe one of your sisters or your mom could make the videos in your back yard with your phone's camera. One video facing you and one sideways...or down the swing line...as we discussed. These videos can be just a few seconds long to capture the entire swing.

It was a great lesson Laurel and we didn't even hit a single ball! It was really, really cold, wet and windy!

PUTTING —

See below.

Laurel: To improve your putting accuracy we need to make an adjustment in your putting grip and stance. The best way to illustrate these are with the video below.

#1 GRIP‑The grip for putting should be slightly different than the grip for other clubs. Adam Bazalgette explains how to grip the putter for more stability, especially in the wrists. Don't try the complicated ones, just the first one he demonstrates where the right hand covers more of the left hand to get your forearms more aligned.

#2 STANCE—He also demonstrates how to stand at a closer proximity to the ball than you would with any other club. Please completely ignore the example of Jack Nicklaus...it's too extreme and will ruin your alignment.

Currently, you're standing a little too tall over the ball and this causes too much upper body rotation. Additionally, you allow your body to follow the ball, which again creates too much movement and that can eventually pull your putter off line before you contact the ball. I want you to hold your body very still throughout the putting stroke and let only your head turn to follow the ball. And this is very important because you need to see how the ball responds to the green for a possible come-backer. Again, Adam’s video illustrates this best, so please watch it a couple of times and practice the grip and stance often.

FINAL THOUGHT: Maintain the triangle formed by your forearms and hands throughout the pendulum style stroke—elbows slightly tucked into your ribs. Your shoulders alone should rotate the stroke.

I know this will improve both your alignment and your distance...and overall consistency and accuracy.

The other key to accurate putting that we've practiced is that every putt should be a straight putt. This may sound counterintuitive because almost every putt is a breaking putt.

My Rule #1: ALIGNMENT—Find the line of your putt with your laser focus from your ball's position to the cup. Go ahead and follow the curve [or curves] your ball will make to the cup with your laser focus . There will likely be a breaking point nearer to the hole because the slower the ball travels the more it is affected by slopes and undulations of the green.

Once you are certain about the exact route the ball will travel to the hole, you are to find two spots on the green to aim with your putter. The first spot will be somewhere between halfway to the hole and very near the hole depending on how the ball direction will affected by the green's slopes and undulations. That spot will be your target and you will putt straight to that spot without trying to control the direction [or curves] with your putter. The second spot will be much closer to your ball. This spot will be in exact alignment with the first spot nearer to the hole. This gives you a double target to align with your putter. Once you have these spots, shoot a laser with your eyes from the second spot to the first spot and that becomes your putter’s alignment. That image will remain in your mind for only about 8 seconds and then will no longer be reliable. But that doesn’t matter because you’ve reaffirmed your alignment and it is now correct.

My Rule #2: DISTANCE—Now, I want you to forget about that laser look at your target so you can focus 100% of your attention to the distance you want your ball to travel.

Since your first spot is not all the way to the hole you will need a stroke that will not only pass that spot but will also pass the hole by no more than 18 inches. The reason for this is to be certain that you give the ball a chance to go into the cup. If your ball comes up short, then there is zero chance it will go into the cup!!! If goes past the cup by no more than 18 inches, then you have an excellent chance of putting-out with one more stroke. Go too far past the hole and your chances are dramatically reduced.

MEMORY RECALL: In putting, your backstroke should equal your forward stroke. With the ball centered between your feet the putter's speed will always be at maximum at impact. This technique will eliminate the possibility of putter hesitation through the swing and eliminates the "quickened hit" at the ball that are derived from too much wrist action. Smooth back and smooth forward with equidistance from the centered ball position will create the perfect putting stroke for you. Practice this technique on a fairly level surface of a green so that you can dial in the exact backswing distance required for the  distances to the cup...or actually just past it, as we’ve often discussed. Once you have this completely transferred to muscle memory then you can begin to adjust the distance for slopes and undulations, as well. Uphill requires a longer backstroke and downhill a shorter one, etc.

These techniques will eliminate 3-putts and you’ll make more pars and birdies…and wait for it—EAGLES!!!