This weekend was the final session of the season with my coach, Scott Baines.
We took some time to recap progress made, and to discuss work to be done during the offseason. 2014 was the second year of my work with Scott. We have “mastery” goals focused on my full swing, wedge and short game, and putting. And we have “performance” goals associated with my handicap index, scoring, and return to competition. This year, due to my work and personal schedule, we decided that we would take a casual approach to the performance goals. I only achieved one of the five, but did drive my index down further and nearly had an under-par round for the first time since my teens.
Scott, being on the Titleist staff, also converted me to their irons. We went through the fitting process, which was fun and fascinating (perhaps the subject of a future post). As usual, I underestimated the time and effort necessary to adjust to a change like this. I am just now getting a feel for the clubs and learning what they do when hit properly.
Regarding mastery goals, we made meaningful progress on my wedge game and putting. Scott helped me with “stock” shots and I now have confidence and competence from 80 yards and in.
Perhaps what excited me most though, is the progress we have made on my full-swing. The intention is to be able to hit high bombs and low knock-downs with all clubs (the latter has been my go-to shot until now) to improve my situational versatility. As a former hockey player, I have several bad habits that are not conducive to consistent ball striking. I have worked hard on my posture and setup, and have eliminated the snap hooks that used to plague me by reducing lateral movement in favor of rotational movement.
In today’s discussion, we boiled the work ahead down into 3 keys that build upon my progress to date:
1. The central key is to let my big muscles do the work in the swing to achieve a full, wide takeaway that is on plane. This video of Tom Watson teaching a clinic, in which he explains how he finally figured out the golf swing, illustrates the point.
2. Related to the big muscles is a focus on my left shoulder, and letting it serve as a lever. This video from Golf Machine guru Lynn Blake is dense and intense, but he does touch on this key, and why it promotes consistent rhythm and contact.
3. And finally, to generate max power, my key is a slight squat followed by an explosion up from the ground through impact. This analysis of Rory McIlroy’s driver swing highlights the move, and the results.
Putting these 3 keys together, as I am beginning to be able to do, produces shots that fly higher and farther – pro quality stuff. It is clear that I need to be stronger and more flexible, and so increased reps, better fitness, and work with my chiropractor are the order for the offseason. As I continue to put the pieces in place, the emerging picture is exciting.
Of course, with these mastery goals, the work is never really finished. That does not deter me though. Every step of progress along the path, even when there are temporary setbacks, just increases my resolve.
On to the offseason. The pursuit of mastery never ends…