Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Glove-less Practice

I apologize for the hiatus, but two rare events prevented me from practicing recently: an incredible amount of rain decided to fall precisely from 7-6 pm both days this past weekend, and the Buffalo Bills lost to the Miami Dolphins the weekend before.

Now, I understand the rain. But come on…the Bills losing to the Dolphins? Ridiculous. And of course, a Dolphins fan came with me to see the game. So my golf game had to take a backseat to the trash-talk and drinking. Then again, I suppose trash-talking and drinking are sort of where the game of golf started with those crazy Scottish guys, so I suppose it wasn’t a FULL break from this great game we all love and respect.

But one thing I have been doing is keeping up with my work-out regimen and stretching everyday. And wouldn’t you know it: I actually feel like I’m grooving a swing again. I think one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to work through recently is trying to get my body to react to the demands of my brain. What I mean is, back when I was playing regularly, I witnessed and catalogued the shots I was able to pull-off. Now that I’m back to playing again, finding myself in these similar situations is depressing, because I know what I was capable of at one time. I try to visualize, align myself properly and let it fly, but it just doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did. It’s like I’m going through some sort of rehabilitation process where I’m hoping to retain full-use of my motor skills at the outset.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is how much feedback I’m able to receive when I practice at the range without a glove. Perhaps it’s all in my head, but once I take off my glove and work my way through a bucket, I can feel exactly where on the club-face the ball makes contact as well as every subtle twist of the club-head at impact. Obviously, this wouldn’t really work on a hot day. And I know a golf glove is rather thin, so it doesn’t seem like swinging without one would make much of a difference, but it did.

And, after the first 10-15 balls as I started putting together strings of solid shots—meaning I passed my own “glove-less impact test”—my mind began to drift to other parts of my swing, and for some reason I became focused solely on my backswing. More specifically, the weight transfer onto my right foot. There is such a fine line between proper weight transfer and “swaying,” isn’t there? Right now, I feel like I’m not loading my right side enough or that I’m potentially overdoing it, feeling like I’m falling out of my own personal “swing track.”

But I guess one more thing to focus on couldn’t hurt, right? I guess the weight transfer was never something I thought about, but now that I’m trying to groove a swing again, it’s the most noticeable part of my swing now. I almost want to blame by practice drills: I’m achieving the impact position I want, but due to all of the half-swings, the weight-transfer necessary to achieve a full backswing has somewhat atrophied. Well, it’ll come back. “Practice makes permanent” as David Leadbetter would say.

As a bonus, I was extremely comfortable with my putting today. My contact and speed control were consistent and controllable, as evidenced by the small rings of balls around the holes on the putting green. Perhaps my work thus far is starting to pay off. Well, either that or I just feel comfortable with my new putter. I’m sure many of you would attest to putting really well with a putter you like. It’s weird how something so simple as the design of a putter-head could affect the way people perform. Take me for example: I can’t stand those three-ball putters. If some of you out there own and love them, great. But for me, they look like you could either cook an egg and bacon breakfast on them or plug a set of earphones into them and rock out to some mp3’s.

Take care everyone.


Matt said...

Glad to see you back, Tom. I'll update my site with a link to your new blog.

Good luck on your quest!


Anonymous said...

Stupid Buffalo Bills. I never liked them. But then I like the Jets, so what do I know? That youngster, Bert Favre, he's pretty good, isn't he? I confidently predict a long career for him in a green shirt.

Sounds to me like your body is just starting to remeber what a golf swing feels like again after years of not playing seriously, old pal. "Muscle memory" is what my old guitar teacher used to drill into me to encourage me to practise more - if you do it for long enough, your muscles will remember what to do automatically and your brain won't have to think at all. It does work - I can remember having huge problems with certain passages oor songs and all of a sudden ti just clicks and your hands play by themselves. Like you've got them in a bargain with the Robot Devil or something.

I never use a glove when I practise now (in golf). I used to, but, same as you, you feel more when you don't wear one. That's why the good guys take them off when they're pitching and chipping on tour. I'm all about the feel. If I can feel it, I can play it. If someone just tells me what to do, I have not the first clue.

I'm with you on small putters too. I have an old Ping Anser (S2i, from memory) and I love the look of it. I absolutely cannot putt with a mallet type putter, let alone one of those huge frying-pan sized monstrosities. They should be banned. It's not natural!

Right, I need a jimmy. I'm off. Take care, old pal.


kiltedkeith said...

Maybe just maybe the Bills can split the division and still get in the playoffs, best of luck on your game, i have enjoyed following along so far.


Tom Collins said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Great to hear from you again Matt. And Dave, will you stop being so freakin' knowledgeable? I had no idea the pro's work on their short game without a glove. I feel like a freakin IDIOT now...haha.

Anyway, just like you said, just have to keep working through it. And I think I've already decided what my graduation test will be...to hit a Tiger Woods stinger. Although, that would mean I have to carry a 2-iron, which I don't know if I'm cool with, as it's only good for like 1-2 shots a round (unless you're playing Oak Hill or something).

Just had a funny thought...wouldn't it be great to see a PGA Tour pro hit a stinger with a hybrid? Classic.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, I can't hit a stinger. I don't even carry a 2 iron. My friend Short, Fat, Hairy Steve has a Callaway X-Tour 2 iron, which I have swung, but I can't really say I like it - it's too chunky for me and it looks too short heel to toe.

I can hit punch shots, but not with anything more than about a 6 iron, although I did break my 7 iron once and just went around the rest of the course hitting all 7 iron yardage shots (about 170) with a punched 3 iron - that was good fun. I should try and do that more often. But, anyway, I don't hit the ball very high anyway, so keeping it down is not a problem for me - just tee it down a bit and hit it hard.

I'll tell you what does sting - getting a rock hard football (soccer ball) right on the thigh while you're wearing shorts on a freezing cold January day. And also getting your little finger bent so far back by the ball that it dislocates backwards and outwards, so that you can run round showing all your friends before putting it back into joint yourself. That made my eyes water a bit.

Does that count?