Monday, March 16, 2009

Balance This

So, I will be brief. I was scheduled to play golf this weekend, but the weather never really got the memo: it rained hard in the morning, so I waited and waited; then by the afternoon, when the sun was out and I swear I didn’t see one damn cloud formation in the sky, it began to rain right as I pulled into the golf course.

After 10-15 minutes of solid, zero-visibility-esque rain, it was like someone decided to turn off the shower and give me a window to do SOMETHING with the few spare moments of daylight I had left. So I raced inside, bought my tokens, and headed back to the range, trying to think of something worthwhile that I could practice. At this point, I think I need more time on the golf course to identify where my weaknesses lie, because I’m really starting to stripe the ball on the range and I need to find some humility. It’s hard to feel penalized or demoralized on the range.

But anyway, I decided after striking a few shots that what I really need to work on is balance. It’s incredibly fundamental, and should have been taken care of at this point, but for some reason I can only attain a balanced follow through about 60% of the time. I don’t consider myself to have a wild swing by any means, but I would say—if anything—I tend to wobble forwards shortly after impact. Well, not so much wobble, but usually feel like I should take a step forward with my right foot after impact. Which sounds funny, but I almost think I saw a drill somewhere that instructed people to do that after hitting the ball, in order to insure a proper weight transfer. So I guess I got the whole weight-transfer thing going for me—which is nice.

To combat my instinctive “walk-thru” on the follow-thru, I started focusing on a balanced finish. To accomplish this, I focused on staying more centered throughout the swing, even the follow-thru.

The results weren’t that great.

My shots started fading right (which never happens due to my strong left hand), and with an occasional wind gust, my 5-irons turned into banana-split-machines. After 10-15 of those, I decided against the exercise altogether, and went back to my occasional “un-balanced” follow-thru. Now, I know what Jim McClean and the rest of the top-10 professional instructors would say: only practice and patience with a new swing thought or move will yield an effective change in the future. Yeah, yeah nerdy-nerds. To hell with that. I’d rather stick to an unconventional follow-thru that works for me. At least I’m getting down and thru the ball the way I want to.

Plus, the way I figure it: after impact, who the hell cares what your body is doing anyway? As long as you strike the ball the way you want to, and can do it consistently, you could let your club go right after impact and see how far it goes. One of my favorite golf books included that drill as its main focal point, in order to help people feel what a good impact position would be like (the drill was to have you learn what position your hands would have to be at during impact in order to launch a golf club the farthest you possibly could).

But I digress. So I worked my way through the bag today, and realized one painful practice session I must endure—at some point—is to drop a bucket of balls in front of my 3-iron and have a duel. I realize I don’t hit my 3-iron that often, but I want to feel like I can smoke the damn thing—rather than thin the crap out of it and send that wonderful jarring sensation up the shaft, into my hands and throughout my entire body. Perhaps I could even shape some shots at some point. But hey, let’s not push it. I just think that if you can strike a 3-iron consistently well, the rest of the sweet-spots in the bag must look like birthday balloons.

I think so, anyway.


Kiwi said...

Damn right Tom, it doesn't have to look perfect, it just has and hold up and work most of the time.

Every time I read a damn golf magazine I have to skip the instructional bits or I want to start changing stuff.

And everytime I talk myself out of it, and just think of Furyks swing, hell its ugly but you can't deny the results.

Oh and Tom, when the Jamboy Book going into print......

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom!

I'm fucking back, baby! And to let Kiwi know as well, I got offered two jobs last week and I start again on Monday 23rd March. Because I'm just that cool. So that will put a cap on my non-stop golf, but I'm playing 3 times this week, so it is all cool and the gang.

Your follow-through, as long as it is not in the pants region, is of virtually no importance as far as I can see. As you say, it is all about what you are doing/where everything is at impact that matters - as soon as the ball leaves the clubhead, you can twirl the clubhead around in circles or use it like a sword and stab a marshall for all it matters. Or just fucking chuck it. I am so going to try that on the course tomorrow. I'll laugh like fuck.

Gary Player used to step through after the ball after hitting it all the time and, 9 Majors and a Grand Slam later, it doesn't seem to have done him too much harm. And I, too, have seen a drill that encourages you to do that to transfer your weight properly. So if you do it naturally, stick with it, man.

The 3 iron, along with the driver for the longest time until funny old Anthony Kim saved me, was always the hardest club for me to hit. But I hit mine OK now - I certainly prefer it to a 5-wood off a tight lie on the fairway. But then, my MacGregor irons have muscle cavity backs in the 3-5 irons and blades in the short irons, so that certainly helps. If you struggle really badly with a 3, have you thought about getting yourself a lofted hybrid type thing instead? I hear they're all the rage now. I don't have one, as I would probably only hit it once in a blue moon, as our course is pretty short, but it might make it easier to get the ball airborne and keep it going in a straight line. Just my two penn'orth.

Right, Ive taken enough space now. Get that Jam Boy book out! I'd buy it ... for about 10p.

Take care, old pal.


Kiwi said...

Dave!!!!!!!!!! Your alliiiive

My man that is awesome to hear, not that your golf is getting cut down. But that your getting Scottish butt back to making some cash.

Hell I've been playing 4 times a week lately. That ain't gonna last very bloody much longer though. It's heading into that dark crappy kind of year down here.

Tom Collins said...

Great to hear from you guys. And Dave, still really psyched to hear about the job. Hope it all goes off without a hitch.

As far as the book is concerned, it's coming along nicely, but I'm struggling right now with a couple of the sections that help tie together some of the gaps. But believe me, as soon as I get it completed, you two will be the first to know.

I'm also toying with the idea of self-publishing, because as far as I'm concerned, I'm writing this book for me and the people whom I shared the experience with. The story started online, it might as well stay that way. Screw the big publishers if they don't like it. But I'll still probably try the traditional route first, just to see how things work out.

Hope all is well with you guys.