Posts Tagged ‘coach’

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Over the past 5 months since my tournament win, my golf game could be accurately described as a roller coaster ride…the ups and downs interchanging about every 2-3 weeks with only one half of my game playing well at any given time.  If my driving and iron play was descent one round, my short game and putting would be terrible, the next round the opposite would be true.  I have tried months where I only focus on the mental game, visualization and not swing mechanics with variable success.  My confidence could be at an all time high after ball striking well for a week, but if I hit a few bad shots in a row, my confidence drops close to 0% and before you know it, I’m lost.   It had been over 5 months since I last went in for a lesson with my coach and I could feel that I was falling back into my old habits.  I tried to go at this alone for the past few months thinking I could keep building on my successes and that was mistake.  I had no basis for what I was doing correctly or wrong in my swing, if I started to lose my swing, I had nothing to revert back to that I knew was correct.  I was essentially playing blindly these past few months with no stable base, so I was much over due for a lesson and boy I’m glad I went and did it.

Took the lesson with my teacher Justin Hicks over at Stadium Golf Center in San Diego yesterday the 31st and my improvement was almost immediate.  We found that I had indeed reverted back to my old habits of setting up with my feet and shoulders open to the target with my club faced closed.  The ball position was slightly too far back and was one of the causes to my ball starting out left (I’m lefty) of my intended target line.  Also I was back to shifting my body too far forward in the downswing.  It is funny how to me setting up square to the target line feels extremely closed at address because I’m so used to thinking my old stance (that was actually open) was square.  This is going to take a few range sessions to get used to, but soon it will become normal.  I am already hitting the ball so much better and I’m really excited to have a foundation now that I can build and improve upon.  I’m eager to get out and play with my new swing, but it will have to wait a few days because the forecast here is calling for rain the next 2 days, so won’t be able to get out and play until Tuesday/Wednesday.   My teacher made a video recap of my lesson with him that you can watch here below.  I have also linked his website under his name for anybody who would like to check out his site, I highly recommend him as a teacher if you are in the San Diego area.

On New Year Day, after posting my 2014 golfing goals, I headed out to Oaks North, my local executive course, to get my first official 2014 golf round in.  I hope that this round is a reflection of what’s to come in 2014 because I hit the ball amazing!  Hit officially a total of 14 GIR’s, but had two more that were just on the fringe where I was able to putt, so really closer to 16/18 GIRs.  Been working on standing a little further away from the ball at address, feels like a much more comfortable position and it is allowing my arms to really move through the hitting area more freely.  Ball is starting more down my intended starting line with a nice very tiny draw that was pin seeking all day.  The Achilles heel for my game right now is my short game, my putting in particular, it has been terrible.  Both my lag putting and short putts have been bad and as a result I have been 3 putting like crazy.  This round, despite almost hitting 16 greens in regulation, featured four 3-putts and only two birdies, resulting in a +4 total round.  Having more 3 putts than 1 putts in a round is just not going to be conducive to shooting low.  I think a good bit of what’s wrong with my putting could just be mental, but I’m playing on Saturday at a course where last time I played, I had 40+ putts, so let’s hope I can putt a little better than last time.

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Carmel Highlands #5 Tee

061513152655On Saturday the 4th, I met a friend over at Carmel Highlands and played a round at the Par 72 course. Carmel Highlands is a tough tree lined course with really fast sloping greens, it is not in the best of shape right now, lots of dead patches, sandy lies and hardpan just off the fairways and greens.   Makes for a difficult track, but I continued to hit the ball well, however my short game really cost me again.  Shot a disappointing (+9) 81, had two more 3 putts and two double bogeys, both of them coming after I was in the middle of the fairway off the tee.  Hit 10 GIR’s, but was 0/8 on up and downs where I missed the green.   I know now for sure the area of my game where I’m losing the most strokes and I can improve my scores tremendously quickly if I can just tightening up my short game from about 100yards and in.  Having a really great and solid short game is the only way I’m ever going to get to scratch, I’m honestly hitting the ball well enough right now to shoot in the low to mid 70’s every time, so a lot more hours on the practice green is in my future.

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Tuesday

Decided to schedule a putting lesson today with my instructor, we worked for an hour on different putting drills, designed for me to better feel what I’m doing and be able to self correct.  We worked on drills that helped with range of vision and really taking in your entire surroundings, not just the distance of  you to the hole.  This includes everything behind the hole, from the edge of the green to the houses or street in the distance.  When you start to just focus on the distance from you to the hole, you start to get tunnel vision, to play the best golf we must start to expand our vision.  Tunnel vision can also have the effect of making the distance between two spaces look considerably closer because you are focused on a fixed point.    One of the drills you can do to test this is to set up to a straight putt of say 15-30 ft distance (don’t pace it off before) and then stand up, turn your club so that the grip is pointing to the ground.  Now close your eyes and start walking toward the cup.  When you feel like you are close to where you believe the hole is, set the putter grip down.  This might tell you something interesting about the way you perceive the distance between putts.

My coach wants me to learn how to better feel and understand the strokes I’m making.  I would hit a putt and then based on if it started left, right or down my intended line, I would describe to him the feelings of that particular swing, in as great detail as possible.  This is a great way to learn how to self correct.  Eventually we did a variation of this drill where I would putt with my eyes closed and then tell him what I felt and whether I thought the putt started left, right or down my target line.  My coach doesn’t want to start messing with my grip and set up for right now, maybe later down the line we might tweak a few things, but he believes that putting is more about feeling than mechanics.

We also talked about the idea of not lining up the lines on my ball toward my intended line.  I’m sure you guys have seen some pros do this, most famously Tiger Woods has done it before, where he lines up a line on his ball where we wants his putt to start.  I always do this when I’m playing a round, but ironically as we were chatting about this, I realized that when I practice on a putting green, I don’t.  So I’m going to work on playing with no line up and focus on just seeing my putts rather than get locked in to a particular line and narrowing my focus.

Wednesday

Went over to Oaks North again, a local executive course with three different 9 hole courses.  Last time we played the North/East combination, but this time we played the South/East (Par 60).  Each 9 contains 6 par 3’s and 3 par 4s.  It is a great test for your irons and short game and I played very well, shooting an even par round of 60!  I’m not going to do a round recap, but I will give you a few high and low lights.   Chipped in twice, once for eagle and once for birdie!  I hit 10 of the 18 greens, but missed about 4 that were on the fringe, really close.  I managed to only 3 putt once utilizing my new putting method and that was on the 3rd hole where I only had about a 12 ft putt for birdie.  A bad 3 putt, but it was early in my round and I was trying to get used to not lining up my putts with the arrows on the ball and forgot to think about speed on the downhill putt.  So a mistake that was quickly canceled out when I made eagle on the next hole, but other than that I lag putted fairly well.  Still did not make as many putts as I would have liked from 12 ft and in, missed a few par and birdie chances from inside 10 ft, but I was more aware of why I missed them.  My chipping game is continuing to be a strength of mine and I’m just so eager to keep playing and see what I can do.

Ended up heading down to the driving range later on in the night, hit the ball well, worked a lot of my wedges trying to better understand the exact distances of each wedge.  Hit my driver and woods at the end, found myself getting a little bit too quick and as a result I was hitting them off the toe or shifting extremely forward.  Realized that it could be my tempo and once I fixed that, I was back to hitting my driver in the middle of the club face and sending it deep down range toward my intended target.  I need to remember to keep my tempo, I tend to get quick a lot and it causes me to be an inconsistent ball striker.  Hopefully going to be playing a round this weekend on either Saturday or Sunday if it does not rain.  But if not, I’ll still be playing on Monday again at Vineyard and Wednesday for sure somewhere.

Went to get a lesson today, decided to keep working on my long game and try and gain more confidence in the things I’m doing.  Lesson went well, overall my teacher thinks that I’m improving and I can feel that as well.  I’m still struggling with shifting my hips forward instead of around and it’s causing me to get too steep and open.  In those positions my timing has to be perfect to make it work, so it breeds inconsistency.  Was also setting up a little open with my shoulders and hips, so we worked on that for a bit getting the feeling down of what it feels like to be set up square.  After the lesson I finished off my basket of range balls and by the end I was really started to get it.  Hit about my last 8 drivers, pretty straight and with solid distance.  Hit a few 6irons and wedges also to make sure that it translated over to those clubs also and it did.  I really needed to get my confidence back after my terrible range session on Friday when I felt like I lost it, so today was a good day for that.

I’m playing on Monday this week after work and then hopefully again on Wednesday, so at least 2 rounds this next week, I look to keep improving my ball striking and lowering my scores.  I’m at the point right now that I should not be shooting anything in the 80’s, it should be all 70’s from here on out or I will be extremely disappointed.  As long as my short game keeps improving, I don’t think this should be a problem.  My goals for tomorrows round are to keep the ball in play off the tee, have an up and down percentage of no worse than 50% and make 2 or more birdies.  If I do those things, the score will take care of itself.  Will be my 3rd round over at the Vineyard course since starting this blog….have scores of 74 (+4) and 76 (+6) on the books, 75 or lower would be ideal.

Here is a video recap of my lesson today, the audio is a little tough because of the wind and his video froze near the end, but he basically was just showing me using my left hand in the downswing more than my right.

Saturday I decided to take the day off, I really felt myself getting frustrated after my dissapointing range session on Friday and I wanted to just take a day and regain focus and confidence. “Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”- Bo Bennett

Sunday I went over to see my coach again to get another lesson.  I asked him for reassurance that I was applying my grip correctly.  I want to have a solid understanding for what is exactly right, so in upcoming range session I don’t go trying to tinker with it again like I did on Friday.  Overall he thought that my set up, grip and takeaway were starting to improve nicely, but he wanted to work on my balance.  I tend to get my weight more on my toes at address and that causes me to bring my left leg up and in at impact, rather than straight and toward my right knee. It changes my spine angle and causes inconsistent strikes. (You must remember by the way that I’m a lefty, so for many of you picturing the right and left knee in your mind might be thinking that previous sentence didn’t make much sense)  By the end of the lesson my balance was a lot better and after hitting the rest of my golf balls after the lesson, I started to get more consistent strikes.  Just focused on my long irons Sunday, no woods and tonight I’ll be heading to the range again like usual on Monday night and test my whole bag with the new balance point.  Really need to get my driver and woods back to where they were before the changes if I’m going to continue to break 80.  I’m playing golf on Wednesday this week, not sure where at the moment, but am locked in with a friend to play on Wednesday, so this will be my first round since starting the blog and we will see how my new swing transfers to the course.  I’ll be posting a picture of my scorecard, where I keep track of varies stats. Fairways and greens hit, up and downs, sand saves, putts and penalty strokes.  My goals right now are to continue to break 80 with an improving short game saves %.

My lesson video wouldn’t process on here last night so I had to wait till today to post this after uploading the video to YouTube.  My range session last night was really good, started to implement the changes in my balance you’ll see in this upcoming video and it really seemed to work.  Kept my focus the entire session, visualizing playing golf holes and playing at flags.  Swing is still a work in progress, but feeling more confident with my swing going into my round on Wednesday than I was last week.  Here is the video recap of my lesson on Sunday, you can see how my balance has changed and looks to be in a much better position for more consistency strikes.

On Monday I went to the driving range at night and practiced for about 2 hours, worked mainly on my driver trying to improve my consistency.  I hit the ball really well and was feeling confident in my game heading into Tuesday where I decided to go get an hour lesson from my instructor.   We discussed how I have been playing lately and had him take a look at my driver and swing.  Needless to say he found quite a bit of flaws in my set up and grip.  I will be posting the video recap of my lesson that he sent me at the end, which is a really useful and cool thing that he does for his students.   At first, the feelings of the positions he was telling me to get into felt completely foreign and awkward.  I went from striking my driver solid and 300 yards to duck hooking it about 175 yards.  I was a little frustrated at myself for not being able to really “do” the changes he was asking me to do, but after the lesson I hit about 80+ balls and was really starting to figure it out by the end.  I started to hit the ball straighter with better strikes and distance.  It is going to take a lot of practice to start to feel comfortable in the new position I need to be in with my grip, set up and swing path, but soon enough if I keep practicing it, those feeling will become my new normal.  If it’s the correct position to be in that will help me be consistent in the long term then I’m all for trusting it 100%.  It is really frustrating though when you feel like you are finally improving your game only to have to retool your swing again and you start to feel like you are going to have to take a few steps back in the short term to hopefully move a lot further in the long term and get to where you need/want to be.   “Choose your goal and keep your eye on it. Never give up.  Perhaps you will need to change your plan and approach your goal from a different direction, but don’t quit.  Keep thinking. Keep re-planning. Keep going” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Going to go putt for a few hours today and hit up the range at night with a buddy.  Here is the video recap of my golf lesson on Tuesday.