GolfTec Lesson: Weight Shift through the Swing

September 16, 2008

I went in for my first lesson in about a month and was pleased to find out I could move on from a total focus on the backswing.  This time, we focused on getting my swing properly loaded up on my right heel on the backswing and then shifting weight to the left foot and ending facing the target after hitting the ball.

I told my instructor that if I picked a spot on the ground to aim at for my practice swing, the club head would consistently come through inside that mark.  I’ve had problems with lifting my upper body as I swing, so I thought that might be the cause.

Instead of upper body, my instructor had me work on this weight shifting issue because I was coming up artificially high on the backswing with my arms, not really putting my weight on my back (right) foot.  This caused my swing to kind chop down too far inside, on too vertical a plane.  What I should have been doing was shifting my weight straight down into my right heel, creating more of a wind up, so that my swing followed the natural arc through where the ball was with a weight shift to the left through the ball.

My instructor gave me a few drills to work on this:

•    Do the whole swing with feet completely together. To maintain your balance, you’ll have to do the weight shift and this will give you a feel for how it should be in your regular swing.

•    Do the backswing standing on only your right foot, and switch to only your left as you transfer your weight through the swing.

•    Use a chair to mark how far back to go on the backswing and how far forward to go on the follow-through.  Your body should be perpendicular to the ground on both the back swing and the finish, not leaning too far in either direction.

Working on this has noticeably improved my swing, particularly with irons.  The next time I went out to play, I hit the ball much more solidly and consistently with the irons.  That’s about all that improved, but I’ll take it.


Putting Drill — The Little Hole

September 11, 2008

I went to the driving range today and the wind was just howling.  To make matters worse it was coming directly into the range so every ball I hit had to battle straight into the wind.  Not good for the ol’ self esteem.  The ball even blew way off course on the putting green.  I did find one simple putting drill that seemed to redeem my visit.  The putting green has a little hole just bigger than the golf ball with a sign for the “little hole drill” just like this one.  Basically, you start at one foot away and don’t progress to two feet until you’ve made two putts in a row, and so on.  I got stuck at four feet for quite a while.  This drill really increased my focus and it felt like I honed in on where to aim in a way I hadn’t managed to do with the regular-sized holes.  The regular holes seemed like huge targets when I moved back to them.  This is such a simple drill, but I think it could have a big impact if done consistently.

GolfTec Putting Lesson: Modified Claw Grip

September 2, 2008

My first putting lesson resulted in a totally new grip. I had been using a conventional grip with my left index finger and right pinkie interlaced. I was struggling to keep my wrists stable and had way too much wiggle in my stroke. My instructor tried out various grips with me and settled on a modified “claw” grip. My left hand goes in the club as usual, but the right hand comes in from behind the club so that the club rests in the “V” between the thumb and index finger, with the thumb and fingers all extended forward. Some claw grips have the thumb and fingers pointing towards the hole (see this Sports Illustrated story), or coming from behind but wrapped around the grip. The modification my instructor gave me seemed to provide the most stable movement for me. My instructor had me adjust my stance so that the ball was closer to my front foot, rather than in the center of my stance. He also had me get closer to the ball so that when I looked down at it, my head was basically over the ball. I have seen improvements from the increased stability of this grip. On the long road ahead, at least this is a start.

Gone Fishin’

August 12, 2008

Well, after a week in the Adirondacks, we have yet to play golf. It’s been raining just about every day and when it stops, we hop in the boat and go fishing. We’ve had some pretty good outings including my husband bringing home an 8-lb., 35” Northern Pike. Today we caught six bass (largemouth and smallmouth) and three nice pike. If this keeps up, I’m not sure if we’re going to make it off the lake to the golf course.

Two Golf Bags and a Boston Terrier — Vacation Time!

August 7, 2008

I was a little worried about our how our trip to the Adirondacks would go since this was our first time flying with our golf clubs AND our Boston terrier, Fred. But everything got there in one piece in the new bags we bought and Fred arrived none the worse for wear. We got these Tour Trek Endeavor travel bags at Golfsmith. They were some of the least expensive travel covers available, but they still seem to have a decent amount of padding. We also used the Club Glove Stiff Arm. You extend the stick up from the bottom of your bag until the hard dome is higher than the top of your driver. This absorbs the impact and protects your clubs when they’re thrown around by the baggage handlers.

Blister Buster

August 4, 2008

In spite of my best efforts to fix my grip, my thumb blister keeps reappearing.  This gets to be pretty annoying and painful out on the course.  My golf coach let me try the “miracle product” he found and it’s been the best thing I’ve tried for dealing with this.  It’s 3M Nexcare Absolute Waterproof Foam Tape.  The tape stayed on for 18 holes in the heat and was totally comfortable over the blister.  It adheres to itself and forms a good protective layer, but stays flexible, so it’s great for finger issues.  I love this stuff.

Fatal Car Chase Ends at Columbia Golf Course

August 4, 2008

I usually like to keep this blog more on the lighthearted side, but thought I would relate a brush with a not-so-lighthearted incident that made the local news this weekend. My friends and I were playing Columbia Golf Course in Northeast Minneapolis on Friday afternoon when we encountered the smoldering wreckage of a truck crash just outside the fence at Hole 5. Fire trucks were on the scene and the police were taping off the section of the course just behind the green. Later we learned that this was the scene of an unfortunate crash that left two dead after a police chase. I haven’t seen any news stories that specifically mention Columbia Golf Course as the site of the accident. Here are links to the local news stories:

Two die in car crash in Minneapolis while trying to flee cops

Identities of men who died after fleeing police released

Why They Require Collared Shirts on the Golf Course (Halfshirt Man)

August 4, 2008 I saw a guy on the golf course who looked a lot like this. This is the closest approximation I could find on the web, excluding the mullet and beer can. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes… is that guy on the 10th tee really wearing a half-shirt? And is it really shredded and could he pass for the Unabomber from the neck up? Yes, yes, and yes. The half-shirt did not seem to be a joke. How he got on the course, I’m not sure, but he was a spectacle.

And then today we had Muscleshirt Man. Unfortunately I got a real picture of this one. He, if no one else, was definitely impressed with himself… If these guys can pull this business off, why can’t a girl wear a tank top to stave off a farmer’s tan?

Golf Advice for Beginners

July 29, 2008

Fun fact:  did you know that Rule 8 of the USGA golf rules says that “during a stipulated round, a player must not give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies”?

Needless to say, in spite of Rule 8, I have gotten a lot of tips out on the course – you could say I’m an advice magnet.  Could it be that I have not yet managed to look like I know what I’m doing?  Ha…

Joking aside, I have gotten a lot of good pointers on and off the course — from my husband on the psychology of golf (“if you’re going to let this get to you, you should quit now…”) to a fitness fanatic friend (“legs and core, legs and core, legs and core…”).  One of the most helpful pointers came when I was playing Northwest in Silver Spring, Maryland.  A gentleman joined our group and when I apologized in advance for my beginner’s knowledge of golf etiquette, he gave me a tip on the spot.  He explained that when putting, you should move your bag to the far side of the green, both to avoid getting hit by an overeager golfer in a group behind you, and to keep from delaying play by having to walk all the way to the front of the green to retrieve your bag after putting.  I had no idea about this and appreciated both the good advice and the gracious way it was delivered.  It turned out that the kind gentleman advising me was a 40-year veteran of the New York Times and the founder of The Hill and Politico newspapers – Marty Tolchin.  It’s amazing who you might meet on the golf course, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post…

So my question to all you golfers is, what was the best (or the worst) golf advice you’ve ever received?

GolfTec Lesson: Arms on the Backswing

July 29, 2008

Golftec Lesson: Arms on the Backswing

My last GolfTec lesson focused on my arms on the backswing. Yes, still the backswing.

On the arms, I had been bringing my arms around practically behind my head, left arm bent, right elbow sticking straight out, club parallel to the ground with face totally closed. My “before” swing was not pretty sight. (In GolfTec, you end up with a “before” swing and an “after” swing that you can play back when you log in to your lesson online.) The goal was still to get my arms out away from my body, left arm straight, right arm tucked under at the correct angle. My instructor had me bring my arms back to where the top of the backswing should be, focusing on the correct form, several times, and then complete the swing from there. Another exercise was to complete the backswing while holding a golf glove under my right arm to help keep it tucked in. It exaggerates the position a little, but helps you get a feel for it. Another drill my instructor suggested for me to practice was to put my back against a wall or hedge and (gently) practice both the back and front of the swing. This keeps you from bringing the club way back behind you and helps keep your arms out. My “after” swing was a huge improvement, but the challenge will be getting consistent with this and making it my default backswing.