Second Round In The Bag

Since I’m following the E=MCS swing method, this is a photo that I come back to fairly often for inspiration. The young Jack Nicklaus swing is so powerful and is the perfect example of what you would want your swing to be if you are using a good classic golf swing. This is what I have been working on for the last couple of weeks since I contacted The Coach and had him look over a short video of my swing. He let me know that I had definitely wandered away from the fundamentals and recommended making a few changes. I also stumbled across a change on my own that fixed a little problem I was having, leading me to share that with you now using Jack Nicklaus as the poster boy.

Yesterday I found myself on the course for only the second time this year and was excited to try some new clubs and new things that I have been working on to get my swing down. I set myself up methodically, putting my head and hands where they needed to be, widening my stance to be proper for the club I was hitting. Here is where the biggest change comes in. I typically will look at the back of the ball, which I recently discovered has my head cocked at an odd angle. I found that angle has lead to me looking at the very inside of the ball, which sets my whole body off on the wrong angle. That has caused my dragging the club too far inside and then coming back from even further inside. Combine that with the setup problems and you get fat and thin shots that have such a hook on them its a surprise they don’t boomerang back around to the tee I hit it off!

So I changed the angle of my head.

I looked at what Jack does when he sets up. Instead of the Mike Austin/Sam Snead forward press I was using, I waggle and then turn my head as Jack did (and still does) and found that my eye-line is now perfectly inline with the flight-line I would like, which is straight. Little did I know, but that changed much of what I found wrong!

And now, a short recap of yesterdays round!

The driver was booming, carrying further than it has before. I realized that as I was becoming tired, my mechanics would drop off, the power fade would return, later turning into a push fade from trying to swing too hard. I find it funny that I swing harder when I’m tired. I had a few truly excellent driver shots that made me feel like I was finally getting it down. My pivot felt great as well.

Irons were mostly on. I had a few shots here and there as I got tired that weren’t great, but mostly I was happy. The course was cart-path only since we’ve had enough rain to build an ark. I found myself grabbing a 5 and 6 iron along with my rangefinder and running across the fairway to shoot the distance. I zapped the guy standing over the flag on the green, the rangefinder says 235 yards. Neither the 5 or the 6 iron can get that far, but I’ll be darned if I’m not going to try. Pace of play and all that.

I take the 5, angle my stance to play into the draw that I’ll end up hitting off the sidehill lie I have with the ball above my feet, then let her rip. the ball landed approximately 210 yards away. stabbing directly into the false front and popping back out, rolling about 5 feet down the hill and holding. That was fantastic.

I also managed to hole a 40 yard wedge shot, shoot my first birdie of the year and sink a 40 footer for par on one of the longer par 3’s. I did hit a few errant shots on the back 9 as my strength failed me. I also need more work on the putter, but with a foursome slowing us down and another foursome running up behind us, I was prone to take less time lining up the putts and just practicing pace to make sure I am bonding with my new putter and golf ball. All in all, I am very happy with the round. I will be working more on my conditioning and making sure that I have more strength and wind to get through a round so I can keep up the level of play.

A little more work and I think I’ll be on to something!

Channeling John Daly At The Range

See this guy right here?

Yes, John Daly.

I would like to say that his natural skill and awareness of his own body movements is one of the most natural displays of golf that will ever be. HOWEVER….there are some things there that you can learn from!!!

You all know that I have been on a mission to get my swing figured out and gain some distance but not sacrifice any accuracy. I went to the range at the end of last week with just my hybrid, figuring that it wouldn’t be bad to get back into the swing of things (not sure if pun was intentional or not) with a longer club that wasn’t driver. (Driver and I are still getting used to each other. I’ve made a change that should make things a little better, but we’ll see what I get it out on the course) The hybrid seemed like the logical choice, especially since one of the two I have has been cut down about a half inch, making it a little more easy to work with.

That hybrid is 20* of loft, X-Stiff shaft (which I probably don’t need) and a half inch shorter than standard. The first shot I stuck with my old way of swinging, which is MCS style but short like Charley Hoffman. I recalled my thoughts on Sam Snead and having to work on my tempo and timing, leading me to think “Why not try to swing it like ole JD and see what happens?” Seemed like an innocuous thought at the time. I set myself up, waggled a few times, then drew back, letting my arms go a little longer than usual over head. I dropped in, and BANG…that ball sailed farther than it had it quite a while. Without giving it more than probably 70% I watched that ball drop out of the sky around 215 yards out and then roll out even further.

For the next couple of shots, I kept the power around 75%, just getting used to letting the club get that far over my head and feeling loose in my arms before kicking my weight down and through. By the time I reached the halfway point in the bucket, I was ready to try some serious power. I set one up, waggled, drew back…BANNNNGGGG!! That ball ended up sailing about 245 yards before finally coming down. The Pro that was giving a lesson at the end of the range said “Well Damn…” while the kids he was teaching stopped swinging and watched. Now, I didn’t go to the range to showoff, but I have to say that really greased the wheels of my ego, which got my feeling way more comfortable with this new loose JD style swing.

I finished off the bucket hitting around 80-85% power, working on keeping my head still. (That’s a serious problem for me, but I think I’m getting it nipped) I was putting the ball out there about 230 yards with each shot once I was keeping my head still.

I have to say….while most coaches and teachers would venture away for JD’s swing, it is definitely working for me. I have always had issues being a little quick because it feels more powerful. This is really starting to work for me to keep that tempo in check. I love JD and I love Fred Couples. They always look as though they aren’t really trying and that’s because they have the sequence down and their hands whip through with enough power to handle putting that ball into orbit.

This week is great weather, so I plan on hitting the range at least once, hopefully squeezing in a round this weekend since I have a 5 day weekend starting Friday night. I will get some video up soon!

First Round of 2019!

This past Thursday I took the day off of work because the high that day was to be 79*F. The first few days of the week had been beautiful Spring-like weather that made me fidget knowing that full on golfing weather was getting very close. So I headed out to the course I live on and played 18 holes to see how things have been going since the last time I was out on the course!

To start with, I shot 85.

The course is a par 71, a touch over 6600 yards from the back tees. It can get narrow as it runs through the back part of my neighborhood, but overall, it does have its merits and challenges. The greens were actually it really good shape this time out, and that led to me discovering some things about my putting that are very interesting. Let’s recap how it went.

The first 4 holes are Par 4’s, all in the same general yardage range. Then comes a par 3, then back to a par 4 and so on. It’s an interesting layout to be honest. It does have some very narrow spots that can be challenging, especially given the fact that houses line both sides of the fairways on certain holes.

Off the tee? Well, it took two holes for me to get back into my normal power fade. While I wasn’t really having that much of an issue trying to work the new move into my irons, the driver and three wood had different plans for me. I lost strokes on two holes because of errant tee shots and then had to rely on my wedges to make things easier for me. On the shorter holes on the back 9 I decided to switch to the hybrid for my tee shot and things got much better there.

In The Fairway? That was better than its been in a while. I was striping short irons and my hybrid was just plain vicious. I sent more than one shot dead on the line I chose and put myself closer to the flag than I’m used to. I’m guessing all that work I’ve been doing in the backyard is finally paying off. Wedges were tight and they had spin to spare. I saw one that was something Seve-esque that bounced once and damn near stopped immediately, leaving me a 3 footer for par at the par 5 with such a severe dog-leg left, it leaves you no choice but to bend it like Bubba or make it a three shot hole.

On The Green? I was carrying two putters that day. My Cleveland Huntington Beach #3 and my Odyssey Metal-X #8. They require two different putting styles, and I’ve always felt more comfortable with the Odyssey. I discovered that my putting stroke is just too damn long. I don’t remember why, but I tried the Brandt Snedeker “Pop Stroke” and suddenly the ball was rolling more pure than ever before, leading me to save most of these holes from 8 feet and in. I never would have considered that maybe my stroke was too long, but now that I’ve seen the benefit of hitting the ball with that type of stroke, there’s a good chance I’ll probably stick with using it.

Overall I was very happy with the first trip out of 2019. I’m sad that it took so long for me to get around to going out and playing, but I have plans to make the most of the Spring when work is still slow for me and make sure that I’m getting out once or twice a week, not including the weekends that I play with friends.

I get the feeling that with a little more work and maybe a quick swing check with coach, I’ll be dropping those scores fast!

The Weather Finally Breaks…

North Carolina has been exceptionally cold over the last couple of weeks. The “nice” days (meaning in the 50’s temperature-wise) have mainly been rainy. That doesn’t lead to enjoyable golf. That also means that I have not been doing much golfing lately and I think that’s not really that bad.

I posted in my last blog that I was seriously overthinking my swing, and that with some video reviews, I was able to pinpoint where I was having an issue. That actually led to another realization that I think is really starting to bring everything together for me. I noticed the big lateral shift I had, which was started by not planting the lead foot and staying behind the ball. This weekend I hit on something that has been helping my backswing which is helping me stay on a much better plane when I’m swinging. Still has a strange feel to it, but I think it’s starting to get me to where I need to be.

This week is bringing temperatures in the 70’s during the week, so as of the writing of this post, my plan is to take at least half a day off of work and walk the 3 blocks to the clubhouse and get some golf in. Part of the reason I moved to where I am is because the golf course is right close by! I have no excuse and the warmer weather will leave me with very little to do at work, so why not take advantage of it?

Stay tuned, as I will likely try to post some video of the adventure provided I don’t get teamed up with someone that is continually rushing me as I won’t have my normal playing partner with me.

Overthinking: The Easy Part Of Golf

I think you can tell by the title alone exactly what I’m going to say in this post!

I have been working on my swing relentlessly over the past few weeks. I have scrutinized everything about the takeaway, the backswing, the transition, impact…you name it, I’ve looked at it 10,000 times. The security cameras on my house get a workout since I go back and watch my swing every time I’m outside with a club in my hands because it seems like that would be an optimal situation. I won’t be making my best efforts on those swings because I won’t be aware of the cameras. Genius, right?

All that hard work has led to a single conclusion, though. I

I am SERIOUSLY overthinking it.

The golf swing isn’t as complicated as it sounds and not nearly as difficult as modern instruction makes it seem, I can promise you that much. I re-watched my 9 hole course vlog where I had played very quickly just to see how well I can do under the pressure of having to move a camera around and set up before each shot on a busy Saturday morning in the summer. I saw something when I reached hole 3 and the angle on my tee shot changed, because the tee box slopes down into a main road just behind where I was standing. It was there I noticed that my grip was MCS, my stance was *almost* MCS (could’ve use a touch more right side tilt) and the backswing was just about what I’ve been looking for. It would have been pretty much ideal if I was tilted a bit more. And then, BAM! I saw it.

If you slow the video down and watch my move from the top, the lateral shift is there, just EVERYTHING goes with it. Instead of stomping my foot down and dropping behind while my hips are shifting and starting to turn a bit, I take everything with me and have to maneuver myself out of the way to get the ball to go. I typically end up hitting a fade with the driver all day, likely because of how I am able to get myself just enough clearance with my OTT move that it doesn’t slice completely. Some shots are gentle fades, some are power fades, but nothing that is a complete slice. My irons are the opposite all that day too. The face to super closed at impact because I’m not behind the ball and it leads me to hitting a lot of draws and one big hook.

That is a breakthrough for me, I should think. I’ve now kind of identified that biggest troublemaker in my swing and I can really set myself to working on it.

I’ll admit that I don’t really do the exercises that DJ gives us in the MCS videos because I almost always have a club in my hand, but I will be making an effort to get myself an appropriately weighted kettlebell this weekend to really optimize my in-home practice and finally start getting that transition right!

Ah, the magic of YouTube and the .25 speed setting!

2019 Golf Season

I have to say, 2019 is off the such a strange start.

In North Carolina, the weather is incredibly unpredictable in the Winter and this year is no exception. Today the high is 68 degrees, and there’s a light wind blowing. That’s perfect golfing weather in my book. I had planned to find my way to a golf course this weekend to play 18 holes…and then I find out that the high on Saturday and Sunday is 41 degrees and there is a chance of snow on both days! How is a man supposed to play golf in this weather?!

Today, however, I believe that I will make some time to hit the driving range and swing the club a few times and see how things are working so far.

I’ve made some major swing changes since picking the game up again and I have been working on a new swing for the last couple months. I will do a separate blog/vlog on the subject, but I have to admit now that I’m fairly surprised with how it’s been working out for me. I don’t buy into mumbo jumbo and hype, and there was not much of either surrounding this particular teacher and way of swinging. I did my research and even tried out a couple of other methods of learning (namely Me And My Golf as well as Top Speed Golf) before stumbling across this coach. I did six months on each of those aforementioned websites before finding and switching over to my current “coach” and I am happy I did…but that’s venturing to far into the blog/vlog territory, so let’s leave it at that for now and we will get back to that later.

The goal for this year is to get my swing together and work on my putting and short game to make sure that all the parts of my game are working correctly. I’m also going to work on getting my official handicap card so I can start working my way to having a low enough handicap to start trying to qualify for tournaments. I hope to find some time in the late Summer, early Autumn to play a few of the small local tournaments and see how things go. I also have a few tournaments that my company usually plays in that I’m sure we will place much better in if I can get my game in better shape. Sometimes it gets tough carrying the team!

Until the next time.

The Journey Begins

The beginning is a good place to start, I should think, and that’s precisely where we are going to begin this journey.

I welcome you all to The Joy of Putting and hope that you will find something of interest to keep you coming back.

The easiest way to begin would be to tell you why I’m evening starting this journey. That’s an easy one. It’s because I really do enjoy the game of golf and I want to play the best that I am capable of just for my enjoyment. There’s something to maximizing one’s skill at something in the pursuit of utmost enjoyment. Or more simply: The better I play, the more I want to play.

I do have some goals along the way, of course. No blog would be complete without a solid purpose that defines it. I do have the ultimate goal of trying (and hopefully succeeding) in qualifying for a Tour or a PGA Tour event at some point. I also want to play and win some local tournaments. I would love to find a way to play my way onto the Champions Tour later in life…and I think 18 more years of practice should give me plenty of time to prepare.

Still, I appreciate you taking the time to join me on the journey and look forward to really diving in!