Friday, April 21, 2017

3Jack Swing Journal 4.21.17



Since I did the ‘re-boot’ of my blog one of the things I wanted to get back into is a swing journal. This time I wanted to make this more detailed and perhaps a little more interactive. I don’t proclaim to be a ‘swing expert’, but I do believe I’m an expert at consuming golf instruction.

It’s a wonderful tat to have.’ – Andy Dufresne

I believe that my experience in golf instruction and continuing to learn how to ingrain new movement patterns along with understanding the pitfalls of trying to improve and when I’m on the right track and when to fold a bad hand can be helpful to other golfers of all different handicaps.

But first, I wanted to give a background on my swing and swing instruction that I’ve received.

As a junior golfer I virtually received almost no golf instruction. I took a lesson when I started at the age of 11 years old and then took a lesson from David Orr (yes, that David Orr www.flatstickacademy.com). It was 1 lesson and we worked on the ole ‘towel under the left armpit connection drill.’ As a junior golfer my learning of the golf swing came from reading the occasional Golf Digest tip and playing…A LOT.

You could only hit the ball about 160 yards in our driving range where I grew up playing or you would strike the houses. So a lot of my ‘practice’ was just going out and playing. Or occasionally dropping some balls when nobody was around and hitting them from the fairway or tee box. It was routine for me to walk and play 45 holes a day. The most holes I ever played in one day (and walked all of them) was 90 holes.

When I started college I had a major issue…not only was I struggling with my swing…but the old Golf Digest tips didn’t work. Even worse is I had virtually NO knowledge of the golf swing. I actually used to think that you took your divot behind the golf ball. With some more knowledge these days I better understand how that lack of knowledge helped me in some senses play so well, but by this point I was struggling so bad that I needed knowledge in order to fix issues.

And the big issue with the lack of knowledge is that I had no idea what teachers knew what they were talking about and which ones didn’t. That goes to one of my main rules about golf instruction:

At the end of the day, an instructor is judged by how well they improve their students.’

This is why I find it critical that when seeking a golf instructor that a golfer look at their students and how well they improve.


*** 

During my college days, I then became obsessed with golf instruction and trying to ‘crack the code’ to the swing. In that time I purchased and read just about every book I could find, took out every golf magazine swing sequence…put it into a plastic sheet and kept it in a loose leaf binder. And I sought out instruction from numerous instructors including:

Butch Harmon
Jimmy Ballard
David Leadbetter
Mike Bender
Rick Smith

Eventually I got into Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine with the help of Chuck Wike (www.chuckwike.com) and that seemed to help the most. However, I was still a better ballstriker as a junior golfer than a college golfer.

After I graduated college I played golf for one more year and then quit the game for 8 years, re-starting in 2009. Here’s what my swing looked like when I first got back into the game after the lay-off:







Soon after I started up with Ted Fort (www.fortifiedgolf.com) and started employing the ‘Hitting’ procedure from The Golfing Machine (in college I was using the ‘swinging procedure’).




I had some good success with that and dropped my handicap to a +1 in about 10 months after the 8 year lay-off. I then started to work with John Erickson (www.advancedballstriking.com) which was a much flatter swing ‘plane’ methodology.



I actually hit the ball well for a good period of time using this methodology, but my club speed was down to the 102 mph mark. I did find on Trackman that I was virtually ‘zeroing out’ all of my numbers with the attack angle, face angle, path and swing direction all at 0 degrees. It would explain why I started hitting the driver extremely accurately.

Eventually, I moved to Florida and started working on M.O.R.A.D. with George Hunt (www.georgehuntgolfacademy.com). Some of the same principles from TGM and John Erickson applied, but the ballstriking and club speed (up to 110 mph) more importantly improved:





George ended up moving away from Florida and I eventually started to see instructors like James Hirschfield and Brendan Kennedy (http://www.heathrowcc.com/golf/garl/instruction)

Eventually I decided to start working with Kelvin Miyahira in October of 2014. I remember the first lesson I had with him I shot 68 at the Legends Course at Orange Lake Resorts. Of course, it wasn’t always 68’s and striping the ball from there. I took a while to understand it which I spent the better part of 2015 doing. I also started working on my swing with Lucas Wald which goes back to one of my big theories about being a golf student:

It’s okay to work with a golf instructor repeatedly for about 1 year. If you like what the instructor is teaching, you may want to find another instructor that teaches a very similar swing philosophy in order to prevent getting in a rut with a single instructor and getting a fresh pair of eyes to attack issues in your swing.'

In 2016 I was committed to playing in golf tournaments and got my handicap up to a +4. These swings were in March of 2016, about 2 months before I started playing arguably my best golf ever (May 2016). I won an amateur event, finished 2nd in another and me and a friend won a 2-ball event. I also shot 65 on 6 different occasions (lowest round ever is a 64 – twice).





As luck would have it, a lot in my life changed in that time as I moved to the Boca Raton area, then moved back to the Space Coast area and had a lot of time that I didn’t get to play golf. I did in 2016 get my club speed as high as 117 mph with the driver on Trackman (and as high as 105 mph with a 3-iron). I checked it a couple of months ago and it was at 113.2 mph.

Right now, I'm at a +2 handicap.  I had some 'struggles' and started to regain my golf swing during vacation in December.  I started to experiment with some new things and they were working well until I had to take a few weeks off due to a bronchial infection.

The past 2 weeks I've struggled with my golf swing, but have managed to keep my scores from being awful with a 74 (+2 over) at Juliette Falls and a 72 (Even Par) at Orange County National - Panther Lake course.

In my next journal entry, I will give a video of my current swing and some of my beliefs on the golf swing.




3JACK

5 comments:

Gavin King said...

Great post...looking forward to the follow up.

I'm curious on the swing speed fluctuations.. do you put this down to technique differences, or physical differmces? Are you doing any swing speed training at all? 10-15mph is a lot of gain.

Best,
Gavin

stevephelps1 said...

Super interesting. Hard to believe how much more upright your swing looks now. How challenging was it to make the transition?

Rich H. said...

Gavin King - I would say that speed fluctuations are a bit of both technique and physical differences. As you can see in the videos, I had some health issues that caused me to put on quite a bit of weight over the years. However, I did reach 117 mph in 2016. But, I've also found that when I don't warm up that can be the difference of about 10 mph club speed. I'm not the young kid that can step out of the car and hit balls like it's nothing anymore.

But I would say that the swing differences played a bigger factor. More upright and longer backswing...all things being equal...will add more speed. I have much more pelvic rotation in the downswing as well.

Lastly, because I have a full time job and I'm a small business owner and I'm older, it's more difficult to catch on as quickly and easier to get my swing out of whack. I can probably swing a driver 115 mph on one hole and the next hole swing it 107 mph or so.

Rich H. said...

Stephen Phelps - for me the transition wasn't that difficult. The bigger difficulty is 'doing it right.' I tend to get a little lazy in my backswing pivot and when I was working on a flatter backswing, the club would get too laid off. With the more upright backswing getting lazy with the pivot could cause me to get the swing too long and use too much arm swing.

The other difficult part is more about the transition and being able to adapt to a transition that is compatible with the backswing plane.

I use a lot of slow-motion practice and as far as backswing plane goes, it's fairly easy for me to go from flat to upright and vice versa.

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