By: Pro From Dover
Our game has been deteriorating for a couple of years. After having played for more than five decades at a pretty good level, we knew it was slipping away. We have gone from a seven to a 13 in three years.
We’ve always played a left to right game and even when a round started poorly, we were able to find something in our mental filing cabinet that would get us through the game without a calamity. “Let’s go to swing number 27B shall we.”
But, now when rounds started badly, they continued that way.
Several years ago a good friend who is a pro observed that if we continued to swing as we were, with age, our game would begin circling the drain. Nostradamus as teaching pro.
So this past March after doing some research, we took a deep breath, walked into a Golftec franchise facility, threw our self on the floor and begged for help.
(Full Disclosure: we paid full retail for the analysis and the lessons we received. We did not indicate we had any interest in writing about the experience. We have no connection whatsoever with Golftec. We receive no benefit.)
The older players among us learned the game from our dad or friends or trial and error or on the range with a pro. We were shown fundamentals and given tips but our results could only be measured by where our shots were landing; and our swing could be viewed only in our mind.
With the advent of inexpensive and portable recording and replay technology, golf instruction has embraced the notion of hi tech show and tell.
Golftec has taken video technology and combined it with movement sensors that can track your basic body movements with accuracy through the entire golf swing. Set up, grip, swing plane, torso turn…everything is viewable in excruciating detail.
And that’s where the agony began.
The first step is a swing analysis. While wearing a sensor belt and shoulder harness, video is taken of the student’s swing….in verrrry slooooowwww motion. All sorts of numbers appear quantifying the amount of shoulder and hip turn, the speed and path of the club and much more.
We are 6’3″ tall and have never seen video of our swing. But being tall and stupid, we had this mental self- image of perhaps Ernie Els smoothing through the ball. HA!
Funny, the tape exposed us as Ernie the Snake Beater. Humbled doesn’t begin to explain the feeling of seeing ones absolutely disgraceful effort at hitting a golf ball. We were aghast at how we looked.
To further amplify how pitiful our swing is, Golftec is able to split the video screen and juxtapose us and a touring pro like Tiger or Rory. Ouch.
The PGA professional said he’s seen worst. Small comfort, that. He also added that we must have a hell of a short game to have a 13 with that swing. Damned with faint praise, we believe that’s called.
We signed up for ten half hour lessons and began what was to be an excruciating metamorphosis. All the pro wanted us to do was:
- Close our stance a bit at set up
- Change from a neutral to a strong grip with our left hand
- Move the hands farther away from our body
- Raise the hands at address
- Start the swing with our left shoulder
- Bring the club back on the inside
- “Uncup” our left hand at the top
- Bring the club down inside to out
- Bring our hips through aggressively
So we set to work. Lots of frustration and, candidly, lots of doubt cast at our pro. We whined, a lot. We complained that there was no way we could adopt all the changes. But we stayed with it.
One of the really cool devices at Golftec accurately measures the angle of your club face at ball contact and the plane of the swing as it approaches the ball. Through many, many repetitions we were able to refine our movement via reinforcement from the data. We could now hit a ball and know what position the club face was in and on what plane it was,
We were striving for a “square” club face coming down a slightly inside out swing plane which would, ideally, produce a slight draw.
Well, here we are for a mid season report: Cautious optimism is an appropriate phrase.
When we do what the pro is teaching us, we hit the ball 10% to 15% farther. It has a slight right to left bend. We are making much more solid contact.
Our pals have pointed out that we didn’t know golf courses had a left side. It’s a whole new adventure to actually aim down the right side of a fairway. The feeling of making square, solid contact for the first time in years is exhilarating.
We’re hitting about 40% of our shots something like the way we want. We still struggle with habits ingrained over 50 years. Sometimes we can do it under pressure, sometimes we can’t. Old dogs take a while to learn.
However, our bottom line is we are pleased with the progress we have made even though we are caught in between new and old sometimes. We have the tools and a better understanding of what makes our swing work. We are committed to the change and if we are successful we know that we will return to a single digit handicap.
Will it be this year? We’re not sure but there is hope. So, we’ll continue to visit and get tune ups at Golftec.