The 7th Lesson – Swing Path, scared straight

As some point, either I will get better or accept that I’m a frustrated masochist.

My golf game’s evolution simmered this spring, but has begun heating up along with the Central Kentucky temperatures.  It’s been an excruciatingly volatile process, with intermittent stretches of feeling in control and striking the ball really well giving way to an inability to get off the tee box, and back again.

The inconsistency of my on-course results has been the most frustrating part, but little by little, things are coming together.

I was feeling pretty good heading to see Mike at Man O’ War, fresh off my best ball striking and scoring round of the year at my home course.  During the round, I’d finally figured out the amazingly slow tempo I had to employ on the backswing to put me in a position to succeed from the top.

Maybe Mike could sense I was getting borderline confident, or maybe he was making a point that I’d be better-off coming to see him more often (I hadn’t been in for a lesson since before this year’s Hawaii trip).

Yes, he reminded me that I'm still struggling to break 80, but luckily for me, my golf pro is a lot more subtle and patient than Sgt. Hartman.

Yes, he reminded me that I’m still struggling to break 80, but luckily for me, my golf pro is a lot more subtle and patient than Sgt. Hartman.

Or maybe it was the fact that it took Mike about two seconds to realize I’d taken the swing principles he’d been teaching me and overdoing lots of the little things we’d worked on.

He was able to diagnose 1) why I was consistently inconsistent with my driver and 3-wood, and 2) where we needed to head next to continue my progress towards a fundamentally sound, consistent golf swing.

Somehow, I started taking the club way inside and way too low on the way back, to the point I never really reached the top of my backswing.  This caused my swing path to be way off…I mean like 20 degrees off, from inside to out.

No wonder my shots periodically had more hooking topspin than height producing backspin;  I’d taken something Mike had previously fixed and fed the fix human growth hormones to the point that I created a new problem.

Hunchback posture aside, if this guy were to attempt a full swing, he would be executing my new scared straight drill.

Hunchback posture aside, if this guy were to attempt a full swing, he would be executing my new scared straight drill.

Mike tried to tell me how to fix it, but like always, his point didn’t really reach me until he showed me how to fix it.  Enter the Scared Straight Drill to correct my swing path.

Scared straight drill: place the target ball a couple of inches just inside of a club, a station divider, or a line of golf balls lined-up parallel to the target line.

It should look like your standard target line/alignment drill, except that the ball should be uncomfortably close to the swing aid.

This encourages the golfer to take the club away on the correct outward path and forces the downswing to come down the target line, rather than severely inside-out or outside-in.

There were a lot of other little things that needed slight adjustments, which mainly consisted of encouraging me to reign in several moves that I was overdoing.

Looking forward, Mike continues pleading with me to flatten out my wrists, and I imagine that will be the subject of several subsequent lessons.  But for this week, consistently completing the downswing on the proper line was the objective.

Our hour together ended with me trying to digest a lot of information and a giant helping of humility, which ended with me hitting balls until I felt like I was in the neighborhood of The Answer.  For no good reason, I ended up “practicing” until my hands bled, searching in vain for consistency.

However, one sore-handed round and an additional practice session later, I feel like my swing is really starting to come together.  Feel free to try the Scared Straight drill yourself, just please make sure I’m not standing anywhere near you when you do.



4 thoughts on “The 7th Lesson – Swing Path, scared straight

  1. Dave

    It is interesting how you have taken what your coach has suggested and was “overdoing it”! I am sure we have all been your situation before; I like the Scared straight drill, I will have to give it a try. Are you still enjoying working on your game? Sounds like it.


    • Jim –

      I am still enjoying putting in the work to try to improve my golf game/swing. It’s obviously not where I want it to be yet, but it’s getting close. My mistakes are less costly and less frequent, though perhaps more frustrating because now I know I’m capable of making the shots.

      Hope you are enjoying yourself on the links!


      • Dave

        Sounds like you have entered a new chapter in your golf game. Making less mistakes that cost less is definitely a huge step forward to lower scores. Thanks for sharing your journey.


  2. Pingback: The 9th Golf Lesson – correcting the overcorrections | One Bearded Golfer

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