I’m 35 years old, and much to The Wife’s chagrin, I still have several items of clothing that date as far back as my freshman year of college in 1997. I’m proud that I can (mostly) fit into those ragged old t-shirts and sweatshirts, stretched collars and sleeves aside.
Admittedly, I’m in significantly better shape and overall health than I was as recently as two years ago, so it’s not like these gems of male fashion have had it easy along the way. There were times when some of those “senior” clothing items scarcely reached the waistband of any pair of pants I could wear.
Regardless, one of my favorite utilitarian warmth providers this time of year is wonderfully snug University of Kentucky sweatshirt that has endured hundreds, if not thousands, of trips through the washer and dryer. There’s no slack left in this beauty anywhere.
As soon as I put it on, I instantly feel a bit like the little brother that gets ridiculously bundled up to go out and play in the snow in the classic A Christmas Story. The sleeves don’t quite lay right, and the thread has been stretched so tight by all those whirls through the dryer that it actually restricts my range of movement.
Despite its limited fashion value, tonight, while crisply compacting golf balls off or a frozen rubber & Astroturf mat, I discovered that such a restricting shirt actually provided tangible benefits to my golf swing practice.
I’ve never felt comfortable playing in multiple layers, a jacket, or even a heavy sweatshirt. Anything that restricted the movement of my arms or interrupted my ability to turn my body back and through the ball was anathema to my golf swing. Or so I thought.
Of the many things my pro and I are working on this winter, correcting my swing plane, not coming down from too far inside, and keeping my right elbow inside of the club are a few of the keys.
Before I got to the “serious” practice and approached working up a sweat, I attempted to loosen up while still wearing my old faithful sweatshirt, due in no small part to the arctic winds and flurries falling intermittently this evening.
Instead of overextending my arms up and back away from my body too far, the restrictive qualities of my sweatshirt made sure I didn’t try to do what I know I’m not really capable of doing during my golf swing. And a funny thing happened, I was making great contact right from the start of my practice.
No shanks, no screaming hooks, and most importantly, no finger-breaking thin mis-hits in the sub-freezing temperatures.
Sure, I remember the endless B-roll footage of Vijay Singh practicing with a towel underneath his right arm from his prime years. I’ve tried that drill, with mixed results.
But who little did I know that my old, at least one-size-too-small sweatshirt could be just as effective as a training aid. Best of all, it was a tool that I didn’t have to think about!
Eventually, I got warm enough to peel off my
girdle sweatshirt. However, the unintentional lessons learned from not swinging to my maximum reach were already part of tonight’s muscle memory, which produced perhaps my best practice session of the season.
Is this a viable, long-term game improvement strategy? Of course not. But the next time that The Wife tries to forcibly downsize my winter wardrobe, I’ve now got one more arrow in my quiver of excuses why that old sweatshirt shouldn’t be retired just yet.