Winter Golf Lessons – Part I

Don’t be too proud to take a lesson. I’m not. – Jack Nicklaus

In the short space only nine months, I’ve come a full 180° on golf lessons.  Where pride and stinginess previously prevented me from seeking or accepting much-needed help with my golf swing, I now realize how invaluable having a knowledgeable second set of eyes to explain, demonstrate, and correct really is.

In the first several lessons of my winter range membership package, the progression of changes to my swing has accelerated rapidly.

I don't often reach this position, but when I do, I get to enjoy what a "golf shot" is supposed to feel like.

I don’t often reach this position, but when I do, I get to enjoy what a “golf shot” is supposed to feel like.

Over the course of just the first two weeks, I’ve finally figured not only how to close the clubface on the way back to get the club into proper position at the top, but I’ve quickly learned to trust it.

There have been some growing pains, most notably in my hands, wrists, and forearms.  However, in the short space of a handful of practice sessions, what felt incredibly awkward now feels much more normal.

Also, for the first time, I’m learning to effectively strike and compress the ball by hitting the ball on the downswing (Driver excepted, of course).

This revelation is the result to two tweaks to the swing: 1). I just had to make the conscious decision not to pick the ball from the turf, and 2.) I’m learning not to flip my hands through the impact zone.

For as long as I’ve played golf, I’ve always picked the ball clean, never taking much, if any, divot from the turf.  My hands were fast enough that I get from a wildly open clubface to almost square position at impact, despite my body being completely out of position.

This wasn’t the result of any particular talent or a result of me being special.  Rather, it’s just always what I had done in the absence of any formal instruction to the contrary, other than reading (poorly) Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.

The results of my former methods were unpredictable, at best, and as my athleticism fades with each passing year, I finally understand why this was a swing model destined to continue to fail.

"Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing." - Ben Hogan.  Boy, did he ever have that one right?

“Reverse every natural instinct and do the opposite of what you are inclined to do, and you will probably come very close to having a perfect golf swing.” – Ben Hogan. Boy, did he ever have that one right?

I’m now working on things like maintaining proper angles, keeping the club on plane, keeping the clubhead outside of my hands on the way back, and laying the club off at the top of my backswing.

These are all completely foreign feeling concepts, because I’ve never had an angle to maintain before, or any idea what my swing plane actually was, and never worried (or knew) where my hands were in relation to my clubhead.

As foreign as these concepts have been to try to incorporate to my swing, I’m sure none of this has been as challenging to my golf pro as trying to train that 5-inch battlefield between my ears why certain movements and thoughts help and why others hinder a good golf swing.

While it generally takes about three practice sessions to comfortably work the physical changes into my golf swing, I’ve found it takes significantly longer for me to fully understand why I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Throughout this year-long process, my pre-shot and mid-swing thoughts have evolved from every few weeks, which definitely keeps all the practice from becoming monotonous or boring.

As always, the golf swing is a work in progress.  However, as the corrections get smaller and the tuning finer, I feel like I’m getting closer to my goal of having a repeating, consistent golf swing I’ve always dreamed of.

5 thoughts on “Winter Golf Lessons – Part I

  1. Dave

    WOW, you have definitely made some progress! Couple points – first you are quite young. I am 52 and had my best year this year, your athleticism does not fade unless you let it. Second, I am impressed at how much you work at your golf game. Very inspiring!


    • Thanks for the kind words, Jim. Glad to know I’ve got many good years ahead of me.

      As to the work, it was a family decision. I’m under no illusions of making ever being a great golfer. The Wife & I both realize I’m a better person to be around if I can get out, get away from it all, and get some exercise regularly, if not daily.

      Playing, or even practicing, golf fills that need, in addition to being something I love to do. And the lessons make the golfing experience so much more enjoyable. Plus, I had, and continue to have, a LONG way to go.

  2. Thanks Dave.
    I’ve had luck with lessons too after many years of thinking I could do it on my own. Great to read about the progress your making. It’s funny, golfers will spend so much on equipment but generally not on how to effectively use them. I wish you continued success and a great 2015 season.

    I’m going to sign up for winter lessons and hope to continue my trend of improvement. I’m 47 and am playing the best golf of my life!

    Keep it in the short grass!

  3. Dave, glad to see you’re investing in the carpenter rather than the tools. Keep putting your money in that bucket and you will improve to the best of your ability; guaranteed. Continue to enjoy the journey!


  4. Pingback: Winter Golf Lessons – Part II – muscle memory | One Bearded Golfer

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