September 25, 2013

Fixing the Pull


That pretty much sums up my last few golf outings.  I pull shots way less on the range, which is weird but I guess kinda makes sense since I'm worrying more about my form than the result.  So instead of pulling nine out of ten, I usually pull six out of ten.  But on the course we all kinda just let it all hang out and play fast & loose.  Right?
I tried implementing a few changes but nothing really stuck. I knew deep down that I was just ignoring the biggest and only reason for the pull. It took a YouTube reply from the fellas at Me & My Golf to get me to finally come to grips with it:
"[T]o hit a straight pull, the face will be square to the path and the swing path will be left (for a right handed golfer)"

Yup. Out-to-In. I was hitting a good draw consistently about three months ago and I thought the sudden appearance of the pull was from me over-drawing it(?) But I kinda always knew that my pull came from the same problem that caused the slice I rocked when I started playing golf. I was coming over the top so much back then and corrected it by trying keep my elbow completely attached to my ribs from address all the way to impact till my shots consistently turned right. I guess I got too comfortable lately and started reverting back to my old habits.
The foot twisting out still really bothers me, but its mostly just aesthetically. I want my swing to not just be effective but also to look nice. 

I found this neat little bit of information on written by golf instructor Roger Gunn (emphasis added):

Diagnosing the Pull

The grip is not normally a factor with a pull.
Make sure you are not aiming too far left, or that your shoulders are pointing too far left.
Ball Position
You might have the ball too far forward in your stance. This causes you to catch the ball when the club is swinging back to the left.
The club is likely being pushed outside the target line on the way back. The club should track a gentle arc on the way back. The club should be over your shoulder at the top, not over your head.
Your arms are likely pushing away from your body at the transition. Keep your arms in so that they pass close to the right pants pocket on the approach. Make sure your head doesn't move toward the target until after impact.

I highlighted the two things I feel really apply to my swing.  I've been teeing the ball up a lot farther forward in my stance because the new position was yielding me a few extra yards, but now that I think about it I started hitting the pull right around the same time I made the change.  The head thing is kinda tricky, and I feel like this type of tip is easily misunderstood by most golfers.  "Making sure your head doesn't move . . ." is NOT the same as "Keep your eyes on the ground/ball."  What I think Mr. Gunn is referring to here is lateral sway towards the target.  I try to get my hips moving laterally towards the target at the top of my backswing, but honestly I never pay attention to keeping my head from moving toward the target as well. 

Looks like I'll be putting in some time on the range this week.  Good thing I still have that bucket of balls in my trunk that I didn't finish last time I went out to Lake Ridge.  

September 23, 2013

90% Sand 10% Grass

I played Cedar Crest Golf Club in Dallas last week with some classmates.  The round was pretty tough.  Started the day seven over par... after three holes!!!  Somehow managed to miraculously scrounge together an 87.  Pretty happy with the score but was really bummed with how I was hitting the ball.  Tons of shanks, still struggling with the stupid pull, and super garbage putting on 17 holes.
The greens were crazy bad; there was so much sand on them that even landing chips from just around the greens sent sand flying.  On top of that the greens were pretty wet from the morning dew.  Totally my fault for not getting the ball closer to the hole, but still... judging distance was super difficult.  My buddy Zack carded a solid 86 with some solid play, solid putting, solid solid'ing pretty much everywhere from tee to green.  We were pretty much even till he drained a bird in my face.

Overall, Cedar Crest was pretty nice.  Good price, nice layout, difficult walk and crappy greens tho.  I don't know if I'm gonna be back there anytime soon unless someone invites me.  C+.

Here's the vid.  Enjoy!
Had 'Sell Out' by Reel Big Fish playing while editing this video so I went ahead and added it since I was listening to it anyway.

Can you believe Breaking Bad is ending in a week?!?!?!?!

September 12, 2013

Stevens Park in Dallas and Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure...
I was going to take two weeks off to rest up and spend some time on the range, but looks like I might be playing sooner than expected...

Played a round with three buds from school last Monday.  We played the Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas.  It was a really fun round but also a brutal physical challenge.  Stevens Park is probably the most hilly golf course in the area.  Tons of elevation changes and very steep hills.  We walked the course and combining the heat with the uphill and downhill treks we were all experiencing some heavy cramping towards the tail end of the round.  Despite the workout it was a blast.  Had some good laughs and saw my buddy Will one hop it into the cup from off the green!  
Made another video and spotted a few things in my swing that I need to fix.  The biggest thing being the difference between my iron and driver tempos.  My irons are pretty controlled and I'm balanced after the ball leaves.  My driver is still pulling right and still too rough. 
I'm gonna start working on creating more of an in-to-out club path again next time I go to the range.  If I get it under control I should be able to shave a few strokes pretty soon.  I feel like my long range game is putting me in positions where I'm forced to (unsuccessfully) get up and down instead of comfortably(read:unsuccessfully) two putting for pars.  Putting was decent on Monday, short game was awful, but luckily Stevens Park is pretty short and I was able to take advantage of the par 5s to make up for my doo-doo play on the 4s and 3s.

Enjoy the vid!

September 4, 2013

Taking Time Off

Been playing too much lately.  Need a break.  I've been playing pretty decent and I really felt like my game was progressing nicely but I decided to take some time off because I developed a bad pull the last two or three rounds and it's causing my front nines to go in the toilet. 

If you watch my swing during the Riverside & Golf Club of Dallas vids you can see that my front foot is spinning out pretty violently after impact.  I've been trying to fix it at the range but the pull still hasn't gone away.  I ended up playing a fade on the entire back nine at Golf Club of Dallas.  I prefer hitting the straight ball because my misses are still pretty much all over the place.  Sometimes left, sometimes right, but lately I've been hitting balls straight right and it's been driving me batty that I haven't been able to fix it. 

My dad suggested that I try swinging slower, but I wasn't sure that was gonna fix what's going on with my lower body.  Plus, whenever I try slowing my swing down it muddles up my tempo and my short game suffers (100% of the time, every time.).  PLUS, I've been going to the gym a lot lately... what's the point in working out if I'm not trying to crush the ball.  I'm glad I started putting together the videos of our rounds so I can see what my form is like on the course.  The scores aren't ever really indicative of what you need to fix in your swing, and a lot of times a hot stretch of 9 holes on the front or back can really mask your problem areas in your mind.  E.g. you pull every ball on the front nine and shoot nine over and end up playing a cut on the back nine to shoot a solid four over.  The 83 would suggest solid play, when in fact all 18 holes were pretty much hot crap sprinkled with decent putting.  

So after a few rounds I realized I was just going after it too hard.  Now, there's a big difference between playing with finesse and swinging slow.  Tons of golfers out there swing at less than 90mph and it looks like a violent mess.  There's also a good amount of golfers out there swinging at over 110mph that make it look graceful and balanced (see Ernie Els).  Graceful and balanced is what I'm trying to get, but my ego oftentimes gets in the way.  Unless you have Bubba Watson level coordination and experience, swinging out of your shoes like I do just isn't a good way to send the ball on its way.  I know that the feet spinning wasn't the cause but instead more of the result of the main problem causing the pull; but I think fixing the feet will force me to swing more in control even if I keep the swing speed that I'm comfortable with.

To fix my problem areas, namely the straight pull to the right, I did the following:
  • "Keep that right foot still" was my only swing thought when I went to the range today;
  • Hitting a few straight pushes to the left intentionally;
  • Focus on holding a solid finish without falling in any direction;
  • Focus on committing at the top of the back swing on the in-to-out path;
  • Not accept a shot shape on the range that I didn't fully intend; 
  • Ask Ted for help on Twitter;
  • Listen to Ted's advice;

Overall my session at the range today was pretty successful!  I pulled a few balls here and there but I knew immediately what I did wrong.  For the most part it was forgetting to root myself into the ground at the top of the downswing and put too much juice into my hip rotation.  I'm already smelling some low scores in the near future! Can't wait to play again.