If you’ve played this game long enough, there’s a better than average chance that this has happened to you.
You’re minding your own business and you’re cruising along on the driving range or golf course. Then all of the sudden, you make a swing and it feels like you were possessed by Satan. The Prince of Darkness himself. Yeah, that felt rather, demonic. But, it’s only one golf swing and you chalk it up as a bit of a fluke. So, you take a deep breath, gather yourself, maybe grab a drink of water, and you make your next swing.
The ensuing swing is an exact carbon copy of the swing prior. So, you dust yourself off like a bull rider that was just bucked off at a rodeo. That prize steer that you were riding a few moments earlier, sure got the best of you. Uh-oh a third swing that doesn’t feel right in any way, shape, or form. Now, you might be feeling a little bewildered or even perplexed. So, if you’re like me, you just simply give your chin a little scratch and maybe have a chuckle over it shaking your head. Or, you do what so many others do. You colour the air blue with a few expletives mostly self-deprecating in nature.
From the mental side of the game, the self-deprecating move is horrible. Suddenly, you’re doubting yourself and your swing. You now putting unwarranted pressure on yourself. In doing so, you tighten right up. Nothing good can come of this Maybe, you start tinkering with a few ideas and now all Hell has been unleashed. Multiple swing thoughts and multiple swings creep into your round or session. Unfortunately, now you’ve morphed into Dr. Jekyll or perhaps Mr. Hyde. I mean, sure, they’re basically the same guy (or in the case of a Mrs. Hyde, same gal) but they aren’t. One’s nice, calm, and docile. The other is, well to be frank, a hideous monster. Now what do you do?
Chances are that you either walked off of the range/course or you proceeded to grind it out and play on. Hopefully, you’ve decided to grind it out until the end of the round or session. Let’s face it, there are much bigger things to get into a lather over. My father once said to me, “Alex, never quit because once you do, it’s easy to make a habit out of it”.
For a variety of reasons, all of them health-related (I have a Diabetic Foot Ulcer and three growths/cysts on the spine. I talk to a Neurosurgeon this week) my sessions and rounds of golf played have seen a similar situation that I describe above unfold. Lately, I’ve had a range session or three where “the thins” have crept into my swing, at impact of course. The worst part of a thinned or “bladed” strike is the lousy feel that’s left in your hands. What’s worse, has to be the sound at impact. Or even worse yet your ball flight is weak and feeble.
Without getting too involved in the mechanics or technical aspects of the golf swing I would like to offer up a simple piece of advice.
Slow it right down. There’s a saying that “less is more”. Slow it down. Take more golf club and swing less, but (and I cannot stress this enough) NEVER GIVE UP ON THE SWING. Make sure that you’re still accelerating through impact and finish. Chances are that by the end of your session or round, you’ll have discovered some sort of familiar feeling from your muscle memory ingraining your swing for countless hours at your nearest practice facility. Heck, if you’re on the golf course, you’ll likely find positives. Even if you’re playing the worst round of golf that you’ve played, ever.
An experience involving this exact situation happened recently. I was invited to a TaylorMade Golf – Canada media event held at Copper Creek Golf Club. I was swinging well coming into it with an awesome range session two days earlier and I was okay on the range while trying out new products. Namely, the new P790 irons (check out that review here), their new Milled Grind 3 wedges and the 300 Series Mini Driver ,that, just happened to be there. Swinging my own clubs before teeing off I was swinging my own sticks well. I felt good about playing. Then my back started causing me grief, a lot of it.
I went to the first tee and immediately plunked my opening drive in the drink. Low and left. Uh-oh. My miss which usually comes under pressure. To make a long story short, I missed left all-day. My striking was piss-poor (thin) and for the most part I was paralyzed by it. I knew what was happening, I knew the cause and I couldn’t stop it from happening. Knowing my swing, I know that my back being the way it is and not being able to turn was causing my hands and arms to tighten up which resulted in a “flip” that was caused by simply picking the golf club up. For those unaware, the flip is to the golf swing what Kryptonite does to Superman. The misses are awful and numerous (we’ll get into the causes and resolutions another day).
That afternoon of golf was a grind. I found positives as my putting was good switching to lead hand low on a whim on the first green, some chips and pitches were adequate (others not-so much), and I played well out of the sand which I was in all-day long. In fact, it was my first beach day of the summer. Literally, everything was left. I scrambled well from trouble all afternoon including a well-struck 5-wood from a lie that was well above my feet (it was a horrendous lie) that chased up to the green from just over 200 yards and led to a Par save.
Towards the end of the round, I managed to get my hands and back loose to the point where I was able to have something resembling a turn and more importantly tempo. I slowed everything right down and I got very rudimentary with my swing. I focused on one thing and that was one thought through impact. My fix on this day was quite remedial. I just wish that I could’ve been able to do it sooner.
While I believe that there’s no such thing as a bad day on the course, there are better days. If your swing train gets de-railed, try slowing it down, get back to the basics, and get back on the tracks. Always find positives, they’re there and there’ll be more than you think.
Until The Next Tee!!