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How was 2019? A step in the right direction. Swing became a lot more consistent and the putting lesson from 2018 paid off big time. The game was much more enjoyable.

The disappointment was I didn’t fulfill my goal of playing more. I need to be swinging on a consistent basis. Despite the best of intentions that flat out didn’t happen.

So I’m getting a head start on 2020. I purchased a season pass at our local 1st Tee facility. The hours available to me are limited (the kids do come first after all) but I can make it there at least twice a week. Thinking about telling my boss it’s physical therapy so I can sneak out during the day

I hit for an hour yesterday and found that the launch monitors aren’t perfect (6 iron only went 140yds?) but it will do.

Swing, swing, swing. Don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing


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I watched a lot of Larry Cheung videos this week and just had to get back out to the range. I've been posting over in the "What are you practicing/working on?" thread about this, but this week I realized I setup too close to the ball.

Unbelievably happy with my results after stepping back a bit and also working in some of Larry's teachings. Still a long ways to go, but I am getting some speed finally, and even starting to hit a bunch of push draws!

IMG_09112019_180622_(800_x_800_pixel).jpg.dd1bbaa1dc6996c22acf2e739576e7b9.jpg

 

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IMG_15112019_202329_(800_x_1067_pixel).jpg.0f843e8b55384a5c2834ae7880cdde24.jpg

My makeshift putting practice area this offseason consists of a Birdieball remnant and Putt-Out trainer stashed in our basement bathroom area. I've been practicing six foot putts consistently since I received these items a few weeks ago.

My attitude toward putting in the past has been that, "whatever works, works!" I used that mentality as an excuse to hardly practice putting technique at all during the past season, thinking I was "above average." Yeah, I was kidding myself.

First thing I noticed when I actually paid attention to my putting was that I stood too close to the ball (seems to be a theme with me!). The heel of my putter actually came off the ground, and I pulled a lot of putts left because my arms had no where to go but out-to-in across my body. 

Over the past few weeks, I've changed my stance to give my arms a little more room, which has solved the pulled putts. I've also paid specific attention to ball position (I'm perfect about 1 cm left of center) and added a bit of forward press. The forward press has helped tremendously in consistently hitting the center of the putter face. 

I've also worked in the ruler drill. My tendency now is to push putts, so I'm still sorting that out. But I've made a lot of progress in a short time.

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Well, I took a big step today!

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I had been going back and forth about whether I wanted to take lessons this winter. Two weeks ago, I had a really good range session and felt like I was making progress on my own, but last weekend I struggled a lot. I finally decided if I really want to get better, lessons would be required.

In my area there are only two instructors who use Trackman for lessons, something I’ve considered a necessity since I’d be hitting indoors into a net. The first option charges $210 for the initial lesson and something like $115/hour if you buy three lessons upfront. The second charges $90. I did my research on both and decided I could stomach the $90 for a lesson at least once a month through the winter. And, to my surprise, after I called the teacher I found out he only charges $60/lesson in the winter months, so that was a nice bonus.

I really enjoyed my time working with the coach this afternoon. I was happy to find out he was very impressed with my swing given that I had not taken lessons ever before in my life and pieced it together from basically just YouTube and experimentation.

I started with a 5-6 degree outside-in swing path, and by the end of the lesson I was able to hit quite a few shots with -1 outside-in or even a bit inside-out club path. 

Three changes I am working on to correct my club path:

1) Switching to a butterfly grip, with a strong left hand (2 knuckles) and a neutral to weak right hand. My tendency had been to have a weak grip with both hands, which made me really need to manipulate the club face.

2) 9-to-3 clock drill focusing on weight shift and finishing with my hands and club down the target line instead of pulling down hard left.

3) Feeling my weight transfer start to move more in the front-middle of my front foot and not immediately in the heel. 

My hope is to work on these swing changes and drills over the next two or three weeks and then go back for another lesson to look at my progress.

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I've been thinking a lot about my lesson last week, and specifically how I really enjoyed the conversation I had with my coach about the many different swings that are out there, and how people can find success with any number of them. He is a big fan of finding a person's natural swing and making it efficient, rather than trying to fit everyone into a perfect swing (we both agreed Adam Scott would be the gold standard here).

The conversation got me thinking about what type of swing I want based on what I'm working with. Two of my favorites are Anne Van Dam and Matt Blois from TXG:

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Personally, I love the hand depth and height they both have in their backswings. It's something I personally am pretty good at as well. During my range session last weekend I got reasonably close (this is a short iron vs. longer irons above).

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I'm still futzing around with grip per my coach's changes, but I'm finding it to feel less and less foreign each time I pick up a club. This particular screen grab was one of my best swings of the day, but I'm still working on getting a little higher with the hands at the top of the backswing. That height, for me, is primarily driven by my takeaway and making sure I don't roll my forearms inside right away.

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Focused a little more on getting up to that position today. Definitely helped increase my swing speed a little bit, and I also found it was easier to get my weight moving into my left front-and-mid foot to start the downswing, something my instructor has me trying to do. When I get too into my left heel at the start of the downswing, I tend to come across just a bit and end up hitting pull draws instead of push draws.

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The new grip still feels a little foreign to me, but I'm not arguing with the results! I've hit more balls out of the center of the club face on my last two trips to the range than I did all season! Seeing some really great distance, ball flight and swing speed as well. I'm planning on going for a Trackman gapping session in a few weeks, and I'm excited to see what it records when I'm using my MTB-Xs instead of these awful range balls.

I did more reading on the butterfly grip, and came across the "Bio-K grip," and a few blog posts about it. I took a bit of inspiration from there and have settled on something that's becoming less foreign with all of these swings. I end up with about two knuckles on my left hand showing, with my heel pad on my hand on top of the grip, so slightly strong. My right hand is very weak, as far as I can go while maintaining contact to the grip with my right ring, middle and pointer fingers. The pointer finger is in a trigger position, and my pinky is overlapping in a Vardon grip. 

This is a drastic departure from my weak/weak baseball grip I used all season.

 

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Some fun statistics from a Trackman gapping session yesterday. Sometimes, I get frustrated with what seems like a lack of progress in my game. Having some statistics to reference really does help emphasize improvements I've made over the past six months.

(Yes, my club path is way left. Same Trackman setup, same room, etc. I go left. There is a wall directly next to me when swinging and it weirds me out, and messes with my aim.)

First, some stats with the driver. The first Trackman numbers are from my second fitting during MGS testing in late May. These numbers were with the same Epic Flash head as I have now, but with the stock MRC Tensei Blue shaft.

Driver.thumb.png.b02e5ff61544cc2abd1be3e8e7ad36dd.png

What's really exciting for me to see in comparison is that while club speed hasn't changed much, my ball speed has. Tells me I'm finding the face more. I'm also ecstatic to see my attack angle flatten, and to see both launch angle and spin go way down. All that helps translate into the extra 30 yards of carry.

Comparing 7-irons is even more fun, especially since the new numbers (bottom) are with a shorter and weaker lofted (by 1 degree) club.

7Iron.thumb.png.d84f9cd71f60153bcf7659b27b6d1a9a.png

My instructor will be happy to see the face to path numbers when we meet next.

Just have to keep grinding for a few more months until the weather improves.

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Focused a little more on getting up to that position today. Definitely helped increase my swing speed a little bit, and I also found it was easier to get my weight moving into my left front-and-mid foot to start the downswing, something my instructor has me trying to do. When I get too into my left heel at the start of the downswing, I tend to come across just a bit and end up hitting pull draws instead of push draws.
snapshot_20191130_174150.jpg.8e3477c99169d79108576ae01281f970.jpg
The new grip still feels a little foreign to me, but I'm not arguing with the results! I've hit more balls out of the center of the club face on my last two trips to the range than I did all season! Seeing some really great distance, ball flight and swing speed as well. I'm planning on going for a Trackman gapping session in a few weeks, and I'm excited to see what it records when I'm using my MTB-Xs instead of these awful range balls.
I did more reading on the butterfly grip, and came across the "Bio-K grip," and a few blog posts about it. I took a bit of inspiration from there and have settled on something that's becoming less foreign with all of these swings. I end up with about two knuckles on my left hand showing, with my heel pad on my hand on top of the grip, so slightly strong. My right hand is very weak, as far as I can go while maintaining contact to the grip with my right ring, middle and pointer fingers. The pointer finger is in a trigger position, and my pinky is overlapping in a Vardon grip. 
This is a drastic departure from my weak/weak baseball grip I used all season.
 


Nice! My ball flight and contact got much better when to an interlocking grip from the baseball grip. Took a little bit to get used to but I did that over the winter as well. You’ll be comfortable before spring!


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Grip continues to feel more natural. Hit quite a few balls again today and feel like I'm making more and more progress each time out. 

The downside of the new grip is that I've yet to develop calluses in the right spots. I have quite the raw, bloody spot on my right ring finger as a result. 

Today, I focused on getting some more hip hinge at address. I noticed after my gapping session last weekend that I tend to be very upright at address, especially with longer clubs. Adding a bit of hip hinge seems to help me rotate a bit better and stay shallower on the downswing. 

Couple other things that I need to work on - making a full turn and not rushing the downswing and good hand path on the backswing. As the clubs get longer I have a tendency to abbreviate my backswing. And I still fight coming too far inside on the backswing. Both flaws seem to end with an over-the-top move combo'ed with a fat strike. 

Really loving the swing I put on the gap wedge in the below video. Close observers will also notice some new Puma Ignite spikes with the DISC laceless system. Awesome, awesome, awesome feeling shoes. The laceless system is so comfortable, even right out of the box.

 

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I had my second lesson on Friday. I'm really enjoying working with my coach, it's been a lot of fun talking about different golf swings while also working to improve mine. 

I'm now working on getting the backswing more vertical, with my left shoulder working more under my chin. The goal is to end up with higher hands that aren't quite as horizontally deep. As my coach pointed out, I tend to be "deep" from the ball in the 3D sense because my hands end up very far behind me. But from that position, I can't do much other than throw my right shoulder out and get steep into the ball. 

He wants me to get more deep in the 2D sense, with the height of my hands increasing the distance the club head is from the ball. From this more vertical position I can better rotate my right shoulder around my spine in the downswing and attack the ball on a shallower plane. I'm getting this height by setting my hands much earlier and then rotating to the top. My swing feels very similar to the Faldo drill at the moment.

The change was pretty noticeable on the range today. The butt of the club at the top of my swing is more over my trail foot/heel than before the takeaway change. Additionally, I picked up about a half club to club of distance by coming in slightly shallower. I still have a long ways to go and I made some ugly swings today, but I'm making positive progress.

comparison.thumb.jpg.c43b3ddc67e1461856d6bf8db634bb68.jpg

 

 

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On 12/21/2019 at 8:31 PM, edingc said:

I had my second lesson on Friday. I'm really enjoying working with my coach, it's been a lot of fun talking about different golf swings while also working to improve mine. 

I'm now working on getting the backswing more vertical, with my left shoulder working more under my chin. The goal is to end up with higher hands that aren't quite as horizontally deep. As my coach pointed out, I tend to be "deep" from the ball in the 3D sense because my hands end up very far behind me. But from that position, I can't do much other than throw my right shoulder out and get steep into the ball. 

He wants me to get more deep in the 2D sense, with the height of my hands increasing the distance the club head is from the ball. From this more vertical position I can better rotate my right shoulder around my spine in the downswing and attack the ball on a shallower plane. I'm getting this height by setting my hands much earlier and then rotating to the top. My swing feels very similar to the Faldo drill at the moment.

The change was pretty noticeable on the range today. The butt of the club at the top of my swing is more over my trail foot/heel than before the takeaway change. Additionally, I picked up about a half club to club of distance by coming in slightly shallower. I still have a long ways to go and I made some ugly swings today, but I'm making positive progress.

comparison.thumb.jpg.c43b3ddc67e1461856d6bf8db634bb68.jpg

 

 

Looking great!

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snapshot_20200101_154552.thumb.jpg.83bfaa858660ae6ae2f5fef6a7969c9c.jpgI constantly need to remind myself to stay mentally focused. I have a goal (and not just for golf) for 2020, stolen from a word my instructor uses a lot.

Kaizen. A Japanese concept of improvement or continuous improvement. It's something I'd like to focus on moving forward.

I hit a couple more buckets of balls at the range today, for a total of six buckets since my last lesson. Additionally, I was able to play nine holes last week when Michigan had its warm spell. The changes to my takeaway are getting more ingrained, the last two range sessions have been really good for that, and I shot a 41 during my round, which is one of the best nine hole rounds I posted all season. I am hitting the center of the face far more often because I'm no longer swaying off the ball in my backswing.

However, today I really struggled with hitting a high ball, pulls, etc. despite hitting the center of the club face. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I watched video from after the session that I realized my club face is starting to work really open on the backswing now. In my quest to get more up with my right arm, my right hand grip weakened and I had to manipulate the hands a ton on the way down.

My point in discussing all of this is that I had a frustrating session today. However, I'm still making progress and need to be thankful for that. I'm much happier with where my hands are at the top of the backswing, and I'm sure I'll get the grip sorted out next time I'm at the range again.

My hope is to take at least one lesson in January. I have also restarted SuperSpeed training, where I'm seeing speeds at or above where I stopped in the summer. I have two more weeks of Fit For Golf's offseason program, and then will be starting a heavier lifting routine combined with stretching from the FFG routine.

It's shaping up to be a productive offseason, and I hope to be playing my best golf ever right out of the gate this upcoming spring.

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On 10/21/2019 at 8:47 PM, tony@CIC said:


Don't forget that beginning Jan 1st, the handicap calculation changes to the average of lowest 8 out of last 20 and is no longer multiplied by .96.


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Well hells bells, The Grint now has me at 13.4 so I guess they've recalculated and removed the x .96 multiplier. I sure haven't gotten better since my last round.

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15 hours ago, J.B. TexasEx said:

Well hells bells, The Grint now has me at 13.4 so I guess they've recalculated and removed the x .96 multiplier. I sure haven't gotten better since my last round.

new calc is 100% of the lowest 8 scores from your last 20. 

 

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56 minutes ago, tony@CIC said:

new calc is 100% of the lowest 8 scores from your last 20. 

 

Yeah, I went form 13.5 to 13.4 overnight.

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I have another lesson scheduled for this week. I'm excited to get back in the hitting bay and hopefully on Trackman to see any progress I've made. I've been to the range four times since my last lesson and the top of my backswing is looking a lot better than where I started the offseason in November. I'm still struggling a bit with an open face, I'm hoping my coach can get that straightened out. When I briefly had everything working for one session in late December I was very happy with my distance and ball flight, just need that consistency now.

On a different note, I posted over here that I picked up some weights for my Spider Tour:

The weights came in Friday. First of all, I wish TaylorMade sold official 14 gram weights. The threads on these aftermarket weights are a little long, so the weights wouldn't tighten down full inside of the head. I had to wrap a thin strip of painter's tape around the base of the weight to get them to seat tightly and not rattle. But they still stick out a little - I'm just imagining they are little rocket boosters or something of the sort...

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The extra weight is awesome. I got a chance to hit a bunch of putts on the indoor practice green at the golf shop today and am floored at how much better my distance control and tempo is with the heavier head. Additionally, I set up a bunch of 6-9 footers and sank a ton. I know there will be some adjustment in the spring as most of the courses here have very slow greens compared to my BirdieBall and the golf shop, but I really believe I will be a much better putter this upcoming year.

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Grip continues to feel more natural. Hit quite a few balls again today and feel like I'm making more and more progress each time out. 
The downside of the new grip is that I've yet to develop calluses in the right spots. I have quite the raw, bloody spot on my right ring finger as a result. 
Today, I focused on getting some more hip hinge at address. I noticed after my gapping session last weekend that I tend to be very upright at address, especially with longer clubs. Adding a bit of hip hinge seems to help me rotate a bit better and stay shallower on the downswing. 
Couple other things that I need to work on - making a full turn and not rushing the downswing and good hand path on the backswing. As the clubs get longer I have a tendency to abbreviate my backswing. And I still fight coming too far inside on the backswing. Both flaws seem to end with an over-the-top move combo'ed with a fat strike. 
Really loving the swing I put on the gap wedge in the below video. Close observers will also notice some new Puma Ignite spikes with the DISC laceless system. Awesome, awesome, awesome feeling shoes. The laceless system is so comfortable, even right out of the box.
 


Swings looking nice a neutral there. Smooth and balanced too!


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I like that position at the top a lot more than the prior swing. You’re clearly putting in work. Good luck this season


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33 minutes ago, bens197 said:

I like that position at the top a lot more than the prior swing. You’re clearly putting in work. Good luck this season emoji4.png


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1 hour ago, B.Boston said:

 


Swings looking nice a neutral there. Smooth and balanced too!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Thanks, guys. I'm really happy with my decision to take a few lessons. I was on the right track but having someone else take a look has helped a lot. 

Still a ways to go, but I'll keep grinding.

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