Lesson 15 & 16 – Path to a Sweet Spot

It has been a hectic couple of weeks at work and a family holiday to New York which has led me to having to catch up on my February lessons with DT.

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Heaters were on full blast this morning…

9th February 2018

It was a cold February morning last week when I managed to squeeze an hour at the Academy with Damian.   It was the first time that we had been together since Christmas due to a busy January Transfer window for myself and DT had been away with the PGA Tour in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic where he was coaching pros.

Only having an hour meant we didn’t have the time we usually have to go into some detailed stuff so just picked out two key things,  keeping on top of the swing coming from the inside rather than over the top, and the quality of the ball striking as I hadn’t been hitting as many balls through the last couple of months as I normally would have been.

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Swing Path Tune Up

After the usual warm up of hitting balls and watching some swings on tape.  DT got out a new piece of kit that I had not used before – Eyeline Speed Trap – it looks pretty scary but the gaps are wider than they look on pictures.   The theory is that the red parts guide your eyes to come inside them and not clip them.   They are attached using velcro and come flying off if you do hit them so no need to worry about damaging the club.   At the academy I was also about to use TrackMan feedback to see the numbers of my swing path so I was able to get two bits of instant review information of the swing as well as DT’s keen eye.

I found that the Eyeline Speed Trap was something well worth having a go with if you can before you buy it.  I found that when I first started using it, concentration was high and I was swinging naturally and the ball was coming out well.   The more I used it I found I started clipping the inside ‘peg’.   Normally when using Trackman I can correct my numbers pretty well to come from the inside (a lot better than I can on the course without Trackman) however I grew frustrated to begin with clipping this thing off and down the driving range!   Eventually though the swing path corrected itself, backed up by the numbers and I took it all away and was hitting nice shots with a good swing path that I was happy with.

 

Sweet Spot

To finish this lesson we parked all technical work and just wanted to focus on the striker of the ball and hitting that ‘sweet spot’ out of the middle of the club.   At this point it didn’t matter about anything else.  DT wanted a clear mind and wasnt bothered about anything other than that strike of the ball that improves naturally through the summer as we hit more and more balls.

DT broke out these stickers from Strike Right that went straight onto the club face.

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These stickers provide instant feedback on how you are striking the ball.  The more consistent the strike the more consistent your shot is going to be.   Yes you need good setup, swing path, backswing, and all the other elements that make up a good golf swing to get a good ball strike but at the same time it is a good idea to park that sometimes and just think about hitting that small white thing called a ball as well as you can.  Without thinking about a single other thing.   If you have done the work you will have spent time on the rest and will go back to it another time.   On the course they always say you should just think about a good contact which is what we are doing here.   As you can see from the selection of photos my ball striking was ok, if not a bit Mickey Mouse!

 

21st February 2018

Back in the Academy this morning to follow on from last lesson with some more detailed stuff on swing path numbers and get down to some putting practice indoors whilst the weather is so back outside.

Extended Swing Path Lesson

Last week we were using the Eyeline Speed Trap to get some feel feedback on the swing path.  This week we took that to the next level of getting some more work done on that path coming from the inside before moving onto testing my path ‘feel’ out using TrackMan numbers.

 

 

To begin with DT broke out a handy tool, one of his clubs adapted with an alighment stick to be used just like your normal club however as you can see from the photo it gives you some visual guides as to the lines you are making on you back swing path.   The alignment stick lets you see where the club is pointing when it reaches the top of your swing enabling to pause and set hand positions, trying to remember where it all should feel when correct.  The angle at the top of the swing should point down towards the ball when at the top for example.   Watching me swing with this club enabled DT to fine tune my swing even more by seeing the lines that were being created.   He stopped the session to break down how my swing was creating artifical loft on the club.   I was effectively opening the club face up right at the moment of impact to add un-needed loft – known as dynamic lift.

To counteract this using the club tool, we did a drill of half swing shots with the alignment stick in the club.   The aim of the drill was to make good connections on the ball, not worrying about distance just connection, but then importantly thinking about moving through the ball keeping hands forward and not allowing the alignment stick to come round to touch my body on the follow through.   When I was releasing the club too early it was wrapping around me.  After this drill I was maintaining the dynamic lift much better and keeping the ball flight down.   As you can see from this photo, the before image on the left shows the angles created by releasing the club too early before impact and opening the face.   After the drill on the right shows the club angle maintained through impact for a better ball flight.

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Left:  Added loft                                                                      Right:  better angles at impact.

We finished this session up by getting on the Trackman and DT testing my swing path control by asking me to hit various swing path numbers – right up to extreme ones.   A positive TrackMan swing path is what I am always looking for as this is coming from the inside.  A negative swing path for me is my problem swing, as it is me coming over the top and across the ball encouraging a slice of the ball – especially a problem with the driver.  This video shows what we mean:

 

Putting

The first putting lesson of the year and we have to do it indoors due to the weather.  Not ideal but it meant we could just work on the putting path and releasing the ball on a path that we intend to rather than pulling it or pushing it.   The Visio Putting kit came out to great effect.  Putting is a big part of my game that I am looking at working on this year as last year a 3 putt was far too common.

 

After some work, including slo-mo recording of the putter head through the putting stroke and the feedback from the simple gate drill we could see that I could get the ball off 80-85% of the time on the desired path.   My problem that led to 3 putts last season which we will have to work on when the weather picks up is that distance control to give myself a decent shout at a 2nd putt being makeable rather than a tough putt.   Prestbury greens are very true but can be extremely quick.  Last year my first year on the course I either sped past them or was afraid of them so put the brakes on and lagged it.

 

The winter has well and truly come this week with the snow.  I hope that it clears quickly as Easter and the first comps of the season are not far away at all!

Happy golfing (snowballing at the moment!)

 

 

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