Change is always a process. It can be pretty tough depending on how drastic you are going and the more frustrated you get the harder and longer the change will be. So, it’s important to stay optimistic and know what you are in store for.
To be honest, I’m not always the best when it comes to this. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that it’s tough to not be able to do things that you very recently took for granted. The hardest aspect of learning is the ability to let go of what you thought you knew in lieu of the next big step. This is where a lot of golfers (or anyone working on anything) trip up. They are not willing to let go.
I recently completely altered a lot of what I thought I knew in my swing. In fact, I feel like I have completely changed my entire concept of what the golf swing is and have enlightened my mind to a complete mechanic makeover. And it hasn’t been the easiest change in many ways, but I can see already how it is going to pay off gangbusters shortly down the road and that’s what keeps me going through the change.
I’ve touched on this once before, but today I would like to talk about what it takes to make a big change and how I see that process unfolding.
When I first met with Bruce Furman down at Langdon he had me work on a different setup, grip, shoulder turn, take-away and delivery of the club. Basically, he is transforming my swing in almost every way conceivable.
The process to completely revamp one’s swing starts with instruction. You have to have the right knowledge to move in the direction you want to go and that knowledge is best provided by an instructor you trust. I met with Bruce for the first time a couple of weeks ago and he gave me a laundry list of drills and changes to make. Here is a short selection of some of the changes and drills he had me doing in the first week to start the process:
That’s a short snippet. Since those first videos, Bruce has suggested a few other changes each time we have met and I have been working on them diligently. The first step was Bruce’s job: Figure out which changes to make.
The next step is to implement the changes in half and 3/4 swings on the range. I try and make 20-30 of these mini swings doing the “right” movement before taking a full swing on the first day of learning. This step takes repetition as you have ingrained a previous movement countless times so it takes patience and repetition to move away from something you know in an automatic fashion. This step can be a little confusing because it is the first day of trying to learn something new and often the coach who offered the change is not around when you are practicing so you have to rely on your memory of the movement. Having a video of yourself doing the correct new swing move can be a huge benefit. Don’t be afraid to watch the clip your coach made of you after every 10-15 minutes of practicing. You want to make sure you are on the right page and moving in the correct direction and a visual of yourself doing what you want to do is an optimal training aid. What’s better than seeing yourself doing what you want to do? I haven’t found any substitute for it.
The entire first day of practicing the new move/moves can potentially go smoothly, but odds are it will be a bit confusing and you might question whether you are doing it correctly. Don’t fret, though, as what is happening is you haven’t built a “feel” for the move yet. Stick with the process and don’t be surprised if you walk away at the end of your practice more confused than you started.
Repeat this practice process for a day or two more and inevitably around the third or fourth practice session you will start to “get it” and the new move will begin to make sense. What I have noticed is that it takes a few separate practice sessions for a change to begin to settle into the brain. It also takes time both on and off the course. For me, a huge part of the learning process is sleep. It may sound funny, but when I am trying to learn something new I need more sleep. It’s in my dreams where I process most aspects of my life, including my training sessions and when I am making a big change I always wake up each morning with a better understanding of what I was working on the previous day than when I went to bed. It’s just a matter of allowing yourself time for things to seep in. It was the same when I was in high school and college. If there was a physics or calculus problem that was causing me issues I’d often stop focussing on it after a while and go to sleep. Nine times out of ten the answer would be there in the morning.
A few days/practice sessions in, the conceptual aspects of your change start to make sense. Now comes the hard part. You understand the new move and can do it on the range, but now you have to build it into your game during a round. This is where frustration can be at it’s highest levels. The new move makes sense so you want to start using it in practice rounds. When you start doing this you can pull it off very well about half the time and the other half some aspect of your old swing creeps in and you hit it fat, thin, hook, slice, etc. It’s pertinent to not revert when this happens. You need to allow yourself missed shots and to forget about scoring for a while or you will never fully make a change. If you do completely submit to the new swing then after a few practice rounds it will start to become an ingrained aspect of your swing and you can then take it to friendly matches where score matters but there isn’t anything on the line. After a few of those, if you are comfortable with the changes and confident you won’t revert to the old move then it’s time to bring the swing to a money game. Play in a few of those and if all is well you are officially tournament ready.
This entire journey can take anywhere from ten days to a few months. It all depends on the size of the change and your willingness to stick to it despite any askew outcomes. It’s a process. There are no shortcuts that I have found except to stick to the plan. The more your veer away from the path the longer the entire journey will take.
If you find yourself getting overly frustrated you should walk away. Give your brain some time to process what you are trying to change and then approach it fresh later on.
One final note is that it is very easy to overdo something. Just today I went and saw Bruce again and I had gone too extreme with my arm position in the backswing. This is an easy fix, but it’s only an easy fix because it was caught early on. This is another great reason to have a coach to check in with when changes are being made.
This is a couple clips from today’s lesson. I’m working on the next step of the total swing change. This time it’s to keep my spine angle and stay behind the ball. As Bruce mentions I have gotten a bit overstretched in my backswing. Reaching farther was something I was working on last week and now I have to keep it in check as I have gotten too far away from the body. regardless, this is my homework for the next three days:
This blog brought to you by Clicgear USA. Without a solid pushcart my back would not be as strong as it needs to be on a daily basis. Thanks Clicgear for keeping me rolling along.