Reflections on a setting summer

It still feels a lot like summer out there as we haven’t seen rain in ages and it’s supposed to be in the 90s all weekend again, but, historically speaking, the Portland summer is starting the colorful transition into the rainy season.  It has been the longest and best summer in my eight year history on the west coast with plenty of beautiful days on the links.  If I step back, though, and analyze my progress this summer compared to the previous ones it is hard not to view this one as disappointing thus far.

Competition wise my spring was much better than this summer.  I began the year posting a 76 at the ICHP Conference in Orlando which was good enough to be the medalist round for the event and then followed that up with some solid mid-70s rounds at Riverside that won money in the Thursday and Saturday games.  I was in contention in Riverside’s money list (the top 15 earners throughout the year up until today get to playoff for a large chunk of change, all of the money coming from Thursday and Saturday games played up to this point) through May and seemed to place in most events I played in. My swing wasn’t too pretty, but I knew it and could get around the course in the mid 70s.

But, mid 70s isn’t my goal so I began the process of breaking down and rebuilding once again.  I worked on, and struggled at times, getting the swing more on plane and improving my dynamic loft as well as trying to get to a place where I better understood my misses.  This time around it hasn’t been coming easy as it is so tempting to revert to my old swing when I get out there and play golf as I know how to hit the ball one way and when the pressure is on sometimes it’s just easier to relinquish and go with the old, especially during competitive golf. Essentially, I have been stuck between the new and the old.

But, after struggling with this change for a few months I realized that my mind was a bit confused with exactly what I needed to do.  I had seen Bruce a couple of times this summer and I knew that he wanted me to make a better turn and have a one-piece takeaway, but for some reason I had been struggling with implementing these changes no matter how hard I worked on them.  After a long time of working without concrete results I decided to have a fresh set of eyes look at my swing to see if there were any differing thoughts on what I needed to do.

A couple of days ago I went and saw John Bowen at Heron Lakes.  He was one of the first teaching pros that I ever met as I used to do all of my putting practice out there, and I have played a handful of rounds with John so he knows my tendencies.  I happened into him on the range between two lessons he was giving and he had me take some swings to see where I was at.  He noticed the same swing patterns as Bruce has been pointing out:  I take the club up immediately behind me with my wrists/hands and then it gets stuck and ends up flat and over the top.  John suggested that I make a one piece takeaway to help keep the club on plane.  It was the same thing that Bruce has been wanting me to do this entire year and the same thing that I have been struggling to implement.  But, John had a different way of describing the issue and he suggested a new drill that made sense to me.  It was the same information but delivered differently and it seemed to click.

I went back to the range and worked for the rest of the day and the next day and started seeing some concrete results in the videos I took on the range.  It has been a long change process and it’s not over right now, but at least I have a good sense of what I need to do and where I want to go, as well as how to get there.  Both John and Bruce want to see me making a better turn and keeping the club in a better spot through the turn and they both have explanations on how to get there and do it correctly.  Sometimes, though, it’s good to have a second set of eyes on the swing to help explain what it is that you need to do.  The good thing is that they both know where I am and where I want to be and they have a similar idea as to what I need to work on.  The worst thing would be to see two completely different style of teachers as that would lead to grand confusion and this game is hard enough without adding that element.

The summer was disappointing score-wise and probably the toughest summer to date when it comes to competitive rounds as I have not seen the progress that I was hoping to have by now with the new swing.  I know what I am currently needing to work on and that gives me the micro goals that I need to stay focussed.  The scoring goals will come when the rest of the work has been actualized and I have faith that things are moving in the right direction even if a seemingly stalled season is on the brink of passing.  There are a couple more tournaments in September and October that I am excited about and a lot of work to do in the meantime.

To help with these changes, a FlightScope is scheduled to arrive later today. The story about that will have to wait until the next blog post, though, as it is time to get out to the range and continue the forward momentum.

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