Golfer heal thyself
Once you know what you’re doing wrong, you’ll be able to fix things
Published on Wednesday, Jul. 25, 2012 10:20AM EDT
It was not a good day down at the driving range, where a particular golfer was creating all kinds of ball flight felonies.
Balls were flying left and right and, on extremely rare occasions, centre.
Great clods of earth were being dug up as I continuously hit the ground before making contact with the ball. I was doing so much damage that when I heard a siren in the distance I assumed the driving range owner had called in the turf police.
Soon, they’d be patting me down for concealed wedges before hauling me off in handcuffs.
As frustrating as all that was, what really made this session so maddening was that I had absolutely no idea why things had gone downhill so fast. I had just come off some good outings on the golf course and the day before, while working on the latest adjustment to my swing, I had finished by hitting nine of 10 pitching wedge shots on target.
Less than 24 hours later, I was as far from the target as Charlie Sheen is from the priesthood.
I immediately contacted my coach, Bradlee Ryall, in part because I trust him and in part because the Suicide Hotline was busy. Your call is important to us, indeed!
It took Bradlee mere seconds to analyze my latest bout of ineptitude. I had been closing my club face too much and was rotating my forearms and hands to much, he told me. I was also breaking my left wrist at impact, though thankfully not literally.
Bradlee has told me one of his goals is to make me my own coach and not just so he won’t have to answer those panicked e-mails or analyze my addled driving-range statistics. ``Once you know what you’re doing wrong, you’ll be able to fix things,” he told me.
Not to cast a pall on the proceedings, but based on my current progress I may not live long enough to see that day. For the most part, I haven’t a clue.
Last week, for example, I pulled a 5-wood directly into a forest of fescue. Grass eight-feet tall, I tell you. Perplexed by the magnitude of my error, I wondered aloud how I had done such a thing, throwing in several Biblical references for emphasis. When my partner told me that I had swung my left foot wide open before impact, it was as if he had hit me between the eyes with a 6-iron -- something I've almost accomplished myself more than once.
I am so unaware of my own actions there are times I wonder if I could do a back-flip during my backswing and not be aware of it. ``Really, a backflip? Wonder why I did that?”
I did have a bit of an epiphany a couple of weeks ago when, for the second hole in a row, I shanked a pitching wedge short and right. I instantly knew why: in an effort to be sure about the shot, I had slowed down my swing. Unfortunately, I appear to have two speeds when it comes to swinging a golf club: Too fast and too slow.
I vowed then and there never again to consciously slow down my swing. Of course, I did just that several times in my next two rounds with predictable results.
But the point is that I did know what I was doing wrong. Now I just have to persuade myself to stop doing it.
Myself and I will have a discussion on that issue soon.
There will be blood.
PROGRESS UPDATE: Outside of the aforementioned disaster at the driving range, things have been looking up. My driving continues to improve in practice as is my putting, though not as quickly as I would like. On the drill that has has me hitting balls with my feet together, I've eliminated almost all shots to the right. Now too many are going left. Go figure ...
I'm on vacation in California and events have prevented golf so far, something for which the California golf club association is eternally grateful.
Seeing the forest through the trees
One game does not an improvement make
I am certifiably insane
Turning the corner?
Mirror, mirror on the wall
All part of the learning process
Practice what you putt
Nothing easy about my swing
The Cadillac of golf testing facilities
First date jitters
Miracle worker or victim No. 5
Getting to the root of my rot
Why doesn't golf love me back?
Chris Zelkovich has accomplished many things in a journalism career that has spanned almost 40 years. He has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for a variety of newspapers and his work has appeared in several magazines. His 12 years in golf have been somewhat less distinguished.
Bradlee Ryall is a Class 'A' member of the CPGA and Director of Instruction for the Braeben Academy. Nominated for the Ontario PGA Teacher of the Year award in 2009, Bradlee has studied and trained with some of the best golf instructors in the world at the David Leadbetter Golf Academies and served as teaching professional at some of the greatest golfing destinations in the world including the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, Canada.