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sofingaw

A Couple of General Tips if You're Lost..

11 posts in this topic

I'm not qualified to give advice, BUT..this is the Internet, so here it is anyway! Disclaimer! This is long! To avoid reading it all: In a sentence: "Lose the mechanical swing thoughts, even if you suck pretty bad." Some background: I have been playing about a year. A little less, actually. Lowest score, 110. Normal score, 120. Typical inconsistent contact, and inconsistent ball flight, which brings typical frustration. Play or practice 4-8 times a month. (It varies) Additionally, I am a daily reader and sometime poster on TST, and have read a LOT about, and watched a LOT of golf over the past year. I have also had 3 lessons from Professionals that were very helpful to me. I think that I know more about golf than most with my experience level. In short, I am addicted to golf, full on. I usually play with a few buddies who shoot in the 80s and 90s. It pains all three of us to see me struggle, though we all have a good time! As I was conducting my daily rambling for 30 minutes straight to my buddy who shoots in the 80s about the flavor of the moment swing fix that I was SURE was 'it'. 'This will get me over the hump to bogey golf!' (Can't remember what it was, now) My buddy says 'Consistent contact. Hit the damn ball!!' I realized then that I have been driving myself crazy trying to fix my swing, and ruining any chance of success in the process! I am constantly abuzz with swing thoughts, both on and off the course. I had overdone it. Classic Paralysis by Analysis. I vowed then to focus on as few things as possible, and to trust my swing. I narrowed them down to three things gleaned from my extensive study and limited experience: 1) Become 'Target FOCUSED' 2) Swing Easy 3) Make Contact I just got back from the range, and have never hit it better! With ALL clubs, too! I offer those three pieces of advice to anyone who is roughly at my skill level, and seems frustrated by the search for a fix or several that are 'the key(s)'. I cannot explain how big this seems to me. This is the first time I feel like I have made a change that really really helps my game overall, and noticed immediate results. The biggest hurdle for me was clearly mental. I posted this NOVEL here because I think I am not alone, and I want to help, if I can. Here was the mental hurdle so difficult to overcome: I was certain that I was 100% justified in NOT trusting my swing, whatsoever. I could not let go of swing thoughts during the actual swing itself. I thought that I needed them, or at least one of them. I thought that if I dropped my focus from any number of rotating thoughts, everything would fall to pieces immediately, and I would have no chance at hitting the ball well at all. I believed that my swing thoughts were the fabric holding my wild, inconsistent swing just barely together. I was WRONG! Those thoughts were strangling my swing, and literally filling it with tension, which was KILLING me out there. The tipping point was after my buddy told me to hit the damn ball, and I realized that no matter what I thought I knew about golf and the golf swing, my results were clear: I still suck after a year of pretty dedicated mental and physical effort. I finally gave up and let it all go. I literally said to myself out loud: "I can't do MUCH worse. MAYBE I can trust my swing, even though my wild inconsistency would suggest otherwise. Oh well. What have I got to lose? EVERYONE says swing easy and visualize your shot. Though I have seen NO evidence to suggest that my swing is trustable.. Maybe some magic will happen. I doubt at least that ill shoot worse than my standard 120..." It was just a range session, but I did those 3 things (Really, 1 and 2, mostly - #3 basically took care of itself!) Hit em straight!!
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I, too, only took up this game last year.  My first time out on a real course, I went solo, and on the 2nd or 3rd tee, someone caught up and joined me.  He didn't feel qualified to give me swing advice, but helped with the mental game, most importantly:  don't swing so hard!  I still struggle with this, but not nearly as much.  My game is getting better as a result.

Find a local executive course -- it'll boost your confidence greatly.

That, and hit the range.  Find what your weakness is, and work on it.  If you have more than 1 weakness, well, one thing at a time.  After my first time out this year (put up a 129 on a fairly difficult par 72), I determined that my irons and hybrids just were not working.  A few hundred range balls later, I'm now fairly consistent with them.

Now, on to woods, which are hit or miss, and lag putting.

Oh, and remember:  this game is hard.

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Originally Posted by sofingaw

I have been playing about a year. A little less, actually. Lowest score, 110. Normal score, 120. Typical inconsistent contact, and inconsistent ball flight, which brings typical frustration.

As I was conducting my daily rambling for 30 minutes straight to my buddy who shoots in the 80s about the flavor of the moment swing fix that I was SURE was 'it'. 'This will get me over the hump to bogey golf!' (Can't remember what it was, now)

1) Become 'Target FOCUSED'

2) Swing Easy

3) Make Contact

I just got back from the range, and have never hit it better! With ALL clubs, too!

I was WRONG! Those thoughts were strangling my swing, and literally filling it with tension, which was KILLING me out there.

The tipping point was after my buddy told me to hit the damn ball, and I realized that no matter what I thought I knew about golf and the golf swing, my results were clear: I still suck after a year of pretty dedicated mental and physical effort.

So, not to be a downer, but a bit of "tough love" or experience:

  • "This too shall pass."
  • Your average score probably won't drop much at all. It may drop a little, but you're not going to consistently break 100 without changing your swing, not just your "mindset" (my words, yes).
  • You spent a year "working hard" but really you probably just spent a year hitting a lot of golf balls (badly) while searching for one magical fix that would "click."
  • Your buddies know less than you think. :)

There are no shortcuts to better golf. If you're happy to shoot the 110s or so that those things might ( might ) get you to, great. Have a ball and you're my friend because we both love golf, and all is well and right in the world.

However, if you want to shoot in the 90s, or 80s, you need to change things in your golf swing. You likely possess 0 of the 5 Simple Keys® right now and your handicap will drop if you begin to master them.

People whose swing is going seven directions look like they're exerting a bunch of effort, but they're often swinging slower at the same time. Good players (who don't know about the golf swing) will often say "just swing easy" as if it's a cure-all. It can help, but the swings of better players look "easier" because their swings are better. They're more efficient.

You're at a crossroads. If you don't want to pay for instruction, or you don't even care about getting it, that's good and well. But if you want to actually get better, it's time to get good instruction and stop listening to your buddies altogether.

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Originally Posted by iacas

So, not to be a downer, but a bit of "tough love" or experience:

"This too shall pass."

Your average score probably won't drop much at all. It may drop a little, but you're not going to consistently break 100 without changing your swing, not just your "mindset" (my words, yes).

You spent a year "working hard" but really you probably just spent a year hitting a lot of golf balls (badly) while searching for one magical fix that would "click."

Your buddies know less than you think. :)

There are no shortcuts to better golf. If you're happy to shoot the 110s or so that those things might (might) get you to, great. Have a ball and you're my friend because we both love golf, and all is well and right in the world.

However, if you want to shoot in the 90s, or 80s, you need to change things in your golf swing. You likely possess 0 of the 5 Simple Keys® right now and your handicap will drop if you begin to master them.

People whose swing is going seven directions look like they're exerting a bunch of effort, but they're often swinging slower at the same time. Good players (who don't know about the golf swing) will often say "just swing easy" as if it's a cure-all. It can help, but the swings of better players look "easier" because their swings are better. They're more efficient.

You're at a crossroads. If you don't want to pay for instruction, or you don't even care about getting it, that's good and well. But if you want to actually get better, it's time to get good instruction and stop listening to your buddies altogether.

As a fellow golfer that has probably been golfing a little longer (but not much) than sofingaw, I have to agree with Erik whole-heartedly.  My handicap was at its lowest early last year (12.5 according to an app on my smart-phone).  Since then it has come up.  I think I just hit a short spell where "the fix of the moment" was working.  I also have a decent (better than average) short game because I can hit balls in my back yard (shorter distances) every day if I want.

My ball striking has gotten worse, and I really feel if I want to take it to the next level (start improving), I will need some quality instruction.  Because I know this, but as of now am unable to buy a camera or pay for Evolvr, I will continue to play my 2-3 times a month average and enjoy it for what it is.  I really do plan on some time in the future getting the instruction I need, and I feel very confident I will improve.

Now I also do not think a person can not improve on their own (to a certain extent), I certainly have.  I also have read many things on TST and tryed to implent some of the drills I have seen.  I just feel that I am at the point where if I want to get better, I will need someone qualified to see my swing.

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Originally Posted by 14ledo81

As a fellow golfer that has probably been golfing a little longer (but not much) than sofingaw, I have to agree with Erik whole-heartedly.  My handicap was at its lowest early last year (12.5 according to an app on my smart-phone).  Since then it has come up.  I think I just hit a short spell where "the fix of the moment" was working.  I also have a decent (better than average) short game because I can hit balls in my back yard (shorter distances) every day if I want.

My ball striking has gotten worse, and I really feel if I want to take it to the next level (start improving), I will need some quality instruction.  Because I know this, but as of now am unable to buy a camera or pay for Evolvr, I will continue to play my 2-3 times a month average and enjoy it for what it is.  I really do plan on some time in the future getting the instruction I need, and I feel very confident I will improve.

Now I also do not think a person can not improve on their own (to a certain extent), I certainly have.  I also have read many things on TST and tryed to implent some of the drills I have seen.  I just feel that I am at the point where if I want to get better, I will need someone qualified to see my swing.

The thing is, not all drills are created equal. A good instructor will make sure the drills you are doing address what needs fixing first. That's why there are so many drills, some you need now, some you'll need later and some that you may never need. You don't want to waste time drilling a drill that you don't need.

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Fair points, all. And, a very accurate characterization of where I'm at, and where I've been, Erik. (Must do this for a living, eh?!) I'm sure that to shoot in the 80's I'll need regular instruction. I'm not as stubborn or cheap as it may seem, either. I have paid for lessons, and will continue to when I feel very stuck. But I bet I can get into the 90's first! (And I want to try!) We shall see, and yes, this may well pass. I really think the effective removal of mental and physical tension from my swing is a WAY bigger deal than any other change to my game since a pro that I got a lesson from got me to stop swaying on the backswing. (That was ROUGH!) My hypotheses is that with a bit more putting practice, ill be right where I need to be, sometime this summer. I will definitely keep you all posted, and start a My Swing thread. I promise. And ill be glad to eat crow if and when I'm proved wrong! Cheers all!
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Well, to add another "two bits" from the high handicap perspective, I do find that I can get overly tensed up if I'm thinking too mechanically so there is some value in the concept of "letting it all go and just swing" but I think ideally you want to practice and drill what your instructor is asking of you so that when its time to play (as opposed to practice) you will have the benefit of your subconscious knowing what needs to be done in those split seconds it takes to smack that mofo. I had a TERRIBLE range session last night (after seeing some very solid improvement lately) and I know it's because I was getting too mechanical (trying to incorporate my latest lesson too quickly, skipping the steps of slow drilling and partial swings) which caused my lower body to freeze up and my weight shift to become too...un-athletic...and the harder I tried to get the train back on the rails the worse it got because I was thinking instead of swinging. Hit a few fat, thin and even topped shots which I haven't done in ages and it was all from the tension. I find the tip about having a relaxed jaw prior to swinging to be a very effective way to release the body's tension but it isn't a silver bullet. So to sum my post up, yes just blanking your mind and swinging easy is great for golf but you really need to train your body to act correctly on a subconscious level to really see improvement. YMMV and others may disagree which is fine, I need all the learnin' I can get!!!
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I felt like bashing my brain out with a short iron the other day. I was distracted, expected to hit it better than my previous outing, and couldn't focus. I do a lot of range work since I got a range pass, so this went on for 8 buckets of hitting shots poorly and getting the wrong flight too much. It was a step backwards for me, and I didn't do any better with my short game practice though I got my pitching slightly improved.

So I went home after grinding out a long session. I wasn't sure if I would take time off to avoid the frustration or what. I ended up going back the very next day with lowered expectations and a single goal: "I will hit 8 buckets and get my hands down through impact properly on every shot regardless of whatever other problems I may have." I took whatever shape and trajectory I got, but I had great command and contact from the first shot onwards. Even hitting the green with the 3 wood off the deck was a makeable shot. Almost every shot had the penetrating, powerful trajectory and stuck to its line as it only does when struck well.

I played a quick round and had ballstriking ability that I could see producing scores in the 60s with a little more work. That would require a slight bit of work in my short game, about 15 strokes improvement. But I cut off more than 15 strokes in a month with my long game so far. Should be interesting.

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Originally Posted by sofingaw

Fair points, all. And, a very accurate characterization of where I'm at, and where I've been, Erik. (Must do this for a living, eh?!)

I'm sure that to shoot in the 80's I'll need regular instruction.

I'm not as stubborn or cheap as it may seem, either. I have paid for lessons, and will continue to when I feel very stuck.

But I bet I can get into the 90's first! (And I want to try!)

We shall see, and yes, this may well pass.

I really think the effective removal of mental and physical tension from my swing is a WAY bigger deal than any other change to my game since a pro that I got a lesson from got me to stop swaying on the backswing.

(That was ROUGH!)

My hypotheses is that with a bit more putting practice, ill be right where I need to be, sometime this summer.

I will definitely keep you all posted, and start a My Swing thread. I promise.

And ill be glad to eat crow if and when I'm proved wrong!

Cheers all!

This has already been said, but if you're serious about playing good golf, you really need to take lessons. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons is, is that the longer you swing with your current swing, the more ingrained your bad habits are going to be. That is going to make it even hard to make changes in the future, which will lead to more frustration, which will lead to you thinking you're better off without an instructor, which will lead to ingraining further bad habits, which will lead to....you get my point.

I've been playing for 2.5 years. I'm not really sure what my handicap would be because I just don't have time to play full rounds of golf (I have a 10 month old...enough said). But, I have a long term plan to become a single digit handicapper and I'm pretty dedicated to improving. Right now, I spend about an 1 to 1.5 hours everyday in basement practicing my swing (I swing into a net, use mirrors, and have aids that show me if I'm on plane or not). I also get to the driving range about 2 to 3 times per week. I have had instructions from the get go, have read tons of books, and have 3 sets of DVDs (5SK's, S&T;, and Jim Hardy). When I practice, I really put a lot of effort into making sure that I'm doing things correctly and try to incorporate in my lesson. It has seemed like for months I've gone the opposite way and thought I was getting worse.

Having instructions and trying to swing correctly takes a lot of work and has been very, very frustrating at times. I've spent a lot of time on the range hacking at balls and hitting really bad shots after lessons and other players going "what the hell is this guy doing?". I'm sure I would have hit better earlier, without those lessons. HOWEVER, things are starting to click for me and all the hard work is starting to pay off. Now, when I hit balls, other players are very surprised that I've only been playing golf for as long as I have. My point is that there is NO WAY I would be where I'm at without an instructor. I'm not saying that I'm a good golfer, just that I know I'm way further along in my ability then I would have been without instruction and if I just tried to play golf "the natural way".

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I'm definitely not against lessons. Had them before, and will again! In the meantime.. In excited to report that focusing on the target, and swinging easy has started to show some promise.
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Originally Posted by sofingaw

I'm definitely not against lessons. Had them before, and will again!

In the meantime.. In excited to report that focusing on the target, and swinging easy has started to show some promise.

One of the most recent lessons focused on trying to relax my grip and take tension out of my swing. I was hitting most of the right positions on video, but because I was trying so hard and tensing up, my shots where really crappy. Once I started relaxing and trusting my swing, I was striking the ball WAY better. Funny how that works. :) So, I can definitely appreciate the merit of swinging easy.

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