Well, I finally got to the course on this past Saturday morning and it was outstanding! However it didn't start out that way. I left home an hour early to get plenty of time on the driving range and chipping green. As I drove up, there was the usual Saturday morning line at the 1st tee. I parked, and then walked to the pro shop to pay for 9 holes and a large bucket. I propped my bag against a wall outside the pro shop door, and walked inside to another long line of Nike and Taylor Made capped Men ready to whap at a few balls. As I walked in, there was a grey-haired elderly man sitting at one of the tables. You know, whenever I play at a municipal course, there's ALWAYS one of these dudes somewhere around the place lol!! I stood in the line for about 10 minutes; the elderly dude walked out and stood outside smoking a cigarette. He came back in….and that's where it all started…He said "Hey young buck, that your bag out there?" I said "YES SIR!!"with a LOT of enthusiasm, cause I was excited about getting out of the basement to the outdoors. He responded with "what chu know bout persimmon woods? You don't know nuthin bout that old school stuff." I laughed it off and said "they're just clubs…nothin special………..I'm tryin to learn a little something with them." He chuckled back and said "yeah, don't nobody round here know nuthin bout real wood clubs." That comment got the middle-aged guy behind the counter started. "He he he he…….yep, if you got persimmon in your bag, that means you know something bout the game." These types of comments are what I don't like to hear; people labeling me as some type of "good" player just because I have some wooden clubs in my bag. I paid for my 9 holes and large bucket, and quickly laughed myself right out of there; too much pressure lol. I need to get a special shirt made that I wear to the course that says "I am not a good golfer. I am working towards the swing mechanics of Ben Hogan. I wear these Khaki pants, white shirt, and Hogan hat to help make it easier to analyze and compare my swing to his. I swing with wooden clubs to keep a certain swing feeling, and cause I like how they look. I really have no idea what I am doing. Please do not watch me right now because you will be very disappointed. But you should see me in about a year……..I may surprise you!"
I immediately went to the range and started with my impact-elbow-hip drill. I'm still trying to get Kim to come up with a snazzy name for it; my hope is that it will allow her to become a part of the project. There was one guy on the range with blue shorts and a white shirt. As I walked towards the hitting area, I saw him swatting at balls. From a far-away distance, looked like he was only moving his arms and shoulders, but the ball was flying off the ground like bullets! As I got closer, I noticed all the intricacies of his swing compared to what I am trying to accomplish. Veeeeeeery different; his hips didn't move at all, but he had a consistent strike and the ball was going long……much longer than me. I dropped my bag on the ground and………it started again. He asked how I was doing, then said "whoa, you got real wood clubs lol??" I said, "Yep, just tryin something different today." I always use these clubs, but this is my common response so nobody is waiting to see anything spectacular from me. I worked on the impact-elbow-hip drill for about 15 minutes without a ball, then eased a few balls into the mix. Took some 60% effort swings; the first few went straight, but right, because I forgot to supinate the left wrist and pull the left shoulder back. When I did remember the left wrist/shoulder, flight was in the middle and acceptable.
I then went to the chipping area to do what I enjoy the most: to see how many I can chip in. Today it was 2 out of 20 minutes worth. I made it a point to over-exaggerate the impact-elbow-hip drill while chipping each ball. Looked just like what I am doing in the 'Take 7' video, except it's a small chipping movement, but same head down/hip thrust/left foot stomp/left knee snap/left shoulder roll-around. I probably looked ridiculous out there lol. My right side began to pain a little, because I am getting so crunched, and because it is a movement I have never done before a couple of days ago. As a bead of sweat began to drop from my nose, I wiped it on my sleeve and looked up towards the clubhouse back door. There was the old guy still puffing on the cigarette with one hand in his pocket staring at me. He yelled out "yah, I see ya down there…….you know what you're doin young buck lol……. I yelled back "nah, not really……I'm still tryin to figure it out!" That's when I picked up all the range balls and headed over to the upper putting green to check the green speed, but mainly to get out of his view lol.
Greens were medium speed. I waited for Bruce and Larry to arrive. While I waited, I sat at a bench on a hill above/behind the 1st tee box and watched the crowd of 5 carts and lots of walkers. I took note of everyone's practice swing and real swing, pointing out what they are doing that is in line with my goal. I noticed the younger guys (18-30ish) seemed to swing as hard as they could, and most of their balls curved right. Most of the older veterans (50-60ish) swung smooth and easy; most balls went down the middle or drew left. Note to self: get the mindset of an old veteran!
Bruce and Larry finally arrived and we met at the first tee. The crowd that was initially there had teed off and were well into the 2nd hole. It was surprising that it was not busy at 10:22am on a Saturday morn. First thing Larry says when he walks up is "MAN! You got real wood clubs. LOLOLOL! I gotta see this! You might make me get mine out of the closet!" Bruce says, "uhhhh, it will surprise you….I wish he would get rid of 'em….he's taken my money for the past month lol!" Bruce was right, but my improvement had nothing to do with the club, just the mechanics I am working on. We toss up a tee to select hitting order; it's Bruce, Larry, then me. Bruce hits a driver that pushes right, but is in-bounds. As we laugh aloud and comment on how lucky he is to be in bounds, 4 carts pull up and 3 more walkers with push carts. A minute ago, there was no one around, now the whole world. But I didn't mind because I had been on the range practicing my drill, and on the chipping area doing the same, so I had an idea of what the new swing feeling was. Almost my turn up at the plate! Larry is doing a bunch of practice swings and getting ready to hit his driver; his ball went towards where Bruce's was. Then it started again. One of the older lookin dudes standing behind his push cart said "you swingin real woods my man?"
I said "yah, just figured I would try somethin different today." He asked what it was and if he could see it. I handed him the 3wood and he swung it a few times. His buddy laughed and said "you can barely swing that $300 nike in ya bag. What you gonna do wit real wood!?" Then of course he told his friend, who started commenting about the clubs, then the guy next to him, then a wildfire lol. Everybody was talking about wooden clubs and how the game has changed. Then the worst part: the dude in the hawaiian looking shirt said "come on, give my man his club and let him do his thing. He didn't bring real wood out here for nuthin. Trust me, I saw him on the chipping green swingin it just like Ben Hogan. I ain't lying….."
I tried to offset the comment by saying "lol nooooooo, it's just the hat. My swing is nowhere near Hogan lol." This is when I wanted to be at home in the basement with just me and the crickets and spiders. If you've seen my post about the Taylor Made Tour bag, you will know what I am talking about. I seem to have issues with people expecting me to do a certain thing or perform a certain way based on the type of equipment or clothing I have on. When I finish the Hogan swing project, I'm gonna start a Ben Hogan Golf Mindset Project lol…..how to cancel out the gallery on the first tee box! I walked up to the white blocks and tried my best to stay focused on the elbow/hip/impact drill. Dropped a ball on the ground and did a few practice drills. I didn't swing all the way around my body; just enough to keep the elbow/hip/thrust feeling. I don't tee balls up if I'm swinging 3wood or smaller, cause when I'm on the fairway, no tees are allowed. I treat the tee box as just another fairway; gives me more fairway practice that way. I walked into the ball just as I've practiced the past few weeks. I did the waggle a few times, then set my left foot forward of my right about 1" closer to the target line, then right foot perpendicular to target line. The right knee was bent in a little, just as I had practiced. With my head down, I took the club back, and loaded my right side, and swung through with the elbow/hip thrust feeling I had practiced on the chipping green. I don't remember seeing the club make contact with the ball/ground (I gotta look into this…….as I think about it, I don't think I have ever seen the club make contact with the ball….what the heck am I looking at when I swing???? Maybe my eyes just roll around in my head or something lol!!!! Gonna get one of those high speed cameras and put it on my eyes !). Well, surprisingly, the ball went straight right with a nice high trajectory and landed just a little farther than Bruce and Larry. It was on a side-hill about 10 yards from OOB. I think it went right because I forgot to supinate during the downswing / impact area. One thing I do distinctly remember is the feeling of the drill movement during the swing, and that as I saw the ball heading on an ok path, I did the Hogan finish, where he falls back on the right heel, then steps forward on the left foot towards the target; kind of an out of balance adjustment he makes.
The Hawaiian shirt guy then says "I TOLD YA! My man can swing that wood!" That's about all I did was swing it. Really all I did was get lucky under pressure lol. Wish I had that on camera to analyze. Want to know what my left wrist/hand was doing at impact, as well as the overall areas I have been working on night and day.
I got better with the supination as we played along. A quick note on this supination attempt; I'm not sure if I should be trying to do this or if I should be doing something else to make it happen on its own. I'll know when I officially get to that part of the project. After a while, the swing started to feel "natural". Now it definitely wasn't perfect. I had my fair share of mis-hits and flubs, but overall, it was gooooooood because based on "feeling", I was doing what I had been drilling all week. My 9-hole score of 44 was nothing to be writing home about, but I did beat Bruce by 13 strokes…..again lol.
WOW! Can't believe I've rambled so much! Sorry for throwing so much at ya in one post.
More good news….THE IPHONE HAS BEEN ORDERED AND IS ON ITS WAY!!!!!!!!!