After feeling like I've been spinning wheels and wasting money trying various swing thoughts and tricks and tips and everything else the Internet has to offer, I finally smartened up and had a 1 hour lesson with a local pro. I started playing last summer at the age of 36, and I am very far away from having a repeatable swing. To be honest, I'm disappointed that I waited so long to finally see someone. The pro watched me swing and identified 3 main areas for me to work on.
1. Grip - this one was actually quick and painless to address. My left hand needed to just slightly move the grip diagonally to get the butt end closer to the pad at the bottom of my pinkie, vs. having the whole grip in all 4 fingers. My right hand was moved slightly, and the grip placed in the knuckles of my fingers vs. the palm. Within 5-6 swings, I was immediately hitting better and more comfortably. Awesome.
2. Takeaway - I was hinging my wrists fairly quickly, causing the clubface to open up and my swing to go off plane. I had read plenty online about rolling the forearms or limiting the roll, but never knew what it felt like until someone slowly moved my arms and the club so I would understand the motion. By having me swing with just my left hand, I felt the differences and am working on a slow, wide takeaway with a natural wrist hinge. Again - once I started doing it correctly, the ballflight became much better and the swing felt easier.
3. Stance - this one is the killer. I was using far too much knee bend and hunching over at the shoulders. I had read the 10 page proper posture thread here multiple times, and thought I was doing OK. Nope. Wrong. Very, VERY wrong. We worked on chin up, shoulders back, butt slightly out, and the feeling of a straight back with the weight on the balls of my feet. I felt like I was standing far too erect and stiff, but when I looked at the stance in the mirror at home, I immediately thought "wow, I look like I might know what I'm doing!" It was uncomfortable, but not painful in any way; I just wasn't used to it. I've been lifting up on my downswing because my body knew I was too low and the club would smack into the ground well behind the ball. The bulk of my "homework" is to work on the stance.
I thought I knew a bunch about what I was supposed to be doing thanks to reading threads here, watching videos, buying books and DVDs, etc. But when someone actually explained things while putting my arms and hands in different places really made things click. For instance, I've felt like I didn't have a proper weight shift and have tried sliding hips, posting on my left leg, all sorts of things - but once I started getting into the stance the pro had me in, I felt pressure in my right big toe and inner arch during the backswing, which helped me start my lower body on the downswing. The ball flight wasn't very pretty, but the pro said that would come with adjusting to the better setup, so I wasn't worried. We ended with the driver, which started out horribly as well, but ended with 3 decent drives that went around 200 in the air with maybe a 5 yard fade. If you'd seen me tee off before, you'd understand why I was so thrilled with those!
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to share because I'm sure there are others who are getting frustrated and trying different things without someone telling them what should work FOR THEM. I'll be headed back for another lesson in 2-3 weeks once I'm more comfortable with the new changes. I don't expect to start contending for championships, but I know I'm laying the groundwork for a repeatable swing that should make playing much more enjoyable.