To the thread starter, I feel your pain! I am a weekend warrior. I love my golf, but fully acknowledge that I have WAY more enthusiasm than talent!
I started playing (9 holes once a week) about 5 years ago, and spent the first 2 years just hacking my way around, wondering if I would ever be able to play this game. I did eventually get better, but my progress did not come in a gradual curve; it came in a series of steps. It is these steps I want to share and hear any comments about.
The first step was when I saw a Mark Crossfield clip on Youtube about the right hand grip. Like many beginners, I was gripping the club with my right hand rotated too far clockwise, under the club. This was closing the club face during my swing, and causing all sorts of horrible compensations in my swing. Adopting a fairly weak right hand grip felt awkward at first, but it almost immediately straightened out my shots.
The second step was when I read on Bob Jones’ Recreational Golfer blog that the famous British instructor Vivienne Saunders had once said that the average beginner would make the most progress by paying attention to their follow-through position. If your setup is OK, and your follow-through is OK, the bit in between should be OK too! So I scrunched up pieces of a4 paper (they go nowhere and can’t break anything on the way!) and practised swinging through them and into the “pro pose,” balanced on the front foot, rotated through to face the target. I soon learned to stop swinging at the ball, but rather to swing towards my target and into my follow through. This immediately made a big difference to the consistency of my ball-striking. Many less fat shots.
I was hitting the ball much straighter, and striking it much cleaner, but still found that I would often hit the ball straight left, or right. So the next big step was sorting out my alignment. I came across a Youtube clip by Steve Bann on alignment. He said its difficult to judge when you are parallel to an imaginary line on the ground. He said to try aiming the club face at the target and then aligning yourself square “across” the club face, while it is right under your eyes. He is right. It is MUCH easier. Centering the club face in my stance also sets the perfect ball position for me (slightly forward of center) for shots off the ground.
The beauty of this method is that alignment and ball position are set at the same time.
So there are the three steps which have made a huge difference to my game: Right hand grip, swinging through to a correct follow through, and alignment by club face. Probably discovered in the wrong order, but so it goes! And, of course, it still takes practise.
I already know that the next step will be a mental one. I tend to fall into the trap of playing faster and faster during my round (especially if I become conscious of players behind us), and then not setting up properly. I need to discipline myself to follow my method on every stroke, for the entire round. I don’t have enough natural talent to simply walk up to the ball and swing. Hence one or two “blowup holes” each round.
Any thoughts? Do the instructors out there also find that their pupils progress in steps, or is this unusual?