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My Swing (Darkfrog)


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Practice notes, 2021-03-10:

Experimented with a feel for the lead leg hitting balls while warming up for superspeed workout. I have a hunch that I am extending my lead leg too soon. I tried feeling like the lead knee maintains some flex through impact. Seemed to hit the ball solidly on the start line I want, and didn't struggle with low point control, so I should probably try to film this feel and see if it actually changed anything.

Hitting balls in the dark - after a superspeed workout, I attempted to hit some balls with driver and hybrid to get a sense of clubhead speed with a ball. It was dark out, but there is plenty of ambient light from exterior lighting to see the ball. However, I was missing terribly toward the toe, to the extent that I hit a couple balls that shot off the toe almost perpendicular to my target line and ricocheted of my deck, and a couple total whiffs of the ball. This made me think that nighttime + dark shafts w/ black grips + black clubheads somehow messes with vision/depth perception. It's never happened with irons before, but these catch and reflect more light. After second ball off bouncing off the deck, I decided to stop for the day. I should probably get out my work light for nighttime practice with these clubs from now on.

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(edited)

Minor setup adjustment with irons - slightly narrower stance, arms hanging more vertical (less reach).

Backswing feel - shoulders turn (chin touch shoulder trigger), hands more upward, less across chest, flow back and recenter. Eyes stay on ball, no looking at clubhead.

Downswing feel - hands downward, weight forward, turn around left side

Edited by Darkfrog
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Backswing feel working well lately: Feel the right hip get higher than left to help flow forward in downswing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pre-lesson notes/progress:

The last 3 weeks have been best scoring period I've had, finally broke 80, and for once it doesn't feel like these low (for me) scores were due to some crazy round with a bunch of birdies or anything. My handicap index is at 10.9, which is lower than I ever thought I would be able to get. So overall I am pretty happy with my progress.

  • Working on palmar flexion priority piece has been a challenge. I've gone through several cycles of feels, and nothing has really stuck. I can do the motion slowly, and I practice this a lot with a wedge in the patio door mirror, and have success at slower speeds, but once I get to full speed, the club is more like 90-deg (toe up) at P6. I get a sense that this will continue to be a priority piece for my practice.
  • Covering the ball/recentering/flow has gone really well. A few weeks ago something started clicking after watching some AMG content showing how pros recenter themselves. Recent Mevo session with 8-iron had my launch at around 18 degrees, where looking at older Mevo data it was 24-26 degrees. An interesting side effect, or maybe correlation, is that once the recentering clicked, the ball started going much straighter; still a straight draw on short clubs transitioning to push draw on longer clubs, but less push, and less curve across the board. I'm thinking that maybe improving this has somewhat killed my tendency to flip/shove my right hand, and maybe when I do this right, the palmar flexion occurs without needing a feel. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. 
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Lesson 3/25:

The work on recentering/flow/covering the ball had good results. My 7-iron AoA is back in the 4-6 degrees down range now, and launch angle is good, and ballspeeds are up. This has also cured (for the most part) my right hand shove/flip at impact.

Palmar flexion piece seems to naturally happen when I cover the ball well, even though I didn't feel like I had quite gotten there with this piece. I still need to work on clubface control though, and get a better feel for applying the right amount of wrist flex.

In an effort to recenter in the backswing, my teacher pointed out that I was extending my trail knee to a point (almost locked) where I did a little bow toward the ball. She had me get rid of this, retain a little trail leg flex in the turn, while also feeling some resistance/torque/whatever in the right hip/glute/quad. This added some stability and a more balanced feel to backswing and downswing, while still recentering and covering the ball.

Also shortened my backswing a touch.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lesson coming up on Thursday 4/15:

After 5-6 weeks of really good ball striking (by my standards), full swing has regressed. After my last lesson, I had some backswing and transition weight/pressure shift feels that worked really well. I was hitting almost everything with center-face contact (within tolerance of a mid-handicap player), AoA and launch angles were all in the right window, ball was going where I aimed it, shot shape was reliable, distance improved. Then in my last round suddenly I had no idea where the ball was going to go.

I have a little deal with myself, that if I can get my index below 10 and keep it there, I am getting fitted for a new driver, so I am a little miffed at what I experienced last round. I doubt there was a sudden change (maybe there was, who knows), but what I suspect is that there was some slower, less noticeable regression that was going on, that finally transitioned into a significant on course problem.

Putting and short game are still good enough (nothing special), so that at least I am not losing any strokes with these elements.

I've gone back to basics for now with practicing, and I don't want to over-self-diagnose any issues and use a shotgun approach to problem solving, so happy that I have a lesson this week to figure out what's gone wrong.

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Lesson 4/15:

Discussed my sudden (or likely not so sudden) regression in ball striking over the last 11 holes. Teacher observed about three swings and identified an issue.

Takeaway had drifted inside, and was very much a hands move without enough shoulder pitch or turn. Worked on feeling my lead shoulder pitch down and around, and the feeling is that my shoulders/torso are moving the club back and not the hands. Getting this sorted out is priority piece for the next month. After about 10 balls at slow speed, contact was back to center, with misses toward the toe side, instead of heel. AoA was 5-6 degrees down with 7-iron, path 2-3 degrees I > O, but still need to work on clubface control; some straight balls, some over draws, and some push fades - clubface control is a co-priority piece.

Recentering/flow is good with irons, but as I transition into longer clubs like hybrid/3W, I hang back for some reason. Really need to feel a "fall" toward the ball with hybrid/3W, and less push off the trail leg, and more thought on rotation to arrest the fall.

Worked on the priority piece with hybrid on the launch monitor after lesson, and the backswing priority piece was working well, and toward the end I had made some progress figuring out clubface control. From 230 yards out on the GC4 range, the bad L/R misses were still mostly within nGIR proximity, so if this is as bad as it gets as I fine tune this, I'm happy.

Spend the last 15 minutes on the launch monitor hitting driver. I was pretty tired at this point, but swing speed was good, typical range around 110-112mph, with a max of 115mph.

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On 4/15/2021 at 7:43 PM, Darkfrog said:

Worked on feeling my lead shoulder pitch down and around, and the feeling is that my shoulders/torso are moving the club back and not the hands.

Will add COVID-19 day-2 drill into my full swing practice sessions.

 

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Notes 4/19:

Priority piece: Working on the lead shoulder turning down and around center of chest on backswing. Feel is that lead shoulder propels the club head back and up. COVID-19 day-2 drills are helpful. Looks good in video compared to reference video from last lesson.

But contact is all over the face, and I’ve been frustrated lately trying to sort out what has changed. Reviewed some recorded swings from my lessons in March and April compared today. Looks like the flow has gone away.

I tried some rehearsals feeling the trail hip move away from target at start of the backswing (along with shoulder priority piece) before “falling” back to target. Hit some balls at slow speed and immediately contact and low point control improved significantly. Did this for about 45 minutes after kids went to bed. Probably hit 30 balls, most strikes centered between the grooves, with a couple toe/heel/fat strikes.

4CF379C0-C0EB-4C56-8D22-ED50D57C399D.thumb.jpeg.99f323cb3465110914b90a9a053cb1b6.jpeg

Moral of the story is to not sacrifice gains from previous priority pieces for the latest one. Also I should film more often. Actually ordered a Live View Pro camera to facilitate this and hopefully prevent future regression.

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  • 2 weeks later...

4/30

Live View Pro camera is supposed to arrive today. I liked Mirrorvision, but setting up two iPhones on tripods (I don't have an iPad) felt tedious, and often the lazy side of me often overpowered the ambitious side of me, which often led to not recording swings. I also didn't like the subscription basis of the app, even though $35/year or something isn't all that much. With the Live View Pro, I can just leave it in the garage attached to a tripod set up at the perfect height, and I happen to have an Amazon Fire tablet that supposedly works great with Live View.

Been practicing a lot with foam practice balls (actually a combo of foam and Skilz practice balls, but equivalent for all intents and purposes). These really help me slow down, and focus on the new movements rather than how well I hit the ball. There is no strike feedback, so this allows me to just focus on the implementing the new swing elements. Often I find that I when hitting real balls, I quickly abandon a new piece when contact isn't great. I also tend to swing too fast with real balls.

Practice has been focused on continuing to incorporate recentering/flow into swing, while making a good shoulder turn to get decent depth, instead of using my arms/hands.

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  • 2 weeks later...

5/11:

Lesson coming up this weekend. I think I have done pretty well with priority piece of improving shoulder turn, and continuing to maintain recentering/flow. Initially ball striking on-course was not very good, but it has come around with more practice, and I feel like I am playing pretty good again.

I've been working on a lot of takeaway/backswing stuff, in slow speed. One detriment of all the slow speed work is that I tend to carry the slowness in this part of the motion into my on-course swing. Sometimes on-course I make the takeaway/backswing too slow, which has been a problem before causing some other syncing issues. So I am working on speeding this up in practice, so I can do it at the appropriate speed on-course.

Live View Pro camera has been helpful in the takeaway/backswing work when used as a digital mirror to make sure I am actually doing what I think I am. I haven't used it that much with downswing/hitting balls yet, but that's next if I can manage to get to the ball hitting part of practice before it gets dark.

Hitting foam balls instead of real balls has been a real big help. Instead of getting frustrated with poor contact when trying to work on changes, the foam balls remove the strike quality feedback, and just provide a facsimile object to hit. Eventually I will need to go back to hitting real balls from time to time, but for now, I like the progress I am seeing with foam balls, and I also don't have to worry about property damage from the occasional practice shank. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lesson 5/15 and swing notes:

Inside takeaway! So I have this regression pretty frequently of takeaway being too inside. This particular time, my inner armchair swing analyst thinks that when I attempted to speed up my backswing to help keep the moving parts synched up, this resulted in whipping my hands and clubhead too far inside. In my lesson, we worked on this for the first 10-15 minutes, and I got some good reference video of where my teacher would like to see hands and clubhead at shaft parallel. Been working on this everyday to prevent future regression, and I have a good sense of how to exaggerate certain feels to get this on track if I see another regression. Now that I have a Live View Pro camera, I film myself just about everyday with minimal effort, and the digital mirror function of the LVP camera is really useful for me.

Still need to keep working on recentering/flow in the backswing and transition. I don't have this to a point where it is completely natural and doesn't require a feel or swing thought to execute. I think I am getting close to a good spot with this though.

Downswing priority right now is clubface control. Worked on this in the lesson for about 30 minutes, and saw some improvement, but it will take some work on my part. I seem to acquire/lose feels for this every few days, which is frustrating. I am hope that by using the LVP camera instant replay functionality, I can start to see which feel works best, and try to get to the point where I don't need to have a feel for this swing element. My gripe with the LVP camera in this regard is that it doesn't capture video in high enough framerate to really see face position when ramping up swing speed. Not sure if this is due to outdoor lighting not being good enough, or a device limitation. This might be something that I need to work on with slow swings with the LVP camera, and then record with my iPhone in good light to get a maximum framerate for slow motion video.

Last few minutes of the lesson, we chatted about wedge setup and doing a mini-fitting for wedges next lesson. I am looking to add the GW from my ZX5 iron set since I use my current Edel 50-degree for mostly for full swing shots and would prefer this club to be part of my iron set progression and not a specialty wedge. So the point of fitting would be figuring out what lofts/grinds of wedges would be best to add after that (or if my current 55 and 60 degree suit that).

Hopefully going to get a driver fitting in before the end of the year. Driver is the one club in the bag that I have zero confidence in. I don't know what my issue is, because I can generally find the realm of the center of clubface with all my other clubs, but driver is the biggest f'ing head in the bag and it feels like a pinhead. I think I need to dedicate some lesson time specifically to driver. The good thing is that my home course only calls for driver on 3-6 tee shots, so it doesn't have a huge impact on scoring. But being in better position off the tee on par-5 and long par-4 would be a huge benefit.

Been taking some time off the superspeed workouts, but now that I have started hitting the ball a better since I quit to focus on ball striking, I think I will start working this back into my weekly practice routine, starting with protocol 3.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lesson 6/10:

My feel for clubface control is working really well, and I am delivering the clubface square, without any flipping or shoving.

My work on the inside takeaway since previous lesson was "too good", meaning I ended up taking things a bit too far and started pushing my hands away from my body leading to some other compensations. We worked on removing this from the takeaway. What seemed to work well was feeling like there was some cupping in the lead wrist until shaft parallel, but I am not actually adding any cupping, just not moving the club head inside. I added a 3X rehearsal of this feeling into my preshot routine, and saw some immediate ball striking improvement.

Once that was sorted out, we spent the remainder of the lesson working on driver. The driver issues were mostly caused by the "pushing hands away to avoid inside takeaway move" I had acquired, and also not getting enough width (only with driver for some reason). We worked on this, and I feel like arrived at a pretty good place. I'll be working on this diligently because I want to be friends with driver again. Another less pressing issue with driver is that my AoA is neutral to slightly down, imparting more spin than optimal.

I was hoping to work some wedge fitting into my lesson and practice session, but that can wait until another time as I deemed driver work more important right now.

I did order a ZX5 AW to match my set, since I use AW as a full swing club and would rather have it match my irons rather than have a specialty wedge. I'll drop my Edel 50 degree, and just carry the 55 and 60 once the AW arrives.

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  • 1 month later...

Lesson tomorrow 7/17:

About 2-3 weeks ago, I noticed change in ball flight (moon balls or snap hooks) and distance loss on the moon balls, which for me is a tell tale sign of flipping. Haven't had a net or mat in my yard for about a month, so mostly been doing backswing work with LVP camera, focusing on not pushing hands away from body, but also not turning clubhead too far inside. I have not had much quality practice actually hitting balls with full swing due to not having a net (new net arrives this weekend, per FedEx).

Did my best to sort out the flippy-ness on course, but didn't have much success until I was able to get in several 9-hole rounds and driving range work during my vacation. Worked on recentering/flow, and clubface control at the range, and sorted it out for the most part. The feel for me is that I am "recentered" before I get to the top of the backswing, and then I can just swing. Hopefully lesson tomorrow shows that the flip is mitigated and I am making quality strikes with good AoA.

I have been disappointed in my putting over the last month, and recently decided to grip the putter a little tighter as I "felt" that I was holding on too loosely. This improved start line and distance control, so I think I am good here. I don't know why I relaxed my grip so much.

My short game is all over the place lately. As soon as my net is set up again, I plan to go through the pitch/chip COVID-19 drills and make some improvements in this area.

Tomorrow's lesson I am planning to spend some time on driver. I just can't seem to consistently make good swings/contact with driver, and I want to at least understand any mechanical issues so I can overcome my self-inflicted mental hurdles. I would like to pull driver out of the bag with confidence, which isn't the case right now.

Also have a wedge fitting planned for part of the lesson, depending on how work on driver/full swing goes. I am very interested in the new Edel SMS wedges, but I am brand agnostic, so whatever brand/model works best is what I will go with. I think my instruction facility deals with Edel and most other major club brands.

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  • Moderator
17 hours ago, Darkfrog said:

Also have a wedge fitting planned for part of the lesson, depending on how work on driver/full swing goes. I am very interested in the new Edel SMS wedges, but I am brand agnostic, so whatever brand/model works best is what I will go with. I think my instruction facility deals with Edel and most other major club brands.

I just had my first wedge fitting in Erie. I’ve done driver, irons and putter before. It was very thorough and Erik let me spend time with the different grinds doing all kinds of shots. We were indoors, but I think that was fine because they had simulated turf and a putting green to chip on as well as full shots.

Take your time with the grinds no matter what brand you settle on. FWIW, I’ve played Vokey and Cleveland before and like the Edels better. I also was playing the Edel Driver grind before but settled on the T-Grind. I love how the T-Grind feels through contact on fairway and rough.

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Lesson and Wedge Fitting 7/17:

All the backswing practice I've done using LVP camera seems to have addressed whipping club head too far inside, or pushing hands away from body to prevent whipping it inside. With camera setup I have now, I can practice this daily along with downswing stuff, so hopefully I stay on track.

Without a net for the past month, haven't been able to really practice downswing/ball striking with any regularity, and ballstriking has suffered some, so as I expected, my priority piece is related to downswing this time. The feel I am working with is that the trail arm extends/straightens (unflex trail arm/increase elbow angle sooner in downswing) to achieve a wider arc on downswing and also a feeling of letting the clubhead chase the ball down the target line after impact. The first part (trail arm) is similar to something I have worked on before, but it still feels a little unintuitive and I don't trust it yet, but when I execute this properly, the motion feels like less effort, but there is a bit more speed, and better contact, especially with driver (which I have been struggling with). I'll be working on this for the next month now that I have a net and mat (temporarily) set up on my patio.

I'm brand agnostic, but it appears that I am slowly accumulating a Cleveland/Srixon bag of clubs. I ended up choosing Cleveland RTX Zipcore, 54 mid, 58 full, with NS Pro Modus3 130 X-flex shafts. I went with those lofts because they gapped well off of my iron set's AW for full swings and worked well for the short game shots I like to hit. Performance wise, everything I tried was comparable - they all looked good (except the Cleveland CBX), felt good (on good strikes), and were versatile enough for my limited set of short game shots. I wasn't able perceive much difference in the various bounce/grind configurations on the different heads (maybe it was that the fitting was indoors on artificial turf, or maybe my short game is not particularly creative, or maybe I am just not skilled enough yet) and went with my instructors suggestion of one mid and one full bounce. My older Edel 50/55/60 wedges are still in pretty good shape, so I am going to use these for my club building/tinkering hobby, along with my old Wilson FG Tour v6 irons.

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  • 1 month later...

Lesson 8/23:

Today we worked on getting rid of the persistent "shrug" I make before impact. The main focus of the lesson was working on how my trail shoulder moves on the downswing, and having it continue to drive down and around the axis of my rotation. The feel is something like the right shoulder dropping down behind me while being recentered over the lead side. After working on this slowly with lots of rehearsals, moved up to faster swings, and the immediate benefit was that I found the center of the clubface almost every ball, and the start line was generally right on target. The example I was shown was of Tommy Fleetwood - I don't think I have the flexibility or coordination of TF, but this is the gist of what I am trying to do.

image.thumb.png.80974719f68587858aaee3c2269f5579.png

Also did a little bit of backswing tune up, but nothing that needs a huge change, just continuing to work on what I am already doing in my backswing practice.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Priority piece progress:

Been about two weeks since starting to work on a new priority piece. This one is a significant conceptual change in downswing movement/dynamics for me, and I'm still somewhat stuck between old and new, but I think I am making progress toward the new. Haven't been able to practice with enough light to get good video lately.

First 18 holes with the new move was good in the sense that I started to be able to feel when I executed it well, and when this happened, ball striking was great. Scoring was bad, and I actually decided to quit scoring after a +5 on the first hole; not necessarily because I was quitting the round, but this was a much nicer course than I usually play, and I just felt like enjoying the round without the added pressure of worrying about score. I estimate something between 90-100.

Not to make excuses for poor scoring, but it was partially caused by me simply not knowing the course, and even though the carts (required) had GPS maps of each hole, they didn't really illustrate certain nuances. For example, missing some greens in the wrong place caused the ball to roll off into an out-of-sight collection area with a tight lie and nearly impossible chip/pitch to get close to the hole. Or semi-blind tee shots on par-5 and long par-4 holes that made it hard to pick out the right line. Or hardpan areas past doglegs that caused the ball to roll an extra 50 yards after landing, and often into housing development backyards marked OB.

Second round at my home course was much better, shooting 79 with 17 GIR/nGIR. Probably could have gone lower, but just didn't make enough mid-range length par and birdie putts. 

Back to priority piece of trail shoulder moving down and around my axis of rotation in the downswing. Good execution of this move has had the biggest impact on my ball striking since learning proper recentering/flow. Ball speed and distance have increased with the comparable, or slightly slower swing speed. I do need to work on clubface, but I know how to do this. Right now, the worst outcome with this swing is hitting the ball a touch fat, but I hope this will dissipate as I learn to trust the move more. What I think happens on the fat shots is I am putting too much conscious thought into the shoulder moving that I end up hanging back on the trail foot and the club hits the ground behind the ball. I practice this move 15-20 minutes every day, and the majority of that is just doing rehearsals.

Driver: I'm driving the ball better than I ever recall. More distance, tighter dispersion, and way fewer balls off the planet. Hitting driver used to be a little like Russian roulette. Now I have confidence that I am going to strike the ball somewhere near the center of the club face, with a relatively square club face, and the ball is going to go more or less where I am expecting it to go. Far from perfect, but usually findable, and importantly, on the hole I am playing. The hanging back on the trail foot issue doesn't seem as penal with driver, although I did have one barely drop-kicked drive last round.

Long clubs off the tee/approach: Long irons, 3H and 3W off the tee and approaching the green have been similarly good like driver. These are impacted a bit more by the fat miss, but the shot is usually salvageable because it's not like I am hitting 6 inches behind the ball. These shots just end up short of target, but are still usually a nGIR if it's an approach shot.

Mid/Short Irons and Wedges: Pretty much same as the other clubs, but since these are the clubs I usually approach the green with, I think the improved dispersion will really help get more GIR/nGIR.

Short Game: This move has also really improved ball striking on short game shots. Previously, short game was good enough. Barring a really difficult shot, or bad lie, I could usually advance the ball onto the green and have a chance with putter. But I never knew if the strike would be off the toe, maybe a bit thin, fat, etc. Now strikes are center face for the most part, and the outcomes are predictable, and I'm getting myself closer to the hole for a better chance making the putt.

Got another lesson booked for late September, so I am really hoping to have this one down by then.

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