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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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Okay, only took 7 weeks to go from this: To this: Mostly level, and nice and wide so I can setup with good balance. Now I feel like I can hit balls for practice without any menta

Would love to help out, and the angle is close, but it's more important that the angle we're missing is the face-on view. Sometimes, at the end of the day too, toe strikes are just a toe strike.

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 al

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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.

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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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