It's been a fun week! For more updates from Lytham and Formby, please see this thread:
Royal Lytham & St Annes is the best course I have ever played and was simply brilliant from start to finish - highly recommended!
For this post, I wanted to do a bit of analysis on the last few rounds using Game Golf and see what I could glean as well as whether my thoughts are actually based in reality. I also had a short game lesson yesterday, which worked on reducing my hinge (my feeling of neutral was as far hinged as possible), meaning that I can hit down far more effectively. I then went and played 9 holes in the evening and it made an immediate difference. More on that in a bit.
Putting-wise, I had a great response from Preston, which explained quite a few aspects of the left-hand low approach that I should look at, as well as the need to commit to the pendulum, no acceleration stroke. I'm still working on that (I got the video just before the round at Lytham) and the immediate story is that it's much better for long putts, but I'm pulling short ones slightly left. More work to do, for sure.
Formby (6400 yards) - 10 over.
Started really well and drove the ball nicely until about the eleventh, when I started losing it right a bit more. The main issue was that, on the back nine, I couldn't control my low point with my irons and even though I was putting myself in scoring positions off the tee, I was just not hitting enough GIR on the back nine. Front nine was as good as I've played in a while though. Didn't feel I putted particularly well, but it wasn't bad - didn't make any that made me feel I was gaining shots. What was nice was that there were no blow up holes. There was a chance on 7, but the best recovery shot I've ever hit actually gave me a very makeable par putt. My sentiments are borne out entirely by the GG statistics:
Royal Lytham & St Annes (6700 yards) - 10 over:
A long, seriously bunkered course with tricky shots whenever you missed the fairway. It was fairly windy, but nothing too severe. I felt I drove it brilliantly, with the couple of average strikes still pretty safe (apart from the awful shot on 8 that caused the double and finding a bunker on 18 - although, look at the tee shot you have to hit! Finding a bunker is about 50% probability!). Approach play was a bit better, but can still improve further, particularly with partial wedges, which I just didn't feel I had under control at all. Putting was ok, but I didn't hole many of my putts in the 6ft-10ft range. I also could have scrambled much better, which was why I was leaving those shots. I can visualise the shot, but just wasn't managing to hit my lines or see the release I wanted.
This interests me as I thought my putting wasn't great... I guess we all do! I wonder whether this calculation is quite on the money, as I don't feel I was gaining strokes doing it. The numbers for short game and approaches don't surprise me and off the tee was good, bar those two shots.
Yesterday - some four days later - I had a short game lesson with Matt, who had fitted my Edel wedges. We spent 45 minutes on the range, when he worked on changing my release pattern. Essentially, I was hinging hard immediately, which was impacting my ability to hit down with the club and properly engage the bounce. He had me hit loads of shots to about 50 yards, trying to get the feeling of a more extended, vertical takeaway (my words, not his) and then syncing my body with the arms better, to feel I was really rotating through the ball and hitting down and left. What we saw was that the more I felt confident in hitting down and knowing that the club wouldn't stick in the ground, the more the ball flew high, straight and stopped nicely. We also found a bit of extra distance in doing so, not that it was the primary objective.
After that first 45 minutes, we went onto the course and around 5 different greens, just trying to hit certain shots. He was really clear that the range was technical and the course was hitting the shot and trusting the technique. By the end, I was back to that awesome turf interaction that I'd first had on my Edel fitting and had moved away from and was hitting all the shots I wanted, including the nice mid low flight that will serve me well on windier days. The main difference is that I can now see a landing spot and hit it, whereas I had been seeing and missing them beforehand. I've come away with a new training aid as well (the Yes V-Easy) to really feel that path - I was using it for the first 45 minutes and still had the feel 2 hours later, so it's worth the money for me.
Farleigh (4 over - 9 holes):
The final round was just after my lesson. Did everything brilliantly apart from putt, missing a couple of sitters and having an abysmal three putt on the 3rd hole. (The first putt on the 4th was very downhill and whilst I'm annoyed, I'm not too heartbroken about missing the return). Irons were better; I actually hit the 3/4 PW on the first about 10 yards further than I normally would due to the better synced swing Matt and I had worked on and the driver was flying well. The greens were also really hard, making some approaches (1st, 9th) tough to stick. I made two nice up and downs that I wouldn't have done before the lesson and gave myself chances where I hadn't been at Lytham or Formby, most notably the pitch from the back of the 9th, bunker shot on 5 and the second pitch on the 6th. I had a horrible lie and was short-sided, green running away on 6, so that was never going to go close.
Also worth mentioning the hybrid on 9, which was a worldie - I'll never hit a better shot with that club. Under a tree, with a restricted follow through, I had to hit a draw to avoid the branches and found the perfect line over the bunker
Yep, these are about right... Approach shots lost would include the 9 iron that was destroyed into the wind on 5, the hard bounce for the PW on 1 which threw it over the back and the poor first pitch on 6.
So, what to work on? Well, a few images expand on the story - all from the last three rounds:
Off the tee:
Approaches inside 150, split into three categories:
Approaches outside 150, split into three categories:
Strokes Gained overall:
Plan of action:
Nail the putting motion and setup changes and eliminate the pulls from inside 10 feet. I need to keep practising, using a start gate and work out what my tendencies are. I'll also post a response to Preston to check the new setup.
Keep doing what I'm doing with driver and wedges. 0.47 strokes lost against a scratch golfer is awesome and I just need to keep taking driver and hitting it as well as I am currently doing.
Really work on contact with 7 iron and up - outside 150 can be so much better. This really includes hybrid and 3 wood, although what I was doing in the lesson with Matt has also cleared that up.
All in all though, I'm pretty happy with this and really seeing progress - +10 on two tough courses is good enough for me right now and I feel like my ceiling is much higher/lower than that.