Ok…you asked for it…………you got it. Be ready for a long read!
Background Information first. I started playing golf about 20 years in my early twenties. My older brother worked at a range when he was young and had played from a young age. He is eight years older than me. I was a pretty good athlete in high school and even had some college offers. I was so busy with football, basketball, and etc. that I never got into golf. I went into the service at age 20. When I would go home on leave, to spend time with my brother, I played golf with him. Soon I got the bug. He was a pretty good golfer as you could imagine. I struggled like everyone does in the beginning. A weak fade or slice was my stock shot, when I made good contact with the ball. I got frustrated very quickly. Being a good athlete, I couldn’t understand what was so hard about this game. Having athletic ability had made it easier for my friends to learn it. The one thing they had over me was that they all played baseball and softball, I didn’t. Maybe that is why I struggled so much initially. . The one area that I think my athletic ability helped was the short game, more specific, putting. I have always been a good putter, and could read greens well.
Anyway, as the years past, I got a little better by reading golf magazines and playing for quarters with my friends and brother who were better than me. I figured out how to correct my weak slice and eventually learned how to hit a draw. It was a long process. My major swing break through came about five years ago. I started using that reverse loop swing similar to Furyk. Kind of like Haney was having Ray Romano do on the Haney Project this year. It kept me from coming over the top on a more consistent basis. I saw big improvements in contact and distance when I started swinging from the inside out. That’s when I started hitting a draw. I improved so much over the next few years that I even won our club championship two years ago, shooting 76-70, and beating my brother. That 70 was my low round ever, and still is. So it couldn’t have happened at a better time. I have shot several 33’s for nine, with 32 being my low nine. I have shot 70 a few more times since, but still have not broken into the 60’s.
Last year I was back and forth with the two-plane swing (reverse loop), and conventional swing. Mainly because my game was inconsistent. I was shooting 74-75 on good days, and 84-85 on other days. The good days were mostly because of my short game. When I started hooking the ball too much with the two-plane swing, I would go back to the conventional swing. Eventually I would start making bad contact with the conventional swing, and go back to the two-plane swing. The fat iron shot was my nemesis. After watching the Haney Project last year with Barkley I discovered something that helped me with my fat shots. They had some professor showing how your head had to be still for you to bring the club back to the same place it was at set up. I think he was using a ruler to show it. I knew I had to keep my head still, so I started keeping more weight on my left side and not moving weight back to the right on the back swing. It was the second big break through for me. My irons started to actually compress the ball! I also gained some more yardage. I still went back and forth between both swings, but kept my weight on the left side or at least tried. I felt like things were better, but still shot an 81-74 in the club championship. My primary miss was now a thin or toe shot at this point, from raising my head on the down swing I think. That is how I ended last year going into winter.
Over the winter I started to get back into golf mode and stumbled on a swing on one of the Internet boards called “Stack and Tilt”. Once I started reading about it, I remembered the Golf Digest articles that had talked about it. I scoured the Internet for more information. Some thought it was a fad and would pass, and some people swore by it. I took a long look at my game and knew it was my ball striking that was keeping me from getting any better. I just didn’t hit enough greens and fairways. Most of my birdies were coming on par 5’s that I was either chipping in two or on the green. I hardly ever birdied par 4’s and getting a par on a par 3 was good. My putter would save me more often than not. I usually had at least one bad hole a round, double bogey or worse. Mostly because of a driver or 3 wood going out of bounds or in a hazard.
I decided to go for it and ordered the “Stack and Tilt” book in late February. I read through it in a couple days and went out with a 6 iron and tried some things it suggested. Immediately, and I mean immediately I was hitting the ball better with my 6 iron. A nice little baby draw, or push draw as they call it. The book was very good at explaining ball flight things that I did not know before. Needless to say I was hooked. Like many, I initially struggled with my woods. But kept plugging along and was able to hit them also, but not as far as I was. My irons were going farther though. I also had a tendency to hook some shots early on, but I just weakened my grip like the book said and it fixed that for the most part. After a month or so of hitting balls and playing a few holes I thought I was on to something special. Then, out to the blue, I lost it. I couldn’t hit anything solid and started even shanking some shots. This went on for a week or so, and I just knew it was something I was doing wrong with the swing…….not the swing itself. However, when I played in a competitive round and lost it, I reverted back to my reverse loop swing to stay respectable. I really started to question it at that point. I decided to have my wife tape me and see if I was doing what I actually thought or felt like I was doing at certain points in the swing. The best decision I ever made. I was NOT doing what I felt like I was doing. I was getting way too long on my backswing like my old swing used to be. My right arm was not staying connected to my body, etc., etc., etc.
It has been three months now. I have got it back, lost it again, and got it back in that time. The big problem is that I start to get comfortable with it and then my old habits start creeping back in. Too long of a backswing, not staying connected, to much wrist hinge or cup. I am continuing to tape my swing and have my wife watch my backswing when I practice. When I do it right, it is sweet. When I don’t do it right, it sucks. It is all about getting that feeling you can correlate to what you are trying to do when you do it right. I have really struggled with that. Plus, not having an instructor, really makes it much harder. I did find one break through video from Dana Dahlquist teaching a young player, Clarence I think, that really helped me last week. Dana had him taking his backswing in stages or segments and stopping. He would have him get in his setup. Then hinge his wrist up. Then go back with the club to the parallel to the ground point, making sure his right arm stayed close to the side. Then he had him turn his hips and shoulders without moving his arms. His arms just naturally moved back when he straightened his right leg and turned his left shoulder down. Then he followed through and hit the ball maintaining the wedge as long as possible and stopping the follow through correctly. I immediately started doing that drill on my own, and it has done wonders for me. I have been going to Dave Wedzick’s golf evolution site for a month or so also, and looked at some of his teaching videos. Yesterday I shot an even par 72 with a double bogey on the last hole and a shank that went out of bounds on hole 15. I got stuck in the trees during the double bogey. Because I tried to go over a big tree with a 4 iron and hit the top of it, dropping it down in a bunch of them. It had nothing to do with my swing, just poor judgment on my part. Either way, it was the best ball striking round I have ever played. I shot 33 on the front and it seemed easy. Because I was hitting greens and fairways.
I know the swing works, period. I know I still have a lot of work to do to learn it correctly, especially with no instructor. Although my wife and I are thinking seriously about taking a short vacation to Erie, Pennsylvania, to get some instruction. I may also use Dave Wezdick’s evolver program also. I also picked the book back up tonight to reread it, now that I have a better understanding of the swing. I honestly feel like I am on the verge of breaking that 60’s barrier. I am as excited about my game right now as I ever have been.
An a side not, I started teaching my wife to play last year with the thought of keeping her weight on her left side and not moving her head. I continued to help her learn this summer by giving her some of the principles in the book, and she broke 50 the other day. Believe it or not she shot a 46!
Take my word for it…………………it will help you become a better ball striker.