I had the chance today to hit another course reasonably close to home, Patriots Glenn National Golf Course in Elkton, Maryland. The course was pretty wide open for my 10 am tee time, and I felt loose walking on the first tee box. The greens were in excellent condition, but the fairways could have benefited from a bit of attention from the grounds crew. Overall I was very pleased with the course, and you can see the work they are putting in. I was there at the end of last season, and that was a completely different story. With the course being so close to home, I enjoy seeing its consistent improvement.
Despite the improvements to the course, I was simply off my game. My drives were falling short, and the line was anything but consistent. I was hitting balls in the general direction that I needed to but missed a ton of greens in regulation, in turn adding unnecessary strokes to my scorecard. All in all, I tallied eight Pars, five Bogeys, and five Double Bogeys — which is the most I’ve recorded in a single round since the beginning of September. I was having a tough day overall; finishing with an 87 on the day was a very hard-fought score.
I was deep in the Think Box before each shot, making sure that I was fully committed to the swing I was about to take, and when I stepped into the Play Box, I was pulling the trigger. I was focused on my plan and making solid, safe choices but was utterly unable to execute on them.
I was with my lady today, who sometimes doubles as my camera crew. Throughout the round, she snaps photos in between my shots and hers. I am endlessly appreciative of her for this because it gives me the insight into my swing that I would not have without the constant setup of a tripod before each shot. About midway through the round, she happened to snag a video right as I made contact with the ball. She showed me the picture when I got back to the cart, and the answer was right in front of me as to why I was having a rough day on the course.
While this may be the best video quality, it gave me a wealth of information about why I wasn’t performing as planned. This single still shot of me contacting the ball shows the infamous “thrust” that many golfers battle regularly. I usually have decent hip movement through contact and hadn’t once thought about this being the reason for my struggles. When you look at the scorecard, you can see where my adjustments began. I recorded five of my eight pars on the back nine of the round.
For those who may not fully understand the importance of your hip movement, I strongly suggest you pay attention to this part of the game. A wise man once said, “It’s all in the hips.” Rest in peace, Chubbs!
When you begin your backswing, most high handicap golfers, myself included this past round, tend to move their hips towards the ball during the downswing. Everything at that point is your body attempting to correct itself based on where it was supposed to be. You have effectively changed everything in your lineup and preparation when you make this mistake.
Generally, this forward motion comes from being out of balance and “sitting” too far into your stance. For lack of better words, you are just out of a golfing posture. Too much weight on your heels, ball of your foot, or on one foot in favor of the other makes rotating your pelvis around your spine difficult and can cause that forward motion. It would be best if you had a slight bend in your knee while positioning weight evenly between both feet as well as your heel and the ball of your foot. Limiting your rotation also changes how your body and club work together through the swing, thus changing your results.
The next time you have a club, even in your living room at home, take a minute and go through a couple of swings. Focus on the center of your hips; when you start your backswing, are you drifting backward? When you begin your downswing, do your hips move closer to the ball, or do they start to drift towards your target? Is your pivot point your pelvis, or are you hinging at the hip? Your pelvis should remain relatively in place during the backswing, driving forward toward the target through the downswing and contact. Focus on this sensation with your practice swings and the next time you are at the range, work on this feeling at half speed, 3/4 speed, and eventually full speed.
The second part of the info I could snag from this video was my early release during the downswing. My backswing looked good, arms extended back, club level with the ground at checkpoints three and five; however, the downswing is where you can see the disconnect. I do not move my hands low into the swing, having that feeling of pulling the butt of the club towards my ball and target line. If you pause the video, you will see that my hands are late reaching my right thigh, losing the bulk of lag created in the shot. Having noticed these issues from the video, I could quickly see where the adjustments needed to occur.
It is wild how much a simple change in your swing can deliver tremendous results and immediately impact your score. I have been messing with my swing over the past few months, fixing several issues, and creating new ones, as I found out during my last round. I can’t complain for a minute; a tough day golfing is always better than a good day working.
I hope this gives you something to keep an eye on the next time someone snaps a photo of you swinging the golf club, and maybe, just maybe, it can help you cut a couple of strokes off the scorecard.