Learning About Learning Golf
Last week my partner in EIDOLON, Ralph Thompson, came down to Texas for a few days of business planning and lots of golf, as we always do.
Ralph's a 12-15 handicap player, and is more determined to improve than anyone I’ve ever known. But he’s a tinkerer, both in equipment and his swing. As his personal “guru”, when we get together, I first have to “undo” the junk, then we can work on his game.
Ralph’s biggest challenge is distance, and he fights the tendency to take the club too far back in an attempt to hit it further. So we talked about his new backswing and impact positions over a glass (or more !) of wine one night, and headed to the range the next morning. We worked on these basics again, and then he began pounding balls while I was in the cart doing a radio show by phone with a Houston station. Watching him get frustrated, but being focused on my interview, I waved at him to stop and rest til I was through.
When I finished, I explained that learning new positions and moves in the golf swing require lots of “re-training” of muscles and mind. And pounding golf balls isn’t the answer.
When you're trying to learn something new, work slower and more deliberately. You should not be hitting more than one ball every couple of minutes. The time between shots should be spent rehearsing these new positions and moves you're trying to build into your swing.
Work in slow motion, stop and pose in various positions to give your body a chance to learn these new things.
Each swing at a ball is only a “test” of the learning process, not the process itself. And the objective is not to hit a good shot, but to swing with the new moves and see what happens.
And take a tip from Tiger, who has successfully rebuilt his swing at least twice. He wrote that he practices at 50% clubhead speed when he’s trying to learn something new. He mentioned in this particular article I read that he works on swing changes while hitting 7-irons 130 yards !
This, he said, gives his body time to incorporate the changes and allows he and his coach to feel and see more accurately what he is doing – right AND wrong.
And be patient. Learning is not a one-session thing. If you're trying to learn new things in your golf, practice at home, in your office, in your mind. And THEN take it to an actual golf ball.
I’d love to hear from those of you who’ve made significant swing changes. Please share your experiences, ideas and successes with all the rest of us who are always trying.
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