Progress Report: Swing ChangeHenderson, NV 01/16/2012
I knew when I started this little adventure to learn a new swing I was going to hit some bumps in the road. Well, those bumps can be quite the bastard from one day to the next and I’m starting to not like them at all.
I know I know, quit whining. Truth be told, I’m actually really happy with what has taken place so far and I’m not nearly as depressed as I thought I would be.
I’ve taken what has happened so far and I’ve broken it down into five stages. Now this doesn’t meant that there are ONLY five stages to this swing change, it only means that I have reached what I’m calling stage 5.
STAGE 1: Getting Tall
If you look at any of my old video’s you’ll see that I did have some issues with that swing, hence my agreement to make the change. The first item of business was to get me into a more athletic position. Prior to the change in my posture I was VERY bent over at the waist standing far over and on top of the ball. My legs were stiff and my balance was anything but effective. I’ve learned from Wade that the golf swing is a sequence of events and if anywhere in the swing the sequence is off so is the swing. To start the golf swing you have to have a good foundation/setup and the Ballard swing starts in a very athletic position where you stand tall and wide. It’s a very powerful position It took me a good couple of days before I really understood addressing the ball in this manner, but as the weeks have gone bye I feel more comfortable than ever swinging this way.
In the picture below the frame on the left was taken after my first conversation with Wade. Even after hearing that I needed to stand taller this was me standing taller, so you can imagine what it looked like before this. The frame on the right is just a few days old. It may not seem like a big difference but you would not believe how much more of an athletic position this is!
STAGE 2: Look Ma, No Hands!
Next up was a huge challenge for me, learning to start the golf swing without my hands. You may recall a post from a few weeks ago where I talked about “connectivity”. Connectivity starts at the address and stays with you throughout the entire swing, if done correctly. I’ve had a swing that’s been controlled by my hands my entire life so making this transition to what I call a “Hands Free” swing has been anything but smooth which I’ll talk more about in stage 5. I did surprise myself with the stage though, the hands free swing came to me much quicker and a lot easier than I thought it would. It’s actually been comforting. I no longer think about my hands at all. I grab the club apply my grip (which by the way is in a much more neutral hand position and that’s my last thoughts when it comes to my hands. The theory behind the no hands swing is little muscles can cause problems with the slightest movement, where as big muscles don’t. Rocco Mediate had a great comment when he was on twelve nights at the academy on golf channel last year when he basically said “I can trust my arms, shoulders and pecs but not my hands.” That makes so much more sense to me now.
STAGE 3: Getting to the right.
Getting to this stage took some work. I had three really dismal rounds of golf and just couldn’t understand what was happening. Lucky for me Wade has been very available to help me when I’ve gotten into situations where I’m lost and believe me, it happens a lot! If your familiar with the term “Reverse C” and upon hearing it you cringe in your chair you know what I’m going through. Those not familiar with what can be described as the devil in the golf swing let me fill you in. When making the back swing if you do not get on to your right side, meaning transitioning your weight from evenly balanced to majority on your right leg, it very easy to make that turn and have your upper body lean towards the target. There is an easy way to demonstrate this. Stand up and take a back swing and pause at the top. Your back should be facing the target, now from that position have your back face towards the ground. That’s the Reverse C and the killer of golf swings.
I had no idea I was even doing this until I sent Wade a video from face on where he saw several faults. After a great conversation with Wade he gave me some drills to work on that over a couple of weeks I’ve been able to properly get to my right side and get ride of that retched Reverse C.
STAGE 4: Click Click BOOM
Stage 4 has been a mystery to me. Even as I work on it nightly I still find myself struggling with firing my right side and that’s what is causing some problems up ahead at Stage 5. When I get to the top of the back swing my hands, them sons of bitches, still want to take over and as I’ve progressed they still have a way of reminding me of how much they miss our time spent together. What actually helped me most move through this stage was taking a look in the mirror of me swinging left handed. You’ll recall I talked about that in my previous post about the swing change.
Getting that right knee to fire at the target and stop my hands from taking over at the same time has be one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve had overcome, and I’m still pretty far away from making it a reoccurring event on every swing. It is taking some time and the more I work at it the better it’s getting. Believing in it is the hardest part. I can do it all night long at home in the garage but bringing it to the course, which I found out this past weekend, is completely different. I need to believe that what I’m doing is right and that is going to take some range time where I can see the flight of the ball and see that when I do everything the correct way the results will speak for themselves.
STAGE 5: Don’t stop now
With all the work I’ve put in over the past couple of weeks, after the conclusion Winter Classic, I firmly believed that I was ready to show some progress out on the course. That theory lasted about three holes on Saturday when one of my worst enemies in the golf swing moved in my house for a couple of days. The Slice. It first started during the first round at Primm Valley. I still had some distance on my shots and they were at least somewhat manageable. As the rounds progressed so did the slice and by the time the final round came it was the only shape of all of my shots. It was a weird progression that’s for sure. Wade assured me that as a player who has relied on their hands to swing a club learns the Ballard swing, a slice is inevitable. These last couple of rounds I played was probably some of the best “contact” I’ve made, but they have been very short and VERY right.
I had been told by more than one person that my swing path it way off and I’m coming across the target line very aggressively. I though, at first, that this had to be the cause of my slice and talked with Wade about it. It didn’t take long in that conversation for me to realize the error in that theory. An open club-face at impact is the only true cause of a slice and had I been square to the ball at impact those sliced shots would have been dead pulls to the left. My path is still an issue, but for now I’ll let that wait until another post to talk about.
I had a email conversation back and forth with Wade after playing recently and it was during that conversation when I came up with this ideology of these stages. The 5th stage consist of the continuation of the downswing as you make contact with the ball and move over to the left side. My hands have been the driving force for me at this point in the swing FOREVER and now that they are no longer involved I’m somewhat perplexed at what going on. As stated earlier the sequence begins with the arm, pecs and shoulders moving the club back while maintaining your connectivity. IF you stay connected, fire the right side and move through the ball to the left side PROPERLY the club-face will come around and close on the ball and that’s where I’m struggling. I quit before impact and because my hands are not involved the face of the club is staying WIDE open.
What’s up next?
More work that’s for sure. It’s a complete transformation from where I was to where I’m going to be and there is a ton of new muscle training that has to take place. Wade has giving me an immense amount of support and drills to get through this tricky stage and I like to think the work I’ve put in just this week is already starting to benefit the swing.
The good news is I can feel how much more fluid and natural my swing has become. It’s not as nearly mechanical as it used to be and my body feels fantastic. The few times I have done things the correct way and in the proper sequence the shots were stunning. I’ve seen the good, I know it’s there.
There’s not going to be much from me on the writing front as far as my golf games goes. I’m not going to bore you all to death with update after update of training sessions. I’m taking some time from “on the course” activities to get this new swing dialed in and working effectively. Hopefully over the next several weeks I can continue my progress and get back out on the course sooner rather than later.