A year with the Ballard Swing.

with 2 Comments

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of my relationship with Wade and my new swing.

I cannot belive how fast 2013 has come on gone. This time last year I was preparing myself for the 2012 Winter Classic and was completely lost with my golf swing. I had managed to mangle my way to a couple decent scores in the months leading up to December but an outing at the Arroyo Golf club sent me in a tailspin that I was never going to pull out of.

The world has a funny way of making Lemonade out of Lemons and with some sound advice from Adam of Three Guys Golf fame, I engaged in the first of many conversations with Wade about the golf swing.

That horrible round of golf needed to take place because had it not I probably would have never started talking about the golf swing with Wade and never would have been introduced to the teachings of Jimmy Ballard, both of which have changed the makeup of my golf swing and golf game forever.

I went on to play some of the worst golf of my life when I took the first few sessions I had with Wade to the course and started applying them to my swing. Knowing ahead of time that my game was going to take a serious stumble before it would start looking acceptable again was a tought pill to swallow. The complete deconstruction of my swing and rebuilding from the ground up was appealing though and I decided that it was in my best interest to start right away and not put of the process until after our tournament.

I took me almost 20 years to develop my bad habits and there was no way in hell that I was going to eliminate all of them in the span of 12 months. Only getting to play a few times each month has made it difficult to implement the changes to the swing, it takes time even for a Tour Pro to make significant changes so I knew going in that this was going to be more like a 3-4 year project and not a 6 week overhaul. That being said I can now look back at this first year with Wade and give myself a decent evaluation of how the process is going.

For me I think there are three factors that have come into play for my better play this year.

1. Striking on the rise

The first being my ball striking has dramatically improved over 2011. I looked at my penalty strokes in 2012 (avg 4.8 – 16 rounds) and compared them to 2013 (avg 3.0 – 23 round) and you can see that I’m not making as many mistakes as I have in years past. Getting myself locked into the upright stance and more balanced has improved my striking tremendously. I look at how I’m hitting my long woods and hybrids so much better than previous years as a sign of the progress. Being in the same position at address with all my clubs has brought some much-needed consistency to my swing and I think has been the main reason for my striking improvement.

2. Chipping like a champ

Once I started getting the basics down of the Ballard swing I looked to Wade for some help with my chipping. Most everyone knows that the higher handicap players skill level gets worse around the green the higher the number goes. This year has proven to me that the formula actually grows exponentially! I credit most of my success on my lower rounds this year to my scrambling and being able to save bogey when in years past those scores would have been of the unmentionable variety.

My scrambling numbers have gone up more than I had expected mainly because I’m not playing from stupid distances anymore (2013 Winter Classic not withstanding) and I’m finding myself closer to the greens on approach shots thanks to the improved striking I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The chipping though has been a complete 180 compared to 2011 and 2012. I now have a confidence I’ve never had in the past and there isn’t a shot I stand over where I don’t think I can execute at a 100% clip. That doesn’t mean I’m executing them 100% of the time, that will come eventually, but for me having that confidence has allowed me to pull of some shots that I would have not even attempted in the past.

3. Falling in love with the flat-stick

I’ve always thought my putting was the strongest part of my game for many years. Funny how fast that can change when something like chipping and my play out of the bunkers makes my putting look like last kid chosen in a school yard pick’em basketball game.

Again I looked to Wade for some help and yet again he knocked it out of the park! The style that Wade uses is not what you would call conventional and when I tried explaining my new putting stance and stroke to my buddy Pat his reply was hilarious “What the f— are you doing?? I could help but laugh. Truth be told though it has helped me develop a consistent, quite hands putting stroke that has me putting the best I ever have. The proof comes from the stat sheet again. This time in my 3-putt avoidance percentage. I went from 17.7% in 2011 and 14.6% in 2012 to 8.4% in 2013! That is some damn fine improvement if you ask me.

The stance and stroke were a huge factor in getting my putting back to respectable terms but what put it over the top for me was the infusion of the Odyssey Versa to my bag. I reviewed the club back in March for Three Guys and took it out of my bag for a short period of time to test out the new Ping TR. Once I wrote those reviews I talked, or wrote, myself back to the Versa and there is ZERO chance I take it out of my bag now. New stance, new stroke and a new stick, talk about overhauling!

Can the student really give themselves a grade?

Why not right?

Obviously it was a combination of all three of those elements I talked about that has me playing better and down to a decent HDCP of 13.9! It’s hard for me to believe that just 40 short rounds ago I was sitting at 21.0 HDCP and had no idea where my game was going or how I was going to get better. The “playing it by ear” system wasn’t working and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to work with Wade over the last 12 months and look forward to the segment in the process.

I’m going to give myself a score of A+ for the 2013  season. I’ll ask Wade to chime in and leave a comment so everyone can read first hand from him about what’s taken place over the last 12 months. Talk about putting someone on the spot!! In all seriousness though,  he has a pretty good perspective of what I’ve gone through and might be able to elaborate a bit better on my progression.

I’m sticking with the A+ though and hopefully I can continue with the success I’ve found and grow with it.

I’m excited about 2014 for sure and I know if I can continue to work at it as much as I have this year there is only a positive future for me and for my game.

In my next post I’m going to be talking about some of the highlights from my 2013 season. Cascata, Kapalua, the Vegas PGA show are all things I’ll be talking about so be sure to stop back and check that post out.




Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

2 Responses

  1. Wade Baynham
    | Reply

    Hey Matt, Thank you for giving me such a kind shout-out in your blog, and it’s easy to comment on the wealth of work that you’ve put in over the past year. Honestly, my swing is better because of all the work we’ve done together– it is anytime I get to work with a committed and dedicated learner!
    Your numbers don’t nearly tell all of the story. You are having more fun; you are hitting more shots that you’ve wanted to hit, that go where you’re looking; in all facets of your game, you are more consistent and more accurate, and you know what you want to work on in the future to improve further. You are more aware of your flaws, but you like yourself better as you’ve faced them, and worked to correct them– and that has included a serious short game overhaul along with your full swing. This work is translating to less strain on your body, a quieter mind, and better scores. How could any teacher ask for more? Thanks for letting me be a part of this journey…

    For anyone interested in more technical questions about the swing changes we have worked on, read some of Matt’s other excellent entries, or feel free to get in touch with us.

  2. BputtersGolf
    | Reply

    happy friday! 🙂

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