It’s almost comical how I try to prepare for a tournament by practicing more than usual, then get out on the course when it counts to find my back stiff and my body unwilling to move the way I want it to, and start thinking about retiring from competitive golf so I don’t have to beat myself up trying to be as good as I used to be. Of course, after a day or two of rest you’ll find me hitting balls or at least thinking about how I can go about getting better and how I might be able to overcome the obstacles I face. One thing is for certain: if you choose to tee it up you are just another competitor and no one cares about your infirmities. You can either shoot the numbers or you can’t. I never complain about the way I feel because I know no one wants to hear it. Everyone wants to win, and to win you have to beat everybody in the field, including me. So if I am going to keep playing I simply have to find a way to overcome the technique issues caused by my back.
After shooting 44 on my second nine the first day at Isleworth (for a nice 81) I went out the next day to find my back even stiffer. I was ready for the worst, but on the range I thought about what happens to my swing when I don’t feel well and decided to go back to my own instruction and apply some of the things that I talk about all the time. My worst flaw is my tendency to lift in the second half of the backswing, and as I go up getting into transition my first move down is forward into the front of my left foot as opposed to 45 degrees left toward my left heel. This screws up my sequencing and causes my hands to come in high with the club kicking outward (used to be behind me, now it’s more out), and my miss has become a left miss (followed by a block to correct the pull). So, I decided to substantially raise my hands at address and stand up taller to the ball so that I would be more encouraged if not to lower than at least not to lift as I got into the backswing. The result was encouraging, and with my short game and putting getting better I managed a decent round of 74. The swings you see here are of me working on the same ideas, although I did add some knee flex to the set up when I saw that I looked too rigid over the ball. These swings look pretty good to me and give me hope (of course) for a bit of better play this coming year.