It’s the first time in quite a while that I have felt good about a tournament. I haven’t played well for more than 3 years, and I finally feel like I can turn the corner and become a good player again. Why is this? A lot of it is my body. My back guy is doing some different things that seem to be working, and I am able to incorporate more of the stuff I am teaching in my own swing. So, part of it is my ability to execute, and part of it is what I am trying to do. I believe that I have a much better overall picture of the swing and its most important parts and that when I set up to hit a ball I am trying to perform a higher level combination of movements. When I execute, I am hitting some really good shots.
Today my partner, Bud Lintleman, and I flew into West Palm Beach and headed right over to golf course for a practice round. We were the first to arrive, and we surprised the staff with our early arrival. Emerald Dunes is a fairly new club that has moved from private to public, and has now gone back to private and upgraded in a big way to become one of the nicer clubs in Palm Beach, alongside such clubs as Trump International and the Breakers. The service is impeccable, and we were soon replete with a locker in the sweet locker room in the sweet clubhouse.
It was 1pm and time to get out practicing. We drove out to the short game area and found one of the best I have ever been on. Wedge shots of up to 100 yards to perfect greens with nice bunker complexes and multiple pin placements, and off perfect turf, dense and tight. We decided we could stay out there all day hitting shots, but we tore ourselves away and went over to the range to warm up before playing. It only took 10 minutes or so, and I didn’t want to hit too many balls as I knew we would be hitting extra shots on the course. My back is better but better for me wouldn’t be very good at all for most people, so I have to monitor my reps. When I get to hitting it better I just want to hit more balls, but I have to build up to it and really pay attention to how my body is feeling. Right now I feel pretty good, which is nice because I don’t usually do well flying and then playing and practicing.
We got out onto the course and found perfect conditions, the greens rolling around 11. We played along and hit multiple pitches and putts on most holes, while reserving our extra drives and iron shots for follow-ups to less than likable shots. Bud came to me for help with his short game and he has improved greatly over the last year. Some of my friends wonder why I would help a guy who has been beating me lately in senior events in my section, but I enjoy helping good players get better, even if I am competing against them. Bud normally outdrives me by a fair amount, but today I am hitting it by him fairly regularly while keeping it in play, which is especially nice since has been my driving that has deteriorated since about 6 months after I turned fifty. I was giving the ball a much more aggressive strike, and I felt like I could “see” my swing more clearly than I had in a long time. I remember one time I saw a “Playing With the Pros” with Bruce Lietzke, and he described what he called an “out of body experience, like I’m floating above myself watching me hit the shot”. I think he meant that he could visualize the look of his swing, and he knew instinctively where the club should go and how it would get there. I always shoot for this, as I don’t want to be talking to myself about what I need to do in order to hit the ball. The words need to be turned into images, and the images need to have a feel and a rhythm. It is better to visualize yourself, but it is not the worst thing to visualize a swing you like. It is, however, vitally important to know how you tend to screw up the swing you are visualizing, because that is how you figure out what to focus on. In other words, if you want to swing like Hunter Mahan, it would be a good idea to have more than a general idea of how he swings. That is one of the reasons video swing analysis with lines to define the initial conditions of the swing is so important. It describes in detail what a swing is doing, and provides a fuller understanding of what the movements are and how they are being made. The “feeling” of the movements is unique to the individual, but the teacher can extrapolate to what something “should” or “might” feel like, especially if that teacher is a player in his or her own right.
Anyway, I am rambling, and I’ll be back to report in later.