Back in May I wrote my first “searching for my golf swing” piece for Swingthought.ie and since then lots (and nothing) has happened. The world has turned politically this year, with Brexit coming to pass and Donald Trump elected in America, as well as numerous wars, terrorist attacks and humanitarian disasters continuing without any apparent let up. So many well known celebrities and musicians have died in 2016…think Prince, Bowie and Leonard Cohen from the music world, actors Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder, Muhammad Ali from the boxing fraternity and, of course, the great Arnold Palmer…that 2016 seems like a momentous year for all sorts of reasons and on many fronts.
While all of this has been going on, my golf game, which seems insignificant against that backdrop, has progressed a little but not as much as I would have liked. I have discovered some interesting things along the way and some new source material to chew over. U-tube and Twitter powerhouses such as Rick Shiels and Dan Whittaker publish regular equipment reviews as well as succinct and to the point video tips. Quite addictive content if I am to be honest and because Rick is also trying to qualify for the 2017 Open, he keeps a video diary of his efforts that is really worth a watch.
So what has changed? Not my handicap for a start which remains at 14 for the moment. I started the year on 15 and got down to 13 but drifted back to 14. I’ve probably played to 10 or 11 during the summer season but haven’t carried those performances into meaningful competitions where cuts are mandatory for good results. My best out of competition score was a remarkable (for me that is) 75 and in competition was a more modest but very acceptable 81 which amounted to 42 points and that handicap reduction to 13 but I just couldn’t bring my best to the fore when it meant something. There might be something in there for me to look at regarding the mental part of my game but I have always felt I was in a good place on that side of things. Maybe not!
My putting has been steady but not spectacular averaging 1.80 or just over 32 putts per round. I bought a new Scotty Cameron during the year and I love it, so I think I can improve on those figures. My driving stats are good in relation to hitting fairways (over 80%) but I am struggling a little with distance off the tee leaving me with long second shots and a low GIR percentage as a result. My short game is improving all the time and I have now replaced a long iron in the bag with a 60 degree wedge for more options around the green.
So, not too bad but loads of room for improvement I think.
During 2016 I’ve modified my grip slightly to ensure the club is held more securely in my left hand (I’m a right handed golfer) and this has helped get the club on a better plane and to a better place at the top of the backswing. I’ve also changed my set up with regard to hand and club position after looking at DST theory of where the club should be at moment of impact and this has definitely helped my ball striking. On the swing side I’m trying to ensure I make a better shoulder turn as I feel this lets me down at times too.
Hopefully 2017 will bring further swing improvements, better competition results and a handicap reduction to 10 or 11. I hope to play more than once a week (with some regular practice thrown in) as well as addressing some golf fitness issues including flexibility and core strength.
Finally, I have begun to understand my relationship with the ground when it comes to my swing. I never really thought about how important your connection with the ground under your feet is during your golf swing until recently but I think it might be the most important piece of information that I was missing.
Bizarre as it seems this relationship awakening has really helped my understanding of the golf swing and brought me to a place where I am finally, hopefully, beginning to accept my golf swing for what it is. Mine!