Finding my swing

From two simple concepts, I had a major breakthrough in my golf swing today. After a full year of near-weekly lessons with my golf pro, Russ, I thought I had hit a wall. I knew I wasn’t practicing consistently enough, but recently I had gotten focused on working with a “Medicus” teaching club. This modified golf club has a hinge on the shaft of the club that is designed to bend if there are any imperfections in the plane of the golf swing. It is an extremely frustrating, but potentially effective, tool!

I first used it over the summer while visiting my dad in Chicago – he swears by it, and encouraged me to try it one day at the driving range. I stood there for an entire hour and could not make contact – actually, could not even bring the club back successfully – even once. I wanted to throw the club, but it kept bending!!

Naturally, after this incident, my dad did what every concerned father would do – he bought me my own Medicus and had it shipped to me several months later in California. Thanks, Dad!

With Russ’ endorsement of the Medicus, I had begun during the last several months to focus nearly all of my golf practice (which isn’t much) on mastering the Medicus.  I finally got to the point where I was achieving the “goal” of swinging the Medicus and making decent contact without the hinge bending, but the ball flight was low and to the right…was this “success”?? I also noticed strange things happening to the rest of my swing, and when I saw Russ today, I asked him to check out my fundamentals and remind me of the basics. I sensed that I was too focused on the hinge, and not enough on the real goal of acquiring a golf swing and eventually playing the actual game.

He made two very simple observations that somehow seemed to change my entire body and mind. They were: (1) adjust my stance (revisit the very first thing we talked about at my first lesson one year ago – how far apart my feet were and how my weight is distributed at address. I made a small adjustment in my right hip, bringing it “inside” my right ankle), and (2) relax my shoulders (I had focused on keeping my hands and grip relaxed, but forgot that ultimately my shoulders have to ALLOW the club to swing through. No matter what other adjustments I was making with my mind, the rest of my body, and the position of the club, if my shoulders were tense, nothing would transmit from my body to the club).

I tried this, and suddenly I felt my whole body integrate into the swing, with freedom, rhythm, and, finally, the right kind of success with the ball flight. I felt that I didn’t have to “make” the club swing. Everything I had set my body up to do was allowing the club to swing. I started to believe in my ability to hit a golf ball again. And it wasn’t about overcoming the Medicus after all.

Of course it is significant that I had a year of working on the little pieces of other fundamentals along the way, so that my body could put that information into practice with the right mental “nudge”… but it all came down to those two simple things – was I STARTING with the right fundamentals, and was I RELAXED enough to allow things to happen? Good reminders for life as well.

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