Two lessons this week. I didn’t have any chance to get in any practice after #4 due to a wedding, a football tournament in the UK and a dodgy stomach.
As has become custom, I turned up a little early and warmed up with a few chips from around the practice green. Joe then got me to warm up with a few 7 irons off the tee before introducing me to his new toy, the Explanar.
The theory is quite simple, but surprisingly effective. You stand in the middle of a circle that represents your ideal swing plane (once it it set up for your height etc.) You then swing a fairly heavy roller back and forwards, following through as you would normally. As the “club” is fixed to the right plane your body and muscles “feel” the movements they should be making.
You just keep going back and forth continuously, not making individual swings. On a hot day it certainly gets a sweat on as well! Joe got me concentrating on how it forced my wrists to hinge on the backswing, something he had noticed I was weak at from the beginning but waited until now to introduce. I had a tendency to let my wrists flop back and used the arms to get a full swing rather than hinging the wrists properly.
Back on the mat, the 7 iron felt as light as a feather in comparison to the roller and shots became effortless. It all felt natural. Moving to the 3 wood was the same, but of course I then started to think about things again, trying to make sure my shoulders and hips turned well and that broke the rhythm. I guess just getting the muscle memory to give a consistent effortless swing is the key to success. Nevertheless, my shots were going very well, even when we broke out the driver. I hit a couple that carried well past the 200 yard mark with a range ball (which typically cuts length by about 30% anyway) which was very pleasing.
Again, a few pitches and chips before the lesson started on a sweltering day, just two days after lesson 5.
This time we changed pace a bit and started off with the short game, pitching shots onto a green over an obstacle (a nicely placed fence) from light rough. However Joe made sure to give me lies which bedded the ball down more than I’d been doing when practicing, giving me a harder time. I still had a tendency to try to help the ball up into the air too much rather then relying on the club to do the work (a sand wedge in this case) and to not hinge my wrists enough. Joe also showed me a bad habit I have of opening up the club face by changing my grip (basically twisting my hands to the right) rather than twisting the club within my usual grip. This caused a number of the shots to shoot off to the right thanks to the weakened grip.
We then moved onto the flop shot. The stance is slightly more closed than I was doing for the pitches with the sand wedge, but the ball was placed more forward in the stance and weight more centered (rather than back in the stance with weight on the left foot) The swing involves a big wrist hinge and a committed strike through the ball. The forward position of the ball in the stance combined with a lofted club face results in a nice high lob that will clear any obstacle and have very little roll when it lands. It took a lot of getting used to and I struggled with anything other than a very good lie. We tried a few off the main surface which was rock hard and it was near to impossible! Joe also said that this type of setup is also the basis of a good bunker shot, which we will no doubt get onto soon.
The rest of the lesson was back onto the mat, after a couple on minutes on the Explanar. Concentrating on the 3 wood but raising up the power in the swing a bit, whilst still trying to keep it all in good rhythm and keeping my legs working in the right way. I hit some ok shots, but to be honest I was feeling it on such a hot day and it probably wasn’t a good idea to have another lesson so soon after the first. Still, there’s a golfer in me trying to get out, I’m sure.