2007 Open Championship/ Carnoustie.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
I have recently returned from a trip to the States where I have been assisting my good friend Steve Bourbon while working with his star pupil Chris Nallen. The core of my trip was centered around the sunshine state of Florida and Boynton Beach before heading down to Miami for the Miccosukee Championship. So my journey began with three straight afternoons of golfing wisdom at the home of Mr Bob Toski. As we shared a few cool bottles of Heiniken I quickly began to cement the core purpose of my journey. To prove to ones self and sport there is a severe lack of truely creative shot makers striving for the highest honors in this great game. I posed the question, 'How effectively are the Nationwide Tours young guns adopting the skills to truely play with their ball flight, how many are showing a desire to effectively control their ball flight from left to right as well as right to left?
As Mr Hogan so aptly put it in the August 1987 edition of Golf Digest (previously presented on an earlier post) stating he never intentionally struck a straight shot, every shot in golf is going to move one way or the other so you better make sure you decide which way its going to move before you make the shot. Why play the toughest shot in golf when the shot either side of it is so much more reliable and ultimately controllable. I quoted Mr Toski this same statement with a response that startled as much as impressed me, he replied by saying the shortest distance between two points is dead straight, but Mr Hogan who Mr Toski had witnessed live in practice on numerous occasions says otherwise. Yes Paul but so few people truely know the correct procedure for hitting that straight ball, as so few truely take the time to explore the sensations that shape and create it. My argument exactly, now I must state I can't be in full agreement with Mr Toski as far as hitting the straight shot, it simply is the toughest shot in golf and one I simply can't imagine or even begin to feel in a truely creative golf swing.
I mean there's nothing creative about a straight line now is there!
Now Im not saying a shot so very close to it isn't possible, I strongly believe and have experienced many shots that are but I just can't accept the reliability of striving for such an outcome when the two shots either side of it provide such consistent rewards.
My passion for the true art of shot making lay with the means to effectively achieving it.
I can fully agree with the exploration of positive feelings as a powerful source of consistency within a sound and silky action, one free of broken pieces and pointless positional movements. But its how one should go about achieving and exploring these feelings that most concerns and excites me. Everywhere I look I see a shambolic array of poorly positioned players, all in search of the perfectly positional swing. I just don't accept a positive feeling can ever flower from a negative position, what you set is what you get!
My daily walk along the practice ground at the Miccosukee Championship revealed many interesting sights, almost 90% of the players I witnessed were positioned to produce a natural fade swing while everyone of them was working hard to create the feeling for the draw.
Attempting to feel and create a draw swing while fighting the feeling of a fade is a non starter, it can happen yes, but will it stand up to the rigor of the PGA Tour, I think not, the feelings will certainly never withstand the pressure of the highest order. For me the true essence of a pure swing combines a blending of all the individual elements that shape and direct it, and for this matter its essential the swing is swung exactly where the body is aimed to swing. Aiming the swing left and swinging right will only put even greater emphasis on the hands to square the clubface and save the shot, by no means a reliable form of swing and play.
Everyone of the players I viewed would benefit from the notion: AIM CLUBFACE/ HOLD CLUB/ AIM SHOULDERS/ SWING
In the simplest possible terms: The FACE and HANDS shape the shot while the BODY directs it.
From this simple logic we simply have to make a committed swing on the body line.
To swing on the body line when aiming perfectly square can become random if the player is unaware of the feelings and sensations required to do so. But from a perfectly balanced and neutral address position he now has the grounding to fully develope the positive feelings and sensations required to train and ingrain it. He has the best possible chance of executing that elusive straight shot.
But this is where I have issues. I would much rather see a player standing perfectly square and balanced to every shot before simply adjusting the body alignment to slightly open or closed but still square to one another with the feet, knees, hips and shoulders while keeping the clubface square to the target line at all times. From here the player simply has a greater chance of committing to the body line swing in the knowledge that the ball will certainly move back to the target providing the grip is neutral, the clubface is square to the target line and the ball starts left of it for the fade and right for the draw.
It becomes so much easier to commit to the body line when the body isn't demanding a precisely dead straight shot.
Think about how much easier it is to intentionally put hook and slice spin on the flight of your golf ball, easy isn't it?
So how easy is it to control the degree of movement you intentionally put on that ball flight?
Its much easier to limit the degree of movement than it is to totally eliminate it.
Through the correct respect and understanding of the perfectly square and neutral setup you have the potential to play with the shape and degree of ball flight movement through feel and awareness of everything both internally through sensations and externally through course shape, contour terrain and weather conditions.
Movements within the swing are the direct result of positions built before it.
Become an artist not a machine/ MACHINES BREAK DOWN/ artists keep creating art.