The par 3 17th at East London Golf Club/ South Africa.
Friday, 23 January 2009
I have recently returned from a two week trip to South Africa where I accompanied my good friend and rising star Darryn Lloyd whilst he was competing in the Joburg Open (European Tour) and the African Open (Sunshine Tour). It was a prime opportunity to study the games leading professionals and really see how my teenage friend would fare against the cream of the winter seasons crop. Playing in his first European Tour event and first as a Sunshine Tour member he was more than eager to show some flair and take his shot at lighting up the stage he will one day surely own.
With rounds of 73, 70 for 143 +1 he was bitterly disappointed to of missed the cut but still walked away with a fresh wealth of insight, understanding, confidence and self belief. He had seen, challenged and compared his talents with some of the best in the world and quite clearly assured himself of his own prospect.
So what makes this kid so special?
Having known DazZ for the past 5 years I can tell you the kid has always had talent, he is the woW factor when witnessed striking a golf ball for the first time. Even at the highest level guys are beginning to stand back and take note of his exceptional talents for distance with accuracy, strike with flair and expression with attitude.
But what puts this dude in such a unique bracket is his understanding of what makes all things DazZ GoLf go tick.
He has the ability to correct his own faults anytime anyplace, he can easily recognise a developing issue through the language of his ball flight. With a clear understanding of the facts presented in front of him on every shot, he can relate such effects to the position and shape of his body in the setup. Such an understanding of the fundamentals that shape and control everything within the swing means DazZ has the added advantage over his more technical competitors, the guys who readily litter the Tour circuits the golfing world over. He can easily and now naturally first identify their weakness's as far as grip, stance, posture or general setup then work out exactly what their common bad shot will naturally be. Through identification of their weak address positions or their lack of respect for the basic fundamentals, he actually steps up to a whole new level of confidence over them all.
In Darryns world there is absolutely no room for technical in swing moves or crazy in vogue ideas that typically stem from a need to create a compensation for a weak or less than efficient address position. What he now has is total control over all that really matters, he has a complete understanding of the laws at impact.
Which leads me to the core foundation of my findings this week.
Having now visited numerous Tours including both the European and Nationwide, I have become increasingly frustrated, saddened and sometimes amused to find so many players seemingly attempting to grove a compensation. The sights at the Joburg Open has again confirmed an increasing amount of players attempting to carve a career in this game while adopting far from efficent basics. The range at both events was filled with guys working on a wide variety of in swing moves, feelings, positions and ideas, all in search of that elusive word 'consistency'.
So I asked the question, 'How many could explain the exact facts presented before them on every shot? How many had a clear understanding of what the clubhead was doing through impact and its resulting effect on their golf balls flight?'
I must of wittnessed at least 3 guys hit shots right of their target line from an inside swing path before then expressing the shot as an over the top shoulder action. Such a move had clearly not occurred and the simple fault was in fact no more than an overly strong left hand position on the club. Though one must say, on viewing the vast majourity of these players it soon became quite evident the stronger than neutral left hand position was in fact the most common theme on tour.
So I now ask myself; 'Is this the in vogue way?'
It appears to me the leading players of today have become obsessed with a swing style that aims to eradicate or limit the need for hand action in favor of a more body oriented release through impact. The term 'Cover the shot' has almost certainly grown out of this notion. In seeking to lead with the upper body through the hitting area, the modern player is turning aggressively and feeling as if they are leaving the hands behind through impact, they are simply attempting to limit the speed of the hands through impact in an effort to eliminate the shot that turns left. What crazes me most about this entire episode is the fact that in an effort to limit the speed of the hands they are in fact moving towards a grip that actually increases the speed of them. If you turn your hands to the right on the club (a strong position) then you effectively make them want to release or rotate faster at the bottom of the swing. If you're going to turn your upper body through the shot aggressively then you need to be sure the clubface isn't going to be left behind so resulting in an open face at impact. Such a tendancy is resulting in players slowly developing a much stronger than neutral grip on the club. The result is a shot that consistently starts right of target and then either stays there or turns violently to the left in flight. Their reactions within the swing are simply to that of a feeling with the bigger muscles rather than an effective response to a free flowing action of the hands and arms.
The games leading players are slowly forming two distinct groups, one of muscle bound body release players each living in fear of the days when they played with a most destructive hook. Then Im afraid to say is a seemingly dying breed of free flowing hands and arm swingers, the swings that creative shot making was born out of.
We all have our own unique style of swing, a great coach appreciates this and will work solely on providing the player with the ability to shape and continually maintain it through a sound understanding of the fundamental laws that control it.
So tell me what are you working on? (Don't you just love that question?)
Now what's the only answer I should ever be looking for?
CONTROLLING THE FLIGHT OF THE GOLF BALL!
How do you control the flight of the golf ball?
THROUGH A LOGICAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE FUNDAMENTAL LAWS OF IMPACT.
- The alignment of the club face at the point of impact.
- The swinging path of the club head through impact.
- Angle of the club heads attack into impact.
So how do we best control these laws?
SIMPLY THROUGH UNDERSTANDING THE INFLUENCE OF THE BODY POSITIONS IN THE ADDRESS.
But which elements of the address has the greatest influence over these impact laws?
The CLUB FACE must be square at address to have any chance of returning to the same square position at impact.
The HANDS must be perfectly blended as one unit to form a neutral hold for the individual. From here the entire quality of the setup will develop.
And finally, the SHOULDERS must be perfectly square to the target line. As its the shoulders that have the greatest influence over the path of the club through impact.
Through a deep appreciation and great respect for these fundamentals, one can go on to fully explore his or her individual talent for swinging a golf club, striking a golf ball and ultimately getting creative with their ball flight.
As a coach and student of this great game my sole purpose is to provide the pupil with the knowledge and understanding of the laws of impact and the resulting influence on the golf balls flight.
Through simple adjustments to the position of the body in the address I can easily adjust the effective condition of the club face through impact, then giving me total control of the golf balls resulting flight.
All I will ever do is shape the pupil into a position at address that will allow maximum potential for creativity through impact
From a sound base or set of foundations, the art of this game is simply the reaction to a target.