Friday, 23 January 2009

JoBERg OPen 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?'

Probably 5%.

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.

pC 09

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