After watching Matthew Wolff and Brooks Koepka hit golf balls (very possibly the start of a new era), I returned to the range (ergo drawing board), and have slightly revised my previous post. NCAA champ (from Oklahoma State) and tour rookie, and now PGA winner, Wolff, has a home-grown swing that launches balls like a catapult (how about a 227 yard seven iron?); and Koepka, well, the guy handles majors like Clint Eastwood handles movies. What I fine tuned is this: The ideal swing speed is different for each player. What’s most important is the quality of contact with the clubface, maximizing the club’s ability to perform to capacity. So I went in the opposite direction and began slowing my speed until my contact improved. That worked. In fact, not only could I see and hear the difference, I could feel it in my grip (really throughout my body). Wolff’s ball speed, with that quick trigger, explosive swing of his, by the way, is 185 mph, which, apparently works for this 20 year old. Not that big of a fellow, he most admires Koepka of all tour players. I’m not sure what my ball speed is, but I know good contact when I feel it. In fact, I haven’t had as good a practice session in weeks.
Now I’ll continue to move towards increased arm speed after clearing my hips but shall do so cautiously. I suspect that my recent troubles with consistency on the course have to do with merely swinging too fast. I suspect, too, that swing speed varies during the course of a round. Not so much on the range, hitting balls in fairly rapid succession. But on the course, with all its conditions, lies, time between shots, talking with companions, fatigue, physical ailments, and mental considerations, that even the slightest differences in speed can result in inconsistencies in performances. Indeed, the most successful pros, I hypothesize, are those who maintain the steadiest swing speed over the course of a round, and an entire tournament. This could account for Koepka winning all these majors in such short order(which is quite miraculous for this daunting sport). It could also account for young Wolff winning after only three starts on tour (his fans have already been dubbed The Wolff Pack, reminding me some of Arnie’s Army of years ago).
I have yet to thoroughly test this theory on the course, but I’ll be sure to report back. It will require a high degree of awareness, checking and re-checking all of the above parameters, and then some. The goal? Just the right combination of speed and quality of contact…for my swing.
The rest of this season may tell a tale of men’s professional golf for years to come. Brooks Koepka brought Bethpage Black to its knees for his fourth major in eight tries. Tiger wins the Masters for his 15th major. Power hitter Gary Woodland breaks through for his first major. And now the Open Championship coming up. Will Tiger break Jack’s record? Will Brooks beat Tiger’s. Will Brooks and DJ inspire more gym rats, putting pro golfers up there with NFL linebackers? Or will the leader of the Wolff Pack predominate? And let’s not forget the other horses for courses gathering in the starting gate: Rory, JT, Ricky, Jon Rahm, Jordan, Francesco, Justin Rose, Phil, and virtually anyone in the field in any given tournament, as Monday qualifier Nate Lashley proved recently with a surprising win at the Rocket Mortage Open.
Should be fun to see how things shake out, with Royal Portrush hosting the Open Championship next week.
Congrats to Stanford on their underdog victory in the finals against Texas (who beat favored Oklahoma State) in the NCAA National Men’s Championship. And congrats to Duke in beating Wake Forest in the NCAA Women’s Championship. It was great watching all these accomplished amateur players. Thanks to the Golf Channel for featuring these games.