From the talking heads on TV to the touring pros themselves, swing speed is all the rage. Bryson DeChambeau is the current focus of the discussion, although he’s just doing his thing in order to win more tournaments. I don’t think too many others will take the time to put on 40 pounds of muscle to drive the ball another 20-30 yards. Or maybe someone will. That’s their choice. I applaud Bryson for doing what he did. It took discipline, courage, and drive. Tiger did something similar back in his earlier days, changing from a relatively skinny young man to a bulked up hulk who began to outdrive everyone on the planet. And he didn’t do too badly, did he. So the adage that if you want to increase distance off the tee, go to the gym holds true, for the most part.
But when hitting it as far as Bryson gets in your head, like it had Rory, that’s where problems can set in, as it has with McIlroy. Rory hasn’t been playing up to his potential lately, caused, he says, by thinking too much about Bryson and his monstrous drives. By trying to emulate The Scientist, Rory’s game is out of kilter. His brain is sending signals to his body and his body is shouting back, “Hey, hold on there mate, I can’t do what you’re asking.” And that may be true of many us who long to hit it farther and straighter off the tee. By watching the pros swing faster, we start doing the same, but our bodies may not be as conditioned as theirs. Hence, we either injure ourselves in the process, or we get so frustrated with what results, that we get discouraged and lay off the game for a bit.
Now, laying off the game may not be such a bad idea. One of my favorite LPGA pros, Shanshan Feng from China, just took off a year, hardly touching her clubs, and has come back with all cylinders firing at the ANA major. She ultimately placed third. Bryson, too, took time off during the early part of the pandemic, using his time to bulk up, with only minimal golf practice. He also came back, showing no rust whatsoever.
But with spring happening, I doubt if any of us, cooped up for months around the virus, want to take a break. But back to the point, observing Bryson’s swing, along with others, might be causing many of us handicappers to swing too fast. We might connect on occasion at the range, but mostly we will not make the kind of consistent contact needed with the sweet spot to keep us happy with our game.
Of course, it’s pretty easy to tell in this sport if you’ve hit it on the screws. Just check the flight of the ball. Too far left indicates your hands are too active at impact. Too far right means your coming into impact a bit late. A slice is usually that you’re coming over the top. And a hook indicates your pronating your wrists and forearms at impact instead of a bit beyond, imparting a right to left spin. And one of the main reasons for these wayward shots is pace. The Goldilocks Principle applies to pace in golf and in life. Not too much. Not too little. Just right.
So be aware of the pace of your swing; and understand that it can change…as you tire during a round…as you get older…or if you’ve experienced a serious illness or injury. Pace can change as you change. And no one can really tell you what your pace should be. You’ve got to figure it out and monitor it constantly.
Well, Jordan did it. He won, breaking a losing streak that started after his Open victory in ’17. He worked hard to accomplish this. He reports he was discouraged at times, wondering if he’d ever win again. That’s true determination and true grit. Well done, Jordan. Well done.
The Masters is up next…back in its regular rota of springtime flowers and some patrons as well. It’s my favorite tournament, started by my favorite player of all time, Bobby Jones. Who’s your pick? I’m still working on mine. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. But Jordan is now on a roll. Should be fun.
Make sure you watch Lee Elder, open the Masters as one of the ceremonial starters. There was a time in the not so distant past, that Blacks were not permitted to play in this tournament.
Tiger continues to recuperate from his very serious car accident. The car’s black box showed he never braked the car through the entire crash. Although no blood test was taken by police after the accident, some experts suspect that the sleep med, Ambien, was responsible. One of the side effects of this prescription med in sleep walking, sleep eating, and, yes, even sleep driving. Tiger isn’t saying anything, but he has used this med in the past.
I’ve been there with sleep meds and how addictive they can be, along with terrible side effects. Fortunately, I was able to kick them, and hope Tiger can do the same. All the best to him in his recovery.
Patty Tavatanakit. Remember her name. I predict she will develop into an LPGA superstar. Judy Rankin calls her swing, “as smooth as glass.” And get this: She averages 323 yards off the tee. She may be the longest hitting woman in the history of the LPGA. She’s 21, from Thailand, and a graduate of UCLA. She’s won three times on the Symetra Tour. And…did I say, she averages 323…and is quite accurate. The LPGA’s answer to Bryson. Except in the long drive competitions, I’ve never heard of a woman hitting that far and straight. And she’s not bulked up, by any means. Her follow through looks like a ballerina or a gymnast.
Oh, and by the way, Patty T. who was inspired to take up the game by TW, won the ANA major, holding off a charging Lydia Ko, took the leap into Poppy Pond, and, as we found out from her post round interview, speaks perfect English.
phil Russell says
Really great post. informative and really interesting. especially about swinging too fast and also about occasionally taking time off although that won’t be me.
I am not sure if Justin Rose is in the Masters but he would be the golfer I would like to win it.
Stephen Altschuler says
Thanks so much, Phil. I’m with you on taking time off from the game. My body might like it, but not my soul. As for Justin Rose, yes, it might just be time for him to emerge from his mini-slump…just like Jordan Spieth, in relation to majors.
Enjoy the Masters. Should be a good one.
The problem I’m experiencing is I feel my speed is to slow. Although it feels like I barely hit my drive and I get 220 for yard. Go figure.
Stephen Altschuler says
I’d say you’re playing the right ball, and striking the ball pretty near the sweet spot. Hitting it 220 with a relatively slow swing is good. As long as you’re long enough to be hitting greens in regulation with short or mid irons, I’d say you’re fine. If not, you can do one of two things: move up in tee boxes or hit the gym like Bryson.
Thanks for commenting, Kelly.