So, I’m at the range the other day trying to figure out what to do with my swing that’s been driving me nuts lately, and I stumbled upon something that shocked the shit out of me. I finally realized that my swing is not the problem and never has been. You see, for a long time now, since I got cancer, heart failure, and peripheral neuropathy in my feet that all that plus their treatments were the reasons my game was so inconsistent. I spent considerable time and money consulting pros who had no idea what to do with me: an aging, former 8 handicapper who could now rarely break 90, and whose hopes of breaking 80 again were back there with JFK before 11/22/63. They’d put me in all sorts of positions from swinging the club over my right foot to standing so far from the ball at address that I just about lost sight of it! One pro finally did finally cure my shank but other problems would pop up again like whack-a-mole.
Now the other day after butchering a few drives low and left, I checked my clubface and saw I was striking the ball consistently near the hosel. That surprised me because I was lining it up near the toe. So I tried something entirely new: I set the club down completely off the ball and swung, and quicker than a Jon Rahm swing, I crushed it 200 yards, which for me was a miracle. Again and again, I repeated this odd set up, and again and again I hit my driver solid and far.
Then I tried it with a 7-iron. Same results. Straight, solid contact, good trajectory, good distance. A bit less consistency since my weight shift was still balky from the neuropathy in my feet, but easily corrected by keeping more weight on the left side throughout the swing, as Jack Young, the pro at the range had rightly advised. Tried it with the hybrid, 3-wood, and wedges and “guess what?”: the same great results. Was it magic, dumb luck, physics, or Newton’s Laws of Gravity that made this odd move work?
I came back the next day, despite a bit of soreness in my back to “to inspect and verify.” Sure enough, it did continue to work, most of the time. When I got tired, I started to get a bit lazy, which is usually when I learn things. And what I learned even surprised me more.
You would think it would be counterintuitive that to strike the ball on the sweet spot you would align the clubface off the ball. But what it apparently does is encourages the arms to straighten at impact, something many handicappers need work with. The thing is–and here’s where the unconscious element comes into play–you swing to that off-the-ball-spot and not to the ball. You might think that you have to consciously reach for the ball at impact, but you don’t. I can’t really explain why but the mind/body/eye/hand knows where it should be at impact. Isn’t that the strangest thing? And the Nobel Prize for Golf Instruction goes to Stephen…
However, Erica Stoner, an instructor at the Pronghorn Resort in Bend, Oregon may beat me to that Nobel Prize. Her Instagram video shows a variation of this technique as a drill to help with the rhythm and flow of the swing. I’m suggesting using it regularly when you play.
Why does it work? The golfing body is on a kind of automatic pilot of sorts. If you’ve been playing for awhile, as I have, it knows where the ball is and like a heat seeking missile it directs the club to it, even without reaching for the ball. In fact if you try and reach for the ball, you’ll screw up the shot, more than likely pulling it left as I started doing when I tired and lost concentration well into the sessions. To remedy this, I slowed my pace some which got me back on track with solidly struck shots right on the kisser.
This game is a head scratcher at times. But if I keep my thinking mind, my analyzing mind–what HOFer Gary Player wisely calls the paralysis of analysis–out of the swing, my body seems to know what to do. Now that might have something to do the fact that I’ve been playing since I was 14, but maybe not. It might just work that way for anyone, and this is a good way to find out if it works for you. The problem is that the workings of the mind are subtle. I’ve done a lot of meditation to train my mind to operate naturally without constant intervention or even attention. I would advise such training for optimal success.
A disclaimer: This may not work for you as it has worked for me. My particular medical issues may be a factor. And like your clubs, a golf swing needs to be custom fitted to each individual. Anyway, if your swing needs an overhaul of sorts, give it a try and let me know how it works out.
Tom Kim. I love this kid. He’s one helluva player. He’s got a great personality. He speaks excellent English, thanks to his South Korean parents that he learn early on. He’s 20 years old and turned pro at 15. He’s rejected LIV golf, opting wisely for the tried and true PGA Tour. He’s already won twice on Tour, at Wyndham and now, taking down Patrick Cantley, at Shriner’s Children’s this year. He was a standout at the Presidents’ Cup. He reminds me some of Lee Trevino. And I suspect he’ll come close to matching Trevino’s record when all is said and done. He’s also a lot of fun to watch. All of which is why… I love this kid. He’s good for the game. Another Tiger? Nope. There will never be another Tiger. But Young Tom Kim just might be the successor to Young Tom Morris we’ve been waiting for!
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