What I found was startling – I already have the proper plane on my back swing, except perhaps for the Driver at times, and what Steve P. saw on the golf course was a change in my normal action, something caused completely by mental factors!
As proof, I have a video clip of myself today working on the proper take-away path, hitting 7 iron.
July 16 – 7 Iron Viewed Down the Line
Take a look at the photo I captured from the second real-speed swing.
You can see clearly the swing path is inside, and I even have the club head “facing the ball” in the Austin manner, exactly what should be happening.
Compare that action with a clip of myself hitting a 8 iron just under two weeks before I played that round with Steve and his guys. Below is the 8 iron clip from June 29th.
June 29th – 8 Iron Viewed Down the Line
On the first clip, I am working consciously on the swing take away path, and in the second clip, I was not- and the actions are virtually identical.
Now, I won’t say Exactly Identical, because there is a little more “inside” action on today’s swing compared to two weeks ago, leading to less of the over-the-top flavor that I have, but the difference shouldn’t have been enough to cause the bad shots I was hitting last week.
Lesson: Not everyone takes their “range swing” to the golf course when they go to play. There are several factors as to why many people can hit the cover off the ball when at the range, or knock down flags (during the week of that 8 iron clip, I remember hitting several different flag sticks each session when hitting everything from 7 iron to wedge), and why they don’t do this out on the course. It’s called the “Ranger Rick” or “Driving Range Star” syndrome.
Remember that, last week, I talked about being out of my “comfort zone” when playing with Steve.
This was caused by several things – 1) playing a reasonably tough course I had never seen before that day, which made choosing lines off the tee very difficult, 2) playing with 3 other guys I’d just met that day who I knew would be looking very intently at my swing, and of course 3) trying very hard to be “DJ” to show Steve what the MCS swing could do.
Instead of doing that, I became “Ranger Rick,” very unfortunately at the time but very fortuitously for me- Steve found by accident the flaw I was exhibiting on the course – letting the outside forces get me off my concentration and causing strange things to happen to my balance and swing.
So, I have to now apply the lesson learned, and make sure that every shot I hit on the range is with the same focus that I applied today while thinking I was making a swing change, and to take that same focus and confidence with me to the golf course.
This has actually happened to me before, though not to the extent that happened last week. When I was playing golf several times a week back in ’09, I would play with the same fellows, and of course you gain a comfort zone doing so.
You know the course, all the lines and where to miss, and the distances more or less on each shot from memory, and the guys you play with have no expectations. They knew I could pelt the ball, and I did so with no effort, because there was no pressure. If I hit a bad shot in front of guys who knew me, they knew already what I could do.
But, when paired with other members with whom I’d never played before, and who’s first words on the No. 1 Tee were “Oh, so you’re the guy that can hit the ball a mile, can’t wait to see this!” you know what happened.
Gone was the comfort zone, and with the raised expectations, concentration and focus and subsequently natural rhythm and technique were altered, causing bad shots to appear everywhere out of the blue.
I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong back then, but the video from today is what showed me.
This is a valuable lesson learned.
Stay out of your comfort zone on the range. Make things difficult when you have built a repeating swing that you can groove on the range.
Simulate game conditions, pretend the whole range is watching your next shot – do things that make you focus not just stand there striping balls in a comfortable, nearly unconscious rhythm, because there’s no such thing out on the course.
Remember, I have never built this blog about playing golf, which I have less experience doing than studying the actual golf swing on video and the driving range. I am only now starting to think about serious golf and scoring rather than working on my swing on the golf course, and so what I learned this last week is something that many of you might already have learned.
But for me, it was a valuable lesson.