Golf, as we all know. is a game of highs and lows, of ups and downs, of peaks and troughs. My own game of late has all too often reflected the second of each of those pairings, no two ways about it. So much so that I was getting quite desperate about the situation – and, regrettably, not just in my own heart of hearts, but at times quite openly on the course, such that my playing partners had to cover their ears to my clearly audible oaths and avert their gaze as I angrily flung my clubs around the fairway after yet another botched shot. In such situations we golfers cast about for the causes of our inability to recreate that perfect flowing swing we felt we had mastered but a short few weeks ago and, in doing so, tinker with just about every aspect of what we do in attempting to hit that pesky little white sphere towards the horizon. All to no avail other than to make matters even worse.
It was in just such a tortured state of mind that I found myself watching a series of videos demonstrating a selection of the smoothest swings in golf, among which was the one below, featuring the ever elegant Fred Couples.
The various swings had more than one thing in common, but the one that stood out to me was the initiation of the downswing by a hip movement, the proper execution of which has been eluding me for some time now and which, I think, is in all likelihood the main cause of my present golfing woes. Never used to be a problem, but somehow I have stopped doing it effectively and I don’t know why.
The following day I set out to play a solo front nine at Chilworth, hoping to find some inspiration in the early October sunshine. A triple bogey on the par 5 first, including three putts, didn’t do much to raise my spirits: rather, it reinforced my determination to take some kind of positive action. So on the 2nd tee, faced with 200 yards plus across water from an elevated position, I focused on retaining flex in my right leg and moving my left shoulder around a stable spine.
Ok, my 5 wood fired my ball over the back of the green, but it was a well struck dead straight tee shot, quite unlike what I had been achieving of late. And that marked some kind of turnaround, albeit I was focusing on something other than the hip movement the videos had made me think about. For the following eight holes I had a par or a bogey, and a couple of the latter could quite easily have been pars if I hadn’t missed with the putter from 3 feet. The best bit, however, was that I had rediscovered the ability to hit a good 3 wood off the tee, something I had always felt was a particular strength of mine but which had gone seriously AWOL in recent times. I suppose my swing thought avoided my getting stuck on the back foot, with all the panoply of horror shots that can produce. Will it last? We shall see.
Funny how one little thing, one brief moment, one tiny adjustment can turn things around, in this case in a positive way. Yes, it’s a funny old game, golf.