Since I arrived in Texas, I found a local golf pro that I’ve been working with fairly regularly. I’ve been getting lessons nearly weekly since early May. I’ve been making some fairly significant swing changes and have been working extremely hard on that. I’ve seen momentary flashes of where I’m going and I like it, but it’s a lot to digest and a lot to change so it’s slow going. Because of that, I started taking notes at the conclusion of each lesson so that I can help myself to remember what we talked about and to review before each range session so that I have an idea of what I want to work on. I thought it might be useful if I shared my lesson notes with you, both so you can see what I’m working on, but also because you might find that taking notes after your own lessons has benefit as time goes on. A few times now, I’ve reviewed my notes and have realized I actually forgot key pieces of teaching.
I was quite satisfied after leafing through my copy of Golf Digest this month. The March 2011 issue contained an article by famed teacher John Jacobs, with Jaime Diaz, featuring a number of nuggets of teaching wisdom he has amassed over a career in golf that has spanned many decades. Now 85, Jacobs was an accomplished tournament player in his younger days, having won a couple of times in the 1950′s. But, he points out that his talent turned out to be teaching. Admittedly, I only know of Jacobs by name, but reading those few pages of random thoughts gave me the sense that Jacobs is my kind of teacher. He’s a different kind of teacher, much like Harvey Penick was. He focuses on keeping things simple. In this era of video analysis and launch monitors and swing planes and angles, that kind of philosophy is like a beacon in the dense fog of golf instruction for me. One thing he said really gave me pause and led me to write this post. He wrote:
This is something that I think we often take for granted with our golf swings. Think about how on one hand, the golf swing seems so simple. Just pick up a club and hit a ball with it. Easy. It truly is that simple. On the other hand, if you want to optimize the power and control of that swing so that you can maximize your distance and fly the ball at the desired height, at the desired spin rate, and with as much or as little curve as desired, now we’re talking about an extremely complex machine. So, how do problems and symptoms relate to that? I thought you’d never ask. Actually, I thought you would, but that’s just a figure of speech. Technically, it was me asking, though. Having fun yet? Not only is the golf swing a complex machine, but it happens in a well-defined sequence. What that means is, we could also call the machine, a “chain of events”, where a mistake early on can easily carry all the way through
Once again, the issue of “hitting up” with the driver has resurfaced. We’ve debated the issue here on several occasions. Now, Golf Magazine has reaffirmed its own previous research in the February 2009 issue with a TrackMan launch monitor to show once and for all that, with the driver, striking the ball with an ascending blow will result in more distance. I want to make sure we’re on the same page when we talk about angle of attack. Remember that the swing is an arc. From the top, the club head moves down the arc and then gets to the lowest point, and then starts going back up the other side of the arc. In the simplest terms, if you hit the ball before the club head hits its lowest point, you have a negative angle of attack and are making a descending blow. If you hit the ball after that point, you have a positive angle of attack and are making an ascending blow. If you hit the ball right at the low point,