Before I get to the subject of today’s blog, and the resurgence of my golf game, after a very frustrating season, I must take personal moment. This past Tuesday I had cataract surgery on my left eye. My left eye is my only good eye, with my right eye only seeing fuzzy images, that for some unknown reason, is not correctable. Needless to say, I was pretty uptight about the procedure, even though I have a great surgeon, and this is a pretty routine procedure. I am happy to report that 3 days post op, everything is fine, and my vision is better than its been in 3 to 4 years. I am cleared to play golf, this coming Wednesday, and can not wait to see, if I can see a ball land on the green. Before the surgery, I could not see the ball on the green from a 100 yards. I still have to take it easy for a few more days, but it seems that I am not going to have any complications. Complications from this surgery are rare, but there is no solace in 1000 to 1 odds, if you are that one. Now, on to the surprising turn around in my game.
I have broken 80 for 12 consecutive rounds. I have had two 79’s, three 78’s, one 77, four 75’s and two 74’s. There have been three things, that have been the key factors in my improved play. First, I have tried to get into a more balanced position at address. I like to feel that my weight is evenly distributed over my feet, and I make sure that there is no pressure on the balls of my feet. This is nothing new, you do not want to get your weight falling forward to your toes. I am just more aware of my feet at address. By doing this I am getting a little closer to the ball. The biggest factor is the new way, that I start the downswing. The traditional way of starting the downswing, is by making sure the lower body initiates the movement, with a turning of the left hip, and a distinct shift to the left foot. However, back in the fifties, Sam Snead and few other pros, wrote about initiating the downswing by pulling down with the left hand. In fact, Snead even went so far as to write, that you should pull down with the last two fingers of the left hand. This type of instruction was often ridiculed by other well known instructors of that era, and in the future. Tommy Armour in his book wrote, “Chick Evans, years ago, when he was an excellent player, described the feeling as that of pulling a bell cord. That’s the way Sam Snead describes it. Confidentially, I think that all the bell cords Chick and Sam pulled Sunday morning wouldn’t disturb many sleepers”. There were many others who criticized this advise over the years, because they felt that starting the downswing with the hands, would cause the average golfer to over use his hands, and bring the clubhead into the hitting position too fast for the body to catch up, resulting in many pulled or sliced shots. In fact, this criticism caused Snead to change his downswing advise to a turning of the hips, in some of his later instructional writings. Well Sam old boy, I am afraid you may have been right after all. Now, many times the way a swing feels, may not be what is actually happening. What was not emphasized enough, by the pros that advocated the pulling of the left hand in initiating the downswing, is that the feeling should be one of pulling straight down from the top. By pulling straight down, rather than feeling that the hands are moving toward the ball, will automatically push the hips forward, and start the turning and weight shifting process. I have utilized this straight down pulling action from the top for all of my shots, including, bunker shots, short pitches, and even chip shots. The easiest way I know how to describe it, is you get to the top of the swing, and pull the left hand straight down to the ground. Once I started doing this, many positive things started to happen.
My swing became more balanced, all the way to the end. My short game improved dramatically, and I had very few yipped chips, and short pitches. My bunker game slump came to an end. I began to work the ball much better, especially moving the ball from left to right, in a controlled manner. All of this resulted in improved ball striking, and better scores. Naturally, you are not going to see improvement in your scores unless you are making putts, and that is the final change I made. This will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog. I have made some philosophical changes in my putting and it does seem to be working. You will find out tomorrow, how I am now succeeding on the greens. I do not know how long any of this is going to last, but for right now it feels really good. Oh, and by the way, I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW.