Had a putting lesson

I had been taking lessons with Scott Cleland over the winter and had one left when the trackman putting update became available. My putting has been either excellent or very poor, there has been no consistency at all so I thought I would use the last lesson to see what we could do with it. 

Got a before and after screenshot below 

What has happened is we have found out my left eye is my dominant eye and I have subconsciously been moving my head back to get my left eye over the ball. This is were my inconsistencies have been coming from. Because my head is so far back I need to pull my hands back to get the alignment lines to align properly on the putter. This has then lead to a few swing issues that have been causing the missed putts. 

A simple realignment later and my putting is back to where it should be and apparently the putter is fit very well for me going by the numbers I was producing on trackman. Tour average is 85% of the length of the putt is roll with 15% being the initial skid and bounce immediately after the ball is hit, anything above 85% being exceptional. Scott had me over 90% and no lower than 87% after the setup changes. Looks like I have no excuses for not holing putts now! 

Couple of changes to the club setup. 

Since I did the what’s in the bag I have made a couple of changes. First and biggest change is driver. I finally got my epic! I was wary of buying it and wary of all the hype around it but after the fitting and then getting it on the course in the drier conditions we have had lately I can honestly say it lives up to the hype. 

I am now hitting the ball the longest I have ever hit it and also consistent with it. Longer drives and more fairways hit makes the game much easier than it was the last few seasons. 

I really like the carbon weave that you can see on the top of the club it looks really cool, I’m hitting it amazing and I is already making a big difference to my scoring not playing from silly places on the course I kept leaving myself with the old driver and having to try and scramble my way round trying to salvage pars. Now I’m hitting fairways and able to try get irons close and have chances for birdies.

I also hit my longest measured drive to date with it when I was out with my brother at Carluke a couple of weeks ago Peter Finch I’m a year or so late but I nearly completed the quest for 350 accidentally! 

On a side not the headcover has a lot of detail in it an a lot of design has gone into this as well, my only complaint is the colour scheme doesn’t go very well with my blue and white mizuno bag! 

I was so pleased with the callaway utility irons that I thought I would take a punt on one selling cheap on eBay which I a 2 iron equivalent to see how it worked out. Won the auction and a few days later had this to play with and a dilemma of what to take out of the bag to make room for it if I hit it well. 

I was debating if it would be a 3 wood replacement or if I would have to take a wedge out to make room for it if it worked. I was initially thinking it would be the 60 degree wedge that would be dropped in favour of the 2 iron. 

When I took it out on course and hit it on the dry firm fast fairways at hayston it was easy to decide that the 3 wood was coming out of the bag. I hit it with a lower flight than the 3 wood which will help in the wind but still able to carry it 225 yards, which was then rolling out anywhere between 245-270 yards! Unbelievable distance, straighter and easier to control in the wind. Sad day that the monkey headcover is no longer on the bag for the first time in about 15-20 years but the 3 wood is dropped in favour of better performance. 

Only downside to the 2 iron is this

Which will be getting replaced asap! Not liking the colour or feel of this grip at all butte club is working so I’m happy. 

Personal record low round

Since my last update there has been a fair bit happening. Been really busy at work which has been not good timing with the start of the season.

Before the busy spell I was playing and practicing quite well, I was managing my time quite effectively to help play some pretty decent golf. I even managed to go out and put together the best round I have played yet. I had a scratch 67 which is 3 under par at hayston despite having a double bogey 5 at the par 3 15th. 

I didn’t feel like I played any differently to normal or did anything exceptionally well in comparison to a normal round, I just made less mistakes and a few putts dropped for me. 

My only mental mistake I made in the whole round was on the tee at 15 and instead of just standing up and swinging the same way I had done all day I got defensive and tried to steer the ball onto the green and hit the most horrific long iron shot I hit all day. That left me in an impossible place to try and save par and I ended up with a double bogey. 

I’m very happy with the way I played the last 3 holes, I eagles the 16th to get the two shots back straight away then had birdie chances on the last two that just didn’t drop for me. I hit good putts but unfortunately they just didn’t go in. I’m especially happy with my tee shot at the last, it’s another par 3 that is surrounded with danger and I was thinking don’t blow this don’t go left don’t go right don’t do this don’t do that. Anything but the things I should have been thinking about. I managed to sort my thoughts out and get back to thinking the way I had been all the way round and committed to the shot I visualised. Made a good swing and hit it to about 12 feet. As I said I didn’t hole the putt but I played the hole well and was very happy at how I controlled the mental side to keep plugging away. 

I’ve since went on to repeat the feat and had another 67! 

It was another unspectacular round of just hitting fairways and greens never really holed many putts in the round and the only difference was hitting my tee shot at the par 4 12th to about 3 feet and holing the putt for eagle then chipping in for eagle at the par 5 16th. The long drive wasn’t actually a drive it was the only shot I had measured and was a 3 iron off the tee at the 6th to see how far it went. 

I’ve now got the breaking 70 at hayston monkey off my back and feel more comfortable going low and am looking to break par when I play rather than trying to go round in something near par. 

What’s in the bag 2017

I’ve made a few changes to the club setup since last season so thought I should update with what I’m using for the season going forward. 

I’ll start at the scoring end of the bag first, new putter that I got towards the end of the season. Gone with a seemore mallet style head. Really liked the idea behind these with the alignment aid with the shaft and lines on the head. When I got it I wasn’t very happy with the grip on it and wasn’t putting well with it despite being custom fit for it. I changed the grip to a super stroke no taper counterbalance grip. This is the same thickness all the way down the grip and has a 50 gram weight screwed into the top of it which changes the balance point of the club. Since fitting it I have been putting much better and for the first time in a while I am really happy with my putting. 

Wedges are the same as last season but they have been adjusted to give me a better gaping with yardages I hit them. The 52 has been adjusted to 51 degrees because there was slightly too much difference between it and my pitching wedge. The 56 has been adjusted to 55 and the 60 left as it is. I have replaced the grips on them a s the titliest grips that were on them were far too thin so I replaced them with thicker grips with 3 layers of tape to thicken them up and also made them thicker at the bottom half so that they didn’t taper and have the grip thinner in the right hand than it was in the left. This is a really small thing but it feels so much better and I’m now more consistent with my striking and distance control with them. I’m really enjoying hitting them again. 

Irons are my old trusty mizuno mp68 blades that I have had since around 2009 #nothingfeelslikeamizuno I had the lofts and lies checked and reset to factory and the swingweight adjusted during the summer so nothing else been done with these. Contemplating changing them to something more forgiving but when I hit them well there is no better feeling iron and I am pretty accurate with them. Just wondering if over the course of a season a more forgiving set would be beneficial as when you miss hit them you know all about it and loose a lot of distance. 

I have made a change to the iron setup though, I used to have 3 iron to pitching wedge but I have taken 3 and 4 iron out and replaced them with more forgiving callaway prototype utility irons in 21 and 24 degree lofts. These are much easier to hit and fly a bit higher which will help hitting into the elevated greens at some of the longer holes at hayston. Should be more consistent with these than with the blades. 

The hybrid has come out of the bag, I had the occasional shot that went miles further than average and could hit it anywhere between 220 yards and 255 yards which I no use so this has been dropped. 

3 wood is unchanged and is my ping i20 that I have been using for about the last 5 years. Still hitting it well so it will be staying until I have a hit with a callaway epic 3 wood and only if it is substantially better will I consider changing. Failing that I will just leave it as it is. 

I have changed ball for this season as well. This is the biggest change for me and I am already seeing a big difference. I have played titliest since back in the days of the balata ball and changed to pro v1 when they stopped selling the balata. For the first time I have strayed away from titliest and have moved to callaway chrome soft and I’m loving them. To me they feel much softer and seem to spin more with shorter wedge shots and chips and have more feel when putting with them. Really enjoying using them and since I have changed I have been scoring much better due to my short game being better with them. 

You may notice that there is no mention of a driver, that’s because callaway still haven’t delivered the blooming thing yet! Come on callaway I’m not feeling very epic just now having to borrow a demo club every time I want to play! I have ordered a callaway epic that was custom fit and has transformed my game from the tee now I am hitting fairways more regularly and hitting it further also. 

So that’s the what’s in the bag for 2017, don’t think there will be much change from that anytime soon. 

The importance of being properly fitted for a driver. The difference is epic! 

Quite a lot of work has gone on over the last couple of months. Been working really hard on flexibility and range of movement that was highlighted when I went for the assessment. I’m feeling a big difference in my swing and how I consistent it has become now I am a bit more supple. Turns out most of my swing problems were caused by poor flexibility causing involuntary movements during the swing. 

I’ve been thinking about how to improve my game and what direction I want to go with my game, I had fallen into a bad routine of chasing the wrong type of improvement over the winter as seeing improvement as more club speed and more distance. This has made me try too hard to swing the club too fast which has then had a negative effect on shot dispersion. Also having a driver that doesn’t fit my swing and is actually costing me clubhead speed wasn’t helping either. 

I had made a plan for the year of what was getting focused on and at what time of the year it was getting worked on. I had penciled in a driver fitting for the start of February to see if I could find any improvements with something different. Figuring out that I hit my 3 wood around 245 yards carry distance and my driver only 235-240 yards set off the alarm that something wasn’t right! 

I went to Scott at hayston for a fitting and it’s unbelievable the difference it makes when you have someone who knows what needs to be adjusted in the equipment that’s in your hand to best suit your swing. I had never been happy with the cobra driver that I had been “custom fit” for at another shop that will remain nameless. I was very inconsistent with it and never got a consistent carry distance with it. Sometimes it would drop out of the sky and only carry 200 yards and others it would carry 250 yards with a similar swing and strike. Turns out the problem is a low spin head coupled with a low spin shaft which caused not enough backspin to keep the ball in the air, as a result the ball falls out of the sky and goes nowhere. Also the X stiff shaft was not compliant enough for me to load up properly for it to release at impact giving me most efficient head speed for my swing.

Not good numbers at all! Spin very low and left club path on some because the head was weighted for a draw bias which exaggerated my tendency to roll my hands through impact causing the really poor results short and left on the initial shots hit. 

After getting some base figures with my own driver Scott then put a club and shaft together that he thought would suit me. I really wanted to try the taylormade M2 with all the hype that had been surrounding this club on tour. Couldn’t hit the thing if my life depended on it! It didn’t matter what shaft was put into it I felt the head was too light and I couldn’t feel where it was or what it was doing in the swing. Results were not good with it because I kept hitting it low on the face and out of the heel. This was dropped very quickly and we moved on. 

I was disappointed with it as I had been really wanting to hit one for months leading up to it but the club just didn’t suit what I was comfortable with and needed to feel to be able to hit well. We then moved onto callaway epic and I was totally blown away! I’m not one for believing hype or going for the latest gimmicks and secretly wanted it to not perform as well as it did. (I went in wanting the M2 to be best) although I could understand and appreciate the idea behind the technology behind it and why it would work. 

First off Scott wanted to demonstrate how much club head speed my old driver was robbing me of and put a regular felt shaft in the epic head, instantly quicker from the same swing. This was my fastest clubhead speed of the day but the dispersion wasn’t as tight as we would like because the shaft was flexing too much and I couldn’t control the clubface consistently. 

We tried a few different shafts and settled on an aldila rogue 60gram stiff shaft which was giving me good speed and spin numbers. 

Only problem was that the launch angle and face to path angles were inconsistent because of me wanting to turn the clubface through impact. The sliding weight on the sole of the club was adjusted to the toe of the club which makes turning the face harder. 

Bingo! Super consistent numbers on that setup. The first swing was me deliberately swinging slow to see if it would stop my tendency to turn it over and hit it left when easing back on it a bit which it did! We then went out and hit some balls on the course and the grouping of the balls was as close as I have ever had from any club let alone a driver. 

On average 5mph more ball speed and 30 yards more carry due to better launch angle and spin rates. That’s massive considering I haven’t done anything to change my swing just change the club that’s in my hands. 

This is the grouping of all shots hit, the white ellipse is my original cobra with the wrong shaft. Dispersion is horrific! With every adjustment it was brought in tighter and tighter. The slow swing of the toe weighted epic is skewing the results for that but is still a massive improvement over what I had. New driver ordered and patiently waiting on callaway building for me. 

Whilst I am waiting on it arriving I have been borrowing Scott’s demo club to get used to it on course. I have fallen back into the old trap of trying to hit the new driver as hard as I possibly can to see how far it will go. Defeats the purpose of the custom fit when you then start swinging as fast as you can! I’ve calmed it back down and concentrated on swinging normally and trying to hit fairways and it is working very well. I played yesterday and the difference playing from further up the hole and actually on the fairway is massive. Best round of the year 2 over par 72. 

Functionality and movement test  

I went to get myself tested along the lines of a titliest performance institute functionality test for golf yesterday.

Basically the test checks for range of movement, imbalances, and how you move to help correct anything that will hinder your golf swing. 

What I have found is that I was very good in some areas and pretty poor in others. balance, core strength and rotational flexibility in my back were all very good. what was not good was range of movement in my left shoulder, my arm doesn’t seem to want to rotate backwards properly  and also all down my left side is significantly tighter than my right. don’t know if it is a glute or hamstring issue but it needs sorted as this is causing back problems in my lower left side.

My posture is also very bad when standing in my normal address position which I have known for a while as my shoulders are very rounded when standing over the ball.

So things to work on over the winter are addressing the imbalances between my back and my chest that are causing my shoulders to come forward and my back to round  this is both flexibility and strength that needs to be worked on.

Also the tightness in my left calf hamstring and back that is causing my back to be sore and tight and possibly causing problems with me being able to turn through the ball properly. I have felt that I have been unable to rotate properly through my swing and that my hips and shoulders aren’t doing what I want them to so I am hoping that this is the cause.

Plan of attack is plenty of stretching since being sat in a car for most of the day then being sat at a desk is making me very tight and also weights to try build up the strength I have lost through lack of training and not doing a physical job any more. 

Weights will be kept simple, deadlift and bent over row one session and squats with bench press the other. this should help build a solid Base for golf and also strengthen my back and straighten up my posture. 

I’ve just been out and done the first session, 4 sets of 6 reps of bent over rows with 40kg and the same for deadlift with 70kg. starting out easy and light so I don’t end up injured and can keep making progress with weight on every session. patience is the key here, keep making baby steps of improvement and I’ll be happy.

Of to research best ways of stretching now. 

Time for a new focus and a new goal. Finally I’m back on track!

I have decided to throw myself back into the goal of trying to turn pro. at the start of the year a new pro took over at Hayston golf club where I am a member. Scott Cleland has made a massive change to the shop and to the club, he is definitely an asset to the place and adds value for money to the membership fees. 

He is running a winter coaching programme with the aim of spending a lot of time with a limited number of people with the aim of making us much improved golfers by the start of the season next year. 

I went for the first session with him on Friday of last week and spent some time in his swing studio on trackman so he can figure out where my game is and where I am loosing shots and what needs to be worked on. going by my trackman combine score my handicap should be much less than it currently is. possibly by about 4 or 5 strokes. 

We have agreed that my driving and my pitching, specifically from inside 80 yards are the areas that need the most work. we have decided that the best course of action is to work on the pitching just now as that’s the part of the game that can save the most strokes.

Going by the numbers on trackman for my driver I am launching the ball far too low, this is hopefully a simple fix as my driver has adjustable loft hosel I have adjusted it from 9.5 degrees up to 11.5 degrees. my average launch angle is 9 degrees and is sometimes as low as 7 degrees. for the ball speed I am achieving my ideal launch angle is somewhere around 13 degrees which if my physics is correct should see me about 20 yards further carry with no other swing changes if I achieve that angle. I love technology!  

I haven’t tried the driver adjusted yet so am waiting to try that in the next day or so. we spent the remainder of the session working on why I am inconsistent with my pitching. Scott was very good at working out what my level of understanding was and how to put his ideas across to me and what changes to implement to make the difference. My lower body was very unstable and my weight positioning was way out so we worked on that first on the boditrak weight sensor mat which is an awesome piece of kit, it surprised me how far out my weight was and made fixing it very quick and easy since it shows you clearly where your weight actually is which isn’t where I thought it was! 

He has sent me home to work on this and on Wednesday he has arranged for me to go to a gym for a functional movement test to see if I have any strength imbalances or weak areas and if there are any flexibility issues that need addressed that could be causing problems with my swing. 

So with all this happening I will be emerging from the winter a leaner stronger better golfer ready to attack the course at the start of next season.

My goal is to get my handicap down to 2 or less (I’ve worked out I need to score level par 12 times to do it) then next March play in the qualifying for the europro tour which I can then turn professional at. Then I can enter a professional tournament and stand on the first tee as a professional golfer. 

Watch this space folks, I’m determined I’m doing it.