Getting into golf: From Terre Blanche to Norwich Family Golf Centre
In the second feature of this series of articles Kim Dowsing, partner of regular Golfshake contributor Derek Clements,updates us on having her first lesson.
MY NAME IS KIM, AND I AM A GOLFAHOLIC, Part 1
Having recently been introduced to golf, I am here to tell you that I am already addicted to the game, and I cannot wait to get out on a proper golf course to try to emulate the men and women I have been watching on TV.
But I know that I have a huge amount to learn before that can happen.
I have already been to the south of France to work with Jean-Jacques Rivet, the renowned golf biomechanist. I learnt a huge amount from that experience but knew that the next step had to be a series of golf lessons, so I have arranged to work with Caroline Grady, a former Ladies European Tour player who is one of the very best teachers in East Anglia and is based at the Norwich Family Golf Centre.
Having already hit hundreds of golf balls at the driving range, I had no idea what to expect from my first lesson with Caroline and don't mind admitting that I was pretty nervous. But I needn't have worried. It turns out that Caroline is one of life's great communicators and possesses an enviable enthusiasm.
"OK, so before we get anywhere close to thinking about hitting golf balls, we need to discuss the fundamentals and ensure that we get those right," Caroline said. "We are going to teach you those basics using something that I call GASP."
GASP? Grip. Aim. Stance. Posture.
Without getting those right, I know that you have little or no chance of hitting a golf ball properly.
Before we did anything else, Caroline insisted that I perform a series of warm-up exercises to ensure that my muscles were prepared. Why do so many golfers walk straight to the first tee without any form of preparation? And then get frustrated with themselves because it takes two or three holes before they strike a proper golf shot.
Caroline started off with my grip, recommending that I use the interlocking grip. The way I look at it is that if this grip is good enough for Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods then it is certainly good enough for me. I had tried the overlapping grip but have a touch of arthritis in my fingers and found it uncomfortable. That discomfort disappeared entirely when I turned to the interlocking grip. It turned out that the grip I had been using actually wasn't too bad, but Caroline made some adjustments to ensure that it was perfect.
When it comes to aiming, Caroline told me to imagine a train track, with the club sitting on one rail and my feet lined up with the other. She also stressed the importance of putting the club behind the ball first before taking up my stance. This all makes perfect sense. Line up the club to the target and then step in behind the ball and line up your feet, hips and shoulders.
To get my stance and posture right, Caroline taught me an exercise she calls the 'monkey hang', where you simply bend your upper torso from the hips and let your arms hang loose. It is easy with this game to overthink things but, as Caroline explained: "Your clubs are designed to sit properly on the ground. If you are in the correct position the heel or the toe will not stick up in the air.
"A key thing to consider when taking up your stance and finding the correct posture is the way you distribute your weight through your feet - this was something I had also had drummed into me when working with JJ Rivet. You must avoid two things - putting all your weight on your heels and putting it all in your toes. I like my pupils to imagine that when they address the golf ball the weight is evenly distributed between the centre and balls of their feet."
Most of my first lesson was spent working on my grip, aim, stance and posture, but Caroline finished things off by getting me to hit some golf balls. As I said earlier, I have been hitting balls on the range for some months, but she did not want to see the swing I had developed.
"The best way for beginners to start and get the feel for hitting balls is by developing what I call the mini-swing, which essentially involves creating a triangle with your arms," she said. "This will help you to create a one-piece takeaway, and if you focus on keeping that triangle together it will also help you to develop a proper release through the ball. If you keep your wrists firm during this drill - and you should - it will restrict the length of your backswing, and that is what we want at this stage. I want you to create effortless power through this process, not powerless effort."
Caroline gave me some exercises and drills to work on, one of which is specifically designed to give me the feel for this mini swing. You take a seven iron, grip down the shaft and place the top of the grip into your stomach and then rotate. The position of the grip means it is impossible to go back too far and keeps your wrists firm.
I was worried that trying something completely new like this would be difficult for me to achieve but within minutes I was striking the middle of the ball. It wasn't going terribly far, but it wasn't meant to and the thing that really got my juices flowing was that feeling of striking the ball properly, every single time.
So there you have it. Lesson one.
But how do you remember it all? With so much new information to absorb, my main concern was remembering it all. Did I have to find a notebook and scribble it all down while it was still fresh in mind? Did I need to take pictures? Not a bit of it.
Caroline has fully embraced modern technology and uses a genius app called Edufii. And within an hour or so a series of videos had arrived on my iPhone. These went through everything we had discussed and the best news is that everything is there for me to look at whenever I want.
Caroline Grady can be contacted on 07771 674937 or via [email protected]
Full the full series of articles with Kim on her quest to play golf visit: www.golfshake.com/news/tag/2017-getintogolf/
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