Getting into golf: Lesson 3 and I can't stop smiling
In the fifth feature of this series of getting into golf articles written by Kim Dowsing, partner of regular Golfshake contributor Derek Clements, updates us on her club fitting and getting her new clubs.
"Hello Kim, this is Alex Beckett at Norwich Family Golf Centre, just calling to let you know that your new golf clubs are here, ready for you to pick them up."
Yeeeeeeks! I was so excited as I headed off to collect them, all the more so because, immediately afterwards, I had my third lesson with Caroline Grady. And there they were - my new Mizuno golf clubs, waiting for me to go and hit some golf balls with them. You will note from the accompanying photograph that when I say that I was really excited, I was REALLY excited.
Alex checked everything, just to make sure that I had been sent the right model, the right clubs, fitted with the shafts he had specified after our fitting session. All present and correct, so off I went to meet Caroline, beaming from ear to ear. Do you want to know a secret? I really haven't stopped smiling since I first took this game up.
Caroline informed me that I would only need my seven iron, my shiny new seven iron. Phew, what a relief - the others could stay in my bag and not get dirty.
She asked me to hit some shots, just to ensure that I had taken on board everything Caroline had taught me to this point, and that it was becoming second nature to me. She had stressed from the very beginning the importance of getting the fundamentals right - grip, alignment, stance and posture - and I have worked extremely hard on those. From that point she taught me a mini-swing that ensured I was taking the club away properly and was beginning to hinge my wrists. And then we started trying to develop my backswing, taking the club back halfway.
Lesson three, with my new Mizuno JPX 900 Hot Metal seven iron, was designed to take me to the next stage, but before we went any further, she told me that I was addressing the ball with my toes turned up and needed to stop doing so. She counteracted this by asking me to stand on a balance board and take my address position - too much weight on my heels or toes would mean that I would lose my balance. Caroline also advised my to flex my knees slightly more to give me a strong position at address. I immediately felt more athletic.
"Right then Kim, today we are going to work on teaching you a proper shoulder turn. You have a tendency at the top of your backswing to collapse your arms in order to get the club to the top of the swing, and that is simply because we haven't yet shown you how to turn your shoulders properly.
"There are a couple of key components to a good backswing. Ideally, you should be turning your shoulders 90 degrees at the top of your swing, and your hips 45 degrees. It is important that you don't turn your hips too much because you need to create some resistance - that resistance will help you to generate power."
Caroline explained that one of the most common faults she sees in beginners is that when they complete their backswing, they want to start the downswing with their arms and shoulders. This is wrong, and it can lead to all sorts of problems. "You must start your downswing with your hips, it is a really important move, and then let everything else flow from there. Golfers who start the downswing with their shoulders don't generate any real momentum and find it very difficult to get the clubface back to the ball in a square position - and if you can't do that then you will not hit the ball straight."
So, your first movement back towards the ball should be with your hips. Get them turning towards the ball and everything else should follow. Caroline demonstrated the ideal move through the ball, stressing the importance of finishing my swing with my hips and upper body facing towards the target. She got me to practice my backswing and shoulder turn over and over again. She began this process by putting me in the ideal top-of-the-backswing position so that I could feel where my shoulders, hands and arms should be.
"In its simplest terms, the shoulders and arms do most of the work during the backswing," said Caroline. "On the downswing the process is reversed, with the hips unwinding first of all. From the top of the backswing you should feel a little movement, with your weight moving back to your left foot as your hips and upper torso unwind. This is obviously far too much to think about in the two seconds it takes to complete a golf swing but it is important that you understand how the swing should actually work."
In summary, Caroline taught me the correct position at the top of the swing, and how it should all feel and that was what she wanted me to focus on until my next lesson. She wanted everything I do for the time being to be reactive. So there were two key elements Caroline asked me to go away and work on - hinging my wrists and and turning my shoulders.
You will no doubt have had it drilled into you that you can't play this game properly unless you keep your head down and keep it still. Caroline confirmed that this is actually a fallacy. If you watch footage of Jack Nicklaus in his prime you will see that he quite clearly turns his head to the right during his backswing. It is almost impossible to keep your head dead still, so don't try.
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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