Lesson #1 – August 29th, 2018
I was introduced to Patrick Kelley through my good friend Ted Moore at Hope Valley Country Club. For over six (6) months Ted told me to go to Patrick to get a better understanding of what a professional golf swing felt like. On August 29th, 2018, I started my journey.
I arrived at Old Chatham Golf Club early to get warmed up. Patrick introduced himself and we briefly chatted about what I was looking to do and my overall golf game. I basically told him that I needed to add some power and learn how to not hit a lazy fade/slice.
I then hit five (5) balls with a pitching wedge and five (5) balls with an 8 iron. Patrick rubbed his hands together and said, “this is going to be fun.” I had no idea what he meant at the time. He then explained my golf game perfectly. Basically, as the clubs got longer, the yardage between the clubs got smaller. My 9 iron went 125, my 8 iron went 140, my 7 iron went 150 and my 6 iron went 155. He also predicted that, under pressure, my distance was an issue because the ball would fade/slice more and more. Correct.
After analyzing my swing the first thing we talked about was posture. My posture was very “lazy”. All of my weight was on my heels and my shoulders were slumped over my chest. After the first lesson, I was to focus on the posture. I was to do this by keeping my weight on the balls of my feet, bent over much more with my hips rolled forward. It felt like I was going to fall over, face first, into the ball. Basically, I stood with my legs straight and bent over to address the ball. I could then slightly bend my knees and stand with my chest high. The chest being high would remain important throughout the entire swing.
Patrick mentioned that the power from my swing was going to be generated with my legs. I had no idea what that meant, but I trusted him.
I hit dozens of balls at the range and they were all over the place. I was only able to hit 8 irons or shorter clubs at this point. There was no point in trying to hit a driver or wood as I was just getting the understanding of posture and stance. I consistently hit several thinned balls, hosel rockets and very few that were average. For some reason, hitting it off the toe was very common for me with the new stance and posture. At that point, Patrick did not care where the ball was going.
UPDATE: After 100 lessons, we are still talking about the stance and posture. Now that I have a much better grasp of the swing, I completely understand why we bend over with the hips rolled forward and keep the chest high. Unfortunately, for myself and almost every other amateur golfer, the proper posture and muscular build are not even possible when first learning the swing.
Trust me when I tell you it takes months, and even years, to understand what it feels like when the lower back muscles support the lats, upper back and shoulders. Until you have the feel for the upper stomach leading you when walking, you will not appreciate the importance of posture in the golf swing. I also did not have the flexibility in my shoulders, lats, triceps and forearms to have the proper posture back in August of 2018. You may laugh and think “how can the triceps” have anything to do with posture and stance. To that, I would say try to push your elbows towards each other as you set up to the golf ball. I can almost guarantee you are going to feel some tension and pull in the back part of your arms (triceps).
Lastly, my hamstrings were not ready for the hips to roll forward properly. It took about 14 months of repetitive setting up to the golf ball (tens of thousands of reps) before my hamstrings allowed my upper body to stand tall. To this day, there are still times when my hamstrings are a little tight and I have to work them out to get the proper posture when setting up.
Look at what Hideki Matsuyama was doing at the Presidents Cup in late 2019. If you watched him closely, he was working on bending over at the hips significantly. He was overdoing it at times to get the feel for the angle. Check it out in this video: