Today was another eye opening day for me. Patrick showed me just how inflexible my hips are. After hitting a few balls to start my lesson, he told me to stand up straight and in the position of address I do before bending over behind the ball. Basically, my right shoulder slightly back, my arms out in front of me and my right elbow slightly lower than my left elbow. He then told me to turn while standing straight up. When I did this, my turn was so very short.
Patrick explained that I try to use my right hip and right side to get depth in the backswing. When standing straight up, you cannot do that when turning. He also added that I should feel a V or what feels like a semi circle to me from my left hip, down between my legs and then up my right up as I start the swing. This will set the angle of the hips. To me, it feels like a small swinging ship. When the pressure gets to the inside of my right hip, I am then to hold off on the hips and allow my upper body to turn around my lower body. Once I am as far back as I can go, I am to bend over and allow my belt buckle to drop towards the ball. When I do this I should feel very skinny. This is where my backswing should be.
After doing this five times Patrick explained that my hips are extremely tight making it impossible to get to the true top of the backswing. The further I can get in the backswing, the more I can get away with mistakes with my hands and transition. Right now, my depth isn’t allowing me to make any mistakes which is why I am struggling to hit the ball well every time.
Patrick then showed me two stretching exercises to help me loosen my hips. He told me to continue to do the pigeon toe stretch standing straight up where I pigeon toe my foot and lift my leg to the side. I have gotten better at this but can do more. He then showed me two exercises laying flat on my back. The first is windshield wipers. I lay flat with my arms bent at a 90 degree angle with my elbows beside my ears. I am then to bend my knees and put my feet flat on the ground. From there, I am to move my knees to the right side while keeping my left hip on the ground, then I am to move my knees to the left side with my right hip on the ground. I immediately feel my hip coming off the ground when I do this so I am going to have to spend time getting better at this.
The other exercise is to lay flat with the arms extending above the head. I am to lift up my right leg and left arm off the ground. I am to open up my right foot completely and keep it from falling to the ground. I am then to do the opposite with the left arm and right leg. Once again, my leg wants to immediately fall to the ground so I am going to have to work on this one for several months.
After we did that, we talked about the fact that I completely lose my angle after take away. Knowing that I now have the small swinging ship between my legs, I can now feel staying more bent over which allows my body to feel like a swinging ship. Once again, I am going back very short because I am stopping the inside of my right hip, but I am getting deeper in the turn with my upper body. This is going to take a lot of trust as I want to stand up on the backswing.
I hit a few really good shots but it is going to take a lot of time to stretch out my hips, get deeper in the backswing and keep my upper body from standing up. When I hit it good, it feels like my body is coming in very low through impact.
Every time I think I am getting closer to being able to play I realize it is several months away. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it has been quite the journey. Now I just need to make certain I don’t take my hip stretches too far and hurt myself.
We also touched on the chipping motion. When driving the right hip into the left quad and keeping the left hip held off, I can feel what the top of the backswing feels like. It is basically wedging my lower body and allowing my core to swing around it. This allows me to feel the left elbow really being down at impact. If I can ever continue the true feel of the left elbow being down at impact, I am going to be a ball striking machine. It is imperative I keep my lower body “wedged” to really get the left elbow down feeling.
UPDATE: It is now December 2020, I am over 200 lessons in and I am still trying to stretch out my body. Every day since this journal article I have done the windshield wipes and the straight leg and straight arm stretch. I have come a very long way when it comes to hip flexibility and general flexibility. I can now feel what having an upper thoracic shoulder turn actually feels like. I am hitting the ball better than every but there is always more to improve.