Golf is hard. There are no two ways about it. I am approaching my 30th lesson and there are still so many parts of the golf swing I haven’t even touched upon. In this lesson, Patrick explained why it was so hard for me to get down, through and cover the ball. While every amateur in America thinks you should get low and “scrunch” to get to the ball, you should actually try to keep your right side long. Yes, you should stay long as you are trying to get down to the ball. Easy enough, right?
So, how can you possible get to the ball if you are trying to keep your right side long? Remember, our goal is to be as wide and long as possible throughout the golf swing. Once reaching the top of the backswing, the right hip and right obliques start the downswing. As soon as they engage, the right side should feel as if it is staying long. I would say tall, but tall would be standing straight up and we are not doing that in the downswing. To me, it feels like my right armpit needs to stay as far away as possible from my right hip. It almost feels like you are sucking in your stomach to gain length in the right side.
When you are getting to parallel, the right side is extended or long, not scrunched up. Every golfer at a country club in America allows the right side to collapse and they flip their hands to the ball. As Patrick explained, it is not easy to stay long because the quickest path to the ball is to flip the hands and be done with it. As I quickly realized, it is extremely difficult to stay long and keep the upper body behind the ball. The lower body “covers” the ball and the upper body falls behind the ball. This is quite difficult when you have never done it in the past.
Most people think covering the ball is done with your chest, shoulders and arms. That is not covering the ball. The hips and stomach cover the ball and the chest, shoulders and arms will naturally follow. While trying to figure this out, Patrick did a lot of work to start cleaning up my backswing.
He stood to my left and basically held me as I rotated back at a 30 degree angle. It almost felt as if I was falling forward with my left shoulder towards second base. If I can open up that shoulder and allow the left side to continue to rotate back, I have a wonderful backswing. I also have to work hard to make certain my elbows and arms stay inside my shoulders. If I feel as if my elbows are pointing towards the ground halfway through my backswing, I know I am doing it right.
As I go back, I feel as if the club face is going up and around towards second base as it reaches the top. I know this is not what is actually happening, but that is what it feels like. When I start to go back too straight and not inside my shoulders, I do not hit the ball as well. If I can let the left shoulder fall to my left foot and get my arms inside my shoulders and up and around my body, I can really hit the ball well. As Patrick says, “give me a great backswing and I will give you any score you want.”
So, I have a lot of practice to do, but I am really going to have to work on the feeling of falling forward on my backswing and falling back on my downswing. I am also going to have to do a lot of practice swings to keep my right side long at the start of the downswing. Patrick also showed me how to finish the downswing with my right hip and right lower lat blasting through the ball, but this is going to be weeks down the road. I can feel it but I know there are many other steps before I can perfect impact.
The biggest issue with impact is the club face feels as if it is going to be completely open because my left elbow and left arm are still way too tight. If I can relax my arms and push through with my right obliques and right lat, the club face rotates shut into impact. Yeah, easy enough.
Overall, I am very pleased with my swing. After hitting a few balls, I am confident I could go out there and play but I don’t even want to. I am sticking through this to allow Patrick to make me the best golfer I can be. It will be late April or early May before I actually play a competitive round of golf.
UPDATE: I am now 128 lessons in as of May 2020 and we are still working on getting to impact. My right arm is much softer as my elbow rolls in at the top of my backswing but we are now going back to getting that left shoulder open so I can allow my body to outrun my hands on the backswing. I am deeper now than I have ever been on my backswing but I am still no where near good enough to even be a single digit golfer. I have so much respect for anyone that picks up golf clubs later in life and becomes a true scratch with a rotational swing. It is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It has been quite the journey.
Oh, by the way, since starting in late August 2018, I have played about five rounds of golf total.