Lesson #38 – March 14th, 2019
We are making huge strides with every lesson now. My concern heading into this lesson is my legs are holding on for dear life through the downswing and the finish of the swing. My left foot is even coming off the ground with some swings. Honestly, it is really cool to feel this as I know that means I am generating tremendous speed with the club.
Patrick explained that the ball of my left foot is going to plant as soon as I make the transition from the backswing to the downswing. Yeah, easy enough. Not quite! He showed me that as I get to the top of the backswing, the downswing begins with the lower right obliques which should trigger the ball of my left foot to plant into the ground. At this stage of my swing, it is nearly impossible for me to do this.
After watching a few swings, Patrick adjusted something with my setup. He told me to bring my right elbow closer to my belly button which in turn drops my right shoulder and allows me to keep the right elbow low on the backswing. While in Miami, I was trying to figure out how to keep the right elbow low but I was doing it with my arms rather than just adjusting my setup. With my right elbow closer to my belly button and my right shoulder lower, it now feels like I am getting to club more behind me in a natural way rather than using my arms to do it. If my right elbow is away from my belly button I have the tendency to get my right elbow way too high at the top of the backswing which makes it nearly impossible to not come over the top. Obviously, we do not want to come over the top so I have to address the right elbow being “down and in” at the start of every swing.
I now feel the going up and around I felt about two months ago. The difference is that the up and around is now created by my left side doing the work rather than swinging my arms and shoulders to get the club up and around. The feel is what Jim Furyk’s swing actually looks like. I know my backswing does not look like that, but it is exactly what it feels like. After I get the club to around parallel to the ground it feels like the club starts to head towards 2:00 or second base. Once again, I know that is not what is happening, but when I feel the club do this, I know I am on my way to the correct backswing.
Patrick also made certain that as I get towards the top of my backswing, I continued through my left lat and all the way into my left armpit. When I do it correctly, it feels like my hands are reaching for the sky but my left lat and left side are doing all the work to get the hands higher, not my hards or arms.
So, once at the top, I use my right lower obliques for the first move and here is the big moment, after that feel, the right lat, right under your armpit, should take over and drive towards the ball of your left foot. In essence, it feels like my left lat is a knife and I am cutting a piece of cake with it. If I can really feel my right shoulder soften and relax at the top of the swing, I can drive with the right lat. It really feels like driving with the muscle between my right ribcage and my right shoulder. If my right arm or shoulder activates, I lose all sense of the feel of driving with the right lat.
This was a huge step forward for me as it really allows me to generate speed and power with the swing. That said, I still struggle with my left leg and left foot. When I really generate speed with the golf club my left foot is almost off the ground at impact.
I told Patrick that my legs were not my concern when it comes to soreness. I said, “you can do anything with my legs and I will be fine.” He subsequently put my legs in the correct position on the downswing. Once at the top of the backswing, the right knee drives inside the left knee while the ball of the left foot drives into the ground and holds the lower body stable. Good luck trying this for the first time.
When done correctly, you really feel how the upper body “twists” around the lower body when completing the golf swing. At this point, I am not flexible enough to do it as my hamstrings and left obliques are simply too tight. In fact, my left side is extremely sore because my left obliques have never been stretched in a “long” way.
I hit a few balls at UNC Finley and I am absolutely killing the ball, but my legs are not stable at all. In fact, it is nearly impossible for me to keep my right knee inside my left knee and keep my left foot planted. Patrick has explained that when I can do this, that is the next level of distance which no amateurs have. As of now, I am hitting my 8 iron in the middle of the club face and it is gorgeous.
I sometimes forget to keep my right shoulder engaged and on the target line as long as possible during the backswing. When I do this, it puts more torque and pressure on my left obliques. The more pressure on my left obliques, the less I use my arms and shoulders on the backswing.
My best swings are when I can put pressure on my left obliques on the backswing, go back, up and around, get to the top of the backswing with my hands high, relax my right shoulder and right arm, allow the club to drop slightly inside and then cut the cake with my right lat. When I do this it feels like my entire left side is going to come off the ground. This is how you get the hips turned before making impact with the ball. If I can figure out the legs, I am going to be a damn good golfer.
It is amazing how far I have come in the last seven months. Honestly, in January and February I was very worried about where I was. I have made tremendous strides in the last month and a half. I am now hitting a slight draw and the majority of my shots are off the middle of the club face. I do have the tendency to get lazy and let my club path go to the left at impact but that is something I can fix with the left foot planting on the downswing. I also have the tendency to allow my upper body to get in front of the ball which usually means a push to the right. If I am really far ahead of the ball I will hit it off the heel with a lazy fade. Once again, this is not a huge problem as it can be fixed by staying behind the ball and driving the ball of my left foot into the ground.
I know so much about the golf swing that is shocks me. I can now self diagnose any problems I have and fix them with one swing. I never thought I would get to this level. It is going to be tremendous fun to master the leg work and truly hit the ball miles.
UPDATE: It is crazy to read just how well I was hitting the ball back then with terrible foot and leg work. In July and August of 2019 I went through a phase of Patrick putting salt on the wound of my legs being the “driver” of the golf swing. For months, I couldn’t even get the ball off the ground. You can read about that in my late lessons. I think if we had not addressed my legs at all I could have been a pretty decent golfer on courses I was comfortable with. Instead, we took a completely different route and I am now 138 lessons in as of July 2020 and I am still working on a full turn and keeping my right leg inside my left knee at impact. Fun times.