I practiced a lot of full swings without a club getting my right ankle down and my right side through the ball. When Patrick saw me doing this, he said, “You need to get your right ankle a lot lower than that.” How?! He then showed me that the lower we can get the right ankle, the lower the right knee and right hip are going to be at impact. To me, it really feels like you are swinging up to the sky as my right hip and right knee were always even with or above the left side at impact.
He also said I was lifting my hands and arms way too early in the back swing. Now, it feels like my hands stay below my hips as long as possible and my right shoulder stays as low as possible with the take away. When I do it correctly, I feel my left side getting my upper body to go horizontal to the ground. At the top, I do a slight twist that happens from my lower back just above my butt. Remember, a slight twist at the waist is a huge turn of the shoulders.
Patrick also briefly touched on my right shoulder being lower at the top and my left elbow rolling in. He didn’t mention this but I know it is something I am going to have to work on quite a bit in the next few weeks.
We did several practice “turns” and he let me hit some balls. As usual, I hit some amazing shots with him watching. He asked what it felt like and I told him it felt so close to a shank. He explained that what I am learning is the opposite of a shank but it is something I have to get used to. After hitting a few more, I actually hit a few shanks. Just great! I was a little depressed because that is a huge fear of mine. I finished the session with a few more turns and went to play Brier Creek with Jacob.
While at Brier Creek I started to hit the ball really well. I think it was keeping the hands and right shoulder low as long as possible on the take away. I am certain there are many factors, but this definitely feels different and allows me to get more inside. We only played four holes because there was a downpour but I hit four straight greens in regulation which is a new record for me with the new swing.
I have to realize that the right ankle “lays” down. You do not use power in your legs to generate speed moving forward in the golf swing. Having been a track runner and coming out of the blocks for a decade of my life, it is very hard to not “push” off with my back foot. Instead, I should allow my right leg to be very soft while laying the right ankle onto the ground as smoothly as possible. When my right leg feels soft my golf swing feels much slower which has to be a good thing.
The feel that works best for me right now is I take the club back very low with my lower left obliques moving the club back. As it is about to come off the ground I have to make certain my hands and right side stay very low. At this point, my left obliques drive the club to the top with the club face staying outside my hands. It feels like a very steep angle but this is what Patrick wants. As the club is being driven to the top with my left obliques, my arms feel weightless. As we approach the top, I use my lower back, right above my butt, to twist and get the club all the way to the top. If I can twist with my lower back, it triggers me to come back down using my lower right side rather than starting with my shoulders. I have hit some fantastic shots with this feel.
I also know that my left elbow should remain soft. Something Patrick does is pushes on my upper left ribs as my left arm extends which allows the left elbow to fold. When I do this with a practice swing it feels like I am uppercutting with my left arm by folding in the elbow. When I have done this before doing a full swing, it helps to make the left elbow soft.
There is so much involved in the golf swing!
UPDATE: We are now over 150 lessons in (in September 2020) and I am still working on a few of these things. I went through months or working on my footwork and leg work which you will read a lot more about in future lessons. Now I have to work on my left elbow being soft and turning in on the backswing while keeping my right elbow low and turning in as we get to the top.
While I am definitely hitting the ball a lot better, there is still plenty of work to do. I can hit short irons very well but my long irons are still a mess. I haven’t hit a driver in a very long time. Ahhh, the joys of learning a new golf swing.
This content is supported by Richmond, VA dentist Dr. Brent Rusnak.