The lesson with Patrick started with the backswing. As always. Patrick explained to me that the right forearm should be below and to the right of the left forearm at the top of the backswing. I have a habit of wanting to feel the weight of the club and using my right forearm too much and pointing the club straight up. When I do this, my right forearm is not only higher than the left, it is way too close to the target line.
We practiced this a few times. Then, Patrick showed me how to create distance between my hands and the body on the backswing. When I do this, it really feels like my arms and hands are “wedged” against each other and there is room between my arms and my body. If done correctly, my left wrist will naturally hinge. To me, the club feels a lot lower.
After doing a few practice stretches I tried to hit the ball. Patrick explained, “your backswing is great, you just don’t know what to do when you start the downswing.” As always, I try to start the downswing by straightening my left leg and swinging my hips. You simply cannot hit the ball well if you do this with the proper backswing.
After a few attempts to hit the ball, Patrick told me to go back to the short chipping motion. Again, I was straightening my leg and pulling across with my hips. We focused on why this was happening for a good 30 minutes.
What I need to do, is really feel the pressure on the inside of my left leg. In my practice chipping stance, I need to feel as if the tension is on the inside of my quad at the very bottom of the muscle. My right leg will feel as if it is behind the left knee with tension on the inside of the right quad. If done correctly, it feels like my lower body is stabilized by the legs which are a triangle. I am then to use my core to do a very, very short backswing and a very, very short forward swing.
I get in the habit of trying to make the swing too long; especially the forward swing. If I can do a very short backswing and a very short forward swing, the slight rotation of the blade of the club through impact will “pop the ball up”. There is no need to try to add speed with the hands, legs or hips.
Patrick and I agreed that I can practice my full backswing but I am only to practice actually hitting the ball by chipping the ball. And, I am not to attempt to get any distance out of my chips. Until I learn to use the legs to stabilize, I do not understand where speed comes from. I think speed comes from the spinning of my hips when it is actually the core turning around the hips.
The goal over the next few days is to be 100% focused on very short chips and working on getting the backswing deep with my hands and arms giving space to my body.
UPDATE: It is now November of 2020, I am over 180 lessons in, and I am still working on perfecting the practice chipping motion. I am better at it than I have ever been but I am just now learning the length of the right side while the left arm stays straight but soft. I can hit most of my chips extremely well but a bad one will creep in there every now and again. It is amazing how hard the game of golf can be.