river ridge 18th hole par five fairway bunkers

Duffin’ Around with JFK: Pro Tips

All right, I know. It’s been well established through my musings on this site that I’m not any good at golf.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try!

I’ve stunk at this noble game my entire life. Growing up in Pinehurst, you’d expect more. Most of my friends are single-handicappers. I was never blessed with that kind of ability. And when you combine that with my explosive temper, you get a recipe for disaster. It got so bad growing up that I stopped playing completely in high school. I picked it back up near the end of my senior year and have played about the same since.

One big part of the problem — I haven’t gotten a lesson. I try to self-medicate my swing and screw things up even more. Bad habits build on bad habits, and I stay stuck in the same 90-100 score range and never improve.

Well, my son WFK’s arrival onto the Raleigh scene inspired me to actually try to get better. You know, take lessons and work on stuff. Fix the swing flaws that I’ve developed. Maybe actually play well enough where I enjoy playing without the influence of six beers. I want WFK to be really good and play competitively in school. So he probably needs a father who can teach him the game and be mentally stable while doing it.

So, I did a little Googling and landed on Golftec. For all you Raleighites, there’s a Golftec located inside Golf Galaxy in the Pleasant Valley shopping center on Glenwood (it used to be Golfsmith).

Spending an hour with a PGA club pro on the range is helpful for some people. I’ve had quite a few lessons the old fashioned way. They give you a few swing thoughts and drills and you’re off on your way. My problem is, I’m a visual learner and if I can’t see it, it’s not going to click.

Golftec is cool because they use video and other technology to show you what’s going on with your swing. It gives you a jumping off point. You see where you are messing up and then you can see how to fix it.

I showed up for my lesson with my coach, Eric, and he hooked me up to some tech stuff and analyzes different data points in your swing. You hit a few balls, the software crunches some numbers and then you review it.

Eric put my video side by side with a Rickie Fowler video. Needless to say, there were some deficiencies on my end. My biggest problem is a lack of hip rotation initially, which causes my to basically lift the club off the ground into an outside-in swing motion. This results in a death slice off the tee, and some pretty thin, crappy iron shots.

The cool thing about the video is it took about five seconds for me to see the problem, process it and realize what I needed to do to correct it. Eric gave me a couple of drills and then had me hit some more balls. The data didn’t lie — my hip rotation immediately improved and I started hitting better shots.

Now, this isn’t a quick fix. I’ve got about 25 years of bad habits lurking and it’s going to take a lot of practice. But I highly recommend Golftec if you’re looking for a quick diagnosis of what’s going on. I’ve always known my swing path was outside-in — but I couldn’t visualize it or figure out how to fix it. In 30 minutes, I had it figured out and know what to practice.

For all you guys suffering from a slice that kills your long game, here are a couple of drills that Eric gave me that will improve that hip turn and eliminate any sway. You don’t even need a range.

Wall Drill

  • Find a wall
  • Stand with your back flat against the wall, then get into a normal golf stance (bend at the waist, knees flexed)
  • Take both hands and rotate your hips to the right (left if you’re left-handed). Try to touch the wall with the palms of both hands as quickly as possible.
  • Repeat.

This drill forces you to turn your hips and back quickly — something I didn’t do. If you execute the drill properly, you’ll feel it in your back

Chair Drill

  • Place a chair next your right hip (if right handed)
  • Get into a golf stance
  • Cross your arms across your chest like your about to go down a water slide
  • Rotate your hips back and through like you’re taking a swing
  • If you rotate properly, the chair won’t move. If you sway, you’ll hit the chair.

This drill forces you to keep your hips from swaying and sliding. Too much movement off the ball initially will result in mis-hits.

I’ll share more stuff that I learn as my lessons continue. Hit ’em hard!

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