Yesterday it rained – but nothing was stopping me from having my lesson with Pete Black, not even Pete Black himself, who gave me the opportunity to bale when he called me an hour before we were scheduled to meet. I am fairly certain he’d rather have postponed the lesson.
We stood under a tree that still has leaves on it while he lined up golf clubs all over the ground and talked about parallels, angles, squares, karate chops and how most golfers are clueless. The last 20 minutes or so I hit half-swing wedge shots from a low tee onto a green 35 yards away. Though many of these shots were good, the newness of the way I was swinging made it seem like I was an alien who picked up a stick for the first time. The one thing I can say for certain is that the shots were effortless in terms of physical output. Mentally though, they were exhausting.
It is official. I am back in golf kindergarten and learning the following:
- better grip that stays strong throughout the swing
- new way to take a club out of the bag
- new way to take hold of my club once it’s out of the bag (the right hand offers the club to the left hand)
- new way to look at my club before I set up my shot, i.e., square it up!
- new takeaway
- new focus on weight on the inside of my right foot at top of takeaway
- whole new feel of the club as I swing through the ball
- new focus on follow through and ending position, no cutting it short ever
- my irons are too long, probably need whole new set
- if I’ve ever hit a good shot before it was pure luck (that was my own thought)
- I need help and lots of it
He threw so much information at me I couldn’t possibly absorb it all. If I just get the new, improved grip down and remember a few of the drills to keep the club face on plane and square I’ll be doing great. My assigned reading is yet another golf classic written by an icon – Five Lessons by Ben Hogan.
I knew my swing needed an overhaul. It was pretty messed up by the time Pete asked me about my golf history as we carted out to the practice area. There were only three things I said that caught his attention:
- I’m athletic
- I’m pretty sure my club head speed is faster than most girls
- I want to be an excellent ball striker, to hit pretty shots with grace and style
I have a lot of practicing to do, a lot of clunky swinging to do until I can smooth the newness out. I finally understand the correlation between swinging a bucket with an inch of water in it and swinging a golf club. Harvey Penick kept mentioning the bucket of water and I was like, yeah, OK, what?
Pete Black told me I was too handsey, too right-arm dominated and that I sway, which I was starting to figure out on my own because my shots were always so off balance.
While trying to perform the swing correctly, I discovered on my own, rather surprisingly, that I often separate my right hand from my left at the top of my backswing – not the fingers, just the right pad over the left thumb part. Pete Black calls that the hotdog in the bun. I never would have suspected that this death-to-the-shot separation was happening.
Jillian needs to keep the hotdog in the bun!