Since I had my first lesson with Pete Black, I have begun a transformation of my grip and swing. The only way I have felt comfortable practicing all this newness has been with either a sand or pitching wedge. Tomorrow I will go to nine-iron, and on down the line.
First I set up my grip just so.
I hold the club out front of me with my right hand. The club face is perpendicular to the target. I offer the club to my left hand, putting it across the palm so that I can curl my forefinger around it and hold it between that spot and the pad of the heel of my hand. The back of my left hand faces the target during this process. Once I can hold the club between the fleshy heel and forefinger, I wrap my pinky, ring and middle finger around it. The thumb and forefinger “V” perfecty points to my right shoulder. I then add my right hand, feeling the pressure under my middle two fingers. The left thumb is a hotdog and it goes inside the right hand bun. Hotdog in the bun!
Now I can either take a practice swing or address the ball. This gripping process is almost verbatim from Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons.
I’ve been taking the club back halfway, which seems more than halfway to me but Pete Black assures me it is not. My focus on the takeaway has been just two things:
At the top, is the handle of my club pointed toward the target line a foot or so in back of the ball? Is my weight mostly on the inside of my right foot? Just those two things have made a dramatic difference in my backswing. I had been swaying wildly to the right, causing all manner of off balance wacky attempts to correct coming down.
HItting through the ball feels much the same as it always has but then on my follow through I turn toward the target, take the club all the way to its end over the shoulder, then return the club to a verticle while still looking at the target. My right heel is up and if I wanted to, I could pick up my right foot.
This is mostly what I’m focusing on when I hit. If the shot is well stuck and on target it counts as one. Yesterday I hit 30 that counted. Today I hit 35.
I would rather hit 35 excellent shots in good form than 100 handsey-off-balance-right-arm-steered ones! It feels wonderful to know I’m doing it right. Now it’s just a matter of smoothing it all out. I am still pretty clunky, with today having been less so than yesterday.
I am going to learn a lot from Pete Black.