DECEMBER 2014 . . . . . I had a new student (Tom) come to the Studio to see me this week. Tom told me that he carried a 24 handicap. After watching Tom warm up with a 7 iron and then move to a 7 wood which he swung at 95 mph, I realized that distance was not the problem. However, as you can see in the picture below, direction was a big issue.
CHANGE TO GET BETTER
Too often, professional golf instuctors fix things with their students that aren't broken because they don't fit their preference. The only justification for making a change is if it helps the student hit the ball better or more consistently.
Over my years of teaching, I have developed a list of possible issues that might cause a student to hit their shots this far left. At the top of this list is an overly strong grip (left hand on top and right hand under the shaft) and a shut clubface.
Now before we get into what we talked about, I need to tell you about our conversation during the interview portion of our Coaching session where Tom told me two very important things. First, he told me that he used to play hockey. And second, he told me that he has never really improved with golf lessons because every instructor has wanted to change his grip and that when he tried to do this, he hit weak shots that fluttered to the right and quickly went back to his overly strong grip.
So I decided that Tom's overly strong grip was a terrific option for him and proceeded to address two changes that would improve the club face direction at impact and help Tom stop hitting the "way left" shot.
We started by talking about the importance of the relationship between the unwinding of the body and swinging of the arms on the downswing. When we started, Tom's upper body would stop unwinding on the downswing causing the arms to outrace the body thereby causing the clubface to point left at impact and result in a serious left shot. Once Tom improved the synchronization between his body and arms, his shots began to go less left. Still left, but less left...progress.
Then we moved to the second issue: the clubface at address. Probably because of hit hockey playing days, Tom would hood the clubface at address (clubface pointing left of target). This was a challanging change for Tom, as visually, it appeared that the clubface at address was actually pointing to the right of the target.
Tom stuck with these two changes and was quite pleased with the results which are shown in the picture to the left.
Moral of the Story: Golf Coaches need to embrace the uniqueness of every student. If the student feels more comfortable with a strong grip, figure out a way to make it work for them.