Always the Student

I am a world famous procrastinator. I’ve been putting shit off my entire life. Sometimes, even when I’m all fired up about something, I’ll put off an important step in enjoying that thing because, well, that’s just what I do.

I remind you of that because today, after something like 11 months of thinking about it, I finally took my first golf lesson. In my defense I’ve had a coach picked out for awhile and he’s been unavailable for three weeks because of family and travel plans. Still, you’d think I would have figured this out in the winter so I could, you know, actually be playing golf by now.

Anyways, I got hooked up with a local D1 college coach who just happens to be the grandfather of one of L’s best friends. I had been looking online for someone close to me and relatively inexpensive when I remembered his name. I checked with L’s friend’s mom – who is one of my kickball coaches – and she told me her father-in-law loved to teach and passed me his contact info. We emailed a few times, he shared his very reasonable rates, and then I waited for his family vacation and his team’s trip to Scotland to pass before we could get together.

We were scheduled for 60-75 minutes but ended up working for nearly two hours. My game was just that bad! No, really, he is a talker and shared a story or two between almost every shot I hit. There were a few moments when I was anxious to step in and hit another ball but he would launch into another story. I realized after the session was over that he’s not just chatty, he’s also working on slowing me down so I’m not just pounding ball after ball mindlessly.

My first shot was perfect…for showing him my flaws. I took about a six inch divot behind the ball and skulled a 7 iron about 45 yards. Next shot was ok, third shot was really solid. “Oh, you can break 90 easy with that swing,” he said. Then he proceeded to start tinkering with things.

Fortunately I had read a lot about lessons over the past few months and knew that as soon as he started messing with my swing, it would pretty much go to shit for awhile. Sure enough, I bet over half of my shots were god-awful. Another quarter were piss-poor. Normally when I’m on the range, once I get in a rhythm I can actually look halfway decent. Between me thinking about what he was telling me and all the changes he made to my swing making it feel awkward, I was hitting more shitty balls than usual.

But in the last 15-20 minutes things locked in a little. The swing still did not feel right, but I started making better contact with more predictable results. I have never, ever been able to hit a driver consistently. Not with the old persimmon club I first played with, not with the cheap metal woods I had later, not with the bargain-bin, used Taylor Made club I bought last fall. I’m not going to say I hit the driver great today. But I also was not hitting the 40-yard slice I normally hit. A few would have been perfect shots if I had been traveling with him on the links courses last week; long, low shots that would roll for days on the Scottish turf.

So what did he do to me? We worked on weight transfer, which I know is my biggest issue. He, and others, have told me I have a decent swing. I just tend to not transfer my weight properly and that’s why I hit all kinds of fat or topped balls. He worked on getting me to understand the proper path that the club should take. A few words on tempo. He adjusted my grip so it was a little stronger. Moved the ball a little in my stance (he’s an advocate of the ball always being in roughly the same spot rather than moving it based on club selection.) Had me relax my right arm some at address, dip my right shoulder, and rotate both shoulders away from the open stance I didn’t realize I was taking.

It took us nearly two hours to get through a large bucket of balls. I would have liked to hit a few more, but with us running so long, his cost was well over half what a couple other pros I considered charged, so I’m not going to complain.

Now in addition to working on the changes he suggested, I need to get my ass on a real course. He suggested a course that I’ve got to hit balls at quite a bit as a good, affordable, fairly open course to play in the evening. He is in the process of moving closer to that course so our next session may be playing there together.

As I said, I had read up on lessons and what to expect, especially for someone of my skill level. Based on that, I definitely think this was a productive session that will help me get better. Still, there’s that little part of me that wanted to be hitting everything straight and long after just one lesson. Not sure I’ll ever get to that point, but I hope there was at least some minor improvement today.

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