Tuesday, August 05, 2008

This summer I’ve felt like I should have written Johnny Cash’s song “I’ve Been Everywhere.” In July alone, I’ve been to Point O'Woods and Crystal Downs in Michigan; Oak Brook Golf Club in Illinois; Country Club of Pittsfield and Indian Pond in Massachusetts; Ptarmigan Country Club in Fort Collins, Colo.; and Forest Highlands Golf Club in Arizona.
No matter where I am, the cry is the same: “Fix my swing.” But this time of year, my answer is different. In the middle of a season you have to keep the instruction simple, practical and to the point. This isn’t time to overhaul your swing, yet you have to make significant changes in order to make improvements.
Wherever you live, by August you’ve been able to play for at least the past three or four months. This is an advantage because you should be able to diagnose some of your problems. The most important thing is to understand your ball flight and your common miss. Was that shot fat or thin? A push or a hook? Or was it a pull or fade?
To become a better player you need to know your tendencies. Be aware of your most common mis-hit. Recognize it. Then go fix it.
How do you fix it? I tend to pull hook and as a compromise I block the next one. That is my tendency. My correction is to open the face more than natural in the backswing, which helps fix the pull hook; and then try to stay committed to a full release back to the inside through impact. My key to that is to maintain my posture and clear my hips as much as possible. In short, my summary fix is to open the face and then clear my hips.
Of course, I didn't figure this all out by myself. I needed help and got a tune-up from my dear friend and fellow PGA member John Cleland. You need another pair of eyes to get a tune-up, because “what you feel, isn't always real.”
The middle of the season is a great time to take a lesson because you know so well what your tendencies are. See a teaching pro and get a fix for that most common mis-hit. You might just have your best season ever. Donald Crawley teaches at The Boulders Club in Carefree, Ariz.

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