Staying Grounded in Golf

Glen Abbey (22)

On the 10th tee at Glen Abbey!

Recently, my efforts to increase the distance off the tee has taken me out of my game. I realized just last week that, while thinking I was improving one aspect of my game – distance off the tee – I was actually hurting three others: Accuracy, consistency, and my mental focus. As these three core tenants to my game were slowly eroding, I was struggling to shot the scores I expect during this part of the season.

I generally tell most players who ask, that less is more. We do not have the hit the ball with 110% of our strength every time. Sometimes, a controlled 80% gives great greater results. Forgetting my own advice, here is what was happening:

First, by trying to swing harder I found I was on my toes during contact. I was lunging at the ball and my center of gravity was way off. Therefore, my balance during the entire swing was off.

Second, I was teeing the ball way to high because I read that a higher tee would allow me to contact the ball on my upswing, thus greater distance. Yeah, the ball went higher alright….and 40 yards shorter. My swing, after being honed for over 35 years, does not support a high tee position.

Third, due to the first challenge mentioned above, I was moving the ball further up in my stance. The result, many I experienced more pulled balls into the left rough or cabbage off the tee. Not a great way to score low.

Lastly, I was frustrated because I was so comfortable with my old driver. I was questioning my new driver choice. The moment I started second guessing my ability to hit my driver, my mental focus on the tee was on everything, but hitting a good ball.

So, I asked Mike our GM and master golf club fitter to give me a hand on the range. After I hit the ball about 10 times, straight down the range, he asked what the problem was. I explained that I was losing about 30 yards off the tee from my old driver and it was very frustrating. At first he thought my club had a dead face, but after hitting his driver and he hit mine. That was not the issue.

Basically, he said he was not really sure what the issue was but, I seemed to be swing pretty hard at the ball. Well I have had a few days to think about it and I believe he was more accurate that he realized. In my efforts to make a change, I changed the fundamental aspect of my swing: balance and tempo.

To achieve the right balance and tempo with my driver, I need to swing at about 80%. I have not had a chance to hit the course since last Tuesday, but this will be my mental process when I hit the range this week!

Staying grounded in golf is all about maximizing your strengths and limiting your weaknesses. I have never been a long ball hitter, so being in play off the tee 90% of the time is critical to my success on the links. It is time to go back to the basics! I let you know what I find out!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.

13 thoughts on “Staying Grounded in Golf

  1. Jim – we have all chased after distance new drivers , new balls, shaft technology, etc. there is no magic. Keep applying the basics and with this technology and golf fitness you will get back all your distance 👍🇨🇦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing. This is a wonderful post Jim. Our journey to improve comes with peaks and valleys and I appreciate you sharing. Your reflective capacity is impressive and can only help moving forward. Good luck and thanks.
    Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim,

    Sounds like you’re getting back on the right track. It’s important to play within yourself and to your strengths. I think the same thing would happen to Spieth if he started to seek out insane distance. Keep us posted.

    Cheers
    Josh

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  4. Jim, it can be very difficult to walk the fine line of working to build on your strengths and identifying areas to fix for improvement. Lord knows I have crossed the line many times and my game suffered setbacks when I tinkered too much. I’m sure you have areas that you feel you’ll need to improve on to get to scratch and the work to drop strokes from a single digit handicap is very hard, as you are well aware. Not sure what to tell you other than focus on fundamentals if you need more distance. Usually, a good full shoulder turn will set you up for solid timing and a swing path coming from the inside. It’s dreadfully hard to force more distance into your game, especially, as you noted with your grooved swing over so many years. I have tried and ran into the same consistency issues you did. Be patient, stick to the basics, and your hard work will pay off.

    Play well!

    Brian

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    • Brain

      Thanks for the advice and vote of confidence. You are absolutely right about getting away from my basics. As soon as I loose focus, I start to struggle. I have been working on my shoulder swing this year, but I think my flexibility is not as good as I hoped. Something to work on in the off season. Thanks again for the help and support!

      Cheers
      Jim

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  5. Hi Jim, played with a guy recently who teed the ball up really low. His drives went low and very long, compared to mine. But I can not tee the ball up that low, so I have to live with my great looking but short drives. Best consolation was, I won the money.

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