Sunday, May 30, 2010
“You Have A Great Swing”
I get that a lot from people.
And I just want to punch them in the face.
It is not their fault. And I am not a jerk. It is just that this particular compliment, well intentioned, is the equivalent of a girl who knows she is 40 pounds overweight, being constantly told “you have such a fun personality” or “you have a beautiful face.”
My golf swing sucks.
Proof? Here. These are my golf scores starting from May 1st.
89, 85, 81, 95, 91, 89, 86, 88, 82.
That's a nice little 87.3 average. Or, about a 15 handicap.
Wow, what a great swing I have. The joy.
Now I bet many of you are saying: “You prick, Czabe. I would LOVE to have your swing. I shoot 100!”
Okay, tough guy. You can have my swing. But pretend that you put in the price to get it. Accept the fact that I have spent my whole life playing the game obsessively (32 years). I have taken HUNDREDS of formal lessons. I have looked at my swing on video for years and years. I have bought (no lie) over 100 training aids. I practice at least twice a week during the golf season. I play usually twice a week.
There. Now you can have my swing. Take this pile of shit swing, go out and shoot your 88, and just float home on cloud nine thinking how fun golf is.
You can say: “Hey Czabe, work on your short game and wedges! That's where scoring comes from.”
Yes, you are correct. However, with THIS pile of monkey dung move, I'll shoot 81 when my short game and putting is ON, and it's a 90 when not.
I just refuse to spend my life scrambling to break 80.
Many people ask me: “Did losing all that weight on P90x help your golf game?”
Answer: No. Not a bit.
In fact, if you go through P90x – and you know I strongly recommend it – do not expect it to help your golf game at all. Your SHIRTS will fit better. But that's about it. All the supposed increases in flexibility by doing Yoga and stretch routines in P90x?
Whatever. Haven't seen a lick of good when I swipe at the little dimpled ball.
I know what is going to happen with my golf this summer. Because I have charted it.
Come July, my scores will come down. I will – on the right course, with the right conditions, with my swing feeling just right – shoot a 74, or 75, or 76.
I will do this about 5 or 6 more times before the year is out. Of my 40 or so annual rounds, the 10 best of the last 20 will make up my handicap.
And plugging my scores dutifully into the ol' USGA computer, it will spit out a joke of an index like 4.3.
Ha. Yeah. Sure. I'm a 4 handicap. If I am honest, I state this on the first tee of a friendly match. Then I get fleeced. The handicap system is complete bullshit. I understand the THEORY on why they discard the WORST 10 rounds of your last twenty. It is to prevent tanking. Two ballooned scores can skew your number upward in a way that doesn't reflect you at your best.
But how can the USGA index just IGNORE the fact that some of us actually DO have a 20 stroke margin from playing well to playing poorly? If I play you for $5 a side, I might shoot 75 or 95. That's a fact! How the hell do I know what's coming out of my bag that day?
Some would say it's only natural that scores for a weekend golfer would come down as the season goes on. The more you play, the better your game gets. I understand this.
But with me, there's no way I should be shooting around 90 just because it's not yet June 1. My spread of scores should NOT be 74-95. It should be 72-82.
Now here's what is driving me to the brink of taking up fishing. I KNOW what my problem is. I see it. I understand it.
I just can't fix it.
And I have had several really good teaching pros try to help me. They have all failed.
Here is a sheet of swing stillcaps that illustrate my problem. And it needs to be noted, these are not other TOUR pros I am highlighting. These are guys like me. Weekend players. I consider them my peers. They were taken at last year's Potomac Cup Finals. I just want to be like them. Good weekend amateurs. I want to carry the ball 265 off the tee. That's all. Not 290, 300. Just give me 260. With a little 10 yards of roll, 275 will feel like heaven!
Currently, I carry the ball 245 off the tee with my driver when I sting it. That's lame. When I hit it mediocre, it's 230. When I miss it, it's down in the 220 range.
That's embarrassing, and no way to play golf. Not with drivers the size of titanium toasters.
There is nothing athletically these other guys do, that I can't. They don't practice any harder than I do.
So what's the problem?
Well, let me say one last thing before we get into that. I know what is NOT the problem. The problem is NOT me being too obsessed with video analysis, positions, etc. I had a couple of guys I play with – good players, better than me, and guys I consider to be friends – who both said (essentially) “Czabe, you just need to go out and PLAY. Forget about all this stuff. Just pick a target, and swing to it. The game isn't that complicated.”
Easy for you to say, I thought to myself. You hit the ball properly.
I, do not.
My swing may “look” good. But it's nothing much more than an elegant slap at the ball. It is entirely timing dependent, and thus it requires most of the season to figure it out. Old men, hit it farther than I do.
Until I learn to properly swing through impact, my golf game will be eternally maddening.
If you look at these photos, you can see what every decent player does at impact. Shoulders square or slightly open to target line. At least one ass cheek visible, maybe two, showing good hip rotation PRIOR to impact. Right arm lower than left.
Me? Shoulders closed to target line (and hunched). Arms covering each other. Hips square. Right leg straight. Bad, bad, bad, and bad.
This is a TIMING based swing. Yes, there are a lot of good elements to it. I really like the position I now get into at the top. But it turns into a weak slap by the time I get to the ball. When I TIME it perfectly, it works.
Fundamentally though, through the ball, it is un-sound.
It is weak. It is inconsistent.
This swing produces flips and flares. The straight balls are not very powerful. For example, during a typical round, you have 14 drives. Half the time, I'll hit a good one. 250 in the fairway. The other half, are snipe hooks and fearful balloon pushes.
These are almost certain bogeys. Often, worse.
So even if I would PAR all of my “good” drives, I'm still starting each round at about 80 for my best possible score. They say “drive for show, putt for dough.” That saying is a lie. It only applies to tour pros, who can all drive the ball great.
Amateurs like me, NEED to put the ball in play consistently, and with relative power.
With this swing, I should just be a once-a-week player, who never practices, and drinks beer on the course. There's something to be said for that, mind you, and I do not judge others who choose this route.
I only wish I could embrace that golf lifestyle. Maybe I'm just not ready yet. Maybe I'll never be able to embrace it.
I am working with a pro now, and I trust in what he's teaching me. I am working diligently on the drills he's laid out to address this issue. I understand it will take time.
But I am more deeply skeptical than ever that I will ever become a good ballstriker. I try to put myself into the correct impact position, then practice taking half swings with that exact position in mind.
I go look at the video tape. It's the damn same as before.
I fear that I have spent too many years, ingraining a crappy slap-move at the ball, that will be impossible to fully correct.
Am I fishing for help here, fellow golfers? Do I sound desperate? Yes. Yes, I am.
All the while, fellow golfers, friends, and strangers will continue to say: “You have such a nice swing, Czabe.”
I am the fat girl with the great personality, and pretty face. Deeply depressed, and ready to bury my sorrows in a box of Twinkies on the couch.