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5 feet from Glory

So today I had my first proper golf lesson at Suburban Golf Norwich with Brad. My expectations of a golf lesson where you’re stood in a cold and wet field ( it’s England so obviously it’s cold and wet) being taught how to hold a golf club then guessing how far you hit it. Maybe even having tobthen collect the balls after. (That would suck)

Today was not like that.

My lesson started with a video analysis of my swing. Watching it back on screen – knowing in your mind what a golf swing should look like having all seen the professionals do it- was particularly painful to watch.

Then came rebuilding the swing correctly. This was nothing short of actually painful. brad said he’d know when I was in the right position from the grimace on my face (not the actual words used if I’m honest but those are maybe best left in the training session !). I spend most of my days sat at a desk or in a car. I’m 35 years old and I am not flexible. I struggle to touch my knees let alone my feet.  This was fully backed up when I had Brad standing on one foot holding my shirt and forcibly moving me in to the correct back swing position. Ouch – but I now have an excellent drill for getting into the right position and most importantly improving my flexibility through that plane of movement. The drill needs to be done daily and correctly of course which will improve the swing. I’ll upload a video of me doing it to Facebook and instagram soon.

I conducted the drill twice before taking a shot. This helped with the “muscle memory” and to help me to do the shots naturally without thinking too much.

The really cool thing about the technology Brad uses is not only could we see the tracer of the shots before the adjustment we could overlap the shots after to see the improvement. The information it provides is beyond what I would expect an amateur to have access to – and to be fair is beyond my skill set in parts currently too.

I was hitting an 8 iron. For some reason I was convinced it was a 7 iron. I started hitting with a swing speed of about 48-56 MPH, and a distance average of approx 115 yards After the training and stretching, improvement in the plane of movement meant that I finished with a swing speed topping out at 66MPH and was hitting the 8 iron in the region of 140-145 yards. If I can replicate this on the golf course I am happy. That’s the key to all of this training I guess- being able to execute it in a real life situation on the golf course, when things take dodgy bounces in to bunkers and you get golf rage!

Another big change was Brad had me grip even further down the club than I was with Hayden previously. This made me feel in a lot more control and allowed me to get my body into the right position throughout the movement. It felt a lot more comfortable.

All in all I spent an hour with Brad with the next lesson in a couple of weeks booked. I am sure it will pay dividends Friday at Barnham broom. I am genuinely surprised just how much progress can be made in an hour. The technology available now is awesome also.

So why 5 feet from glory? Well Brad runs an optional competition for all his students to try for a hole in one on a par 3 on the system. £1 entry – winner takes the kitty: currently standing circa £140. My first shot with a 9 iron I over hit the green. My second I topped – competition pressure was setting in. My third shot however was bang on target, and when it bounced I seriously taught “Golf? Completed it!” But it fell 5 feet short of the hole. So close, but so far. Really pleased with the last shot of the day though.

I’ll be updating Facebook and instagram Friday with some pics from the round. But now I’m just gonna lie here and wait for the DOMS from serious stretching to slowly cripple me for the next couple of days.

The worst score yet

So where to begin with today’s round at Bawburgh. As you will have seen from the brief Facebook live I did the weather was nice. That was a good start.

I was playing in a 3 ball with a true 26 and a bandit 22 (probably played more like an 18- has in years gone by been a much lower handicap). So all of this decent golf around me I had hoped would run off and I’d start to make some in roads with my scoring. Today was not that day.

Before I breakdown the horrendous errors and fund times in deep deep bunkers I’ve had, I think it’s only right to at least recognise the things which where better.

1. First and foremost off the tee I was typically straight and usually well over 150 towards 200+ at times with a hard ground and roll. I tee off with my 4 hybrid currently to keep the shots under control and when I catch it just right it goes as far as some people can drive it. I was really pleased with this today. There were only a couple of howlers off the tee.
2. There were some very good shots off the ground too which when caught right had further distance than usually on them. The help with my swing I’ve had to date has at least helped gain some distance at times off the ground.

That’s kind of where the good bits end. Without breaking the round down completely the really terrible bits were in no particular order – but bunkers messed me right up today so they would be number 1.

1. Bunker play. I counted at least 6 bunkers I found today. On one occasion In took me 6 shots to get out of it – 5 of which went out of the bunker only to roll back down the bank lodging themselves back in to the sand. Hind sight is a wonderful think and my stubbornness to not be beaten by this bunker ended me up on a 10 for the hole. Frustratingly had the shot not have taken a funny bounce I would have been on or very close to the green in 3. But no, it wasn’t to be. I did eventually 1 put though. Just to set the tone of the day – this was hole 2! I spent a lot of time on bunkers and had 3 holes I scored 10 on. All due to ridiculous bunkers. I need to learn to sometime accept it might be best to go backwards or sideways if I’m too close to the front of a steep bunker. I didn’t do that today and I feel that in honesty 9 shots were lost of those 3 holes alone.
2. Chipping around the 40 yard and closer range was terrible. I must have over hit the green at least 5 times usually preceded by a shot where I hit the ground and the ball hardly moved. Way too many basic and simple shot errors that I really could do better and have proven I’m able to do better at in past rounds.
3. Putting. Some 4 puts were just ridiculous. I need to work on putting- distance and putting strength need work and also reading the way the green is tapering as some of my puts were terrible.

I don’t know why this annoyed me so much but to really top the day off on the 18th hole which is a long par 4 with a shot to the green over water I managed to bogey 5. I should have been happy but it just put in to focus how I had wasted an opportunity today to improve my score but actually posted my worst ever. It did show me I can play golf – intermittently.

Overall I learned a lot today. All I can think of this evening is what Brad said yesterday – golf is 50% psychological. I didn’t keep my head in the game today and it shows in the score.

Golf lessons

And so it begins.

This journey from newbie golfer, with all of its frustrations (I mean angry tantrums) to competition ready amateur (from what I’ve seen from decent golfers they just get worse) was never going to happen alone. I needed guidance, coaching and a plan to get from A to B in the most productive way possible.

I’d been speaking to a few golf pros. I have already blogged about my meeting and fitting with Hayden at American golf in Norwich.  Whilst he was an exceptional coach and no doubt an excellent golfer as an ex-European tour player, he was helping me out as opposed to being available to coach me. I’m sure we will play a few rounds over time in the future together though.

I met Brad Jordan at the same networking golf event that I met Hayden. They’re friends. I’d heard really good things about Brad from many people and a golfing friend of mine had been having lessons with him and was also giving him a fantastic review.

Brad has an exceptional indoor facility in Norwich with state if the art tech to really help get the most from the lessons and analyse the student. Today I went to visit him at Suburban Golf in Norwich to chat through my plans and see if he was interested in the project.

You see, I will be recording and broadcasting – sometimes live on Facebook my lessons and my coaching. Some people wouldn’t be comfortable with this. Brad however is really up for the project. His excitement around teaching someone who has my enthusiasm, (if not skill currently) for the game was what sold me on him as a coach.

My day job also involves coaching and developing people – the fact that Brad talked about a lot if the things I put in place for those under my coaching, and applies those tried and tested methods made me feel comfortable with investing my time, and of course money with him.

So from next Tuesday we will be working together on my golf with a target if sub 100 consistently by the end of the summer. The blog and soon to be launched YouTube channel will chart my progress with Brad – not only at his amazingly high tech facility but out on the course too.

Whilst the blog is about documenting my journey I hope you’ll also pick up some training tips – especially if you’re starting out just like me.

to find out more about Brad Jordan and Suburban Golf Norwich visit their website here

Round report from Bawburgh tomorrow.

Bawburgh Review

In an earlier post I mentioned I am looking at joining a golf club local to me and outlined the possible contenders. Bawburgh, in Norwich was on the list, and as I am due to play at an event I have arranged there tomorrow I thought it best to review Bawburgh first.

I have played at Bawburgh previously, and it is a well maintained golf course with good facilities. Attached to it is a 9 hole course at the family golf centre with a driving range. Pretty much everything you could need as a newbie to the golfing world.

The club house and facilities are very good and the food was pretty good too that was served.

More importantly however the course is very hilly. It is a slog to get round, and at the end of my 4 ball match – which took in excess of 5 hours I must add, I was physically and mentally exhausted. A great work out, but after about hole 12 it started to feel a lot like fasted cardio which is not the best feeling when you are trying to concentrate on your game. However, the course wasn’t really challenging from a play point of view although it is up and down a lot, which is of course a benefit when you are trying to improve your game.

Bawburgh membership fee as outlined on their website are as follows:

7 Days £850

6 Days £780

5 Days £720

I would probably only need a 6 day membership, possibly 5, as weekend play is difficult for me to get the time to dedicate to.

Overall, Bawburgh is in the mix of courses, however it is a more expensive course, and I would prefer a deal where there is an academy membership to start with as I progressed to a 28 handicap.

I am playing Bawburgh tomorrow, and will be updating the blog with my round report, and of course our facebook page with the winner of the competition on Friday.

 

Buckets & Spades

Thursday saw me play Dunston Hall just outside Norwich. The course is set in the grounds of a hotel and generally was nice. The weather was fantastic – shorts and t-shirt weather, and the course was in good condition although a couple of holes were having significant maintenance for drainage and as such had been shortened and on temporary greens. Therefore the scoring is slightly out (higher) because on of the very long par 5s was cut in half.

Following on from my fitting I was full of hope that 30 mins with a golf pro was going to solve all my problems and turn me in to a decent handicap golfer; and to be fair the first hole did nothing to dampen that enthusiasm as I hit a decent drive (with my hybrid 4) and then a really good second with the hybrid 5 on to the edge of the free. On a hole that was stroke index 7 I almost started to believe I could play golf at a decent standard. 

I ended up 3 putting the hole from just off the green and scoring 3 points. Great start. Should have packed up and gone home.

Hole 2 was a long par 5 and I still struggle with getting any real distance on my shots so a 7 is currently a good score on these so I was happy to score that and pick up a point. 

Now if I could wipe the next few holes from my memory for ever I would. For some reason I fell to pieces. 

A 10, then a scoring 5, then an 8,9,10 and another 8. Dunston Hall was no longer my friend and I was wondering what had gone wrong. Well basically, bunkers and water features. For whatever reason I seemed to be attracted to lots of bunkers today. I don’t know why – even my playing partners noticed if the was s dodgy bounce to be had in to a bunker I was getting it. The water – well that was just rubbish shots falling short or in one case trying to lay up and basically rolling in to the water. 

I lost 5 balls today. More than I’d lost combined over the last 4 rounds. (As a side note to other newbies – sports direct Dunlop balls 48 for £17 – it take the edge of slightly because I’d be going in after a callaway!) 

After the first 8 holes I was exhausted. But had got value for money as I’d had plenty of shots. 

Then came hole 9. A short down hill par 3 which my tee shot saw my on the edge of the green and a 2 put for par. Stroke index 9 so 4 points. I had rescues the front 9 some what with this hole.

The back 9 went much better although as I said 15 & 16 had significant changes which shortened the hole so the scoring is out slightly. I scored 14 point in the back 9 with only one horrendous hole being 17 taking 9 shots on a par 5. 

Overall my scoring hasn’t improved but I did play some better shots early on and at times during the back 9. 30 minutes with Hayden was never going to be the silver bullet to solve all golf problems but it has helped if not in overall scoring. 

119 shots and 23 points stapleford. A tough course for s golfer of my standard with a lot of water and sand. 

Next time I play Dunston I’ll take my bucket and spade as I know I’ll be playing in the sand a lot.

Overall I know I need to work on maintaining the swing I was taught throughout a whole game. The first hole was amazing and such a good start but as I tired both physically and mentally – becoming more frustrated-I let the errors creep back in and that gave me some really high scores. Chipping around the green needs significant work, as I could have knocked another 3 or 4 shots off the total without messing up these shots.

I am playing regularly in April so next round report from Bawburgh next Thursday, and another pro meeting next week on Wednesday.

So much to learn and work on. Lots of golf to play though!

 

Don’t lean back!

 

And So it Begins… 

So this is the first blog post of Triple Bogey. Named so as that is my current most common score. 

I’ve been playing golf now on and off for a few months and have finally decided to commit to getting a proper handicap. This blog will document that journey – however long it may take and then onwards from there all the way to scratch? Maybe. 

I’m currently not a member of a golf club but over the coming weeks will be trying out a lot of courses across the Norwich area and deciding on one I would like to join. I’ll be writing my reviews of the courses and outlining my decision in a future post. The courses in the frame are; 

Dereham. My most local golf course however only a 9 hole course. I could walk here in 10 minutes or be there in 3 in the car. 

Bawburgh. About 25 minutes away towards Norwich. 

Swaffham. About 25 minutes away in the opposite direction towards kings Lynn 

Barnham broom. Also about 30 minutes away. Well established local club.

Plenty of fairly local course to me as you can see with plenty of others a little further a field into Norwich. 

So my journey towards a handicap really started on Tuesday when I went and spent sometime with a golf pro I was introduced to at a golfing network event.

I under went a  professional golf fitting to see how my swing works with my cobra Bio Cell clubs and to get some ideas on what to work on and improve. The list was substantial, but very much needed. 

Hayden typically coaches tour professionals so was in for a particular treat today with my skills!

My main concern was because I am fairly short (5″ 4) that the clubs may need amending and shortening to make the swing more efficient. Hayden gave me a few things to work on – none of which involved altering the clubs at all which was good news- although he did question my decision to go for carbon shafts. However he was impressed with my shopping skills. See the deal I got on the in the bag page. 

The 4 key things I was given to work on and we practised on in the session. 

·  Grip down the shaft slightly. Approximately 1 inch down so the lines at the top of the golf club can be seen out the back of the grip. This small change made the swing feel much more comfortable and the contact on the ball was better immediately. My posture was better and overall it get more comfortable swinging the club. 

·  Don’t lean back. I think this is a very common newbie error. Subconsciously to get the ball in the air I lean back and the weight shifts to my right leg and not my left (I’m right handed) and as such I take a chunk of ground or in this case mat, which was interesting, and the ball goes nowhere fast or far. Hayden had me practice the swing explaining that the plane of movement and transfer of energy and weight is similar to other sports like tennis and I should imagine throwing a ball. That transfer of energy through the throw is similar to the golf swing. 

·  Follow through and look up. My swing initially involved me keeping my head down and not following through. I wasn’t pivoting and getting up on to my right toe at the end. All of this is really connected to the leaning back as well. Concentrating on this movement of rotation and follow through helped get a better connection and longer distance on the shot. 

·  Slow down. I had a tendency to swing very fast on the back swing throwing everything I’d set up out of align on the forward swing. Slowing down and having a more controlled swing has helped. 

Overall like I said earlier I’m sure Hayden hadn’t seen anything he hasn’t a thousand times before but his advice has helped set up the foundations I needed to get started. 

We rated my swing a 5 out of 10 when I left with me receiving a text this evening from him with the expectation we get it to a 7 by the time we see each other again which will likely be towards the end of the Month at a golf day. 

The aim is to play once a week and do some practice on the range at least once a week. The goal is to break 100 by the end of the summer. (End of September). 

What I liked about the golf pro session was there was some expectations set for improvement along with some accountability to get there. However the realistic understanding that you don’t go from 1 to 10 over night and you need to be a 2 before a 3 etc. 

Next round is on Thursday at Dunston Hall.  I’ll post an update and my round card then.