“Well, let’s see how it looks.”
There are three and only three people on earth from whom these words bring maximum emotional complexity: 1) From your doctor for your first post-40 physical, 2) from the plumber when he shows up to check on the flooded toilet in the master bedroom, 3) from your golf instructor when you show up for your second lesson a few weeks after your first.
And so when Randy Peterson (aka, “THE MAN”), the Director of Fitting and Instruction at the Ely Callaway Performance Center, casually delivered that statement, little did he know he would be yanking two giant blocks out of the base of my fragile Jenga-like emotional infrastructure.
It had been two weeks since my first lesson with THE MAN. At that time, the only thing we didn’t really change were my golf shoes, though I’m sure we would have, had I asked for an opinion (By the way, I’m back to cleated golf shoes, for whatever that’s worth).
In summary, we changed my grip (stronger), my stance (little narrower), my set up (standing taller), my alignment (more square shoulders and hips), my takeaway (slower and deeper), and working towards my impact conditions (mo’ better).
I had told THE MAN at the first lesson that I was ok to change anything and everything needed before the club was actually in motion. In other words, let’s go to town on helping me with grip, set up, alignment, etc. I also wanted a full picture of what I needed to be doing correctly with the swing so I would know what the ultimate targets were.
Hey, if you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know the road you’re on won’t take you completely out of the way to finding the Golf Channel office for a 7am broadcast (this metaphor is a direct shot at our PR guy, Scott Goryl, from an incident with Chip Brewer and me at the 2012 PGA Show)!
So I was pleased when I set up to hit my first ball and THE MAN said everything was looking good. My now stronger grip looked solid. I was in fact standing taller to the ball, allowing me to swing the club more efficiently. And my shoulders and hips were definitely more square to the target, rather than the open set up I had had previously.
The first few shots felt decent enough to me. We had worked on getting the club moving back “in one piece” with my shoulders and arms working together and turned by my torso, rather than throwing my arms back, up, and around.
When done correctly, the feeling I would have would be of getting my left hand back deep, with my left arm connected to my chest, rather than flying away from my chest and then flying behind me in a laid off, weak position.
So I had been working on that move with the added help of the multi-purposed Wonder Wedge, which I now carry around like Linus’s blanket from Peanuts. (It was awkward at first showing up for meetings, dinners, etc with the Wonder Wedge, but mine and the Wedge’s love is one which we don’t really care if anyone understands…)
THE MAN took a few looks and declared the swing “Pretty good.” Never have the words “pretty good” meant as much to me as when THE MAN said them. It was even better than Chip’s comment that my first impression on him was “pretty good.” Pretty Good? PRETTY EFFING GOOD!!!!! Love that! I should start thinking about turning professional….
“We need to keep thinking about getting that club ‘deeper’ in your swing because you’re still a little laid off…”
Ok, my Tour debut will have to wait a bit….
“And when you get a little laid off, you’re not really getting the club set properly, and it’s making it very hard for you to deliver the club on the right path back into the ball….”
Can’t believe I’m talking about Tour! What am I thinking?! Oh man, I’ll be lucky if I can make the ZooCrew’s #Grandaddy team. Oh wait, I’m the captain of the team and will have autoctratic authority of picking the team. OK, I’m certain I’ll be on that team…
“But we can easily work on that and when you get that fixed, you’re going to be hitting it much more solidly, with a lot more speed, power, and with the right dymanic loft…”
OMG! I’m back on the path to Tour! Well, at least respectability. I’ll take a giant glass of ice cold respectability, fo sho!
So for the next hour, we worked hard on two things:
- Getting the club farther back and deep.
- Creating the feeling that my left thumb was “under” the shaft and feeling like I was trying to get the club across the line at the top.
The first feeling is just keeping the connection and allowing the club and torso to work together, so that my arms wouldn’t separate and make me laid off and flat again.
The second feeling was trying to further get the club set at the top, get some leverage, and eliminate even more the laid off position. THE MAN even wanted me to try to get across the line, because we could always dial that back later.
And of course, we’d do all of this with the Wonder Wedge at my feet, making me not get flippy at impact. Because if you flip the club, you’ll hit the wedge. If you delay the release, get your hands in front of the ball with some shaft lean, the wedge and your ego go unscathed.
I love the Wonder Wedge. And I absolutely hate the Wonder Wedge. Kind of like my relationship with the Atlanta Hawks, but that’s another web column altogether.
And with THE MAN’s help, we worked and worked on getting deeper and more set and across the line. For every shot I did on my own, THE MAN would hold the club and get me in the right position to feel where I needed to be.
And on the 30% of the times I could get there on my own, amazing things happened to my ball flight—more solid, lower, faster, and farther. In other words, MONEY. And, seeing divots again made me have to put sunglasses on so nobody would see me welling up in public.
I can already see some things that will likely change in my equipment once we’ve been at this for a while. From major things like the model of iron I’m playing, to less dramatic things like the shafts I have in my fairway woods and hybrid. But these are just hypotheses right now, rather than facts. More on that down the road.
I’ve got a plan. Now I need to stay committed, keep practicing, and I’ll be back to see the MAN in a couple of weeks and hold my breath again when he says….
“Well, let’s see how it looks…”