An informal introduction. My name is Dave Lubin. I am 50 years old
and practice Emergency Medicine in Gainesville, Ga, about an hour north of
Atlanta. I was very athletic in my youth (well, at least I think I was)and
played on the Football, Baseball and Swim teams in High School, Varsity
Tennis at Villanova University and then Rugby for seven years during Med
school and residency. I played Rugby until my early thirties, quittingwhen I
realized that the fear of injury was superseding my desire to hitpeople. That
is never a good sign and a pretty certain way to become a patientyourself.
Besides, I had a career to start. I was a surgeon for a number of years, retiring at age 39 due to neck problems and then starting my new careeras an ER doc.
I took up golf sort of by accident. Really, I was just basically looking for a
way to spend some time outdoors and golf had the advantage of not needing a
competitor of equal or greater skill, as did tennis. I never much considered
it a sport until I played it. How could the game look so simple yet be so
I struggled on my own for a while then dedicated myself to lessons and read
about every thing I could get my hands on. I took a lot of lessons. I practiced
relentlessly. I was determined that I would be a legitimate single digit handicapper.
A player, as it were. Blessed with very fast hands, I had a natural draw that
occasionally would become the most awful low smothering snap hook you ever
saw. It was very frustrating, because I never knew when it would pop up. It
put a lot of pressure me wondering where and when it would occur. It usually
meant three triple bogeys or worse per round. On holes where I didn't snap
hook, usually bogey or par.
In my struggle to become more consistent, I worked on the swing path and
club face angle at impact ad nauseum. Wanting to promote a more consistent
move from the inside caused me to develop the habit of pulling the club too
far back to the inside on the backswing and thus, the over the top phenomenon
became part of my game. For the first time in my life, I had a slice. And a big one, too.
Now comes the part where you come in. Instructors kept trying to get me to
swing the club to the outside on the backswing and then re-route it to the
inside on the downswing. Though they talked of descending blows, it never
really dawned on me exactly what they meant. I watched all the great players,
and it did seem that what they did was and outside back, inside down move, but
it made no sense to me when I tried it. My game suffered.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful attitude when it comes to golf. I recognized that it was a very difficult game and began to adjust for the fact that I just wasn't very good at it.
I concentrated on my short game and putting. I really worked on developing a consistently accurate 100 yard and 75 yard shot and I used the rest of my game to get me into those ranges. And I practiced putting like crazy. I never watch TV without a putter in my hand.
I played every
hole with the idea that par was really bogey and that the par threes
would give me a chance to break 90 if I could card a real par. I
actually got pretty good at this and play to a handicap index of 13 and my average
score is usually 87 or 88. That is the average. High scores often would be in mid
nineties. Low score (if the putter got hot) maybe 84.
Because I was so conscious of smoothly striking the ball, not much wrist action
was used and my average distance off the tee was about 190 yards, average 5
about 150 yard carry, etc. The PW and 9 were my 100 yard clubs. The sand wedge
or a knock down PW was for 75 and in.
Then, cruising around the internet one night, I see your ad and wonder...hmmmm... maybe this guy can explain to me this strange concept of hitting DOWN. So, I ordered the CD and the CD-Rom and for once, actually listened to and watched them when they arrived.
What a nice, simple way you have of conceptualizing what the club head is doing, using that airplane analogy. Suddenly, I realized that the error in my understanding was attempting to swing the GRIP down, not the club head. Realizations began to occur. I began to see the club head path for the first time and finally understood what the other instructors had been trying to teach.
The other, and in my mind equally significant, piece of the puzzle was the right arm, hand action in the downswing. Of course, like everyone else, I tried to let my left hand lead the downswing. It is what most people teach. It eliminates casting, a serious hazard for me when I do it as it virtually guarantees a laying over of the sod. Now, suddenly, I realize that of the two arms, it is the RIGHT one that is bent (flexed) in the backswing. So which arm is more poised to deliver a powerful move to the ball? Obviously, the one I had not been using.
Finally, I understood how to lever the club head and generate speed with less
effort than I would have ever thought possible. So, cerebral lights bursting on all over my cranium, I began doing the drills. I have a back yard tee and set the mirror up so I could be sure I was doing them right. The two that are the most valuable to me are the half swing smash down with the right hand drill and the chipping drill. And I was hearing a sound from the ball strike that sounded really solid and the ball flight, into
the woods, seemed to be going quite a bit further than I was used to.
In just a few days, I decided to go down to the range and try the swing on grass instead of my mat. The mat is a bit more forgiving than grass and you can get the impression you are hitting the ball better than you really are. It is particularly forgiving of fat shots. I warmed up at the range with a few crisp chips and half swings and then took aim at the 100 yard flag with my trusty PW, usually a 90 yard club for me.
I backed the car out of
the driveway, stopped, gently shifted gears and then levered the club head
down to the ball with the right arm. Crack went the club and the ball went
sailing toward the red flag. And over it. About 20 yards or so over it. What's
more, it hit and then ran another ten yards or so. Hmmm, says I. That was interesting. So I hit a few wedges, then picked up the six iron.Usual carry distance, 130 yards. Aim, back, fire and off goes the ball, landing right on the flag. So a few more six irons and then a tentative move to the bag.
DareI try the driver? Well, why not. Tee it lower than usual, more in the center of my stance then a smooth,really nice turn and return. And the ball goes well over the 235 yard mound. Into the wind, mind you. Okay, I get excited then and try a few harder
swings, with varyingly bad results. Usually a pull to the left. Sometimes a snap
hook. Then I calm down, remember how I did it the first time, swing back slow
and smooth, transition nicely, lever the right arm and off goes another sweet, seemingly effortless shot. I noticed that most of the time, the flight line is a shade left of where I expected it to go as a result of the draw. I have been hitting a fairly straight ball or a fade with my soft little swing prior to this. I think it will take some time to adapt to this but it is nota big problem.
I took the game to the course Saturday. The good news is that I hit several of the longer par fours in regulation, something that I had previously not even attempted in the past two years. The bad news is that I got intotrouble by being in places I hadn't been in two years and also by not doing so well at making fifty foot putts. I have gotten used to sticking it close from a hundred yards and thus had a fair number of three putts by being unaccustomed to long rolls. I shot an 87 and that score includes a triple bogey on one of the easier holes (caught a tree trying to go for the green in two
instead of the usual lay up) and several double bogeys as a result of the three putts.
That part, at least, I know I can improve.
The swing move you describe so extremely well is understandable, and what is more, it works when properly applied. I guess it has to since it adheres to the laws of physics and momentum. I have to fight the tendency to want to REALLY smash the ball. That is where the fat shots from early right hand release occur or where the snap hooks come from. The swing works best with a smoother tempo and less distance greed. I think settling for a ten or so yard distance increase over what I am doing now will be just fine for starters. Over time, I am confident that will increase.
The best images for me
are the driveway image and the best pre shot waggle I have ever had is the
half swing then down move. I do it now prior to each shot on the range as well
as the course. That is a real winner and also a great drill. And a great way
to practice a knock down shot. I know that taking it to the course and really seeing better scores is a whole lot different from hitting great shots on the range. Golf is, after
all, a merciless mistress and not all great shots will be so rewarded. It is actually the best part about the game, as it teaches you that life is, indeed, not always fair, so stop whimpering and get on with it.
Therefore, if the handicap index never moves, I will not be surprised nor
will I will
overy distraught. I love the game too much to dwell on that numerical value as a
source of happiness and fulfillment. However, I expect that as things gel, I will start shooting lower scores. My management skills have been honed from two years of being a short knocker. I must never forget the value of that experience and need to incorporate it into what you have taught me.
However, for the first time ever, I actually now can comprehend what hittingdown is all about and what's more, I know how to accomplish it. For that, I am forever grateful. You have done an outstanding job at explaining the golf swing. Take care.