Member of Topgolf marketing team, Andy Gibson, is determined to get better at golf. Join on us on this series of golf diary entries as he tries to transform himself from terrible to Tiger. Missed the other parts? Start from part one here.
With it being the school holidays, my golf has suffered. Our golf pros were very busy all summer with their successful Junior Camps and I haven’t been practicing as much as I should.
At Watford we’ve had some new arrivals, with Joe Tinsley arriving from Alwoodley golf club as a Golf Professional and Dave O’Donnell joining us ahead of starting the PGA programme later this month.
Not playing for a couple of months meant I’d gotten back into my bad habits. I played a warm up game of Topgolf and the coaching team immediately pointed out that I’d developed ‘Elvis’ leg. When I was swinging, my left knee was collapsing at the top of my swing. Hence the name…
(Source – Williamsberg academy)
Once I’d started to do it, it felt very unnatural to stop doing it. Joe got me working on hitting it with my left knee pointing slightly towards the range throughout the swing. After about 20 balls my Elvis leg was gone! The nickname Elvis wasn’t though.
After this I had my first lesson with Joe. The first thing he commented on was my shoes – apparently Clarks aren’t the ideal footwear for golf (but who wants to spend £100 for some golf shoes!?). With it being our first lesson together Joe wanted to analysis my swing and set-up. Immediately he noticed something was wrong with my grip.
After (left) Before (right).
I’m not really sure what I thought I was supposed to, but someone told me you’re supposed to interlock your fingers, so I did, but it turns out my little finger was in the complete wrong place. I did wonder why my hands hurt so much after hitting some balls! Joe said I’m the first person in 6 years he’s seen who does this. Oops. He explained that none of your fingers should be tucked away underneath each other – you can see the clear difference in the picture! As always the new grip feels very unnatural, and I think it’s going to take some time to get used to, but it should make a big difference going forwards.
Once I’d got the hang of my new grip, it was time to work on the swing. Joe asked me where my shots normally go, so I told him my biggest problem was fatting (when the club hits the ground first), or thinning (when the club hits too high up on the ball), the ball. Joe explained that both of these shots are caused by the same failure of technique.
As Charlie previously pointed out , I wasn’t using my whole body in the swing. Joe explained that I need to make sure that my weight is distributed correctly. I tend to fat it more than thin it, and this is because my weight is too far on my right leg, which means the club hits the floor before the ball. To counter act this Joe got me doing a drill where I keep my right foot in the position it should be at the end of your swing, for the entire swing. It did make me feel a bit like a ballerina, but it got me used to the weight distribution. I was struggling a bit with this, so Joe told me to point my left foot outwards more at set-up to aid with the hip turn through and weight shift. This helped immediately, and although some of my shots were still slicing to the right, I could notice a big difference and it felt a lot more natural.
As mentioned, a fair few of my shots were going slightly left, or slicing right. Next time with Joe we’re going address this and try to make sure I’m not chopping across (left) as I hit the ball.
I played Topgolf later that evening with my non-golf playing girlfriend. I was trying to put into practice everything I’d learned… but she still beat me. Evidently there is still a lot of work to do!
Having said that, I can’t recommend having lessons enough. I had no idea my grip was wrong, and I’d developed this from reading online and watching YouTube videos. YouTube videos however can’t see what I’m actually doing like a coach can and with golf it’s little tweaks like this that can make such a huge difference! Previously I had no idea what I was doing wrong if I’d done a bad shot, however after a couple of lessons, I now have an idea of what went wrong and how to fix it.