Wednesday, January 29 2020


A Few Degrees

Update: March, 19/2017 - 09:00
Viet Nam News

TEED OFF with Robert Bicknell

It’s amazing how a few degrees can make a difference in so many different things.

For example, 18 degrees Celcius is not what I would call great golf weather, but two or three degrees warmer is pretty good. If a storm shifts by a few degrees, it can make the difference between being snow or rain. A few degrees can also make the storn miss or hit you.

And, of course, if you impact the golf ball just one degree off line with a golf swing, you can end up in a bunker or the woods.

For the last few weeks I was becoming more and more irritated with my golf swing. For some reason I just didn’t feel right when coming through the golf ball. Sure, I could get away with it and post a half-decent score, but I knew it wasn’t right and this was driving me nuts.

I made a video of my swing and looked at it carefully, but still couldn’t find the problem. This is because when you look at yourself, you cannot see the fault without bias. You brain is saying, "Yup, looks OK” because this is what you were feeling.

People are really good at fooling themselves.

So, I sent a quick sype message to my old friend Bradley Wright, an Australian PGA pro teaching out at Long Bien GC (Him Lam Hanoi) and asked if he could take a look at my swing. He knows me very well from our days at Him Lam Driving Range in HCM City and, therefore, knows my swing.

During those days, I was hitting the ball better than ever.

Sure enough, after two swings he saw the problem and made an easy fix… The problem was, as you might have surmised from the beginning of the column, I was  a few degrees off at address.

Specifically, my spine angle was a hair or two off and my chin was drooping down a bit. This caused me to get hung up on the downswing and, therefore, couldn’t come through the ball as efficiently as I wanted.

Pro’s swings don’t change much over time unless we want them to. As the old saying goes, “Our swings are set in cement,” and this comes from hitting thousands of balls every month for years on end. The swing will remain in the “slot” unless we consciously do something to change it.

This is never a good idea… just ask Tiger Woods.

He’s monkeyed around with his swing so much that he has no idea where he is, or who he is anymore and, trust me, it’s easy to lose yourself with changes and not be able to find your way back.

The old saying “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” should have been written specifically for golfers because they seem to be the ones who screw themselves up the most. Nobody can force you to change your swing. This is something you do yourself, either with a lot of forethought, or no thought at all. In many cases, you end up screwing yourself.

Hoist by your own petard, as it were.

So, after fixing the swing, I came back to my club and put in an hour at the range before going out to play. I gotta admit that the hour ion the range felt very strange, but I was determined to keep the changes because they were small enough to not make me feel truly uncomfortable, but also because I knew they were correct.

I shot one under par for nine holes and actually felt like I should. I even nailed the flagstick on a 70 yard pitch shot. Yes, I made birdie. 30cm putts are hard to miss, even for me.

If you’ve been playing golf for a few years and something just doesn’t feel right, go see a local qualified PGA professional and let him check you out. Chances are your instincts are right and something changed without you realizing it.

It’s amazing when you think about it how a few degrees can make such a huge difference, but think about it this way, if Haley’s Comet changed its path by a few degrees, we wouldn’t be here right now.

OK, better not to think about that… times are tough enough. — VNS


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