2019 and Learning How to Play Again

Taking Ten Weeks Off Doesn’t Help The Golf Swing

Happy New Year Everyone!

Many readers of Shooting Your Age live in the southern regions and other than a crazy snow in early December this has been a really warm winter so far. And if not for the holidays and buying a new car and painting the house and having my daughter visit for Christmas and actually working on my consulting job and other minor details, I’d have played some during that period.

But last Sunday it was 67 degrees in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a 67-degree Sunday in mid-January doesn’t happen all that often, even in the south. So we loaded up the clubs and went to the range, where I was going to see if I remembered which end of the club to hold.

Stretching is going to be added to my Resolutions List

Although, like 99.99% of all Americans, my resolutions include eating better and losing weight, I’ve neglected stretching. When I’m playing golf regularly, I also stretch regularly, and golf by its nature helps with that effort, as every golf swing is a stretch in itself.

But since I haven’t been playing, I haven’t been stretching. Painting, it seems, is not a substitute. Anyway, that was apparent as soon as I took the 4- and 5-iron out of the bag and began swinging them on the range to loosen up before attacking the bucket of balls beside me. I felt like I was able to get back about halfway in the backswing, and that was it. Even though I was trying for a full swing! So a couple of minutes of static stretching, and a couple of minutes of two-club swinging, and it was time to see how much I had actually forgotten. (As an aside, sometime in the next few weeks I will do an article on golf stretching. For the Baby Boomer and older, it’s more important than it ever was when we were 20-somethings…)

Small Goals, Small Wins

If you haven’t had the chance to take advantage of warmer than average weather yet, and therefore are still waiting for that first swing of 2019, here is my advice:

Start small and swing easy

My goal was to remember and re-ingrain the swing path, not hit full driver. In fact I didn’t hit any woods. I hit a few 3-hybrids, but most shots were 5-irons and shorter. Remembering the turn, what that should feel like, keeping my body stable, not moving my head, staying behind the ball…in other words, all the swing basics, were my goals. Less-than-full swings were the objective. And the next time, whenever the next time is, that will still be the objective.

Goals for 2019

In no particular order, are:

  • Consciously focus on swinging easier, not harder
  • Being more fluid (which relates to the the above)
  • Keeping my left heel down, or mostly down on the backswing
  • Dropping into the slot and staying behind the ball, i.e., not coming over the top which is my biggest fault
  • AND, most importantly, after my knee replacement in March, walking 18 holes with no pain before the summer is out!

Although my goal is always to get down to a single-digit handicap, I think if I do the above (and putt better) I can achieve that. In other words, trust the process, as Alabama Coach Nick Saban would say. Don’t think about the result. So that’s the plan. In the meantime, I hope you are able to enjoy the crazy warm weather we are having here and are able to get out and play. Have a great 2019 and thanks for reading Shooting Your Age!

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