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Well we are now in sight of being able to hit a ball in actual anger for the first time in 3 months. I would suggest for the opening game or two, to throttle back the power and keep the swing at say 65 - 70% power. I know over the last few months the golf media who love a Bryson DeChambeau story and that the only way to play golf is hit is as hard as is possible and consume as many calories as possible too!
The key for most of us is to make solid contact with the ball, with ideally a square clubface. So initially when you play have plenty of practice swings, either at half your normal swing speed or with the feet together. These exercises will remind you of where the clubhead is and give us the feel of what the path of the swing should look like.
A story that went somewhat under the radar was a comeback of sorts by the great Annika Sorenstam. She retired from Professional golf 13 years ago and had not played in a competition event during that time. She has been busy with her family and her charitable works and commercial ventures. The LPGA were having an event at Lake Nona, where her family home is and inspired by this she decided to play in the event. Remarkably Annika made the cut, which over 60 full time touring pro's did not. Asked about her strategy, she said that playing well within herself and maintaining balance through the swing was the key as she was playing with competitors young enough to be her daughter, clearly there was a disparity in length. By having a clear game plan of control what you can control, she didn't get into the world of comparison, which is of no use in golf and life come to that. To help the balance she did plenty of swings with her feet together, so I thought if it is good enough for a Hall of Famer, it is good enough for us!
The last few weeks on the PGA Tour have seen Lee Westwood's continued resurgence with two runner up finishes. He now resides in the top 20 in the world rankings and perhaps might have enough in the tank for a major in 2021? Last week's winner on the fiendishly difficult Champion Course in Palm Beach was Australian Matt Jones. It seemed every hole featured a large expanse of water (in fact, only 16 of the 18 did!) and throughout the event this top quality field managed to deposit 200 balls in it with the par 3 15th hoovering up over 60. Lee Westwood described it as a risk / reward course on steroids. I think the main risk for us mere mortals playing there would be not having enough ammunition in the golf bag to complete all 18 holes. Apart from Matt Jones' stellar golf in his 5 stroke victory (no keeping up with this particular Jones :-) I was really taken with his speed of play, which certainly all of us will do well to emulate this season. I am a big advocate of the Ready - Aim - Fire school of golf. See Matt's set up and swing here. To make our golf more reactionary I believe improves performance and when our lovely clubhouses are open, gets you in earlier for your lemonade and lime.
This weekend will see the latter stages of the World Match Play event and Padraig Harrington will be seeing how some of his prospective team members fare in this format. I feel in recreational golf it is not played enough and certainly with our return to golf I would suggest you and your friends try it out. A fun format I do with my friends when we are in a four ball is to play 3 x 6 hole matches, changing partners every 6 holes. It is competitive, speeds up play and in the event of a bad hole you can pop the ball in your pocket and move on, assuming that is that you can find it!
During this lockdown, I have found golfers I spoke to have fallen into 2 camps. There are those who are putting on the carpet, chipping in the garden, swinging purposefully with or without a net (this determines whether said activity is with or without a ball, hopefully :-) ) and when no one is looking, talking kindly to their clubs to raise their confidence for the upcoming season. The other group have put the clubs in a cupboard or in some cases don't know where they are (Mrs Puttick is one of this group) and just forgotten about golf until the bell goes for play to resume. Logically one would assume those getting ready will out perform those not so dedicated players. However, golf defies all logic and stand by that irritating "Do you know I haven't touched a club for months and just had my best game in years..." Just smile and wait your turn for some golfing magic to come your way.
Enjoy your return to the fairways!
All the best
Fellow of the PGA