I spent part of yesterday as a lab mouse. More specifically, I went to [photopress:NigelandIan1.JPG,full,alignright]the media opening for the new Golf Institute at Bond Head and was “picked” as the individual they would throw through a bunch of testing in front of my peers.
Part one of the press day involved Bond Head’s Nigel Hollidge talking about the new $50,000 initiative the organization has launched to support Canadian professional golfers. The concept is these golfers — who are often short of cash — get $10,000 each and the use of Bond Head’s facilities. The first individual to get some cash is Brad Fritsch, the Canadian Nationwide Tour player from Edmonton. Fritsch said the cash will allow him to play another nine or ten events — a big deal for a player that has a shot at making the PGA Tour.
After a call with Fritsch, it was all instruction.
The whole concept of the Golf Institute at Bond Head is to offer a one-stop shop for those golfers looking to improve. The whole facility offers the kind of technology that makes Bill Gates drool, utilizing the MATT system TaylorMade uses in its club fitting (and which I was surprised to find is not proprietary), a biokinetics review, a psyiology review and elevaluation and instruction by Master professional Bruce McCarrol.
As the lab mouse for the proceedings, I was suited up in suit that allows the motion analysis system to see my swing in 3D. Having gone through this, it was not quite old hat, but for me it was a bit of been there, done that.
However, working with Kevin Honsberger, the director of golf kinetics and physiotherapist who has worked with Olympic athletes was an eye opener. Beyond the fact I’ve learned my balance isn’t particularly good with my eyes closed while standing on a rocking board (I doubt somehow that this was ever a strength of mine), I also learned I had a locked pelvis and my hips apparently don’t “stop” at the end of my swing. All of this causes me to hook the ball, and could well be the result of a car accident last year, or simply a factor from my job that requires me to sit in front of a computer and type — like I’m doing now.
Regardless, the result was the same — big, high hooks. I’ll admit this has been a really significant problem this year, but is something that has plagued my for the past two seasons. Obviously I have been out of sequence, meaning my shoulders, hips and hands were not firing properly.
In fact, as a graph of my “Kinetic Chain” demonstrated (sort of a fancy term for graphing the way the body hits a golf ball), I was out of sequence, with my shoulders leading my hands and my hips only turning last, meaning in order I was hitting 2-3-1. Not the best way to strike a golf ball and something I knew was happening, but had not idea how to address.
This has been a source of great frustration to me — especially since it wasn’t that long ago that I played damned near scratch. Then the hook set in, and was workable, but that time is long since past. Now, if I scrap it around and keep it in play I can score in the high 70s — but the high 80s are also well within range.
Having this exposed in front of your peers in the media — even though most of them probably have equally fundamental problems — is not an absolutely pleasant experience. So after that was all done, Kevin Honsberger, the physiotherapist, placed me on his table and went to work, stretching muscles I hadn’t even considered I had, and realigning my pelvis properly. By this time my conrades in arms had buggered off to hit Titleist clubs, and so they didn’t see the change after 15 minutes with Kevin.
Stepping up on the same machine, only after a slight physical [photopress:kineticscan.jpg,full,alignleft]adjustment to rework my pelvis and free my hips, I hit three slight draws high and on target. Better yet, my hips fired first, followed by my shoulders and finally my hands — the proper sequence for the golf swing (see chart). I must admit to being a typically cynical media guy, rarely buying into the latest and greatest. But this seemed clear and concise, and appeared to be the real deal, especially after I took my rehabed pelvis to the range and hit everything from slight draws to nice little fades.
The only thing I didn’t get to do was work with McCarrol, an interesting fellow that I first met last year on a TaylorMade event in Georgia.
That’s about to change.
For the next couple of months, I’m going to head to Bond Head once a week to work with Honsberger and McCarrol and recraft my swing into something new. This will be a holistic process, but since I like to practice, I’m game. For G4G readers, I’m going to document the whole process, including my scores in games along the way. I’m as excited by this process as I’ve been about playing golf in some time.
Hopefully I can also give readers some indication of where golf instruction is headed, utilizing the best in technology and some of the best minds in the Canadian game. We’ll see where I end up — but I’ll take a more consistent game with a slightly lower handicap. No grand ambitions here — but I’d love to take out the frustration and bring back some more fun.
And by the way, I’m not the only one finding this intriguing — Ian Leggatt has been at Bond Head in the last few days going through the process as well. Apparently he also had a locked pelvis. Must be a sign of greatness.