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Making the Cut, Week 3: The Posture of Keeping the Ball Low

Note: Somewhere over the last year my golf game disappeared. It emerges every so often, but was clearly on life support. Drastic action was needed. Over the course of the summer, Im heading to the terrific Golf Institute at Bond Head to rebuild my swing, with CPGA Master Professional Bruce McCarrol and my body with physiotherapist Kevin Honsberger. Each Friday Ill chronicle my progress.

Week 3

Okay, I’m getting it now — at 36 my body doesn’t necessarily do what I want it to anymore, my hips don’t have any “brakes” and I take the club too far from the inside. Short of having my body fitted with a set at Canadian Tire, I’m doing my best by stretching and attempting to make my hips do what I want.

Of course, it turns out that isn’t my only problem.

The Proper Posture of the Good Doctor

“Your body plays Russian Roulette with you,” says Kevin Honsberger, the Institute at Bond Head’s resident physiotherapist. “You get five or six chances to fix things and suddenly there is pain.”

Honsberger is clearly right, as he has me hunched over, leg in an unnatural position on the table, all the while pushing and pulling in an attempt to stretch my “postural” muscles. The Good Doctor contends 90% of the issues he sees are related to posture, something that is specifically problematic in golf. Citing the fact there are two muscle groups involved, postural and phasic,” he notes that posture is an issue with pretty much everyone. Apparently the only thing certain beyond death, taxes and Barry Bonds breaking Aaron’s record, is that your posture will get worse as time progresses unless you do something about it.

An ink-stained wretch like myself, hunched over a desk pounding out copy, doesn’t stand a chance.

“Over time your postural muscles get tight and you lose motion, it is as simple as that,” Honsberger adds. “If you lose motion in one area, you have to manufacture something in another.”

Thus, he says, restrictions in the shoulder lead to elbow problems, and elbow problems lead to wrist problems. The issue always manifests itself further down the food chain.

In my case, my postural muscles are tight, so Honsberger goes to work through a series of stretching exercises designed to loosen them and allow me to rotate more appropriately.

“The goal,” he says, “is to put you back in an efficient position — one that doesn’t cause injury.”

Amen to that, good doctor. And hopefully a position that let’s me hit my driver straight, though that might be asking for too much.

Back on the Blocks

Bruce McCarrol loves his blocks — only they blocks don’t really have rounded bottoms, now do they? Needless to say the lateral leg movement I’ve been making progress has been creeping back into my swing, and the blocks are an attempt to make me turn more than simply push with my legs into the ball (see week 2 of the series for more explanation).

With a noted concern about “over teaching,” McCarrol pushes onward with an attempt to address my high ball flight. Ever see the pros, the ones that snap the ball low with lots of spin? That’s not me. I hit it high. Really high. Surprisingly, given how high I clock it, I also hit the ball a long way.

But McCarrol is right — most good players deloft the golf club. I add loft, or at least am not taking any off it.

Utilizing my six iron, we run through a drill designed to demonstrate how an effective turn, that continues after I strike the ball, results in a lower ball flight. Using what feels like a punch and an appropriate hip and shoulder turn, I soon become accustomed to hitting low shots with my six iron that rise slightly and land about 175 yards away. The shots are half the height of my previous attempts.

When we move the the full swing, I’m not surprised to see the ball fly higher. What does surprise me is the fact the shots travel no further than the punches I was working on. McCarrol leaves me with the concept to work on further, utilizing a full turn with the shoulders and hips, with continued rotation after the shot. It is a difficult concept to master, and I must admit to not being fully convinced I can pull this one off.

Games Played: King Valley June 6, Score: 86

Beacon Hall, June 5 — even through seven holes, when a storm blew in.

Time on the range: Four hours

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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