The next chapter begins- Becoming a Golfer!

neophyteguy

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Well, here’s my story: About 13-14 years ago, I took up golfing. At that point, my wife and I both were very keen to learn the game. We travelled in Europe (living in London at the time) and had some great golf holidays in Spain, Portugal, France, Switzerland and other places. I attended a Leadbetter camp, took 20-30 lessons and probably played over 100 rounds in a 3-4 year period. I went to the range at least once a week for two years and often went 2-3 times a week.


The problem?
I never really got good enough to shoot below 100 very often-if ever.


I finally gave up on the sport of golfing about 8-9 years ago. I simply figured it “wasn’t for me” and that I would “maybe pick up the sticks again when I get older”. So, fast forward to now and I’m living in Hong Kong and have the itch again. About 2 months ago, I started taking lessons. In that time, I’ve been to the driving range 4-5 times a week and have played 5 rounds of golf. I’m currently sporting my 23.9 Handicap thanks to the HKGA (Hong Kong Golf Association).


In a nutshell, I’ve decided to become a golfer this time rather than just “trying to play golf”. What does this mean? Well, it means I’m determined to learn the nuances of the game over time and to dedicate time and resources towards “becoming a golfer”. I'm also determined to not go it alone this time! Further to that, I’ve decided to use THP as a diary to track my course and to use as a resource along my journey. If you decide to follow, welcome. If not, at least give me some slaps upside the head along the way and engage me in some meaningless banter!


The current situation:
-Driving Range 4-5 times a week
-Pushing things right/slice

-Average putts/round is 40
-I either hit my driver good—or not! It’s either straight or one heckuva slice.
-Wedges are reasonable for someone who struggles to break 100
-Putter? Is that the expensive thing that eats up nearly half my strokes?
-I typically take 5-6 penalty strokes for OOB/Lost Balls per round


So, my first goal? To break 90! I’d like to be a consistent bogey golfer (hcp <18) for now.
 

BROCK

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Good luck on your journey!! A lot of practice should show in your game!!
 

#Cookie

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Solid plan: best of luck! Looking forward to following your journey.


Tappin' from my iPad!
 

Damaikis

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Good luck! I'd love to see how you improve!
 

omikey

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Welcome to THP


Best of luck on your Journey !!

It's ALWAYS good to have a plan !

and goals and objectives
 

MikeT

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Welcome aboard. I know what you're going thru having quit for 25 years myself and then starting again. Think of it as fun and not work Good Luck.
 

KellyBo

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Welcome! You'll drop that handicap in no time with all that hard work.
 

mikedean441

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good luck on the journey!
 

DawgDaddy

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Welcome aboard ng, with your solid game plan and practice schedule I think you should become a golfer very soon. Keep us posted on your progress. Head over to the check in desk for a proper welcome.
 

Golf 'N Gator

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:welcome: I hope you are able to enjoy this great game of ours. With hard work and lessons, I have no doubt you make your goal of breaking 90.
 

TrueFX

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Welcome to THP!

Sounds like you've got a great plan in place.

If nothing else, you will have a lot of fun.
 

Wicked Cool Bearded Man

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Nice to meet you!!!
 

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Welcome to THP and good luck on your venture.
 

neophyteguy

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WOW! A big thanks to you all for your support and kind words................

Even though both my mother and mother-in-law are in town for the next 10 days (hey, who's counting?), I was able to slip away and hit some balls today at the driving range. My sessions are usually 90 minutes excluding putting. In a 90 minute session, I won't hit more than 125 balls as I try to work through a routine before each shot.

In attempt to sort out my fade/slice, I started moving hands in more of a "weak" grip. On my last trip to the range, this had greatly helped with my control. I know this seems counter intuitive from what I've read, but I just have felt like my hands weren't releasing well. This combined with my "tennis elbow" discussed below and looking at the mechanics of the elbow roll, I thought I'd try it out.

It's also worth pointing out that I have come down with "tennis elbow" in my left arm. Yes, tennis elbow! When I saw the sports doc last week, he suggested that most golfers would have "golfers elbow" rather than my condition. Evidently, tennis elbow is more on the top of the elbow and golf elbow is on the forearm side. I'm bringing this up as this made me start to rethink my grip (thinking my grip was off). My instructor hasn't said anything about my grip, so I was thinking all was ok on that front. Saying that, I only hit with him on a simulator and not actually at a range. Therefore, ball flight is simply what we see on the machine. Perhaps if he had seen me hitting on the range, he might look at my grip a bit closer.

So, today's swing thought was "Right hand more on top/weak, left hand club more in fingers".

Chips/Pitches -Prior to swinging the longer sticks, I typically warm up a bit and then hit about 30 minutes of chips and pitches. Today was no different. In this part of practice, I typically hit balls in an almost machine like manner. I find this helps take the anxiety out of these shots when I'm on the course. Yes, I still work on stance and swing length. There are targets at 25/50/75 yards.......and a rip in the AstroTurf that is about 10-11 yards. I typically then hit both my 52* and 60* wedges, both of which I feel I control reasonably well for someone with a 20+ handicap. Today I was mostly focused on the 25 and 50 yard markers and working on various height shots to both the targets. I was pretty happy with this. (Hit about 50 balls)

Irons - A funny thing happened today. While I was mentally working through today's swing thought and getting ready to hit some longer sticks, I rembered today was "even" day. I try to hit odd irons one day and evens the next practice session. So, I grab my eight iron and hit some rippers over the 150 marker, right between the goal posts available at the range (I'll post a pic one day as they are pretty cool targets). Now, no way in hell do I ever hit an 8 any where near that far. After hitting 5 of the prettiest, easy stroked, straightest, make me wanna kiss my mother in law shots I had a look at the club I was swinging. Yep, it was a 6 iron! Usually anything lower than a 7 starts to get pretty erratic, but swinging the 6 and not really thinking it was a 6 really gave me confidence!

Still focusing on my swing thought for the day, I continue to hit balls fairly well. I did notice a tendency to HOOK a ball occasionally with the new grip, so I'll have to keep an eye on this part of things and ensure they don't progress any further down that path!

Hybrids - The new hybrids and I still aren't getting along all that well. About 1/3 of the balls I hit with them seem to fly well and with a determined distance. The others look like the ugly drives I'm known to spank--------long and sliced. These are going to take a while to sort out I think. It's probably worth noting that when I used to play a bit, I often used the 3 iron off the tee with reasonable success. Just adding this as I'm hoping the hybrids will be able to help fill this hole going forward.

Driver - I've sorted out that some of my driving problems are directly related to my hands having moved forward. I had started to approach the ball, push my hands forward in my stance (towards the front leg)--the rest is one big long ugly picture. That picture was /is typically high and way right. So, after having perused the tips on here and the great explanations about hand position and ball position, I started setting up with my hands located almost where my hands would be when playing an iron. Well, the first shot I hit was without doubt the longest ball I have hit since coming back to golf! I hit a measured 290 yard drive a couple of weeks ago, so I knew it was special. It seriously hit a part of the next I haven't approached before and was still traveling flat. On that shot I had the same swing thought of the day and it seemed to work well. From there, things got worse on each shot.

Do you guys think I should not have my hands in such a week position on the driver? I was hooking/slicing and killing it straight when trying the new grip. The driver is something I need to get sorted as I'm losing to many balls/strokes at the moment. I'll be taking some driving lessons over the next month along with some putting lessons for sure.

As always, any input about how to become a better golfer is greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Neo (JRW)
 

neophyteguy

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So, you may have noticed that some of the clubs in my new Sunmountain Four 5 are a bit dated. You'd be right about that.

The Vokeys are new.
The Scotty putter is going to stay with me for the ride.
The Adams V3's are new.

The Mizuno T-Zoid Comp EZ irons were won in a British Airways competition when I wrote a story for their inflight magazine. Maybe I'll post the fictional account of a round of golf one day. They have been a good set of clubs and I used to feel special about playing "forged" clubs. I think back then that there weren't a whole lot of Forged GI Irons around. A funny side note is that even though I'm only 5'7, one of my instructors extended my clubs by 1" in the past to try and sort out some of my "issues". They have now been put back to normal.

The TaylorMade Ti320 Driver 9.5* has been my best friend at times. Funny thing happened at the range the other day though. A guy who was hitting close to me came up and said "In the 20 years I've been playing golf, I've never seen anyone hit a 3 Wood that far". He gave me a bit of a "you poor bastard" look when I told him it was a 10 year old driver.

I've been waiting for the new TaylorMade shop here in Hong Kong to open. They haven't been very good at keeping me informed, but I'm still hoping to have a MAT-T session in the next couple of weeks. I went to a demo day 4-5 weeks ago and was able to hit a few balls with the R11 irons and I'm thinking this will be my next set. Saying that, the staff were too busy trying out the clubs on the demo day, so punters like myself couldn't really have a swing. At this point, I'm ready to spend my $1500HKD ($200USD) to get fitted for some new clubs. I left a couple of more messages for them today, so hopefully I'll get in to see them in the next couple of weeks. I'd ideally like to get fitted soon so I can order in time for Christmas.

I'm not sure I'll be able to afford a new driver along with the irons, but who know......................Either way, I'll have a new set of irons and a new driver in the next few months.

Just interested, how much difference do you think some new clubs will make to my accuracy? I know this is a "how long is a piece of string" question, but I'm keen to come up with some guesstimate of what I can expect from some new clubs. I mean, will a new 460cc driver keep me in the fairway 50% more often? Will 50% of my shots with new irons have a tighter dispersion with the same swing? If I don't get much feedback here, I'll move this over to the gear section.

Cheers, Neo(JRW)
 

JB

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I know your goal is to have a diary of sorts and use this forum for that diary, but it seems you are asking a ton of information on a variety of topics in the same thread and its going to be tough for people to give you the proper feedback and even find some of the questions. There are hundreds of resources here in the way of forum testing reviews on tons of new equipment, home page reviews on just about every new item that has come out, threads discussing old vs new and more. Add to that the swing tips section and ask the pro section of the forum for answers to your previous questions on swing. Rather than have THP members embrace your thread and answer everything, you may find it easier to embrace the forum and check out what might have already been answered or different sections that might get more response to what you are looking for.
 

neophyteguy

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Thanks JB. I completely understand. I am one of those kinds of guys who uses search engines, but am loathe to resurrect an old thread. I'll post as I feel it necessary and open up new threads as required.

Good luck on your short game re-mastery!
 

neophyteguy

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So, today's swing thought was "Setup Routine and Shoulder Turn".

Chips/Pitches -I cut the chipping/pitching section a bit short today as I only had 1:15 for practice. I hit the 52* Vokey to targets of 25 and 50 yds with reasonable success. I was concentrating mostly on hitting the ball cleanly and also moving the ball forward/backward in my stance to play with spin/ball flight. I also hit a few lobs with the face wide open to have some fun. Next week I'll head back to the grass area up North and see how cleanly I'm hitting off the real stuff.

Irons - Today was "odd" iron days, so I started with the 7 iron. Was hitting it flush and mostly straight with the new grip. However,there was the occasional hook that crept in. The five iron was coming out pretty well too. After the five, I hit some 9 irons and they were straight and pretty consistent. Overall I'm pretty happy with anything less than a 7 iron in regards to reasonable accuracy.

Hybrids - I only hit the 2H today and really just wanted to try and get some level of accuracy with it. For me the key is to keep it nice and steady and to take a full shoulder turn. It seems that when I don't take a full shoulder turn that my timing gets off and I hit a big slice. I also thing the fuller shoulder turn gets the stiff shafts activated whereas a partial turn does not. I was typically hitting the ball 200-230 with the range rocks. Saying that, a couple came off that I would have loved to have seen how far they went.......but the range is pretty short.

Driver
- I've really come to realize the driver is something that can make or break my game. I often hit 2nd/3rd shots pin high but right and left-so I've been working on my pitching/chipping heaps. However, there are 5-6 strokes per round that I lose directly to the driver (lost balls/OOB). After seeing the excellent threads on THP about ball and hand positioning, I'm happy that my new setup is much better than before. Approximately half my balls where fairly straight and the others were slices of various degrees. Like the Hybrids, partial shoulder turns and limited rotation cause me bad consequences. I'm sure this is what happens on the course: I try to shorten my swing and end up getting out of sequence!

Planning to get back in for a lesson or two over the next week to make sure I'm not overcompensating for my swing too much.
 

neophyteguy

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This entry is from 13 Nov 2011.

So, today's swing thought was "Have some fun and hit some different type shots"


Chips/Pitches
- I simply took my 60* and 52* and shot at the 25/50 yard flags and tried to hit different types of shots to the flags. Knowing that it's just way too hard to judge roll on a driving range, I was just shooting for the flags. I shot high, low and maximum spin shots. Still pretty happy at the range of shots with wedges at the range and am trying to really determine what range of motion gives me what distance with each club.

Irons - I'm still working on turning my 6 iron into the "new 6 iron". By this I mean that I've read that pros tend to pick up a 5 iron to use when evaluating a set of clubs or practicing. Most hackers like me tend to pick up a 7. After my relative success with the 6 iron a couple of days ago, I've decided that "6 is the new 5". Hit the ball pretty well and felt as though I was casting the club on some shots. How noticed this was that I felt my left elbow was extended at a different part of the shot. I got pretty tired towards the end of the session and went back to hitting shorter irons.

Hybrids - Starting to get some consistency with the 4H, but still feel the shafts are too stiff. Going to contact the group I bought them from as I'm sure they have a 3- day satisfaction guarantee. Also, without rotation I slice these as bad as the driver With a full shoulder/hip rotation I can make it work.....Just not consistently.

Driver
- Hit more good shots than bad. Without shoulder rotation and weight shift there is 100% chance of slicing.
 

neophyteguy

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I had a lesson today. This was mostly to work on my putting, but also to determine if my new grip was acceptable to my coach.

Firstly, the grip changes were ok.

Secondly, my putting sucks as bad as I thought it did! Now, it's just proven by the SAM putting technology. After an hour of putting practice/coaching all I came away with was that I cannot even repeat the same crap stroke. This is going to need some work!

I also hit some different Titleist hybrids and Drivers on the simulator. I'm convinced that my shafts are too stiff in my hybrids..............
 

neophyteguy

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neophyteguy

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Swing thought of the day: Start the swing with the shoulders, don't change hand position until parallel to the ground, turn the back when ready to attack!

Chips/Pitches
- I stuck with my 60* and 52* and shot at the 25/50 yard flags and tried to hit different types of shots to the flags again. I also played around and hit some lobs and other odd hosts. Continued trying to ingrain shot types/distances with the different wedges. I'm still very stoked with the consistency of the Vokey's.

Irons -I didn't hit too many irons today as I was keen to spend plenty of time hitting the new shaft in the 4H Adams V3. Just had to keep remembering to get the back to the target. Still hitting too many shots fat, but hitting more and more shots sweetly. Was hitting the 8 iron about 145 yards when getting good rotation and keeping the swing in nice and tight. This is VERY long for me, but just shows how much shoulder rotation adds to distance.

Hybrids - I've only got the 4H in my bag now and it's got the new Motore Speeder 65i in it. This new shaft is nothing short of a godsend compared to the Bassara that came with it. I'm sure the Bassara is right for some people, but it's just way too stiff for me. There's a thread about the change of shafts here: http://www.thehackersparadise.com/forum/showthread.php?26408-Shafts-to-Replace-Adams-V3-Hybrids-with that will have a further review of the shafts.

I was hitting through my uprights pretty consistently with the new shaft. Most importantly, there was very few slices and mishits most often resulted in fades which probably only flew about 165 yds.

Driver - I was taking a slightly stronger grip and it seemed to improve my accuracy. But, not near as much as rotating the shoulders and standing more upright rather than worrying about a spine tilt. I've got to get the driving sorted a bit as I'm playing at Macau Golf and Country club next week.

Oh yeah, these are my uprights at the range that I aim for:

View attachment 3221
 
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TripleBogieTim

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Good luck, Welcome to the forums and our obsession!
 

Rob Wedge

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Good luck with everything!
You ever think of dropping the Driver for now and picking up a 3 wood?
 

Perkins Rooster

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Good luck and have fun improving!
 

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