"The Larkin Golf Project" 2012
If you've ever watched the Golf Channel, you've heard of The Haney Project (he "fixed" some celebrities golf games in an intensive instructional program). Now for the first time ever, I have decided to host my own "project" and raffle off a Personal Coaching Plan ($2400 value, 20 hours of instruction) to help one lucky person improve their game in just 6 weeks!
AND THE WINNER IS.......
Eric, 50 years old, is a retired Army Sergeant and resides in Stafford, Virginia. He was self taught at golf and played on his high school team. Eric has never had a formal golf lesson and got back into the game after a long time off due to injuries and recovery from a liver transplant. He now plays often all over Northern Virginia with friends and currently shoots around 100. He is a self proclaimed “slicer” with the driver and admits to “playing fast.” His goal is to take 10 strokes off his game. Eric has two sons and his wife of 24 years is a Prince William County Firefighter.
The Lesson Plan:
Week 1: Data Collection- TPI fitness screen, Swing video analysis, on course observation
Week 2: Full Swing changes phase 1 (understanding swing sequence irons vs. driver, make setup changes including grip and posture) Review of fitness plan
Week 3: Full Swing phase 2 (working on new swing path with driver and coordinating correct hand action/release Begin short game training-review chipping and pitching
Week 4: Bring it to the course- transfer practice for full swing including preshot routine plan and short game decision making, bunker review
Week 5: Full Swing phase 3 (ingraining practice plan for swing maintenance and more on course transfer practice, green reading training
Week 6: Playing lesson and final on course review , final swing analysis (before and after)
Learn along with Eric
Week 1 Recap:
It was really great to meet Eric and get to know him and his game. I thought he had a nice swing on the range and good ball control hitting some draws and fades, making a good weight transfer and good rhythm. I watched him play about 5 holes to get a feel for his swing on the course and a look at his short game. His slice really came out on the course with the Driver. He was aiming quite left and playing for it, but it was hard to control. He was reallying leaving his weight back on his right leg through impact more than he did on the range. There were a few decisions on shot selection, club selection and course management that cost him a few strokes but his putting was strong- good great reading and nice distance control. I did an initial TPI Fitness Screen at the end of our meeting and collected all the information I needed to setup my lesson plan (see above).
Week 2 Recap:
Eric did great during our first real work session! We met for two hours, reveiwed his fitness plan to help improve flexibilty in his legs and lats and mobility in his hips and shoulders. We then spent a while on the range doing drills and working with the driver to feel how to square the clubface and create a flatter downswing plane to the ball with proper sequence of movement.
Static changes: Grip change from weak to neutral, stand farhter back to feel more arm extension and bit taller and flare out front foot to promote a better more stable turn.
Drills: Step and Swing Drill, half swings feeling an exaggerated "Release" of the hands turnin
Ideas: He felt how to change his path from over the top with Driver to in-to-out by feeling his right shoulder staying lower thorugh impact and thinking about pushing the ball out to the right.
Results: By the end of the lesson he and I were thrilled with his progress and he really started to feel a new swing shape. He hit a few draws and push hooks which gave him the confidence that he can really make these swing changes with driver for good!
- Eric was able to keep his swing on plane now, control the clubface and actually his some really solid draws! We increased his power and leverage by stabilizing his right foot /knee/hip on the backswing to eliminate any sway that he was feeling. This really helped is driver and iron shots as well
-We worked on switching clubs and targets often during practice so that he can start to relate the proper feel of each club and its appropriate angle of attack (more down with irons) to make his practice more realistic to course play.
-To feel a slightly steeper angle of attack with the irons I had him hit shots out of the fairway bunker and hit the sand after the ball. He hit the highest 5 irons he hit all day in that bunkers, so he learned to hit the ball better off the grass and out of the sand (which he said he always struggled with anyway- bonus!)
-Eric has a tendency to be very handsy when he pitches the ball around the green to create loft, so using his 60degree wedge he was able to block the clubface, and keep his wrists still in the follow through, turn his body and soften his swing so he can have a safer lob shot to play from inside 20 yards.
Here are some before and after shots so far!
Since I saw Eric last he "debuted" his new swing with his friends at a coporate golf outing. He said he creamed his driver and help the team out with some great putts. I was thrilled to hear it and was excited to see him try to put together a score with me during our lesson. We played 16 holes:
Eric's score was 23 over par (3 pars, 7 bogies, 6 doubles, one quad)
Doesn't sound impressive but I was proud of Eric! He kept the ball in play! He aimed much more neutrally and trusted his driver swing (although admitted to overswinging many times ). I would say he was still a little lazy with his weight transfer on the course, so I bugged him about that the first few holes. He hit 5 fariways, but 10 he missed (not counting par 3 holes).. he was just off the fairway with a good playable lie; only one hole (the first one we played) he hit it way right, OB to take the Quad. Eric hit four greens and hit a few shots so well he missed over the green several times. His left foot/leg were really bothering him later in the round so he was favoring his right leg and hanging back still on a lot of his shots. I encouraged him to (just for this situation, not always) move his ball position on his iron shots back a little bit towards his right foot, so he could at least catch some cleaner shots and it really helped him finish the round.
His short game was pretty good but he kept way over-hitting his first putts so far past the hole he three putted quite a few times for the first 9 holes (five three putts total). He started to work harder on his speed and got used to the greens and did better. We had worked on his alignment last lesson, so a few times he corrected himself and it worked and a few time he didn't trust it and missed.. part of the learning curve!
It was a nice day out and see his game starting to come together. I think with a little more playing and practice time he will be able to reach his goal for sure!
It has been a real pleasure over the last 6 weeks to get to know Eric and help him get a few big steps closer to the golfer he wants to be and the golfer I know he can be! Its hard to quantify the progress at this point in numbers or scores- that will come in time. In a few months or a year from now I belive Eric has the potential to score consistenly in the 80s, even if for now he has not broken 90. But I can tell you this, Eric learned a lot:
- The value of/how to control his tempo and grip pressure.
-How to unwind at the ball properly with his driver to keep the club on plane
-How to release the clubface through impact to avoid slicing.
-How to self-diagnose his swings so he can make corrections accurately
-How to hit fairway bunker shots solidly
-How to hit a more playable lob shot around the green
-How to practice and develop control with his wedges
-Putting practice ideas and new setup/aiming keys
- Using bump and run shots around the green with different clubs
-How to hit a more controlled greenside bunker shot and control distance
I was most proud of Eric's ability to step outside of his comfort zone and try his new skills, shot selection etc. to the course. That takes guts! He proved to be confident and course-ready and that is my goal with every student. I was thrilled and feel confident he will be just fine from here forward without my constant guidance.
I was so impressed with Eric's positive attitude and willingness to turn over the reigns to me and truly trust my coaching with no resistance. He always had smiling at every lesson even through bad shots, rain storms, aches and pains and other challenges. He really put extra time in outside of the lessons and it showed. He was so easy to work with and I thank him being my first "project"! Great Job Eric!