The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…of returning to golf after a layoff.
As some may know I had an extended layoff from the game this year (close to 9 weeks in total) not due to anything other than my perceived level of athleticism being nowhere near to its reality. The damage being done was ligament damage through my wrist and elbow and after the necessary treatment I finally made it back onto the course and here is what I learnt about both my game and my attitude to improving.
Simply put I used the time to evaluate some of the major areas that I believe have held me back, the large one being my fitness. Over the years I have relied heavily on the fact that I stay active in playing the game, taking much the same approach as Angel Cabrera, I practiced very little but would play a lot and believed this was the only exercise I needed to stay at a reasonably good level. I was wrong! As we have seen over the past few months being physically fit to play golf at a consistently comes from hard work off the course in the gym and the practice range.
I recently measured my swing speed and from my Peak Golfing Ability to now I have lost around 6mph from my swing speed this equates to roughly 19 yards’ worth of distance with the driver (we would all like to be 19 yards longer off the tee). The loss, is easy to understand, I weigh more than I did then, I am less flexible than I was then and I practice a lot less than I did then. So that’s my goals for the upcoming season (I will post to my social media the stats after the first proper screening):
Coming back after the longest layoff of my golfing career has left my game in a terrible state of affairs, the areas of the game I used to excel in are now the areas that let me down the worst. My arm still doesn’t feel 100% in the golf swing and there is a good possibility that the damage I did will make me have to change my swing.
The above is the only part that is bad….
I am not disheartened by this, I am motivated to try and improve upon the technique I am left with and figure a way to play the game back to my old level. There have been glimpses lately on the course but they have truly been blink and you miss them.
This is where my story may relate a little more for you reading, some of you may have taken the extremely hot summer off the game (Can’t say I would blame you) and the new season is not that far away, roughly 5 weeks till the first competition of the year. What you will notice when you come back is that you are not as sharp as you were and may feel that you lost all you have worked for in the last season, that as you will know deep down is not true.
Through some efficient practice you will regain the sharpness quicker and be ready for the season, I would suggest the following to help you get your game up and running quickly.
Wedge Play: Spend a full practice session working on your feel with the wedges, spend time to understand how far you hit the ball with a ¼, ½ and ¾ swing. Do this with all your wedges and write down the distance the ball is flying. For a more accurate measurement we can schedule some time on the SkyTrak system which will generate a wedge matrix for your game.
Know your distances: Like with the wedges, understanding how far you hit the ball with each club will give you a positive approach to the shot you are trying to hit. Spend some time going through your bag and measuring how far the ball is flying through the air. We can use the Skytrak to help here also.
Putt for Dough: Probably the most important but most under practiced area of the game “putting” spend some time on the putting green working through the distances. A simple drill to help you get your feel back is 3,6,9. Take three balls and place them at three foot from the hole, make all three putts move to six feet away, if you miss you must start again. The goal of the drill is to hole three consecutive putts from each distance. To make it harder if you miss at any distance you must go back to three foot.