Being in the golf industry for close to 25 years, I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with some of the best instructors in the business. But what’s been a blessing has also has been a curse sometimes because too much information isn’t necessarily good, and occasionally the new information (at least in my mind) has conflicted with previous instruction.
Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to spend about an hour and a half with David Leadbetter, who took me through the paces of the “A Swing,” which was inspired by the late Calvin Peete, one of the most consistent golfers to ever play the game. The “A Swing” is actually pretty simple, and when you put it all together, it looks like a normal golf swing. It’s also worked well for me this year, as my lack of a break-through in tournament golf has had little to do with ball-striking, but more to do with not being able to eliminate the blow-up hole or two.
So when I had the opportunity to see Mike McGetrick at the Mike McGetrick Golf Academy and Golf Channel Academy at the Golf Club of Houston, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to tinker much with my golf swing, though deep down I certainly knew I still had flaws.
But then again, I knew that McGetrick is one of the best teachers in the world, so I was anxious to hear what he had to say. Simply put (though I’m not guaranteeing better results in my next Golf Channel Am Tour major, the Turning Stone Classic in Vernon, N.Y) my lesson from McGetrick was one of the best I’ve ever had.
On track to better golf
Besides me (laugh track inserted here), McGetrick’s list of accomplished students include two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion and World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, four-time major winner Meg Mallon, Hall of Famers Beth Daniel and Karrie Webb, and PGA Tour players Brandt Jobe, Gary Hallberg, Scott McCarron and Tom Purtzer. McGetrick also coached five of the victorious 12-member U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2002 and four of its members in 2004. So it really shouldn’t have come as any surprise that he knew what he was doing. (McGetrick, who heads up the instruction program for all of Escalante Golf, was the 1999 national PGA Teacher of the Year. He moved to Houston last year from Colorado, where he was pretty much Mr. Everything in golf.)
After a few warm-up shots, McGetrick put me on video. Within a few seconds (really, that’s all it took), McGetrick found a couple of flaws in my downswing move.
“I really like what you’re doing in the backswing,” he told me, “but we need to do a little work on your downswing.”
I won’t bore you with the details here, but within a few minutes and after a couple of drills working on hip rotation, shoulder plane and getting into a full finish, I was feeling a golf swing I hadn’t felt in a long time, if ever. Now, I was getting through the ball and hitting it with more clubhead speed. My misses seem more predictable.
Okay, so that’s the physical part. We also talked about the mental game.
It really does come down to one shot at a time
In my last major, the Houston Open at Sweetwater Country Club, I finally had a chance at a good round. At 5-over-par through 15 holes, if I parred in, I would have shot 77, which would have given me some much needed points in my quest to qualify for nationals. Instead, I made two doubles down the stretch, trying, for the most part, to play conservatively.
My mistake, McGetrick pointed out, was thinking of the last three holes as a whole and not taking it one shot at a time. I know that sounds cliché, but explaining it further, instead of trying to protect a score, I needed to approach the last three holes just as I did the first 15, trying to make pars and birdies.
“Instead of thinking about shooting 77 or 78, why not try to make a birdie or two down the stretch and getting it to 76 or 75?” McGetrick suggested.
And really that comes down to trying to hit the best shots possible – one at a time, without regard to score or expectations.
Hmmm, playing without expectations. Seems like I’ve heard that one before.
What can I say, Steven Yellin (author the Fluid Motion Factor, who has been trying to hammer this home with me), this dog doesn’t learn new tricks easily. But I haven’t given up. This weekend is nothing but possibilities.
Mike McGetrick is one of the latest instructors to join the Golf Channel Academy, a network of world-class coaches and teaching facilities located throughout the United States and Canada. Playing off the Golf Channel Academy brand on television, Golf Academy instructors take a comprehensive approach to improving their students’ game over time. For more information, visit golfchannelacademy.com. For more information on McGetrick and the Mike McGetrick Golf Academy, visit mikemcgetrickgolf.com.