|GOLF INSTRUCTION - TO FAN OR NOT TO FAN THE CLUB|
ONTARIO, Canada - I have a vivid recollection of a particular event in my golf life that occurred about fifteen years ago. Playing badly, which was often the norm, the part of my brain that controls creative thought must have taken matters into its own hands. It was a survival tactic, of course, to keep me from losing my mind altogether. My latest battery of golf lessons were still fresh and there had been encouraging signs. But as the story usually goes, either because of a lack of talent, discipline, motor skills and/or time to practice, the swing that my pro tried to teach me during his golf instruction wasn't working. So out of desperation, on my next backswing my subconscious mind made me fan the club open. Before my conscious mind could catch up, the shot was in the air.
Naturally, the ball took off like a rocket and came to rest somewhere in the vicinity of my target. And for the rest of that day and probably quite a few more I hit some great shots and felt as if I'd discovered Penicillin. I asked a few golf pros their opinions on fanning the club as I was going through this vortex of excitement but none recommended it other than to say "whatever works."
That experiment didn't last very long. Timing is critical in the golf swing if you are going to square the clubface after using a radical takeaway. The dynamic of opening and closing the club produces a great deal of force against the ball but without perfect timing the ball is liable to go anywhere. As those of you who play with my Over The Top Golf swing know, squaring the club face isn't an issue but back then, while doing a "proper" golf swing, it was.
So why am I taking up space on the Internet talking about a failed experiment from fifteen years ago? Because day before yesterday, on the fourth tee at PGA's south course (which they have since named the Wannamaker), after playing poorly up until that point, I focused on fanning the club open, albeit very slightly, on my takeaway.
If you read my blog or have purchased my DVD, you know that I "own" my swing-that is, I can make corrections on the fly. There were other things I needed to address to get my round on track, which I did, but the feeling of consciously letting the club open on the backswing made my shoulder turn seem more three-dimensional, if that makes any sense. All of a sudden I didn't feel stuck on one plane-back and through. I noticed a freedom of movement that I hadn't felt before. It felt like that Dyson Ball Vacuum Cleaner commercial, you know, the one that goes around corners? I'm not talking about any radical opening of the clubface-just a naturally occurring movement that enhanced my feeling of rotation tremendously.
It is now May and in South Florida that means lots of empty golf courses. So I teed off alone, except for a couple of starters, and hit two huge slices. The one guy said "great shot if it was cart path only." It was pretty much all the support he could muster but I appreciated his breaking the awkward silence during my walk back to the cart. The next couple of holes weren't much better but let's not dwell on it.
With regard to fanning the club open during my takeaway. This barely perceptible move caused an enormous improvement in distance. Of course, I was conscious of doing it but nobody else would have noticed. The twosome ahead of me were Don and Ralph from Vero Beach, both good players, I'd guess about 10 handicaps. After waving me up to join them on the front, we ended up playing the back nine together.
It can be frightening to join a group of strangers when you haven't been playing well. Both these guys were consistent and pretty long. It was a pleasure not only meeting and playing golf with them, but also seeing my tee shots sometimes going past theirs. What started out a disaster culminated in my leaving the course with an eagerness to return. Yes, I corrected what problem I was having with my Over The Top Golf swing. I also added something valuable. A slight fanning of the club to get my shoulders into a smooth 3-D like flow.