The Best Golf Lesson I Ever Had
Hi, my name is Ed and I had the backswing yips.
Yes, HAD the backswing yips. And it wasn’t pretty. I had gotten to the point where every time I took the club back from the ball, it would be on a different path… most times snatched inside the line and laid off to the point that it made me crazy.
It annoyed me. No… it really, really annoyed me… and it got so bad that last month I actually considered putting the clubs away for awhile. It had become suich a struggle that I would stop my backswing halfway up to the top and start over. Sometimes, by mind would scream “Stop!” but my body would be on go, and the result was very ugly.
Then two weeks ago, during a round at Blue Heron Pines, I finally came to grips with the fact that it was futile to fight it. I had remembered reading a book years ago by some sports psychologist (I can’t remember which one) who said the way to deal with putter yips was to embrace them and just observe the process with a detached fascination. If you did that, he wrote, they would eventually go away. So I decided on the 5th hole at Blue Heron that I would do exactly that with my full swing.
Amazingly, it worked immediately. My mantra for the rest of that round was “embrace the funky backswing” and I played very well that day. More times than not the backswing wasn’t even close to textbook perfect, but if I committed to the swing and kept my tempo under control, the ball pretty much went where I wanted it to go.
Next time out, at Brandywine Country Club, I talked to head pro George McNamara about it and he went one better. In fact, he gave me the best lesson I ever had. And it took less than a minute.
“If you begin the backswing by taking the club back away from the target,” George said, “it virtually has to go back on the proper plane. Take it away from the BALL and you can snatch that club anywhere. But take it back away from the TARGET, and it can’t go anywhere but back and up on the correct plane, or pretty close. And it also helps you stay connected to the target.”
It would be an understatement to say that advice took things to a new level. My backswing path hasn’t been perfect every time since I heard those words, but it has been pretty darned good. There is now no need to embrace the funk because most of it is gone. My weight shift actually seems better, and a tight little draw has returned to my shot pattern. Gone are the duck hooks and pushes that had plagued me all season. And the real beauty was that I am not obsessing about mechanics. After the initial thought of taking the club away from the target, my mind is blank for the rest of the swing… and I am just hitting the ball to the target. Golf is fun again, and my scores, not so coincidentally, have been going down. Yesterday at Brandywine, I shot my first under-par round in four years.
How long will it last? I have no idea. I’m sure my mind will find some way to get involved and screw things up, requiring another intervention of sorts. But I wanted to write this rather long blog post as a public “thank you” to George McNamara for his advice which has resurrected my golf game. You can learn more about his teaching methods at his website www.SwingWithFreedom.com.
It is also written to encourage you, if you’ve been dealing with backswing problems or struggling with some other aspect of the game. There is light at the end of the tunnel. And often if you just get out of your own way, you can see it.
Ed Abrams anchors mornings on KYW Newsradio, and you can hear his Golf Reports there on Fridays and Saturdays. He has also created a pair of websites: www.DealTrackerGolf.com, featuring leads on the best golf equipment deals… and www.TeeItUpPhilly.com, with video course tours, audio swing tips and local golf deals