This past month I've been working hard on the swing changes that Paul Ashwell has taught me, but I am still finding it difficult to take them from the practice area to the course. My brother has described this as a ‘transitionary period' which I think accurately reflects where I am.
July heralded the mid-point in the process and this was marked by a day with Lee Westwood at PING's headquarters. During the morning Q&A it was an honour to hear him talk so honestly about the game. Later we adjourned to the fitting centre where just watching him hit shots was truly inspirational. Afterwards, Lee was able to offer some one on one coaching. I don't mind admitting that this was slightly nerve-wracking, but an awesome opportunity and something I'll never forget.
That afternoon we got to try out PING's Karsten Lakes course, where we return at the end of the challenge to try and break our respective targets. Unfortunately, I was having a more transitionary day than usual but I did manage to birdie a Par 3 with an outrageous 50 foot putt.
Later that week I was back at Gainsborough to have another club fitting. Until then I had been using a 9.5° K15 fitted with a Tour Regular shaft but Paul Ashwell had highlighted the potential benefit of more loft. Under the expert guidance of custom-fitter Paul Rymer we went through the options and compared the statistics on a range of shafts and lofts with both K15 and G20 heads. We settled on a tweaked version of my existing club, adding another degree of loft gave a longer and more consistent shot.
We also changed my 20° and 23° G20 hybrids for an I20 20° hybrid and G20 4 iron. I'd previously struggled with the hybrids so had wanted a 4 iron instead. After trying the I20 I was impressed with how effortless it was to use and was happy to change.
Last week I had a follow-up call with sports psychologist Gary Leboff who gave me some more insight in to how pro's deal with pressure. The techniques he described should help with staying calm and maintaining the right degree of focus during competition.
This week Paul and I will be holding our lesson out on the course. I'm confident we can work together to identify some areas to improve.
Location: St Ives Golf Club
In 2020, Paul was awarded MasterProfessional and Master Coach status by the PGA, only the 51st Master in the history of the PGA. Paul is based at the Ashwell Academy, St Ives (Hunts Golf Club), where he gets as much pleasure helping players to break a hundred for the first time as he does working with elite players. He's England Golf National Squad Coach and Cambridge University 1st Team Coach.
Whilst training to become a PGA golf professional, I was always curious about a quote from golfing legend Tommy Armour…"Understand the swing in its complexity to teach it in utter simplicity.
As an England Golf National Squad Coach, I have been fortunate enough to work alongside many outstanding golf coaches and sport science professionals. This has deepened my understanding of the game and helped to recognise that every player is a unique individual. Asking the right questions and listening very carefully to the answers is crucial to understand each golfer's game and offer the best and simplest advice to support their development.
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