Breaking 80: Going in the right direction

Peter O'Hagan gives an update on how his quest to break 80 is going

Peter O'Hagan

The past few weeks have been quiet busy since my last blog - golf and the Olympics!

Golf first -

There have been a number of golfing highlights with the real highlight being the sessions with Lee Westwood at Ping HQ in Gainsborough.

The four of us had an entertaining evening with the Golf Monthly team on the Sunday - a very tasty Italian meal and of course a few glasses of appropriate liquid refreshment set up what was to rove an illuminating and eventually very challenging day.

The main topics of conversation flip flopping between the weather, (would the course be open!) the Open (who might figure), belly putters (a complete spectrum of opinion) and of course what were the key questions we should be asking Lee!

Sure enough the next morning was the usual British summer weather - rain and more rain! But we were going to have our sessions with Lee.

The first session was a Q and A chaired by GM editor Michael Harris for this the 4 of us were joined by the score or so of runners up, many of whom had travelled significant distances to be at Gainsborough to meet with the great man. And what a session we had, honest responses to some very penetrating questions delivered in a refreshingly humorous and humble manner - acknowledging his significant successes and a realistic approach to the challenges before him - not only over the coming weeks in Lytham but in the longer term too.

It's a rare opportunity to be part of a small audience with one of our games greatest performers. Following this we all (carrying our bright red Ping umbrellas) went to the Ping fitting centre where Lee showed us his magnificent ball striking skills - it looked so effortless but was so amazingly accurate. It helps to see why he is near the top in so many tour stats.

The four of us were then very lucky to have one 2 one sessions with the great man - offering us simple tips. In my case taking a baseball swing to get the feel of releasing the club and swinging without fear but with trust!

Photographs and autographs followed before we were ushered away whilst Lee tested Pings latest set of clubs from their design team (think it must have been the Anser he was trying) We then played / toiled around the Karsten Lakes course!

I don't think we enjoyed the course at its best, after all the rain and during a torrential rain shower too. No one scored well - but after the morning session with Lee our spirits weren't dampened and our resolve to continue to Play our Best and respond to the challenge was reinforced.

I then had a couple of weeks of sport overload - The Open and The Olympics - and was lucky enough to spend some time at both.

Distracting from my golf but fantastic experiences.

What of the golf though? The lessons with Gary Alliss are certainly starting to pay off. I feel my swing has been completely and dramatically rebuilt from the ground up.

However, the changes I seem to have adopted without the usual pain and catastrophes that I have associated with golf lessons - I am sure we are all familiar with the dip in performance as we try to incorporate changes in our grip, or swing plane - but not this time.

I guess that reflects the quality of teaching and the depth of understanding that comes from not only years of practice but a real understanding of the mechanics of the swing.

My challenge is to ensure I incorporate this excellent teaching in my game and that I practice and rehearse the drills and changes - when I do! The lazy fade changes into a long draw, the squib changes into an accurate and crisp iron shot and the fluffed chip lands on the green and rolls toward the hole.

And when it all comes together - well I came 2nd in Captains day with an 82 - so near and I have progressed to the quarter final of the club shield! I know there is still work to do. I rehearse my swing every day - slowly going through the stages of the swing - address, backswing, transition, impact and follow through.

I am also ensuring that I dedicate one practice session a week (about 90 minutes) to my putting using the drills we developed with Tom Lewis at Wentworth. In addition I also like to spend a similar amount of time to the short game (50 yards and in) including bunker practice - the scoring zone.

I also try and play at least two nines and a full round each week - when the weather permits!! Whilst the score hasn't quite been there - yet I'm sure the game is getting there and it won't be long!!

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