Breaking 80: Slowly but surely

Play Your Best Challenge winner Peter O'Hagan talks about his attempt to break 80

Peter O'Hagan

Its hard to believe the speed that the weeks are passing by and what at times feels like the slowness in my progress to achieve my seasons target. However, there is progress!

I am sure many golfers feel the same as they seek to improve. Change is a very complex beast that at times can bite! But at other times give you that warm satisfying glow of achievement.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been implementing the swing changes that Gary Alliss has been working with me on. This journey has been most illuminating as we have made significant changes, as he would say "from the ground up". First building a solid foundation around which the swing can flow and deliver consistent and accurate ball striking.

I have taken copious notes during my lessons with Gary and look forward to sharing them with anyone that is interested, when we have achieved the outcomes – it has been very much a construction activity – each lesson building on the work and practice – and there has been a lot of practice, before moving on to the next stage.

Out of interest one of the best ways I have found to practice the stages of the swing that Gary has asked me to work on is to go through the movements in super slow motion, with regular check points – using mirrors, where possible, but more commonly reflections in windows – I am sure my neighbours think I have finally slipped off the edge! Once this slow motion phase is comfortable I slowly, and I mean slowly, increase the tempo, but never go above 75%. It seems to work for me and the difference is showing.

But what happens when you take it to the course? Of course it goes wrong - as you think about what should be where and when. As a result I tighten up, grip the club like a rattle snake, swing like Don Quixote and am disappointed at the outcome - should I be surprised? Rather than relying on trust, looking at the target and swinging the club through the ball.

In a recent medal (where I came 5th in my Division!) an exciting 8 on the first, followed by three further 4x2's and a 6 on a par 3 managed to blow a big hole in what would otherwise have been a reasonable score. This was caused I believe by thinking too much, rather than relaxing and enjoying it.

I compare this to a game at Woodhall Spa on Thursday on the Hotchkin course. I relaxed, swung the club, shaped the ball and got out of some of the most treacherous and demanding bunkers on earth. As a result 40 points and the money on a windy day too!

I had stage three of my lessons with Gary on Friday and was encouraged by his comments and by the progress, so this week will be practicing the through impact phase of the swing, using my slow motion method and taking it to the course in a major charity day, for our local hospice on Thursday - but this time trying to relax and swing.

Monday I am back with Ping in Gainsborough, thought it worthwhile having things checked, especially driver and looking at the Trackman stats. Ping have been a superb organisation to work with, highly professional and superbly competent - I guess that's why they make such great clubs and are an ideal partner in my Play Your Best challenge!

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