Golf School Day 3
Day three of the Black Lake Golf school began with breakfast in the clubhouse, where we met out instructors for the morning session: PGA Teaching Professional Pam Phipps, Black Lake Director of Golf, and Debbie Massey, a former LPGA Tour member who recorded three tour wins, and two back-to-back Women’s British Open Championships.
After breakfast, we drove to the far end of the (very large) range, where the staff had an impressive array of teaching schools. There were beach balls, hula hoops, various alignment aids, weighted clubs, a video camera and computer, an impact bag and a pile of other doodads.
Our agenda for the day was warmup, pitching, video analysis, working on ball flight and direction, putting, checking our clubs for fit, working on driving, and then individual swing work. The classes normally have twelve students, and are booked through the end of the summer. This session was an exception.
Debbie began by leading us through a series of stretching exercises using our drivers. These were especially useful, she pointed out, when you don’t have time to hit the range before teeing off.
Next, we began hitting wedges toward a couple of targets downrange. I had only hit a couple before Debbie identified a major problem with my swing: I was taking the club too far inside, and laying off at the top. From that position, I had to come over the top to make contact with the ball, resulting in a weak swipe. Pam also determined that I was standing too close to the ball, further complicating the issue.
At that point, the rest of my morning’s schedule was thrown out; Debbie and Pam shifted gears and had me work exclusively on getting my hands back into the correct position at the top. They worked wonders. In about an hour, I had very nearly unlearned all of the bad habits I had fallen into over the last two years.
Meanwhile, they kept the other student, George, on the posted schedule. I was an emergency case.
I still need to work on returning the club from that top position. Frankly, the whole thing feels awkward, but thanks to Pam and Debbie’s brilliant instruction, I now have tools and drills to be able to get to the proper position every time. Whenever I think I’m losing the feeling, my main fix is to stand at address, cock my wrists up, slide the clubhead back until it’s parallel to my feet, and then move the shaft up into a parallel position at the top. It really helps to remind me of how it should feel.
After lunch (part of the package—very good food), we practiced putting with Marty Predmesky. My putting game is already very solid, so he just worked with me a bit on some drills for improving distance control. Then, it was back to the range, where Pam, Debbie and Marty took turns watching me work on the backswing and top position.
Finally, at about three in the afternoon, George and I were cut loose to play a round. Marty followed us in a cart for the first nine, watching our swings in action, offering tips on club selection and help as needed.
George and I finished our round, then had a classic Up North dinner of whitefish.
Tomorrow, we have another three hour lesson scheduled. Pam and Debbie indicated that I’m going to work on getting from the improved top position, down through the zone and into a finish.
Advice for players heading to golf school: pack lots of Motrin. I don’t think I’ve ever hit as many balls as I hit today. It would also help to pack an extra pair of shoes (changing at lunch will help relieve foot stress) and an extra glove.