Recently, I witnessed a melt down of a very fine professional senior player. It started with one swing and it lasted the final six holes. This occurrence happens all the time but given the fact it was during a competitive round, the rules prevented me from offering advice. If I could have I would have offered him one tip.
Before I mention what that tip would have been, I will say that leading up to the beginning of the end to a great round, he was in rhythm and his tempo was as smooth as silk. The golf shots he hit were long and straight and all the players in the group were marveling at how beautiful his swing looked. What could have happened so abruptly that it could disappear with one swing? Competition sometimes tightens players up and the swing shortens, tempo quickens and just like that, the rhythm goes. Lots of things can cause a poor shot and even great players often hit them. The key is to recognize, as soon as possible, how to get back on track. Getting angry blocks feedback. Once feedback is blocked, there is little chance of accurate analysis.
In the case of this pro, he is over 50 years of age. The challenge for a 50 year-old body is much different from a person in their teens or twenties. Frequently, overpowering the golf swing creates a multitude of problems. Other problems, such as hitting shots out of frustration, trying to kill the ball, attempting to out drive opponents, to name just a few, create havoc with younger players. But for older golfers, tightening up and losing flexibility during the round is fairly common.
Tom Watson almost won the British Open at age 60. He mentioned in articles after that remarkable display of golf that he had made a few adjustments that helped his swing earlier in the year. He flared out his left and right foot enabling him to turn easier and moved the ball back slightly. These two set up keys along with the swing thought of turning his right hip immediately when he started to swing the club away did wonders for Watson at that time. It lengthened his swing a little which helped his rhythm.
So, getting back to my struggling playing partner, I would have suggested that he turn his right hip in the backswing. This would have lengthened his backswing, giving him time to set the club and to finish his backswing. I believe he would have regained his rhythm within a few shots, thus allowing him to recover. His poor shots were all going to the left and this is often an indication that the swing is not getting to a set and finished position at the top.
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