Lesson No. 1 with John Cassidy, a 32-year-old teaching professional at Alderbrook Golf Club in Union, Wash. First impression: He makes sense.
And he’s kind, fully realizing it’s not just my golf swing he holds in his teacher hands. Golf is important, and I’m fragile … he could crush me like yesterday’s roadkill if he chose.
But he won’t … he’s Dr. John.
The rules of our engagement say that John can interject in this space wherever he wants, to correct the incorrect or poorly expressed, to offer his own impressions, to talk the talk that teachers talk when they talk about the golf swing.
Here, he talks in italics.
Bart, I can see you’re understanding the words I say and the positions we’re trying to accomplish. What I feel I gave you and what I try to give all my students in the first lessons is a base for us to add the different colors and images so we can turn the blank canvas into a work of art.
But even great art doesn’t come together at once. It’s a process. And I can’t stress that enough: getting better at golf is a process, and unfortunately it’s not always a constant process of getting better. Peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys … We eventually do things wrong enough times that we figure out how to do it right most of the time.
Dr. John said my setup and grip were good. Then he made a small grip suggestion, and incorporating it made the single biggest difference of our first hour together: keep the thumb pad of my right hand firm against my left thumb, and keep the last three fingers of my left hand firmly wrapped around the club grip, throughout the swing.
The grip, if we hold the club correctly, allows our hands to work in a way that hinges the club for power yet allows the club design to square the club naturally to our swing plane, without much conscious effort.
So simple, but when I do it right I feel instantly firmed up, not so flippy, way stronger. I don’t expect it will be the most dramatic change in my swing or promote the biggest improvement, in the end. But this small thing resonated, and I was able to take it right to the course.
I believe what we accomplished in the first lesson was a starting point for us to build feels and movements toward a more efficient and on-plane swing. In the next lesson we’ll see how things went. We’ll add more if the things we worked on are transferring, or continue to work on the things that aren’t.
Ideally, I want Bart to understand his swing and for Bart to be able to diagnose what went right or wrong on a particular shot. I definitely think you understand what we’re doing, Bart. What I hope to teach you is an understanding of WHY the things we’re working on are important.
The proper rotation of the shoulders accomplishes a few things; very importantly, it allows us to coil our body against a stable lower body, which will create more clubhead speed. More importantly, it allows us to make a full backswing while still keeping our hands in front of our chest at the top of the backswing. The more the hands stay in front of our chest on the way back, the easier it will be to return them to the same place at the most important part of the swing: impact.
Impact is the only truly important part of any golf swing. It’s the only thing that tells the ball where to go. No matter how you get there, if you’re in a good impact position, the ball can do nothing but good things in the air.
“Nothing but good things in the air.” I like this guy.