Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Joy and Sorrow on the JH Drive-In

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Joy and Sorrow on the JH Drive-In

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tim Taylor

February 20

Third session with JH turns out to be a reality check. Bounce in to Matfen Hall's academy imagining golf swing is smoother than it has been for a long time following latest tip from nearest low handicapper on Chester-le-Street practice ground. Sadly, after hitting a few shots, video camera tells a different story.

We adjourn to a room adjoining driving range so JH can play back to pupil what is going on behind head when swing golf club back and through. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear. Pleasantly but firmly, JH lays it on line: Biggest problem is I "live on tips" when need to clear mind, keep it simple, and take improving golf swing one step at a time.

But good news re stance, posture and grip. Sound basis there thanks to organised set-up. Trouble is the set-up is only the platform for the actual swing and am falling down at first base. First movement, the takeaway, is all over the shop. Must concentrate on getting my left shoulder turning back under neck in sync with elbows, arms and hands. Also, must keep elbows together and allow wrists to break naturally.

Plus must take the club back much lower below an imaginary low shelf. This will take club back on a much lower plane which will stop me having to always adjust body when bring the club back down from the top of the backswing, make impact and follow through.

The adjustment is drastic and makes me lose power and direction. I'm almost toppling forward. To emphasise point, when we go back out on range JH grabs my right arm and shoulder on my swing 12 shots in a row to physically point the club in the right direction.

Then we watch another video playback. Thought was getting it, but camera shows still have long way to go before club is on right plane. JH does all sorts of fascinating stuff on video. Me swinging alongside Nick Faldo to illustrate what plane need to aim for. Then silhouette of Tiger Woods placed over mine to illustrate how my head wobbles about more than his does.

But key point during the two weeks before see JH again is: Must go to practice ground and drill my takeaway until get that right. The foundation blocks of JH coaching method are based on a firm rule: Get one thing right before you progress to the next.

March 9

Weather has been bitterly cold, so have had no chance to practice since last JH lesson over two weeks ago. So have cancelled latest lesson in order to put work in before see JH again. But today weather is OK and to help get takeway on a lower plane, am using Golf Channel device called "Inside Approach" which the head professional at Ramside Hall, Kevin Jackson, suggested buying last year. Got it but have never used it. Have now suggested to JH I should use it as he has underlined point Kevin was trying to get me to take on board about takeaway. JH has the same attitude to training gadgets as Kevin Costner had when Rene Russo clanked around wearing all that stuff in Tin Cup. He looks at me funny.

Also JH now wondering how many club pros this pupil has been to see, if only fleetingly, over the years. Do quick mental check and realise am at well over double figures, including Steve McKenna, from the City of Newcastle club, who is this year's captain of the North Region PGA.

Also Doug Brolls at Wearside, Steve McNally who used to be at Burgham Park and Brian Ridley at the Beamish Park Golf Academy. There there's Mark Stancer and Gordon Richardson at Slaley Hall and David Fletcher at Chester-le-Street. And there was also some lunatic who shall be nameless because he put my back out.

Trouble is, as JH points out again, I have been "living on tips" for over 20 years although he does laugh when pupil says: "Well, what else do you expect from a journalist?" But JH point is: "Quick fixes don't work ( have to work changes into muscle memory on practice ground."

Get another laugh out of John, when recall first club pro, in the Midlands, who was good. …

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