Project 2 Handicap

Online log of a quest to drop my golf handicap from a nine to a two within sixty months. Sink or swim, I'll give it my best shot. Advice is not only appreciated, it's encouraged!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Book Review: The Impact Zone

One measure of my obsession with the game is how much of my free time I spend watching, thinking about, and reading about golf.

Regarding the latter activity, I've written before about my golf book collection - now numbering close to 200 - and how several books have had a profound impact on my game.

Add another.

In The Impact Zone, Bobby Clampett - the former PGA tour player now TV on-course personality - provides a fresh approach to learning the mechanics of playing golf.

His approach is also refreshing for it's simplicity.

He lays out five swing dynamics which he claims are present in every successful (non specialty) golf swing, with every club - from putter to driver. Concentrate on perfecting these dynamics, Clampett says, and you can forget about the dozens (or is it hundreds? thousands? millions?) of "style" distractions.

An approach this simple sounds too good to be true. But my (albeit limited) application of the concepts has me more excited about the possibility of improving my game than I've been in years!

Here's one example.

Swing dynamic two is that the "forward swing bottom" on all shots should be approximately four inches in front of the ball. In my own practice I have found that - while with putts this may be a bit much - on all other swings from chips to driver the result is a crisply struck, powerful golf shot.

Clampett, of course, has viewed thousands of professional golf swings and claims that he can accurately predict the handicap of a golfer simply by measuring how far - with an iron swing - the deepest part of the divot is from the original ball position. Pros swings result in divots four to five inches in front of the ball, while most amateurs bottom out their swings much closer to the ball, or even behind the ball.

At first I was skeptical of this claim that - even with a driver swing - the best swings bottom out four inches in front of the ball. So I did a "Swing Vision" search on Youtube, which brought up several videos of professional golf swings. Try this yourself and play the videos from the face on angle, so that you can observe the position of the golfer's hands at impact. You'll find, as I did, that in every single case - whether with an iron or driver off the tee - the hands are indeed forward of the ball at impact, after which the club catches up with the hands and reaches it's lowest point in the swing - about four inches in front of the ball's original position!

After this discovery I applied the forward swing bottom concept during my next round of golf - concentrating on being sure that my hands were in front of the ball at impact with every driver swing. The result was that my drives were longer and more solidly struck than I can ever remember.

So that's the good news.

The bad news is that I now have to review my entire game in order to determine where I am successfully applying these dynamics and where I need work.

But while the work may take some time (and some temporarily higher scores) it's a small price to pay for the potential improvement in my game that perfecting the dynamics promises.

So, stay tuned.