Project Par Week 4 Update
Club Head Speed, Coaches Input, and Practice
Welcome Players! This week I got together with my coach (and friend) who’s helping me on my golf development. We tested my club head speed & other swing metrics, went over some swing improvements, and compared everything to food. Read on for our soup of choice to getting the trail arm in the right position.
Training Week in Review
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Training Week in Review
A good week on the golf development side because my coach is back in town so we were able to spend some time together, as far as training and preparation go it was another week of small progress.
Many think that when they set a goal, even with comprehensive planning like I have, that every week will be full of major discoveries and drastic changes.
Couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are certainly ups and downs, the majority of progress comes from time spent in plateau’s. Time where you’re accumulating practice time and training but it has yet to translate into tangible results. The hardest part of training is being OK with these steady-states and sticking to the plan.
Almost an exact repeat of last week. I started off the week with consistent putting practice and as the week came to a close I got to the range for practice and neglected my putting. No excuses, no reasons, just me not doing what I said I was going to do. The stats speak for themselves.
Wins: 3 hours of practice time at the end of the week and an accumulated hour of putting practice in the beginning of the week. All good time spent to developing my skill.
Losses: Once again I failed to spend at least 10-15 minutes putting on days I went to the range.
In order of day completed I did the following for physical training:
110-minute zone 2 road cycling ride
Foam roll and stretch
25 minute Home Yoga
135-minute zone 2 road cycling ride
Wins: Two good conditioning sessions of progressive distance/time keeps me on track. I really want to make sure conditioning is not an issue as I practice and play more. My acute goal is getting to 40 mile aerobic rides (~3 hours) before starting to play with intensities. Twice a week consistently will help with that. Also very positive that I’m keeping up with mobility via stretching and yoga. I like how home yoga fits into my schedule and still gets a good stimulus.
Losses: I would have liked to get another RT session in on one of the rest days, but those days were full of skill practice and life/social activities. I’m not upset at not having trained because as I always say skill practice is more important and the structure is meant to be flexible so life can be enjoyed.
The three main physiological metrics I track are Heart Rate (HR), Heart Rate Variability via rMSSD (HRV), and Sleep Opportunity (SO).1
Quick legend: Gray bars are daily scores, blue line is trend line, and green range is moving average.
Another solid week of maintaining good physiology. What I mean by this is essentially preventing burnout, overtraining, and negative adaptations. This can be summed up into the idea of “recovering” well. The combination of HR, HRV, and SO is how I gauge my recovery and from my measurements I know that I have been adequately recovered each and every day before my training and practice.
The less there is to report on this front, the better! I hope to be able to maintain these levels for the entirety of the year, but when problems do undoubtedly begin to creep in these will give me the first warning signs.
A note on the elevated HR and decreased HRV on Jan. 24th: It was the day after my long cycling ride which was subjectively easy. I did no other physical activity that would have led me to become overly strained, but what I did have was an unpleasant confrontation the day before. The sort of thing that left me emotionally riled up, so much so that when I woke up in the morning it was the first thing I thought about! The emotions started all over again, bringing feelings of anger and being disrespected. I tried hard to calm my mind before taking my physiological measurements, but clearly that didn’t work 😅. So although physically I felt fine, my emotional arousal was causing a significant activation of my sympathetic nervous system!
A prime example of how HRV and HR delineate the complex interaction between physical and emotional state through the central nervous system.
Time for the fun stuff!
It was an eventful week on the golf practice side. With my coach in town we took the opportunity to take my baseline KPM’s of Swing Speed, Club Path, Face Angle, and Angle of Attack using a Quad.
Then we went to work on improving my swing starting with the basics and going over the two basic chip shots I need to be able to hit effectively. Two days later I got back out to the range to practice on the exact things we worked on. You’ll see a big difference in my range sessions this week compared to last!
Note: I’m purposefully keeping my golf coach anonymous, both to respect his privacy (wouldn’t want him getting loads of messages asking to fix your swing 😂) but also because that is not my point of emphasis here. I don’t want you to think that you need to have the “best” golf coach to teach you. You should find a coach or instructor that both has the capabilities to teach what you seek to learn AND someone who you mesh with on a personal level. I work well with my coach because we were friends long before I got any golf-related help. He speaks in terms that I understand and we have a very effective line of communication.
Swing Data & Measurements
After a thorough warm-up (both physically and with clubs) - there was nothing left but to grip it and rip it!
First was 5 swings with the driver. 3 swings at 'stock’2 shot and 2 at maximum effort.
Then 4 swings with my 7i - usually you would use a 6i for testing because it’s the middle iron, but as I’m still working on my swing my 6i is the longest iron I carry in my bag and thus my swing with it is least reliable. So until I can have a more repeatable swing with my long irons I’ll be testing with my 7i.
107mph club head speed with the driver? Not bad!
Of course the biggest problem, and one I did not need testing to tell me, is my face angle is wide open at impact. “Sayonara right” as my coach called it. 😐
Other than that my club path and angle of attack were all within range of what he’d want to see, so this confirms the need to really concentrate on getting the club head square at impact before trying to mess around with speed training.
I’ve said it before but I’m confident that I can increase my club head speed significantly with my knowledge and application of training - so with that in mind my priority is building the technique that is reliable and will maintain when I do get to a point to focus on speed and distance.
Practice Improvement #1: Backswing
The first focus for improving the technical component of my swing is getting my backswing to where it needs to be. The golf swing is all about matchups - what positions can your body create in order to move the club along the swing path in order to strike the ball at a square angle.
For me and my swing fault of making impact with an open face, it starts with having a backswing that sets me up for success so I can get my body in a position on the downswing to square the face at impact.3
One thing I want to emphasize from the student perspective is how important it is to BE COACHABLE.
The moment I seek for help in something I drop all perceptions of what I know and allow myself to be influenced by another. This is the definition of being a student!
There’s two key points in the video above - the first is when I ask coach, “How do I practice this at home?” and the second is when I pause to explain what my swing feel is. This is because I want to make sure what I’m feeling is creating the appropriate movement that my coach is trying to get across.
Remember how I said the student-coach relationship communication is the most important thing? That is the reason. He will either confirm or deny my feel and then we work towards getting to a point where my feel creates the movement or position that he wants me in.
I’m going to be drilling this as much as I can in the foreseeable future!
Practice Improvement #2: Chipping
Then we went over to practice on chipping - which you’ve seen me place a huge emphasis on as one of my keys to success.
The two main shots he want’s me to be able to hit effectively no matter the situation is the short bump and run and the lofted soft chip. Both can be hit with the same club (a 56w in my case) and from a variety of lie angles - and with those two shots in my arsenal I should be able to be proficient around the greens in most cases.
In this drill he actually had me using a 9i off a downward slope in order to ensure that I was using the proper swing path with an open face to get the ball lofted in the air (for a lofted chip). A really tough drill but one that definitely paid off. I’ll also be adding this to my practice routine of course. Nice and soft like “melted mozzarella cheese” - top tier food analogies with us! We can add that to the Miso Soup we had in the video before…
Two days later I got back to the range to work on all the things I was coached on. I didn’t have as much time as I wanted unfortunately, limited to just over an hour, so I warmed up and hit about 20-30 balls with a 9i and PW before heading over to the chipping green and practicing the bump and run and lofted chips.
Compared to last weeks range session this is night and day. I’m still not getting my backswing to the ideal spot, but that’s ok because it’s understood I’ll need lots of repetitions before the new movement is engrained. The positive is ball contact was solid every time, the negative is that I’m still hitting it with the face open as you can see by the ball flight. My stock shot with this swing is a pretty heavy cut which can be tough to play, but I’ll continue to practice to try and straighten it out.
Overall - another good week of compounded progress.
Physically things are going well - my flexible framework has held up to all demands of life so far and I’ve been consistently taking steps forward in skill practice which so far has been accumulating nicely.
Relative to the big picture - this was a big week. At this point I now have almost all of my baseline data (only missing my KPM for physical performance). I’ve got:
Baseline performance during a full round
KPI’s for initial performance
KPM’s for golf
Two entries for my skill tree of golf attributes
A full month of daily habit tracking
A full month of physical training logs
This data is important because now I can really start to narrow my training to those aspects that I determined (and hope) will improve my performance the most. This is the benefit of establishing the KPI’s and KPM’s - being that I spend the majority of my time improving the skillsets and attributes that will have the greatest amount of impact on my performance.
And now that I’ve gotten input from my coach on the technical aspects of my swing I need to be working on as well as developing new shots to improve my shot selection, the real work can begin.
The purpose of all this data and the comprehensiveness of my program is so that I can practice efficiently.
I know exactly what I should be working on in relation to my swing, in relation to which shots I should be practicing, and exactly what I should be working on to improve the effectiveness of my skill practice.
The foundation has been laid, the pathways have been marked, the goal is clear.
Back to work.
A stock shot in golf is the intensity at which you can hit a repeatable and predictable shot. Tiger is on record saying his stock swing is at about 80% effort, which not only makes his shots more consistent but also gives him a great ability to modulate his shot depending on the conditions.
If you don’t understand the golf technicalities it’s quite alright. The golf swing is a biomechanically complicated movement.