A new year of golf schools and a new venue to start the year — Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus.
We arrived in the dark and were taken straight to our rooms. I was impressed from the word go, a lovely room, very warm, big and comfortable. I went off immediately to find the group for pre-dinner drinks. Everyone was happy and excited to get going in the morning.
We started the first day of coaching with short pitching which serves also as a warm up session. The focus of this session is to improve ball contact, trajectory and hitting the selected landing point. This session was followed with some long game on the range which provided the opportunity for me to video each member of the group as a base point to assess and discuss improvement later in the week. The aim of the session is to establish the importance of good balance, staying centred throughout the swing and having a consistently low point to improve contact. We had two good sessions which were followed by a quick break for lunch and then heading off to play the course. Claire and Jim had been here before and as they knew the course headed off to lead the way round. It is a very challenging course but is also fun to play.
Day 2 started with pitching to build on the previous days coaching. I had set up 3 landing points to simulate game like conditions. Each shot had a different target, providing the need for concentration, good contact and variation of length in the swing. It sounds quite straightforward but has many variables including the swing length as the essential element of hitting the target. Use of the body to measure swing whether knee to knee, hip to hip or shoulder to shoulder is a way to get consistency and distance control. This was a ‘light switch’ moment for some of the group. We then popped down to the range to continue the previous days work. For some the movement practised in the short game helped with this session. I set up the ‘grid’ to help with the swing path and also used my pink tube to assist with maintaining a centred stance. After lunch we again set out on the course. The day was fabulous from a coaching view point with much improvement in movement and control.
The next day was a free day with some of the group playing on the course, others practising and some just enjoying a rest. I was able to get out on the course and really enjoyed the opportunity.
We commenced day 3 with bunker play. The issues with hitting from sand are partly psychological and partly fear of over hitting. I always try to instil the need to make a full swing, aiming to hit through the sand about 1″ or so behind the ball and following through to send the ball 10 to 20 yards. It is very satisfying to see how players improve as confidence grows. Practise is fundamentally important to retain the confidence in game conditions. We then did some chipping using a 7 iron to carry the ball 25% to the landing target in the air and 75% run out to the hole. This 25%/75% idea is not set in stone but a guide – also important to get the flight trajectory right. The shot generally requires a low ball flight. We followed this session with work on long game concentrating on the use of woods. Every golfer wants to hit the ball farther and the tendency is to try to hit harder rather than smarter. Distance is achieved through control, rhythm and ball contact – not uncontrolled speed and power.
Day 4 started with putting. Having gone over the importance of distance control and direction we touched on ‘aim point’. Everyone was interested in this which uses feet to feel the slops on the green. I set up some drills to provide experience and something to practise when they are at home. This proved to be a really good session. After lunch we set out with on course coaching which is in many ways the most effective session. Unlike being on the practise areas it introduces aspects of course management and focus on scoring rather than trying to hit wonder shots.
As with all golf schools the last day comes around too quickly. I did a round up clinic, going over points covered during the week. This is a very good session and I like the challenge of being led by the questions and comments made by the group. In the afternoon we played competition golf. The winner of the individual stableford was Jim , with a superb 36 points. The winners of the secret pairs were Penny and Lynn. In truth everyone was a winner having made great improvements as well as having fun. Thank you to all, I loved working with you all. Continue to work hard and it will pay off.