A recent golf coaching success story ....

Looking at the 8th green from the 12th tee box at Cork Golf Club

John McDonnell, a good friend of mine arrived for a golf lesson a number of weeks ago. So I asked John, “What’s up with your game?”  

As he describes to me his following problems:
“I can hit my irons at all, I duff and shank just about everything, I have gone for 6 handicap out to a 9 handicap over the last few years without posting a decent score. This game is getting me down and I feel I can play a whole lot better….  I can hit my driver fine, but after that, I have nothing and I cannot play a shot into a green where the wind is blowing from right to left. The ball typically will end up long a left. This is a disaster and your services are needed ASAP”.

So we played 18 holes at Cork Golf Club and I made an easy five euros! The next part of the session was lunch at Market Lane in Cork City and down to my coaching facility on the grounds of Riverstown House at John Dooley Golf Limited in Co. Cork.

From my observations of John’s swing on the golf course and for watching my friend hitting a few golf shots right of the target, the following number of problems stuck out like a drawer full of odd socks:
  •        His grip was too strong on the club
  •        The club face was in a weak position and aimed a long way to the right of target.
  •        The ball was positioned right of centre for a wedge, for his six iron and in fact all his irons. But his ball position for his driver was perfect.
  •        His alignment; shoulders were pointing left of the target and his stance was pointing right of parallel.
  •        If you could imagine this; his back-swing was very much an inside takeaway movement followed by a big over swing. And he had very little body connecting swing movements.
  •        His down swing sequence was firing for all points of his body, which made each swing feel significantly different and resulting in all sorts of strikes and ball flights.
  •        Even if he could get the ball airborne, he had no confidence in his ball flight and John said“ this is awful and I can even picture to ball flying to the green”.

So this is what I did:

During the two hour practice session, we worked mostly on his pre-shout routine – make a number of feel good practice swings, then picture with his mind the ball flying to his target and his aim, which would lead into sorting out his body alignment.  

We worked on his alignment, squared his stance to open and his shoulders to square. I moved his ball position further towards his left heel or left of centre.  

We then worked on his practice swing to feel good swings (pre-shot routine) and incorporated a shorter and a wider back-swing. I used a couple of clubs on the ground to help John work on a straighter takeaway. 

John's back-swing movement was easy as he got that part of the lesson with no problems. This enabled me to introduce a flatter follow through by working on circular body movement exercises. The rotation exercises have a number of body sequencing benefits without his direct focus on that task.

Finally over the course of the two hours John was feeling a whole lot better and hitting straighter, better ball strikes and longer shots.
75 yards to the 3rd hole at Cork Golf Club

John went away and worked on all of the above. There was a lot of information for our golf coaching session and there was a lot of stuff going on with his swing. But he is a committed man and he wanted to know what he needed to do to get his game back. In this situation I supplied John with the lesson bullet point summary notes and this resource worked really well for John.

The following week, we did a quick overview of where we were with John’s swing and his address set-up, which was going in the right direction. However we spent the remainder of the lesson working on his swing sequencing.

The hardest part of the first lesson was trying to feel his shoulders were parallel to the ball to target line/square position and to correctly aim the club at his intended target. Johnny had a habit of aiming the club a little right of the target and his shoulders would naturally open at the address position. 

Three and a half weeks later; John posted a 77 gross in at the Munster Senior Amateur Open at Cork Golf Club. The tournament was played in tough weather conditions and he was nicely positioned at jointed 16th going into the second round. The good news is he got his handicap cut 1.0, a full shot and the bad news is the wheels came off the trolley during the second and final round.

However, well done to John McDonnell, he kept playing and never give up hope. We can always get our games back and sometimes all we need is help from our local PGA Professional.  

John Dooley PGA


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