Harriet Shephard finds that one lesson is enough to totally transform her relationship with her least favourite club.
“Why don’t you try hitting your wood?”
Whenever my boyfriend asks this question, I normally just answer with an eyeroll.
This is also generally followed by a dramatic statement about how much I hate that club and I will never be able to hit it properly (me, dramatic?).
That’s right, me and my four wood don’t get on, and I’ve never really made much effort to fix this.
I tend to go straight from using my driver to my irons with nothing in between, and so far, I’ve just about got away with it (no I'm not really sure how I've done it either).
Whenever I try use this dreaded club all that happens is that I top, thin or fat it.
So, I’ve always thought why should I bother even taking the head cover off? Attempting a swing will only put me in a bad mood and ruin an otherwise semi-successful round.
But I knew I had to face my fear eventually, and at least I was sensible enough to realise that the best way to do this was to ask an expert.
I went back to my fav PGA pro Ellie Robinson at Leeds Golf Centre pleading for help.
“So which bit are you struggling with?” she asked. “Off the tee, off the fairway?”
“All of it,” was my somewhat deflated reply.
We went for straight off the ground and, as usual, it didn’t take her long to work out why it wasn't working for me.
After playing back one of my first shots in slow motion, she noticed that I was bending my knees too much in my set up, but the big problem was that I was coming at the ball with a club path of about five degrees. That's why I was sometimes catching the ground just before the ball, topping it and generally just not striking it as well as I should be.
She also pointed out that I was wrapping my club too far round my body in the backswing, in some kind of subconscious attempt to scoop it off the floor.
This meant my hands were too low and my club was too close to me in the backswing and coming down onto the ball.
So to fix this she made a clever contraption involving a ball basket and a what looked like a swimming noodle (a long foam tube type thing), and stuck it behind me. This then forced me to adjust my swing so that I missed it on the way up and on the way down, and consequently hit it in a much more efficient way.
Sure enough, the ‘after’ video showed that my club was travelling in a more upright position, my arms were a better place at the top of my swing, I was down to a 1.4 degree club path and I was striking the ball much better.
Comparing the two side-by-side, it looked more like I was hitting a baseball bat in my ‘before’ video where as in the 'after' I looked almost like a pro who knew exactly what she was doing.
The two swings were as different as night and day, and the best possible proof of how useful my half hour session had been.
It made such a difference having someone tell me what I was doing wrong and fix it in such a clever way.
Now I can’t wait to put it all into practice on the course.
I can’t tell you how strange (but brilliant) it is to actually be looking forward to using my fairway wood for once.
If you’re like me – you've gone way past the absolute beginner stage but you just seem to be stuck in a rut and still struggle with the same things – I can’t recommend having lessons enough.
It’s far less confusing than trying to take conflicting advice from your playing partners, too.
Just three sessions has been enough to really help me, and Ellie herself confirmed that my swing has got so much better in just the short time since I first went to see her (and yes she would tell me if I wasn't I'm sure!).
I still need to work on my follow through (and many more things if we're being picky) but we're going to come back to that another day.
You still won’t really noticeably progress with lessons if you don't practice of course, but in my experience, it will really help you enjoy the game so much more.
For more information about lessons at Leeds Golf Centre visit www.leedsgolfcentre.com.