It’s been almost two years since my first golf lesson, which was a pretty significant lesson that put me on the right track toward bettering my game. In that lesson, the main focuses were correcting my stance, fixing my grip, and learning about weight shift during my swing. Fast-forward to 2012, where in my most recent rounds, I’ve been struggling to hit straight, consistent, long shots, and have been generally losing confidence in my swing, both with my driver and my irons. I’ve had a few ideas about what’s going on with my swing: my downswing is too steep, I’m overpowering my swing, I’m standing up during the swing… the list goes on. At this point, I’m looking for any guidance to help get my swing and my confidence back, especially before my league matches for the Windy City Golf League start.
Enter Greg Baresel, PGA Golf Instructor and Performance Coach. Greg is a Class A Member of the PGA of America, a PGA Teaching Professional at the Cantigny Golf Academy, a PGA Golf Instructor at Athletico Golf Performance Center, and the Director of Instruction at Marengo Ridge Golf Club. He is also the Lead Instructor for the PGA TOUR Academy Junior Camps at Cantigny Golf. During his professional career, he has given more than 3,000 lessons while working at some of the most prominent golf courses in the area. Needless to say, he has all the credentials necessary to work with players of all skill levels.
I met up with Greg in the early hours of a rainy Saturday morning at the Cantigny Golf Academy. The facility is comprised of multiple heated indoor hitting bays and video swing analysis studios, which gives Greg the tools necessary to break down, point out, and visualize the flaws of my swing. We spent the next hour video-tapping my swing, drawing lines that designate where my swing is and where is should be, and working to improve my swing. Within the first 10 minutes of my lesson, Greg was able to see the problems with my swing (which included some of the things I suspected), as well as a couple things that I didn’t expect.
The major thing that Greg work with me to improve was my takeaway. My original takeaway of my swing consisted of my hands being too far forward. This caused my hands to be high and too far forward at the top of my backswing. During my downswing, since my hands were high, I would come down steep on the ball, which usually causes the hooks and slices, as well as inconsistent impact. So Greg focused on moving my hands more back during my takeaway. This naturally lowered my hands at the top of my backswing, which gives me a flatter swing plane during my downswing.
As expected, this took me a bit of time to get used to. I realized over the course of practicing this new swing plane, that if I can briefly focus on getting my takeaway correct during my backswing, then I don’t need to focus much on my downswing, which (for me) comes naturally as I just reverse my takeaway. By not focusing on my downswing, I can focus more on making a solid impact with the ball.
One other thing that Greg changed was the position of the ball in my stance. For iron shots, the ball is now in line with my left chest (since I’m a right-handed), and for my drives, the ball is now in line with the inside of my left foot. I’m also now standing back a little more on my iron shots.
Throughout the rest of the lesson (and a small bucket of balls afterwards), I practiced the things that I learned, and I overall felt good about the changes. I felt like I was making much better contact with the ball, and consistently making straighter shots. When practicing my drives, I did not once slice the ball, but that could have been because I was mentally in “practice mode” (which is something I need to learn to take to my rounds).
Shortly after my lesson, Greg provided me with this lesson recap video, which makes it easier to see the problems and solutions to my swing:
I’m very happy with my lesson with Greg. I think this change to my swing plane will definitely help me improve my game and my scores, as well as getting my mental game and my confidence in my swing back where it should be.