The Drive to 300 Yards: Getting a better grip on my golf swing during the pandemic

Click to play video: 'New Year’s Resolution: Fixing my golf swing in the middle of a pandemic' New Year’s Resolution: Fixing my golf swing in the middle of a pandemic
New Year's Resolution: Fixing my golf swing in the middle of a pandemic – Feb 6, 2021

I mentioned in my first post of this series that my instructor, Stew Bannatyne, would be rebuilding my swing from the ground up to get me to a 300-yard drive and he wasn’t kidding.

The first thing he did following my swing evaluation at Modern Golf was change how I gripped the club. Whenever I’ve played golf previously, I would have a tendency to slice the ball to the right. It was so bad that I would find myself aiming way to the left to counteract the inevitable slice I would hit.

Sometimes, I would maddeningly hit the ball straight and it would end up in the trees. If I tried to fix my slice, I’d hit the ball off the heel of the club and it wouldn’t even make it to the next tee box.

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I had no semblance of consistent contact.

Stew made a change to my top left hand by putting it into a “strong” position, by rotating my top two knuckles (or the emblem on a golf glove) toward my face. That puts my wrist in a better position to ensure a square clubface at impact.

And the results were immediate. I literally have not sliced a ball since making my grip change. Just think about how much money on golf balls I would have saved if Stew and I started working together years ago!

Unfortunately, all of the setup and swing changes Stew has given me have taken place virtually because of the pandemic. Modern Golf is closed because of the Ontario-wide lockdown restrictions, so we are fixing my swing over text, video messages and Zoom calls.

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It’s not exactly the most conducive environment to reach my goal of hitting 300 yards. I feel like I am making progress, however. And Stew is great at finding different cues to explain what he wants me to feel with the new facets of my swing.

I am getting creative with my practice time, since indoor lessons are not possible right now. As you saw in the video at the top of the post, I have been hitting shots with my 52-degree wedge in a random dog park near my house (only when dogs aren’t there, of course) and also practising my swing at work whenever I can.

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I am trying to commit to muscle memory all of the changes Stew wants me to make. So, I can swing the correct way without thinking.

Here are the changes, in addition to the grip, that Stew is having me make. Hopefully, this will help some of you with your swings as well!

  • Feet between hip and shoulder-width apart (depending on the length of the club)
  • Stand up relatively straight with a slight knee bend at address
  • Squeeze knees together and rotate hips rather than swaying front to back
  • Keep left heel on the ground as left hip rotates toward the ball
  • Keep a soft right arm/elbow to ensure a fast swing — swing fast, not hard. The arms are just along for the ride.
  • Keep left arm straight as long as possible; lead with the hands, the clubhead trails behind
  • Go down and get it!

Let’s all commit to playing better golf in 2021!

Mike Arsenault is a Digital Broadcast Journalist and a host of Global News Weekend.

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