Skip to content

icon picker
Golfing Journey

and

Experiencing Golf

I began golf the same way many begin. It looked easy enough so I grabbed some clubs and went at it. The first and only points of wisdom were: 1) Keep your head down and 2) Don’t swing so hard! Well… first off, I love to swing hard. That is why I play! Secondly, if I keep my head down then how do I know where the ball went? 😀 Truthfully, both points are at some level valid but in my opinion become significant in the context of good mechanics. We will get into that later.
I have entertained many golf instructions from notable golfing pros like Ben Hogan and Johnny Miller to lesser known pros like Bobby Clampett. Some instruction has included notable golf instructors. Common among most of these methods was an opinionated golfer’s perspective. It is usually about what has worked for them. Which is fine but I usually ran into a roadblock. I am not them! For example, Jack Nicklaas claimed that he could make multiple in-swing adjustments. I think he said 6. Six?!?! I can’t make any in-swing adjustments let alone 6!
I have become a student of the golf swing. While I could go get some lessons and be told I need to do this or to do that. I want to know why they are telling me to do this or to do that. I want to figure this swing thing out.
Now, most of the people I golf with enjoy 9 to 18 holes every week or so and enjoy it even more if they can string together a sequence of hits with the same ball. Most golfers are not as obsessed with their scorecard as they are with their lost ball count. So most don’t want to know what I want to know. What follows is my journey to today.

My Early Years

My first recollection of golf was with my 4th grade buddy whose dad was the golf pro at our city golf course. We both struggled so much that it became an exercise in expressing our frustration as 4th graders do.
From 4th grade through high school, golf didn’t just take a back seat to my other sporting ventures, it was in the trunk. When my family moved to a home that was situated next to the 10th hole of a lake course, everything changed. My golfing journey officially began.
Like most, I tried to latch on to the common themes out there: “Keep your head down.” and “Don’t swing so hard.” With these “precious” nuggets as my guide, if my game improved it was marginal. My results were such that I was grateful when my dad purchased the top of the line ball retriever. I survived on retrieving reachable balls from the water as my ball often found the center of the water hazard.

Ben Hogan

Thankfully, while attending BYU, I enrolled in Golf 101 as part of my PE requirement. The text for this class was Ben Hogan’s “The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”. This book was serious. Now, I was getting serious. Our class instructor, did his best to share with us the keys to his swing and suggested adjustments as he saw it. I remember him telling me, “Don’t let your right knee move backwards on the backswing.” Tips, that I relied on with some success for many years. With that class as my starting point. I must have spent 20 years trying to swing like Hogan. I even enjoyed some success.
This was my first exposure to the proper grip and where to put your feet. It also helped me to think of sitting on a stool to get some good posture into my setup.
However, as I eventually learned while doing some research, I started experiencing what Hogan experienced, and which he does not mention in his book: The dreaded Army golf: PULL it hard left, then PUSH it hard right. It seemed the more I put into golfing his way, the more I struggled to keep the ball in the fairway. There has got to be a better way!
Johnny Miller
At some point, I picked up a DVD of Johnny Miller teaching a movie star how to swing. He introduced the concept of “Keeping your C” - where your toes are at the bottom of the C and your head is at the top of the C. Miller was truly a natural. He is so gifted and golfing athletic.
I sometimes wonder if golfing pros struggle to articulate everything that they do because most of it is natural. I think for some of them they learned to do it just by their amazing ability to figure it out. I also think golfers arrive upon thoughts and mental pictures that work for them. That does not mean it will work for me.
To that point Miller recently gave an interview at the 2023 US Open. He summarize 3 truths he discovered about his swing. These were not taught him. He discovered them! Amazing! They are:
A square the clubface at impact. In his day impact was unknowable. He however used to practice starting at the top of his backswing and stopping at impact. Rehearsing his body as to what square impact felt like.
A consistent low point. He also practiced, scuffing the grass at the exact same place in his swing. He made his low point predictable.
Lastly, swing through the ball at the target.
Again, in his day there was no such thing as launch monitors that analyzed impact, club path or angle of attack. But he discovered all of them and figured out how to make them all predictable in his swing.

Rotary Swing

Later on I unwisely invested in online videos and instructional programs that left me still wanting. However, eventually, I found Rotary Swing.
As I started to experience a strain here and a pain there, I noted how many major winners on the PGA tour had to go under the knife to repair what their swing broke - knees, hips and spines. In addition to my search for truth I also wanted something that wouldn’t land me on the operating table. While online, I happened upon the Rotary Swing. The founder of this technique knows his physiology. He speaks in terms of neutral joint positions and anatomically safe positions. I also found their instruction compelling because it was based on physiology and physics, not based on opinion or on being extremely talented. As a computer engineer of 40+ years, these analytics spoke to me.
It was refreshing to have described the “why” of the “do this”. Hogan for me was only about “do this”. I found myself spending years trying mimic the photos. He always left me wanting to know why? With Rotary Swing (RS), while there is the element of mimic this. There was also, this is why. For example: you want to be joint neutral. For me when things make sense then they are easier to learn.
Like many things, as we learn more we make adjustments. Rotary Swing has evolved as have my swing thoughts. As I have experienced this evolution, my journey has gone through different concepts and drills that I have found value in. I am going to pull out the drills and golf swing principles into their own sub-documents and reference them from within this narration.

Setup

First off we have the setup. Setup is the basis of every good thing in the swing:
To facilitate different desires for improvement. I am borrowing from college course work designations of: 101, 201, 301…etc. Some golfers want to spend as little time as possible to improve just enough to make their occasional play go better. These will benefit from the 101. Other may benefit from the more advanced concepts of 201, 301 and so forth.
With sound setup base I started to discover new feelings. Previously, unknowable concepts and sensations in the swing.

The Moment of Truth

Through my Golfing Journey, I have come to appreciate the most important factor in a golf swing. What some call the moment of truth or ball contact. In the early years of the PGA Tour, it seemed nobody had similar swing motions. It was a montage of creative pros who enjoyed golf course success with their creativity. Think Jim Furyk times 50. They all had their own peculiarities. But they all found a way to pure ball contact - the moment of truth.
This left arm only drill, was my first experience with pure ball contact, also known as ball compression or what I like to think of as the moment of truth.
Arms are good drills to practice if the ball is going right with little or a bunch of slice. If you are hitting the ball thin or too low on the clubface. Also, if you want some effortless power have a go at lag.

The Glutes

The next element is to train the lower body. In baseball for example, one of the first immitated moves of throwing is releasing the ball from your hand as you transfer all your wait to the front foot. In golf this is not so intuitive nor obvious. Too many want to get as wide as possilbe with their feet and hang back on their back foot. This may feel good but it is not good for the golf swing.
All too often we hit the “big” ball or the earth before we hit the “little” ball. Per the other basics learned to this point, the apex of the swing is the left shoulder. So the physics suggests that the bottom of the swing is going to be directly below the left shoulder. In order to hit the little ball before the big ball, we need to advance the apex or left shoulder properly in front of the golf ball. Because we want to hit the ball before the turf. The resulting divot begins where the ball was and continues towards the target.
Glutes help avoid hitting behind the ball or fat. It also helps to avoid getting stuck.
The Back
Consistency in swing path and to have a predictable plane, is also key to consistency. Rotary Swing is the first golf technique that focused on pulling vs pushing. A straight left arm is the beginning of a good takeaway but getting it back on the correct arc is critical.

Axiom

Rotary Swing discovered a way to feel the synchronization of arms and weight shift. This has many positive and helpful notions to understand.

Spine Angle

This may be the most non-intuitive position but is useful to position the torso and hips to assist in proper movement in the downswing.
If this is new to you. Try gripping the club with the left hand only while the club is grounded in front of you. Now as you extend your right hand to grip the club. Angle your spine a bit. This is a hip shift! Not a torso movement - moving the torso will cause a weight shift to the right side - don’t do that! (Another thought is to bump your left hip a bit to the left. Note: this method can have side-effects.) Grab a club, hold it like a neck tie, shift hips until club face touches your left leg.
Gladstan
I have spent much of my journey not keeping score. My game was such that keeping score was aggravating and demoralizing: par, par, bogey, par, bogey, birdie, quad-bogey, quad-bogey, triple-bogey… sound familiar?
For years, my local course, Gladstan has benefited from obscurity. That obscurity afforded me with playing whenever I wanted to play. I could just walk in and walk on. I also found myself golfing alone a lot, so naturally, I started keeping score more religiously. For years, I found that ignoring the bad holes helped end the round on a positive note. My scores consisted of how many pars, birdies and bogeys and I ignored the rest.
In the summer of COVID 19, 2020, my golfing world was turned upside down. Salt Lake County and most of Utah County shut down. The golfers went looking for alternatives. And they found Gladstan. My days of walking in and walking on were over. Add to that their new restriction of not allowing singles to book tee times, my golfing world was effectively shut down.
I had to figure out an alternative. I needed my therapy!
Hitting Bay
I found my first alternative in the form of a hitting pad with foam balls in my garage. That wasn’t real enough for me so I bought a net. Yes! I was hitting with real golf balls now! But where was the ball going? Next, I was pleased to find the world of the golf ball flight monitors had some new low-cost entries. Instead of the Track Man $20k-$50k option only, there were low price options. I settled on Mevo. My first model was a dream. It showed the ball flight and how far it went. Perfect! But over time I found myself wanting to know if it was going left or right? Thankfully, they had a more expensive option to do that. It was more than I wanted to spend but I NEEDED it! So I got the Mevo+ (Garmin has since released a cheaper competitor). This was a game changer. Not only could I see the ball flight in all directions on my phone. I could even play simulated courses through their E6 app. Who needs Gladstan? Over time I found myself trying to improve my hitting bay experience with better hitting pads and better nets. How about a projector? And a TV monitor? Why not a hitting bay screen? Eventually, my hitting bay was complete. I was hitting the ball more than I ever had before - almost daily. Again, this was a game changer!
Now that I was practicing more than ever before, I decided to make an equipment change. After a visit to Club Champion, my excuses were now at a minimum. With fitted clubs, it was now all about my swing.
Eventually, I was enjoying some success with Rotary Swing and my new clubs and seeing some positive results. As the COVID-19 subsided a bit, Gladstan opened up a bit more and I was eventually able to get on the course again. With all the practice in my hitting bay I found that my scoring was improving. Their were fewer holes to ignore and I saw my score getting closer to par. Could I actually shoot par?
Rotary Swing was still maturing and consisted of a bunch of videos, maybe 100, that dealt with all kinds of issues, faults and fixes. I tried to focus on the basics. But what were the basics? I couldn’t assimilate everything?
My main swing thoughts at this point were: Straight Arms, shifting weight via Right Glut to Left Glut, and AXIOM or Clockwise rotation at the top. I also discovered lag. Initially, it was primarily only in my low irons but the whole concept added yardage to my irons and made “an effortless swing” real.
White tees
The summer of 2022 was monumental for my golfing journey. I scored the lowest 9 hole rounds of my life from the white tees. I was 60 years old and playing the best golf of my life.
With that kind of progress in hand, I made an 18 hole goal at Gladstan. It is important to note that while the front nine here is no cake-walk, the back nine easily exposes any inconsistencies in your game. It repeatedly exposed my inconsistencies, resulting in frustrating mid-80 scores. This is not the kind of course that gives up a handful of birdies to help overcome some bad holes. When I scored my 36’s, it was not because of a run of birdies. It was because I hit the fairways and greens and made some long putts. I was at some level consistent but the back nine proved impossible to maintain consistency. The tolerances are tighter on the back nine and my game was repeatedly exposed. My game was just too inconsistent.
I suspect some of this inconsistency came from the new found lag and new AXIOM drill. The golf swing is a living thing. It morphs overtime and I found mine morph into a swing resembling Jim Furyk. It felt awesome, in that I was doing things and feeling things I had never felt before. I was hitting the ball effortlessly with lag and finally on an “in to out” swing path. However, eventually these things got so pronounced that like I just mentioned, the back nine was exposing the inconsistencies that came with these newly discovered concepts. Who knew that you could have too much lag or that the swing path can be too far from the inside? I needed more consistency and control.
So, in the winter of 2022-2023 I spent hours and hours in my hitting bay, attempting to breakdown everything in my swing. How can I be more consistent? Rotary Swing had just released a training module called the “C4 Ball striking Mastery Program”. It took me through a 4 phase process. Each phase included about 100 swings a day for about 10-20 days. I was hitting the ball a bunch. The drills were similar to what I had done before but different.

Rotary Swing - C4 Ball striking Mastery Program

Check list

I found it useful to create a digital check list that can be used to evaluate positions in the backswing and follow through. I also think it is helpful how all the Phases are consistent and build upon one another.

Phase I

Hitting the ball straight through ball impact is what we all dream of, so why not practice it? A descending blow with a flat left wrist results in a swing that stands out in the round, “I hit that one on the screws! I flushed that one!…”

Phase II

Feeling the club head release was a game changer for me. Phase II gives the opportunity to practice release while hitting the ball straight or working the ball with a fade or draw if that is in your ability.

Phase III & IV

These phases for me are mostly about effortless power. So I grouped them together in the check list.

Blue Tees

In the spring of 2023 I started off with tremendous ambition. I played in a UGA event at Gladstan. We started on the back nine and I was almost par when the wind caught a fairway iron, sending it over the green into OB. I never got my mojo back and ended up cheering on my golf cart partner.
My game steadily improved through July until I blistered Sleepy Ridge. I was only a few over par after 18. However, I couldn’t translate that form to Gladsan to the blue tees. Eventually, I lost my driver. I think it was because I was frustrated that I was hitting it so high on the club face, I decided to adjust my swing.
Adjusted, I did and I started hitting a two-way miss! Anxiety was building as the good weather was coming to a close and I am not getting any younger. I know I was pressing. It seemed like my game was spiraling out of control. In September, I played the worst round of the year - only one par. It had been a rough month of golf. I seem to be declining. Golf is funny that way.
I have since decided, that I need to again re-assess my reason for playing. If it is to be amazing. To expect amazing results then I should just stop because golf is not incremental. One good round is rarely followed by an even better round. The things that can be reliably sought for are: good exercise and beautiful scenery. So grow up dude! Enjoy what comes.
It took me a month to return to sound driver mechanics. Once I was back in the fairway off of the tee I was just barely missing my goal of par. Then on two separate days, I shot par on the front nine! I was sooo happy and relieved. I turned in my combined front nine 72 hole score on the USGA app and bumped my handicap down to 5. Realistically, this is probably as good as I will get and I am at peace with that.
The past few months, my goal has been to focus on process and get back to trusting my swing. I have a tendency to loose focus on my setup, pre shot drill and thought process. Which results in getting crazy mid-swing, getting handsey or quick. Today part of the pre-shot drill was the “left-leg drill”, Phase one with all my weight on my left foot while reciting the words, “Stay in the box. Trust your swing”. My backswing included: 1) pull with right lat to set the plane, 2) load the right glut (which encourages in the box, if I do AXIOM I can’t think about anything else), 3) good temp (don’t rush it), 4) one-leg drill (get to left side). I have a tendency to get so excited about an amazing result that I swing without any systematic thought process and get a varied result. Anyway, Patrick told me some time ago that a golf sports psychologist suggested players keep track of their process score as well as their golf score. I didn’t do that literally but in my head, I think I only missed it twice on two 9 irons. I did everything but #4 and hit them fat. Thankfully, on the last hole I did my process with my 9 and nuked it 10 yards beyond my number. It was frustrating to hit over the green but flushing it is always cool.
I focused on staying in the box with my driver. During the summer my tendency is to shoulder whip: pull a dead hook or whip a slice right (depending on my club face). I only missed three fairways all day - sand trap once, the first cut once and didn’t cover the woods on 10 (double). That is always a good sign. I parred 14 holes. I must have barely missed 2 chip-ins for birdie and maybe 2 putts for birdie. In the end I was just solid and hitting the ball better than ever. This performance was on a winter frozen course. The greens were inconsistent and tough to judge but I just trusted my process. In the end I scored a 77. No mulligans. It was in my estimation the best day of golf in my life. I have had better 9 hole performances but this was an 18 hole performance. It was a thrilling day.
I have learned the importance of determining:
A pre-swing drill that works. This can change over time so be flexible. Much of it depends on what you are working on.
What swing thoughts work. Pre-swing and in-swing. For me I can only handle a few thoughts if my tempo is right. If I get too quick I can’t really handle any thoughts.
Properly analyzing the result:
Did it go left because your face was open, or plane was off, or contact was on the toe…? This is hard because for me it has taken me thousands of swings to develop that sense.
If you don’t have thousands yet, simplify by analyzing what you felt.
Avoid overload and chasing the moving target. I can’t keep reading the constant stream of people’s swing thoughts and ideas, tricks or tips. Rotary Swing has it all! So I stopped reading things that don’t fit.
I have included a few advanced concept videos for those wanting to be stretched a bit. I also included some conclusion videos that discuss:
Why does it go left, right and center? (Club path, plane and club face)
Find your way, your thoughts, your drills. Be careful about too much information. Don’t subscribe to golf channel. Golf news streams thrive on, “The key to better ____”. They are all over the place and can lead to a never ending journey. Often that key is not something that should be taken literally because it is only what it feels like to them, or what works for them!
What I have learned.
include my attempts at explaining and demonstrating all these concepts.
Enjoy!


Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
CtrlP
) instead.