On the 27th of January 2020, I landed a new job that only starts at 10:00am in the morning. This opened up some free time for me to practice golf for 45 minutes every morning before work. I did this for about 6 weeks straight, and the results were not impressive. My handicap actually went up slightly, and I developed a vicious hook off the tee with my driver (which somehow doesn’t appear on the practice range).
The point is, practicing golf doesn’t necessarily make you a better player. In fact, most people spend a lot of time ingraining their faults rather than improving their swing, and I’ve been guilty of this for at least 10 years.
This issue is compounded by the golf industry and golf instructors in general. For instance, in 2015 I took lessons with two highly respectable instructors. The methods they employed could not have been more different. The one was adamant that I commit to a cut, and the methods he used to achieve that shape lead to a 2 month stint of physiotherapy on my collar bone. The other tried to help me hone my draw and work with all my natural tendencies.. This approach was better, but it didn’t help me all that much in the end. Their philisophies were totally contradictory, and I ended up dropping both instructors to explore things on my own.
Is Mike Malaska different to other instructors?
In one word, YES. As a person and an instructor, he strikes me as one of the most honest and transparent people in the game.
More importantly, he has been through all the pain and struggles that most amatuers endure. He basically started out as a freakishly talented amatuer that started winning tournaments within 2 years of picking up a club. In the process of turning professional, he decided that the time was right to bring in a coach. Little did he know that he was about to go down a golfing rabbit hole that would take him over 20 years to escape.
In other words, Mike is one of many golfers whose game was ruined by traditional golf instruction. He started practicing a technique that is actually very difficult to execute consistently. This is the same technique that many amatuers have been taught. It relies on timing, excessive forearm rotation and a lot of body movement. It’s little wonder that so many people get worse rather than better when they start practicing a lot. They just end up solidifying bad habits, and then get deflated when the positive results fail to show up.
The real point is that Malaska eventually found his way out of the rabbit hole, by embracing the ideas of Joe Nicols. Even though these ideas may seem counterintuitive at first, they have the potential to simplify the game, nullify forearm rotation (the enemy of consistency), reduce the importance of timing, and make your practice time more efficient. That’s exactly what I’m looking for, and it’s why I’m going all in on Mike’s teaching methods.
This is how I’m going all in
- Signed up to Mike’s learning portal
- Will use at least one of Mike’s drills, every single time I go to the range
- Practice at least twice a week
- Commit to the process for at least 6 months
- Embed his main backswing thought and follow through thought into my pre-shot routine
Key Update 1 – The Backswing Mike Teaches Is Different To What I’ve Been Doing
- Confession 1: I’ve largely ignored Mike’s videos about the backswing.
- Confession 2: I’ve always had a tendency to come too far inside on the way
- Confession 3: You basically have to learn how to ‘stand the club up’ on the backswing and the follow through
- Confession 4: His momentum skill path explains all of these ideas really nicely
Most people that have watched a good number of Mike Malaska videos know all about his follow through move (I will be writing a post about the Malaska move in time). But it’s easy to overlook his backswing ideas, and dismissing them could be your biggest mistake if you’re trying to convert to the Mike Malaska teaching method.
You can see the backswing moves that Malaska endorses in the video above.
One of the ways to get this feeling is to ‘push the handle down and into your right foot‘ at the beginning of your backswing. This will force the club up, and make it easier to do ‘the Malaska Move’ on the downswing (ie feeling like you are tipping the club out to initate the follow through).
I worked on this move (and a drill which encourages the same idea) for about 60 minutes. Things were a bit messy in the beginning, but by the end of the session, I was striping the ball condifently. I’m super keen to get back out to the range to see how trustworthy this concept really is.