Even well-meaning counsel by friends was abruptly ignored. Dont do it bud, said Sammerjit Raikhy grimly when I mentioned, halfway into our weekend round, that I was planning on having my swing video-analysed at the DLF Golf Academys studio. Raikhy, a single-handicapper, pressed on with uncharacteristic seriousness. Youve got a decent swing. You just dont hit it as well as you could because you have old clubs. Get new cavity backsthats what you need, not a video swing analysis, he proffered. Cynic, I retorted suspiciously. Hard to trust a man who probably uses his weekly Nassau winnings from me to pay his car installments.
The studio at the DLF Golf Academy in Gurgaon is a golf swing aficionados Eden. Six cameras encircle the hapless golfer from all sides (and from the top), recording every move, which is played back real-time on a big screen. A Samputt lab sits on the other extremity, while golf bags (with very attractive blades) line the edges. Seems like a single-handicapper hangout from the looks of it. Karan Bindra says thats not the case. The V1 Pro software, which weve installed here is obviously great for the pros, but its the amateurs who derive the most benefit. Why dont you get warmed up by hitting a few balls first he says ominously.
Caddies passing by look at me and exchange grins. My last appearance here, at a pro-am, obviously left an impression. The pro on that occasion, Asian Tour regular Angelo Que, had been diplomatic. Im just glad youre a writer! Que had said warmly, putting his arm around my shoulder.
Banishing all negative memories, I scour my mental database for a few positive ones and heave away. There it isthe infernal slice, which has been plaguing my driver for the past month. Bindra looks on glumly before cancelling an appointment. No sir, not today, Im going to have a long afternoon, he whispers into the phone.
Okay, lets have a look at what youre doing, he says finally. Bindra sets up the video of my swing alongside a side view of PGA Tour pro Aaron Baddeleys swing. Can you see how your left shoulder is pointing almost on the ball at the top of the backswing And see where his shoulder is pointing Also, pay attention to his left arm at the top of the swing. If Baddeleys left arm is sitting in the condo, then mine is in the basement. At this point, I decide to educate the pro. Aaron Baddeley has a stack and tilt swing, I say smugly, adding, I have an old-fashioned square-to-square swing, pointing to my accentuated reverse-C finish.
Now, golfers the world over may talk endlesslyand breathlesslyabout the width of Tigers swing, or Martin Kaymers finish, but when it comes to golf swings, Im a dedicated oldie: lateral leg drive and a late-hit, and thats what I tell Bindra. Nothing old-school about your action, he replies, while unsuccessfully suppressing an exasperated sigh. Stack or tilt or not, some fundamentals remain the same. Your shoulder has to point behind the ball at the top of your backswing and your left arm cant break down like that. Thats how youll come in shallow at impact and get the right trajectory. Admittedly, the figure on the screen doesnt look anything like me; the action seems disconnected and the finish contrived.
I have a natural low ball flight, I inform Bindra, and proceed to hit another low driver to emphasise my point. The ball flies low and takes off a bit before coming downits exactly what Jyoti Randhawa used to hit a few years back! I add, giving Bindra some point of reference. By this time, the coach seems to have had his fill of instruction. Your ball goes low because you have your left shoulder lower than your right at address. That sets you up for a steep out-to-in takeaway, after which you slash vertically across the line, coming down with a steep descent into the ball, he says in one breath, pausing only to check the Astroturf for damage.
Okay, why do you think youre slicing the ball he asks after regaining his composure. Well I start, a bit shaken by the recent developments. I thought it was because I have such quick hip rotation through the ball that my hands cant catch up in time
No sir, Bindra cuts me off mid-sentence. Its because you dont rotate through the ball at all. And you block the club, which never gets to release. Theres also something wrong with your grip Why dont we just try and putt for a while he says in resignation.
The Samputt lab is far more forgiving and, unbelievably, theres nothing wrong with my stroke. Thats amazing, says Bindra, as if hes just witnessed a miracle. I know my puttings fine, thats why I never practise it, I say defiantly.
We never really get to analyse my downswing. I dont want to fill your head up with too much information right now, says Bindra. Youve got a fair bit of work before we look at your plane and impact, he mentions politely.
All said and done, I did learn a fair bit at the studio. The only other coach whos been brave enough to give me a couple of lessons, gave me exactly the same feedback: right shoulder tilt, extended left arm, in-to-out swing, and firm left leg. But it is humbling (after your ego has been stomped out of shape) and instructive to see yourself swinging and then relating that to what a coach is trying to tell you.
Now, the DLF Academy is restricted to members, but you might be able to swing a session if you know one. As for me, I think Ill only have another go once Ive managed to work on my grip, stance, arm extension, weight shift, release and finish. It could be a long time coming.
A golfer, Meraj Shah also writes about the game