I’ve been visiting this site off and on for the last year and finally decided to register as I felt compelled to offer my sincere appreciation to Lag, Two, and all of the members here for the wealth of information and ideas I’ve found, employed, and enjoyed.
I found this place while searching for information on my first vintage golf purchase last summer, a set of Hogan Medallion irons and Hogan persimmon woods. When I came upon Lag’s club specs I must admit, I thought he was mad as a hatter! Now, after applying a lot of his specs and ideas, and reading through the treasure trove of Top Threads, I realize he is more like a mad GENIUS. And it occurs to me that this site will be an incredible resource for many years to come for golfers trying to get back to the true fundamentals of the game.
I started playing golf as an adolescent in the early 80’s with a hand-me-down starter set of Northwesterns and a one week golf camp. I was not very good, at golf or other sports, but I loved to play. By the early 2000’s I had made myself into a high single digit handicapper, with a low round of 73 (in the club championship, no less… unfortunately, it was a 2 day tournament ).
It was about that time that I started hearing the siren song of golf equipment technology: long, light, upright, and forgiving. Not coincidentally, I can also trace my decline to that same time period.
I didn’t play much over the next decade for various reasons, but by the summer of 2012 I was struggling to break 90. This was especially frustrating for me because after going through some major health problems in 2011 & early 2012 one of the things that really sustained me was the prospect of getting back into the game of golf that I had once been so passionate about. But I found that I could not hit a fairway to save my life, nor make clean contact with any iron. I actually bought an entire set of hybrid irons in order to combat a bad case of The Fats.
These hybrids were ½” overlength, 2 degrees upright, lightweight graphite shafted, with swingweights in the C8 range. And guess what? They didn’t help. Nope, I got even worse. In February of 2013 I shot a smooth little 99 and was ready to quit. I actually didn’t touch a golf club for two months. But then I decided since I was only 8 months into a two year golf membership I better do something.
So I dug out my old copy of Hogan’s Five Lessons, watched some Hogan videos on youtube, and took some video of my own swing. There was actually a time in the 90’s when people used to compliment me on my swing and tempo. But I was SHOCKED when I saw how steep, long, armsy and unbalanced my swing had become. Wow, it was ugly.
I knew I had to overhaul my swing. One of the first things I discovered, though, was how difficult that would be with my current equipment. I could make nice short, flat practice swings but in order to hit the ball I’d fall right back into my steep slide swing. So I sold as much of my modern equipment as I could, and purchased some Hogan Apex + irons. Unfortunately, they came with graphite shafts as I was still laboring under some of the same equipment misinformation. Eventually I would find the copper coin Medallions and 1, 3, and 4 woods, and this website.
It would be another month or two before I could get them bent, as I could find no one willing to take them 5 degrees flat. Eventually, I purchased a cheap bending machine (really just a golf club vice, with a bending bar) and did it myself. With that done and some new grips installed, I finally started to make some progress on the range. When I showed up with vintage clubs in tow for a round of golf with my boss and a client in October they had quite a bit of fun giving me the needle. But when I shot an 83 everyone was surprised – including me.
Now 7 months later I’ve got my handicap back down to an 8, with a low round of 76 where I hit 14 fairways and 14 greens.
A lot of my improvement is simply due to greater dedication, repetition, and practice, I’ll admit. But I can’t downplay how important the commitment to proper equipment and fundamentals has been: shorter, flatter, heavier gear with proper feedback; and a classic swing based on a flatter plane and a connected, body driven pivot.
I still have a ways to go, but I’ve had glimpses of what can be and its pretty exciting. A few weeks ago I had a stellar range session where it all came together; I was getting the hang of super slotting for the first time and started blasting 2 irons long and straight, just short of the 200 yard flag, to the point where a couple people stopped what they were doing and came over to watch. One of them commented, “A classic swing with the classic clubs, nice.” I know this is terribly immodest of me, but for a life long hacker those were pretty sweet words to hear.
The only problem was, I didn’t know exactly how I was doing it, and haven’t been able to recapture the magic since. I’d dearly love to formally study with Lag, as I know that is the clear path to lasting improvement and I’m fascinated by his martial arts style systems and methods. But, with a new baby on the way (Surprise, Honey!) that won’t happen for a while. Meanwhile, I’m working on it, digging it out a little bit at a time. Most of what I dig up is fool’s gold, but I have found lots of real nuggets here.
There are lots of people around the web teaching one version or another of the classic swing and I’ve probably learned something from all of them, but no one I’ve found elucidates it like Lag. So Hello, and Thanks again to all the folks at ABS.