LAST week, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest player ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open.
Li, born in 2002, secured her place in the Pinehurst contest after hitting 74-68 in a qualifier at Half Moon Bay in California, winning the competition by seven shots.
And when this talented California girl was just 10, she became the second youngest golfer to qualify for the US Women’s Amateur Public Links.
I urge you all to watch a video of Li’s swing in slow motion.
The range of movement, the flexibility and the power she generates is astonishing to watch.
When I was 11, I honed my basic skills at the crazy golf course in Woolacombe Bay and played the nine-hole course with a dogged determination in a bid to beat my younger brothers.
Many tantrums were had at that course but the most memorable has to be the moment I got a golf club in the face.
My younger brother Will, who had just started watching professional golfers on television and was clearly inspired, thought he would take a couple of practice swings.
Yes, that’s right - practice swings on a crazy golf course.
I was standing behind him, working out exactly which part of the wall I could bounce the ball off to make sure it got through the windmill in one shot.
His swing clobbered me in the face, glancing off my cheekbone.
I vivdly remember screaming and storming off the course, clutching my face like a footballer.
So, my early experiences of golf differ slightly from 11-year-old Li’s incredible achievements.
It is unusual to study someone so young for technical tips but I’ve found myself watching slow motion YouTube videos of her in wonder.
And when I see a swing like Li’s, I forget about my bad shots and the moments of pure frustration that make me vow never to pick up a club again.
Instead I can’t wait to get back out there, striving to perfect that movement, regardless of the club in hand.
After six weeks honing the basics of the swing, I was looking forward to trying a new club in this week’s lesson. I had previously used the seven iron in lessons, but have dabbled with woods, wedges and putters at the driving range.
When handing me the hybrid club, Simon emphasised - nothing changes. Just simply hit the ball as you would with an iron.
And for the first few swings, it was a sweet feeling as the ball flew further than an iron could shoot it.
But the mind is a dangerous force and as soon as I realised I was holding a club visually different to an iron, the basic components Simon had taught me went out of the window.
Simon hit the nail on the head when he said most eloquently I had “gone floppy”.
But Simon’s coaching has been so thorough, that it was easily fixed. I built the swing back up once again, using practice swings and drills.
Soon I was hitting the ball as I had been with the iron but had learned another lesson.
The mind can play the worst sort of tricks on you at the golf course.
LAURA’s progression with her irons meant I could offer her a club she could use both off the fairway and the tee.
So this week I taught Laura how to use a HYBRID.
Hybrids are replacements for the long irons and have only been around for about ten years.
Hybrids are used by most regular golfers as they are more forgiving than a long iron and for most club golfers this should be an essential piece of equipment in their golf bag.
I explained a hybrid should be played in the same manner as an iron even though it looks more like a wood.
n The ball position should still be around three to four inches inside her front heel.
n The shaft should still point at the inner front thigh when addressing the ball.
n The posture forming process is repeated.
n I asked Laura to retain the thought of hitting the ball under a tree branch or as low as she could (this is how Laura is able to stay in posture through the shot, rather than standing up to lift the ball).
n When playing the ball from the tee with a hybrid it is essential the tee peg is virtually flush to the ground as a downward blow - it is not an ascending blow.
“Keep your head down” is a myth and awful advice! The neck isn't strong enough to lift the head up during a full swing. If the head is coming up, it's actually due to the posture being lost, not the head!
Once explained, Laura set about her new task and took to it really well. The different loft on the new club allowed her to gain valuable extra distance over the iron.
Then Laura started to think about it too much and the standard of her shots dropped and once again I asked her to go back to her basics and rebuild the sensations.
All in all well done Laura, you are progressing well!
n Don’t forget it’s National Golf Month and I am offering free lessons. Contact me on 01242 525201 to book yours at Lilley Brook Golf Club.