I’ve been driving the 80 miles to Crystalaire for my lessons with Jim Venetos. At first, I rather dreaded the drive; it’s a long way for a golf lesson. But, to quote Venetos, “It’s a chill drive.” It’s especially nice on a late Saturday morning to hop in my car and head to the desert. I’m kind of a desert guy at heart and Crystalaire looks across the Antelope Valley toward the Tehachapis and my beloved Eastern Sierra.
This was my fifth lesson with Venetos and I’m pleased with my progress. My initial goals were: 1) To hit the ball more solid more often. 2) To shorten my back swing. 3) To quiet my lower body on the full swing. The Venetos swing makes all those things happen with but a few “thoughts.” Venetos would say there’s only one thought needed…stillness…but I’ve never been a man of so few words.
My job of the last dozen years is coming to an end at the end of July, so my work with Venetos has come at an interesting time. It feels like a time for change in more ways than one. I plan on playing a lot of golf through the summer and into the fall. This is a rare opportunity and I know that once I’m back working it will, again, be hard to play and practice as much as I want.
I have a week of golf coming up the second week of June and a big golf week planned for September with one of my favorite cousins. We’re not sure where we’re going to meet…could be Vegas or it could be Scotland but I know it will be a trip for the ages.
Here are a couple thoughts about the Venetos method as regards some questions raised here and elsewhere:
Distance is the same or a tad more with all clubs, I was hitting 9 irons about 135 yards with my idea of a 3/4 swing. Venetos said I should consider that distance a full 9 and that 3/4 swing a full swing…he saw no need for a 9 iron to fly any further. Point taken.
The shift into set up feels natural quite very quickly though I do not close my shoulders as much as Venetos would like. To me, that’s the only element of the swing that feels like a physical challenge.
I hit a draw 90 percent of the time and with the Venetos swing I hit it about 60 percent of the time. The address position gets rid of some movements and some of the movements that have been eliminated were the timing elements I used to make the ball work right to left. When I do it right, the balls draws the same amount with the Venetos swing as my previous swing.
The weight-left swing tires my left leg out by the end of a Venetos 90 minute lesson which always lasts for two hours. I have taken to practicing standing on one leg whenever I’m standing in line or riding the subway. It’s good for my balance and my sense of left side stillness and stability. I can hike all day at elevation but I get worn out hitting a lot of golf balls in a two hour lesson. That’s just me…
Venetos added a goal I had not considered. He said he’d like to see my handicap drop from 10 ish to a 5 ish. I am not so sure. I ain’t getting any younger or any better looking. Still, it’s nice that Venetos sees that kind of improvement as a possibility. I putt well and have a good short game so any drop in my handicap will have to come from how well I strike the ball.