Men's Golf |
Feb. 28, 2011
By Jeff Gentil
No matter how long a golfer plays the game, at one point in their career they will come to a point where a change in their swing is needed. For some, it will be a minor tweak here and there. For others, it may require a drastic overhaul.
Tiger Woods, who many consider the greatest player ever to play the game, is currently going through a third major overhaul of his golf swing. Each time he has endured one, he has gone into an elongated slump. But each time, he has come out a better player in the end.
For the UC men's golf team, no one has been exempt from the same fate. Whether it is senior Joe Kastelic or freshman Jordan Erlewine, all of Coach Doug Martin's players have gone through some form of change to the swing they have known since they started playing the game at an early age.
But what constitutes the need for a swing change? Who says a change is needed at all?
"Typically a player will recognize their own inability to make certain shots," Martin said. "When there are swing flaws and they are under pressure, that's when they seem to rear their ugly head. I will usually let freshmen come in and let them play with what they came with in the fall, and then we'll sit down over the winter break and talk about what we can do to get better."
Many times, it can be a struggle for the player to admit they need to change the swing they've had all their lives and they are very reluctant to change. When you have success as a junior golfer, what's to change?
"It's definitely tough at first," sophomore Zach Bates admitted. "I had played 15 years the same way."
Despite leading the team in overall scoring in the fall, the finance major from Chagrin Falls, Ohio knows he still needs to work on some key aspects of his swing.
"Right now I'm working on some minor things," he said. "My setup - distance from the ball; my tempo, too. And my swing plane - I go around my body and it causes me to come in on a bad angle and it costs me some distance. It also causes me some inconsistency. I need to get more vertical."
"(With Zack) we made some subtle changes," Martin said. "Zack is extremely emotional and is a high energy player. He needs to focus more on his routine and how to get relaxed. Sometimes his swing gets out of tempo. We're trying to make it easier for him to take his club back smoother."
For players like Bates who are making some minor changes, the winter break is the perfect time to tweak.
"When you look at our weather, you need something to hold their attention," Martin said. "(With the break) we can work on things without having to produce a score. Kids aren't patient enough; they want immediate impact and when they don't get it they revert back to what feels comfortable."
Bates admits Martin is accurate about the level of frustration and amount of determination it takes to successfully alter the golf swing for the better.
"We all know it will be better for us in the long run," he said. "But it is definitely tough to stick with it. If you're not hitting it well initially it's easy to resort to bad habits. You just have to stick to and commit to it. It is difficult at first when you feel uncomfortable but you have to make a commitment to doing what you're doing."
Having a PGA Tour veteran like Martin as your coach will do wonders for credibility according to Bates.
"He has such great knowledge," he said. "He has played and worked with some of the best players and teachers in the world. He definitely knows how to play the game."
Bates and the rest of the Bearcat golfers will have a chance to see how their changes are coming along when they travel to play in the Ron Smith/USF Invitational in Tampa this weekend.