I have been talking about a lot of the things that I am doing this off-season to improve. The basis of my plan is, and will always be, a well-rounded and thorough practice routine. However, there is one major new thing that I am doing this off-season that I have not yet discussed. I am consulting with a new instructor in Orlando, Florida.
Before I go farther, I need to take a minute to clarify some things. My long-time coach is Bobby "Bobbo" Bray, and he won't cease to be that. Bobbo and I go way back, and there is no way that I'd be where I am without him. He is a coach, mentor, and great friend to me. He is still the most genuine and generous human being I've ever met. He's also one heck of a golfer and a great coach. He and I will continue to work on my game together, and he'll be there when I win my first major!
I'm also lucky to have a brilliant golf-swing mind that lives 12 minutes from me in Knoxville, TN. Jake Reeves has helped me with my game and become a great friend. I'm thankful to have him in my court and will continue to learn from him. He and I are both going to play in the same PGA Championship here one year very soon! And if it comes down to the two of us for the title, he'll ball-strike the heck out of it, so you'd better believe I'm going have to make a big putt to beat him!
This offseason, though, I decided that I wanted to get some input from a new set of eyes. I spoke with several instructors around the country and found that I communicated the most comfortably with Mitchell Spearman. I have had three sessions with Mitchell, and we are working to eliminate some excess movement, solidify my leg action, and create an increased sense of connection between my arms and my body during my swing. Though changes can be hard, nothing that we have done has seemed like a daunting task. I am still in a stage of development where I am having to consciously think about my swing while hitting balls, but the results are already starting to show. As the changes to my motion become natural, I am confident that my swing will be more efficient and my ball-striking will be much more consistent.
This is a big step for me. I will always rely on my attitude and my putting to be my greatest assets on the course, but in order to achieve my goal of being one of the best golfers in the world, I need to improve my ball-striking. My work with Mitchell Spearman is going to jump-start that.
Through this process, I am continuing to have balanced, complete-game practice. Though I have done something new to focus on my ball-striking, I am not neglecting the rest of my game. I believe that I will be hitting the ball better than I ever have here soon, but I'm determined to have all areas of my game reach new heights.
This is exciting stuff. I am getting better, and I can feel it!
As a side-note, Mitchell teaches at Isleworth Country Club in Orlando. I played the course last time I was down there. It's no wonder so many of the best players in the world live there. It's beautiful, in fantastic condition, and it tests absolutely every element of the game.