Student Spotlight: Mike Adolfae
I’ve heard a lot of people joking that they should just try to play the game “from the other side of the ball.” Well, in Mike’s case, that’s exactly what we did.
Thinking outside the box is something I love to do as an instructor. Many teachers tend to teach the “cookie cutter” golf swing, where you mimic perfect form and tour player positions. But, one thing that I have found over my many hours of teaching is that we can’t possibly expect some of our players to achieve certain positions. Due to a lack of flexibility, injuries or just stubbornness, the “picture perfect” swing for many is unattainable. It is not out of reach however to create a truly functional golf swing for all players. I’ve had the chance to work with Brandon Blank, who is Spokane’s go to guy when it comes to golf fitness. He has taught me so much about the process of how the body works and the effects of movement limitations and it has made me realize one thing: To be an effective instructor, I must be able to adapt to any and all body types.
Enter Mr. Mike Adolfae. Mike, aside from being one of the nicest students that I have ever had, has a true desire to improve and most importantly, was open to trying new things. When he came to me, he struggled to separate his upper and lower body and had a very difficult time making a proper weight shift. One of the things I noticed pretty early was that Mike, who was swinging right handed, was “posting” on his right leg and using his left leg for leverage and drive, the opposite motion we look from a right hand swinger. I asked him, “What hand do you throw with?” “Left”, He responded. “And the leg you would kick with?” Again he reported, “Left.” This immediately made me think that he needed to be swing from the left side of the ball.
Because Mike had trained his body from an early age to be “rotary” using his left side, my theory was that he would adapt much quicker from that side of the ball. I ran to the pro shop, grabbed a left handed club and without any instruction, asked him to swing left handed. Below is the video I sent to him after that swing.
Now, Mike is a special case where all the pieces fell together nicely. He was new enough to the game, that we didn’t have many pre-existing motions to override. Had he been playing righty for multiple years, I probably wouldn’t have switched him as it would have been increasingly difficult to rewrite developed motor skills rather than just develop new ones. Again, a key in our process is the open-mindedness of the student. Mike bought in fully and has committed to being a lefty. In addition to countless hours of practice, he continually works on his limitations through a stretching and golf fitness class with Kelly Riess, with Physical Therapy Associates (It’s a fantastic winter activity that everyone should do!). Now, after about a year of work, Mike hits 7 iron 140 yards and Drives over 230!
The moral of this story is not that all of you who throw, kick or write lefty, should change. Instead, it’s that you should look outside of convention and not buy into the mass media swing tips that we find in all of the Golf publications. Unless you can afford to practice eight hours per day, get in a full workout every day and completely dedicate yourself to golf, you probably won’t benefit much from “text book” tips. Your body is your body, your swing is your swing and your practice and progress should be based on you, not tour players.
And to Mike, Thank You for being open minded and dedicated to the process! I’m excited to see you continue to improve!
Fariways and Greens,