Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Golf Clinic Trip - Day 1

(not finished photos to be added when I get them)
Activity: Golf Clinic Trip at Kau Sai Chau
Date: November 10, 2014 ~ November 12, 2014 (Mon-Wed)
Time: 11 am to 1 pm; 2 pm to 4pm (4 per day, 12 in total)
Type: Group (with school's CAS Week)
Organization: The Jockey Club Public Golf Course (LINK)

Hours: 12 hours (in total) - Action

Before this trip, I had never played golf before (if you exclude Wii sports golf, which you really should. I have played mini golf once but that was 8 years ago...), so this was a completely new experience for me. Our class met at school, before taking a bus ride to Sai Kung, and then taking a ferry to Kau Sai Chau, where the Golf Course is located.  

DAY 1 - (November 10)
Today we met our golf instructors for the week: Jacqueline, Robert, Simon, Hung & Eddy.

We started off with the basics, such as the what the "bunker" and "green" is, or how the "par" of the course the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to complete a hole in (with 2 of the strokes being on the green; i.e. Par 4 means four strokes with two strokes to the green and two putters).We also learned some safety rules, such as how you shouldn't hold the club by the grip when walking around with it, as there is a chance you could swing it back and hit someone in the ankles (which did happen a few times by accident).

After a short warm up, we jumped straight into putting. We got paired up and used the putter to pass the ball to each other, being careful to let the ball stop completely by itself so we could gauge how much force we should use to make the ball go a certain distance.

 I quickly learned that even at the most basic stage, golf wasn't as simple as swinging the club in the direction of the hole. Instead, there are a lot of steps you need to take before the club even moves, such as the way you are standing and how straight your arms are. It also made me understand the importance of practice swings, since that way you could make sure every little detail was correct before starting, and could make adjustments if need be.

Then we tried putting into the different holes on the green in two strokes, with all of the holes varying in distance, slope angle etc. I found this very difficult, as it always seemed like I could get the ball in the direction the hole, but it would always over or under shoot the hole.

 This was until an instructor (Simon) taught me that putting is less about the backstroke, since any more than a few inches back and the ball goes flying off or skips over the hole. Instead,  it is more of a pushing motion where the forward stroke is much longer than the back one. This also gave me more control over the direction of the ball, and I was able to get the ball in two strokes more easily.

 After that, we played a game to see who could hit the ball closest to the hole in one stroke. Unfortunately the wind picked up at this point and because it was down hill, my ball missed the hole by quite a bit (though to be fair the shot was straight and it was my 1st day playing golf)

We then learned about chipping, where you use the iron (sand wedge) to hit a ball that is almost but not quite on the green onto the green. This was quite challenging, since like with putting, every little detail before hitting the ball must be correct or the ball will not fly properly. Most of the time, my ball would bounce twice on the club before flying off or roll along the ground like I had putted it.

After lunch, we went to the driving range to learn how to do half and full swing golf strokes with the iron (7 iron). Jacqueline showed everyone how to hold the club before Robert and Hung showed slow motion the half and full swings. 

 Jacqueline teaching us how to hold the club 
( I probably don't need to point out who I am, but just in case, short person in the front row with the lime green polo)

We then went off to try it ourselves, practicing with the half swing before going onto the full swing. I found this very difficult, since after about an hour, when everyone had progressed to full swings, I was still stuck there doing half swings, because I was only able to get the ball to skip a little if I was lucky, or just completely miss the ball and hit the ground if I wasn't. After a while, Eddy walked by and watched me swing. 

Apparently I was having trouble because whenever I brought the club up, I would sometimes unknowingly bend my left arm and have a straight left wrist, rather than the other way around. This ment that even though the club was lined up with the ball at the start, by the time the club came down, the angle was all wrong and I would miss the ball completely. He also recommended that I hold the "follow through" longer (for at least 3 seconds) and put my weight on my left leg while turning my hips and right leg. This way, it would help my ball fly upward at an angle.After being given these tips, I was able to get a decent half swing. Unfortunately, I ran out of time to fully practice the full swing. 

Overall, my first day of golf ever was quite enjoyable. I learned a lot of things I would have never known if I didn't go on this trip. 

I also had a new found respect for golf, since before I had always thought before that it wasn't "really a sport" like how swimming might be. However, after this day, I realized that although it may not evolve all the endurance or strength other sports require, it makes up for that in the sheer amount of precision and skill you need to make the ball go in the right direction at the right speed, but only having a few practice swings at most to take all of that into account. Every little thing from if your arms are straight or not, to the angle of your club can influence a stroke, which makes getting consistent strokes very hard without practice.

That is it for today! On to the next!

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