Eureka Process—Humble goes for great

Fairways-EurekaProcess Feb 15

If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably know him by his Humble handle rather than his golf swing. This is (Humble) Howard Glassman, formerly of Toronto FM stations CFNY and the Mix 99.9 and now host of the Humble and Fred show on Siriux Xm.

Humble is a funny dude, but he’s also a helluva golfer who managed a feat that most golfers dream of. Over the course of the 2014 season he dramatically improved, going from a 4.2 index to 2.1 with the support of his coach, Sean Casey of the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey GC in Oakville, Ontario.

The story of how he improved—and Casey’s role along the way—is inspiring. There’s a lot we can learn from their work together.

And that’s the key objective of this new series that I have launched called The Eureka Process, which is also appearing in Fairways Magazine. The series will tell the stories of golfers who have substantially improved their games—or made some kind of breakthrough—and how their coaches supported them along the way.

Through their entertaining stories, you have the opportunity to learn more about how to improve your own game, as well as share in the various ways that golfers overcome the many challenges the game presents to us.

We’ll tell tales about people of all abilities, ages and experience—how they have broken scoring barriers, beaten the yips, overcome their fears of playing with other people, won championships and flights, learned to manage their emotions (stop choking!) and more. Maybe someone will finally cure their slice.

As for the name The Eureka Process… I’ll save that for another post.

I hope you enjoy the series and provide me with feedback in the comments section on how to make it better. Or send me an email to tim@oconnorgolf.ca.

Thanks.

Tim O’Connor

Howard Glassman–It’s hard to be humble when you make this kind of progress

HIGHLIGHTS: Since I started working with Sean, I shot progressively lower scores as the 2014 season continued. I won a Men’s night event, scoring a 75 under tournament conditions, and in November I shot two-under 70 (just missed a putt for 69!).

GAME BEFORE WORKING WITH SEAN CASEY: I had been a low handicap but I hadn’t played much in about eight years. My swing was loose and relied too much on timing and leg drive, which was hard on my back. I was inconsistent and often yanked it left.

HOWARD’S GOALS: I was older and wanted a move that I could use for the rest of my golf life and was easier on my back. I wanted to work my way back to being a good player who didn’t have to rely on hitting thousands of balls.

WHAT SEAN SAW: When I met Howard, he could hit it like a PGA Tour player when he timed it right, yet he was inconsistent. He didn’t load his backswing properly or make a solid transition. The best ball-strikers maintain a tilt away from the target—from face-on, referred to as side-bend—which means the center of their hips is always closer to the target than the center of their chest. Howard’s upper body was too far forward (his head moved closer to the target), which would cause an average player to come into the ball too steeply on the downswing. To avoid this Howard released his wrist cock early (known as casting) and adjusted his spine angle up and back.

WHAT SEAN TAUGHT HOWARD: In the spring of 2014, Sean taught me drills that kept my spine angle more consistent through the ball. We worked on turning my hips through impact rather than sliding, and generally on making a more compact and e?cient lower-body move. Sean gave me new elements to work on only when I had mastered previous things, which meant I had learned them correctly.

SEAN: We worked on having Howard setting up at address with his spine tilted away from the target by about two degrees and feeling like he maintained that side-bend during his backswing. ?e increased side-bend allowed him to in- crease the weight transfer to his trail foot at the top of the backswing. Once he mastered that, we worked on shi?ing his hips down and forward athletically on the downswing without moving his head forward (his old move). ?is shal- lows his downswing and enables him to stay down through impact and maintain his wrist cock later into the down- swing, which has vastly improved his consistency.

WHAT HOWARD PRACTICED: I practiced Sean’s concepts on the range and in front of mirrors until they felt natural. and then I’d hit balls. We also worked on my short game, which provided variety and sharpened that part of my game.

HOWARD’S PROGRESS: My motion became more consistent, and I started hitting more fairways and greens. In August and September, I hit 13-15 greens during several rounds.

SEAN: Howard is organized and driven, so he gets his reps in and makes steady progress. He is easy to coach; I write the program and he executes it. Over time, the feelings of his old patterns have subsided and the feelings of his new pattern are becoming more engrained. He is hitting it longer, hitting more fairways and greens, and taking fewer putts.

HOWARD’S KEYS TO CHANGING TO HIS GAME: In addition to Sean’s coaching, the key factors in my improvement were practicing and being patient. I never scheduled another lesson until I felt that I could perform the last lesson’s move correctly. I frequently took breaks from full-swing drills to chip and putt, partly to break the monotony and to improve those skills. Changing your swing is a slow process and there are setbacks along the way, so you have to be patient. Working with Sean improved my swing, and his outlook on the game made me a better golfer overall.

Photo courtesy of ClubLink

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a performance coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

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