New swing. New sticks. New me

John Craven

Naas Golf Club where Bernard plies his trade (Photo by Kevin Markham)

As U.S. pop band The Monkees sing, then I saw the centre of the club face, now I’m a believer, not a trace, of doubt in my mind!

It’s hard to put into words how much my golf game has transformed in just a few short weeks visiting a PGA pro, in my case, Bernard Quigley at Naas Golf Club.

I went to Bernard as an 8-handicap golfer struggling to play to 18, with no idea where my bad shots were coming from and no confidence in myself to produce anything good. Three sessions later and I just shot a three-over par 76 around the O’Meara course at Carton House. I can’t remember the last time I managed a round that low, if ever. My only regret now is not getting to Bernard sooner.


For the past few years I’ve avoided lessons, opting instead for quick fixes on YouTube. Basically performing open heart surgery on myself and regularly clipping my aorta. Within ten minutes with Bernard we’d identified an over the top action and more importantly, a way to fix it, and through simple, concise drills and repetition, Operation Transformation is in full (in-to-out) swing, my attack angle hovering either side of 0 having been as damaging – for me – as -10.

‘For me’ is an important distinction here. The rabbit hole I fell down with YouTube was identifying something in what the instructor was saying and attributing it to me when a golf swing is much more personal than that. I’m not saying the likes of Rick Shiels are producing the swing equivalent of horoscopes but we all move so differently and having the hands-on approach of a pro to identify your unique patterns is paramount to hopeful improvement. Bernard, like a lot of pros, is also happy to receive videos of swings between lessons to make sure you’re maintaining positions – invaluable help you won’t find in the comment sections of YouTube.

Bernard’s also opened my eyes to the power of equipment. It’s not that I was closed off to the idea of upgrading technology, I just didn’t want to spent the money on it! That said, the amount of money I’ve spent on rounds of golf through the years that I’ve struggled to enjoy because I’m hitting the ball all over the map could’ve been paid back ten-fold with the right equipment. And who doesn’t like being told it’s the sword and not the wielder that’s the problem!

We swapped out my Mizuno driver with a Ping G430 model and lo and behold, the same swing delivered dramatically improved numbers.. most satisfying for me being a 25 yard carry increase courtesy of a reduced spin rate.

And if diving into numbers isn’t your thing, don’t worry, I’m no Rain Man either. Truth be told, I skip the numbers’ round on Countdown to focus my energy on the conundrum. But TrackMan breaks things down and pros like Bernard explain it all so anyone can understand. Luckily I only had to look at the flashing dots indicating the dispersion of the drivers I hit to realise that the Ping G430 completely outperformed my gamer. So much so, in fact, you’d swear they were hit by two completely different people.

Shock… I put the Ping in the bag to shoot that 76 I was telling you about. As Bernard put it, the old adage, drive for show, putt for dough is now drive for dough and putt for dough. The driver has a steep price point but given it’s turned a weakness into a strength overnight, it might just pay for itself!

“It’s not all about the club,” Bernard told me. “You’ve improved a lot in our three sessions together – your angle of attack, your low point, your path, your swing direction, your ball speed is all after shooting up and your swing plain has come down as well, but then the key for you is getting a piece of equipment that works with your swing and rewards the work you’ve put in.
“With the Ping compared to the Mizuno, you’ve gone from 220 yards to 250… suddenly you’re hitting three less clubs into the greens.

“It doesn’t matter what level of golfer you are, you’re going to benefit hugely from getting custom fit for your clubs. I also have the loft and lie machine here as well which allows us to change things instantly during the lesson but so few players these days are using off the rack clubs. They see the return on any investment in their general play, and ultimately their enjoyment of the game.”

I’m certainly converted. Belatedly trending at 33 though as Brandel Chamblee would point out, well past my statistical peak. Still, better late than never, right?

To book a lesson or a fitting with Bernard, click here.

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