I'll be seeing Brian Sparks this week!

Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 7th, 2018, 12:27 am #1

My wife and I are heading over to England for a little over a week.  While we're there we're going to do a 3 day Brian Sparks golf school.  Should be interesting!
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gsw
Joined: January 14th, 2007, 5:53 am

July 7th, 2018, 4:19 am #2

Wow! Lucky You.

Stan
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Joined: August 16th, 2005, 10:50 am

July 7th, 2018, 1:15 pm #3

That's great!  We will be looking forward to hearing how it went.  
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 9th, 2018, 12:22 pm #4

Made it to England safe and sound after 24 hours of travel.  And unlike Graeme McDowell, our clubs made it too!  We're staying at an Airbnb in the quaint little town of "Lemming Spa" which is about 20 minutes from the golf course and was named the "happiest place to live in the UK".  My wife and I are having dinner with Brian Spark's tonight.  I have a 2 hour personal lesson with Brian tomorrow (Tuesday).  Then the golf school is Wed-Fri.  Should be fun.  Weather is perfect too: mid-70's.  Could I ask for anything more?  :)
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Joined: August 3rd, 2004, 3:51 pm

July 9th, 2018, 1:26 pm #5

BigE44 wrote: Made it to England safe and sound after 24 hours of travel.  And unlike Graeme McDowell, our clubs made it too!  We're staying at an Airbnb in the quaint little town of "Lemming Spa" which is about 20 minutes from the golf course and was named the "happiest place to live in the UK".  My wife and I are having dinner with Brian Spark's tonight.  I have a 2 hour personal lesson with Brian tomorrow (Tuesday).  Then the golf school is Wed-Fri.  Should be fun.  Weather is perfect too: mid-70's.  Could I ask for anything more?  :)
Sounds like great fun!  Did you rent a car?  How was the drive up to Lemming Spa?  Are you doing any sight seeing while there?

I have been to England a couple of times for work.  Beautiful country!  I stayed in Towcester quite a bit which is about 45 minutes from where you are.  I did not drive when I was in England except for a test drive of a Lotus Europa which was a bit of an adventure particularly when I opened the door trying to shift into second gear the first time...  

Will be interesting to here what you learn while working with Brian Sparks!

Herbert

 
Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 9th, 2018, 3:30 pm #6

Yes, rented a car.  Drove with "white knuckles" for the 45 minutes it took to go from the airport to Leamington Spa (I misspelled the name of the town earlier).  It's quite an adventure to all the sudden be driving on the left side of road!  Very disorienting.  I only got honked at once at a 4 way stop where I was momentarily confused as to who had the "right of way".  And yes we'll be doing some sight seeing.  Spent today walking around the town and seeing the sights.  Having dinner tonight with Brian at "Lambs" in the town of Stratford Upon Avon (the town where Shakespeare was born).  Apparently this restaurant has been around since the 16th century.  Will do some more sight seeing after my morning lesson tomorrow and we have all day Saturday.  Touring Warwick Castle is definitely on the agenda somewhere.
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Joined: September 5th, 2004, 1:22 pm

July 9th, 2018, 9:21 pm #7

Looks as if you've found a great place to stay. Have fun and enjoy the weather and golf.

Leamington Spa
Regards,
Bob
Lexington, Ky.
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 9th, 2018, 10:03 pm #8

Thanks Bob.  Yes, it's a fantastic little town.

Had dinner with Brian tonight.  He picked us up around 6 pm and we ate and talked until 10 pm.  What a fantastic guy!  Very telling about his teaching style: my wife Marlene asked him what the format of the 3 day school would be.  Brian's response: "I won't know exactly until I've talked to each golfer and determined their needs."  Fantastic answer!  I have my personal 2 hour lesson with him tomorrow prior to the beginning of the golf school.  I'll report back on how that goes.
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Joined: May 8th, 2016, 9:16 am

July 10th, 2018, 12:54 am #9

I've never been to Leamington, but, as a British murder mystery junkie (books and TV shows), I remember it was recently featured in season 4 of "Endeavor."  Looks like a cool place, as do many in that part of England.

I've driven in Australia and the UK.  Both places seem married to the stick shift for some reason, to this day.  Even little old ladies drive manuals.  Did you get an automatic in your rental car?  The rental prices seem to be tripled if you get an automatic, so (being cheap) I always get the manual.  Nothing like being jet lagged, driving on the "wrong" side of the road, shifting gears with your left hand, and figuring out round-a-bouts all at the same time. 

Sounds like your Brian Sparks golf experience has been fun so far, I hope it continues going well. As they say - Cheers!
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 11th, 2018, 7:30 am #10

Had my two hour lesson with Brian yesterday.  It was great to be there hitting balls in front of Him while talking golf.  He is such as a great guy.  It’s worth the price of admission just to meet him and hear all of his golf stories and theories.  Got to meet Julian Mellor too (his protege who is now also starting to put a lot instructional videos on you tube). Without getting into a blow by blow description, suffice it to say Brian likes my swing and where I’m at with it which is really cool.  He said when I keep my rhythm and hit the ball good I have a low handicappers swing.  So he told me he was going to be very “precious” with anything he tells or shows me during the golf school because he doesn’t want to mess with where I’m at with my swing.  He was very impressed that I had gotten to this point without ever having met him personally.  So the only technical things he showed me were 1) keep my arms more connected to my body when doing the “la danse” swing drill. 2) when “chip putting” hold my 8 or 9 iron even more vertical like a putter (more toe down).  3) the last half hour of the lesson was Brian and I hitting 60 degree lob wedges and seeing just how “soft” we could go with our swings.  All in all a really cool and fun session.  Later that night had dinner with Brian and the 4 other guys who will be in the school.  School starts tomorrow and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.  I’ll really be interested to see what he does with my wife whose goal is to learn how to hit the driver (she won’t even pull it out of the bag it so intimidates her).   Brian told her she already knows how to hit the driver.  He’s just going to pull it out of her,“la danse
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Joined: August 16th, 2005, 10:50 am

July 11th, 2018, 12:48 pm #11

Neat.  Keep the stories coming!
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 12th, 2018, 7:00 am #12

First full day of the golf school yesterday.  We started off in a conference room where Brian introduced himself and talked a bit about his philosophy.  Then he asked each of us to introduce ourselves and tell how we came across his swing, why we had come to his school and what it is we hoped to accomplish over the next few days.  He wanted an idea of our golf journey and he wanted to get to know us.  Then we went out on the range and just hit balls without any instruction.  This was Brian wanting to get to know our swings.  He then showed us the “La Danse” drill and we did that for a bit.  After a while he called us all in and asked if we were instructing a beginner, what’s a fundamental piece of advice we’d give them?  Someone said “keep your head down and your eye on the ball”.  So Brian sent us back to hit balls but told everyone after they got into their setup, to close their eyes and try and hit the ball with their eyes closed.  After about 5 minutes he gathered us all back together and asked if anyone had whiffed on any of their swings?  No one had (and 3 of the folks were 25+ handicaps).  Obviously he said, we don’t need to keep our eyes on the ball.  What else he asked?  Someone mentioned the head still and stable body and keep your left foot down.  Brian sent us back to swing, this time lifting and swinging our left leg back in the back swing and then lifting and swinging our right leg through on the downswing.  After 5 minutes we gathered again and he asked if anyone missed the ball?  No one had.  Then he sent us back to swing lifting and swinging our legs again while trying to hit the ball with our eyes closed.  Once again no one missed the ball.  His point?  Don’t be afraid of movement!  Don’t be afraid to let our head move.  Don’t be afraid to let our left heels come off the ground.  Our bodies are wired to do amazing things if we let them.  

We then went back out on the range and finished our morning session with him walking up and down the line and working with each of us on tweeks to our swing.  Most were struggling with rhythm and balance.  I was hitting the ball ball great so Brian was mostly working with my wife.  Had her pull out her driver and he videoed her Swing.  She literally shanked the ball 45 degrees to the right.  When Marlene asked what she should do, Brian said “Let me ponder that for a while”.  LOL....He’s very sensitive to not overloading people with swing thoughts and so wants to offer the perfect advice.   It’ll be interesting to see what he offers up today.  Then it was off to lunch and the sharing of a bunch of fun stories.  

The afternoon session was around the green and hitting LW or SW from about 30 yds as soft and as high as we could.  Fun.  I was amazed to see my wife hitting beautiful soft shots that were landing on the green.  I’ve never seen her with that kind of touch.  Everyone, even the really high handicaps seemed to be hitting their LW’s really well.  I didn’t see too many balls off the green.  The day ended back in the conference room where we watched a couple of videos of instructors advising to increase coil by keeping the left foot down while turning.  It looked painful.  Brian lamented how instruction is aimed for young flexible pros.  Seniors can’t do that.  And we don’t need to do that.  Don’t be afraid to let your left heel come of the ground so you can turn painlessly.

That’s where our day ended.  Marlene and I didn’t stick around for the group dinner because they were all going to gather to watch the World Cup semi’s (England vs Croatia).  Didn’t really interest us.  Brian has a friend in Leamington that owns a reallly nice restaurant, so he made us some reservations there.  It was a fantastic meal.  We got back to our room in time to watch the last 45 minutes of the soccer game and see England lose to Croatia 2 to 1.  There’ll be a lot of sad faces at the school today!

I’ll fill you in on day 2 tomorrow. 
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Joined: August 16th, 2005, 10:50 am

July 12th, 2018, 1:04 pm #13

Made me think what my advice to a new golfer would be.  I guess it would be something along the lines of don't try to lift the ball in the air, with enough explanation to get them to understand and buy into it. 
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Joined: August 3rd, 2004, 3:51 pm

July 12th, 2018, 1:22 pm #14

Great story BigE!  LOL one has to be super flexible and have terrific posture to be able to keep the head still and make a correct golf swing!  There is a spot on the back of the neck where the neck meets the shoulders that can stay fairly steady as the center of the swing though.  When that spot is the same distance from the ball at address and impact there is a better chance of good connection.  It is a good check point to see if the swing motion is working well.  Keeping the head still and keeping that spot steady through the swing is not possible for me and I would say also not possible for the vast majority of golfers.   Keeping the head still on the backswing will tend to cause the spot to move forward towards the target which is not a good thing for most folks.

Glad you are enjoying the golf school and that your wife is having some success with her golf swing!  Hitting hi lob shots is a lot of fun!

Herbert  
Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right
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Joined: April 4th, 2015, 4:54 pm

July 14th, 2018, 4:50 pm #15

Continuing with the journey....
On day 2 we once again began in the conference room discussing what we had each learned or discovered the day before.  Brian showed this video to promote the idea we shouldn't be afraid of movement.  He noted how it's even more important for senior golfers because so many can't keep their left foot down and still get a good turn.  And even if they could, they'd probably be hurting themselves in the long run.


Then we went to range and hit a few shots and followed that up with a chipping session.  After absolutely striping the ball my first 2 days, I wasn't swinging quite as well today on the range.  Not bad, but just not with the crispness of the prior two days.  Oh well.  Some days we just don't have it!  Brian said he could tell I wasn't as relaxed.  He could see the "tension" in my shoulders.  

During the chipping session it was interesting to note how Brian wants the same sort of movement and rhythm in our chipping strokes just like with our full swings (obviously not as much movement, but movement just the same).  His shots all have the same basic type of rhythm and movement from chips, to pitches, to full shots, and even out of the bunkers.  My wife really liked the fact that different situations didn't require a different swing.  She really likes Brian and REALLY likes his golfing philosophy and teaching style.  This has been the perfect golf school for her so far (just as I had hoped)  Still no work with her driver yet though.  Brian must still be pondering.....

We finished the morning session with putting.  He didn't have any specific recommendations other than to stay relaxed.  Let the break and the line "come to you".  It was mostly putting philosophy: a lot of which I can't recall at the moment (I've been putting so well over the last few years I was enjoying just rolling the ball and wasn't paying too much attention).  Interesting that out of our group of 6, there was another sidesaddle putter!  Brian had never run across a sidesaddle putter before and now he had two in one class.  Go figure.  He seemed really intrigued with the method and tried a number of putts with my putter.

After lunch we went out and played 9 holes.  My mediocre ball striking stayed with me but I scored OK by chipping one in from off the green (for a birdie) and knocking in a few long putts (20+ feet) to save pars.  Brian split us into two groups of 3 and walked the first 4 holes with the first threesome and walked the last 5 holes with the threesome I was in.  He spent most of his time with us paying attention to my wife and the other guy in our threesome who is even a worse golfer than my wife.  It was fun to get out to play though.  My wife was excited after landing a ball in a greenside bunker - to be able to get it out in one shot and on the green.  She's rarely able to do that.  After the round ended (about 5 pm) we left because the guys were going to get back together for dinner at 7:30 pm (they're all staying at the Ardencote hotel).  Marlene and I are staying 20 minutes away and we didn't feel like driving back to our BnB and then having to drive back to Ardencote (I was ok with that as the less "left side" driving I have to do the better!!  I've come to dread "roundabouts" too.  LOL)

One day to go.  I've had a blast so far and most importantly, my wife has really enjoyed the school too.  Leamington has been a fun place to stay.  Lots of nice places to eat and shops to explore.  Overall a great week so far in every way.  Did I mention the weather has been perfect too? (high 70's, low 80's every day with lots of sun).  We've been told this an unprecedented stretch of warm English weather.  Aren't we lucky!
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