Monday, 8 June 2015

A Hook Won't Listen

The draw seems to generally be viewed as the superior ball flight because, among other things, it usually goes farther. My preference has always been a fade. No doubt, this was due to my favourite golfers having been Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, both of whom preferred the fade, but were quite capable of playing a draw, or any other shot for that matter, when it was required.

Lee Trevino said, "You can talk to a slice, but a hook won't listen." I have always found this to be true. I've never liked to hit the draw, even though it's the way my ball tends to want to go if I square up and make my normal swing. I don't like to draw the ball because it sometimes becomes a hard draw or a hook, and a hook just won't listen. You don't have to hit many hooks before a potentially good round becomes ugly. You don't often get away with a hook. 

I played in the Quinte Cup this weekend and once again learned that hard lesson about a hook not listening. The Quinte Cup is a one day event and consists of three nine hole matches against players from three other clubs in our area. It is one of the oldest competitions still being played in Ontario and it's fun to play guys from other clubs, many of whom you see every year. 

In my first match, I found myself playing Rick, from Napanee, who has been their club champion numerous times and is certainly no slouch. We have played several times before and have enjoyed good matches. I have done reasonably well against Rick, and actually believed I was up one in our matches when we started the day. That gave me the confidence that, if I played well, I had a fair chance of beating him. After our match and over a beer, Rick assured me he had beaten me in our last match, so we may actually have been even in our matches to date. It's funny how you remember the wins and forget the losses. Actually, I guess that's positive thinking. In any case, all that positive thinking did me no good. Rick was definitely the better man this time, easily beating me four and two. This was down to his good play, my dismal short game, and a couple of hooks that refused to listen on a hard and fast golf course. 

One of those hooks was my first shot of the day and left me short-sided behind some fir trees on the steeply uphill par three of about two hundred yards. I made five after scooting a chip across the green and three putting from the fringe. Rick, who was able to win the first hole without even having to putt for his par, was off and running. I never recovered. Along with my poor putting, on another hole I hooked it just out of bounds. "Just out of bounds" is like being "a little bit pregnant." You either are or you're not. Nine hole matches are difficult if you make mistakes early because there isn't much time to recover, and Rick is not the sort to just give you a hole. You tend to have to earn it. If you are playing a nine hole match and hooking it, better you'd have just stayed in bed.

My next match was against a fellow named Gary from Roundel Glen, formerly the CFB Trenton club. I'd never played him before, and he had won his first match against Andy from the Trenton Golf Club, a nine hole course dubbed goat hills, who were hosting the event this year. I knew I was going to be up against it, and Gary played well, beating me two and one. Once again, I hooked my first tee shot behind the same trees on one, hooked the ball out of bounds on the same hole I'd hit it OB in the first match, and I almost hooked it OB on another hole, ending up under a tree but managing to escape with a half. 

In the final match, true to form, I once again hooked my tee shot on one and, stymied by a tree, clipped the branches on my second shot but eventually managed a good bogey for a half. A birdie on two put me one up, only to see the lead evaporate when Andy holed his wedge from a hundred yards for an eagle on three. I was really starting to sweat by this point, with visions of losing all my matches and contributing nothing to the cause. I was also sweating because I was now facing two holes where I'd hit hooks in the earlier matches. At least I'd finally made a putt for birdie, and I'd finally hit some decent chips, so there was at least a glimmer of hope if I could just stop missing it left.

I pictured Lee Trevino and played the rest of the round trying to imitate his push fade move. It actually didn't produce much of a fade for me, but it saw me to the house with no more hooks and a two and one victory. Sometimes, when the wheels have come off, you need to have that choke stroke. For me it's what is doubtless a rather poor imitation of the Trevino fade. It probably doesn't remind anyone seeing me swing of old Lee, but it's the best I can do, and it's turned things around for me before when I've been really gagging out there.

After this latest experience; I'm seriously considering going back to that "faux Trevino" push fade swing as my go to swing. Why should I wait until the wheels are coming off to use it? Old Lee is right; you can talk to a fade. As for a hook; forget about it!

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