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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hammering the Nail

Steve was telling me about a buddy of his who likes to perform at the driving range.  He stands there and announces, "Now I'm going to hit it like Arnie."  Then he tees up another and says, "Now I'm going to hit it like Lee."  Then he hits one "like Freddie."

Steve says that funny thing about it is that every swing looks the same.  Maybe Peter Jacobsen can imitate other golfers' swings, but this guy wasn't much of an impressionist.  Even if he felt like he was swinging like Arnie, his own swing showed up.  

Many of us tend, from time to time, to think of other players' swings in an effort to help us.  We often try to copy Big Ernie's smooth swing when we feel we are getting too quick.  Or, we might think of Freddie Couples when our swing gets out of sync.  I like to think of Lee Trevino's swing when the wheels are coming off, and I just want to get it to the house using a push fade.  But, what we think we're doing, like Steve's buddy, may very well not really be what we are doing.  The feel may not quite match the cold, hard reality revealed by the video.  All we can do is go with feel. 

Sometimes, I think it's best not to think about swinging at all.  Rather than trying to swing a particular way, it helps me to think about something possibly a bit less complicated.  Yesterday, Steve and I played at the Shelter Valley Pines course near Grafton.  It was hotter than the hubs of hell, and the combination of the heat, maybe too much golf, and a general lack of talent found us by the twelfth hole wondering why the hell we were even out there.  We just weren't playing worth a hoot.

I suggested that we just forget our swings altogether and just start "hammering the nail."  By hammering the nail, I mean picturing a nail going through the back of the ball straight down the target line.  You just picture the nail and hammer it.  No swing thoughts; no thoughts of rhythm, or tempo, or swing plane, or grip pressure; just pick your target, see the nail going through the back of the ball to the target, and hammer it.

I often use this when I begin hitting fat or thin shots, or the wheels seem to be coming off.  Sure enough, both Steve and I started playing some golf again and felt energized and enthusiastic. By the time we finished the round, we went from saying, is it only the twelfth hole; feeling like the round would never end; to saying, "Man, is it the seventeenth already!"

So, the hammer the nail thing was the ticket today for both of us.  It generally works for me.  In fact, I don't know why I don't do it all the time, instead of going to it after I've hit a few stinkers.  Steve says he's going to keep using it, and that, for once, maybe I might just know what I'm talking about.

The problem is, as Steve often says, there are just so many things to remember when it comes to golf. And, the older you get, the worse your memory tends to be.  For today, and likely until the wheels start coming off again, Steve and I are going to become carpenters out there.  We're going to hammer the nail.