Steve and I played what might just be our last round of the season at the Loyalist Golf Club in Bath, Ontario. It was the final day for green fee players at Loyalist. The tee blocks were conspicuous by their absence, the rakes for the bunkers were gone, but the flagsticks were in, the greens were still good, and it was about seven degrees Celsius, which, I figure, is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For November in this neck of the woods that was pretty good.
We teed off behind two young guys who had obviously been watching lots of golf on the tube and, thanks to elaborate pre-shot routines and crooked tee shots, kept us waiting most of the day. In fact, we ended up being joined after a few holes by Danny who was from Belleville and was playing as a single. Even with the addition of Danny, we still found ourselves waiting on those two flat-bellies.
Despite the cool and the wind, thanks to chipping in for birdie on one, and holing some nice putts, I was able to go out in 35. On the first few holes, as is my wont, I was fiddling around with my swing. But, after a couple of wonky shots, I settled in to my "natural swing;" the swing I make when I close my eyes and just swing the club. That's the swing that tends to produce a draw, and the swing I keep tinkering with because I have a tough time fading the ball with it.
Steve was struggling, but Danny was playing like a man possessed. On the first hole he played with us, which was a par three, Danny thinned his tee shot and watched it scamper onto the green to about four feet. He made the birdie and then promptly holed out from about 155 yards on the next hole for eagle, causing me to inquire as to just who the hell he was.
In any event, we both tended to lose the plot a bit coming home, and I settled quite happily for a two over 74. Danny had a few dreaded others and didn't indicate, or seem to care, what his final tally was. I think he was really just happy to be out there, like I was. Steve, on the other hand, struggled to a 93. He was not all that happy a camper.
After the round we stood in the parking lot by the car and Steve seemed reluctant to put the clubs away. He said he wanted to hit a couple of shots and have me take a look at his swing. Why he wanted me to look at his swing is a good question. But, if you are feeling desperate, I suppose any port in a storm will do. So we went to the range and he threw down a scruffy ball. He took a practice swing, brushing the grass nicely, and looked at me.
"What did you see?" Steve asked.
I just shrugged. It looked like just another swing to me. That's the problem with trying to help someone with their swing. As Bobby Jones pointed out, often what matters more is what a golfer feels he is doing than what he is actually doing. Golf is a feel game.
Steve likes to talk about a buddy of his who used to stand on the range and say, "Now I'm going to swing like Nick Price."
His buddy would then tee another one up and say, "Now I'm going to swing like Freddie Couples."
The funny thing was, according to Steve, every swing looked just the same.
I suggested to Steve that he just hit one concentrating on making the club-face strike the ball going straight down the target line. He hit it and produced what for him was a dead-straight, perfect seven iron. He looked at me and shook his head.
That's one of the problems with golf. We worry about our swing when it's the strike that really matters. I know I keep harping on about Bobby Jones, but that's because he was so brilliant. He said that, when he was competing, he focussed intently on the strike and left his swing to take care of itself. I try to do the same thing, but my powers of concentration are sadly lacking. Eventually, I get back to thinking about my swing just long enough to screw things up.