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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Five Minutes

Jackie Burke once said, "What you might learn in six months of practice, your pro can tell you in five minutes."  There is a lot of truth in that.  I mean, it's all well and good to dig it out of the dirt for yourself,  but there's much to be said for an experienced set of eyes.  It might just save you a lot of searching.

Everyone needs to develop a style or a reliable method to play the game well.  I learned to play the game imitating Jack Nicklaus, and my father-- who also tried to swing like Jack.  From an early age, I hit the ball high, and I hit it far.  I virtually never hooked the ball, but did hit some prodigious slices, followed by more than my fair share of pulls.  As I started shooting in the seventies, and occasionally lower, I became more aware of just how costly these big misses were, and started making changes to try to hit the ball more consistently. 

I became straighter, but I also started hitting the ball lower and with, if anything, a right to left flight, instead of the old fade.  My long, upright swing had become shorter, and flatter.  I basically changed my entire approach to the game when, as I look back, five minutes with a pro might have fixed me.  I now know that my problem was alignment, both shoulder and clubface alignment; and perhaps ball position.  If you are a reasonably good player, with a sound grip, chances are it is one of these fundamentals that is being neglected, or something quite minor that has slipped out of whack.  Rather than an overhaul, what I really needed was a tune up.

I miss those days when I hit it high, far, and left to right.  I don't know if I can ever find that old swing again.  Much has changed.  My back is prety much ruined--likely due to adopting that flat, rotary swing. My legs are much weaker since I've stopped playing soccer, rugby, and hockey.  But, if and when the snow melts, I'm going to try to go back for good to that old upright, Golf My Way swing.  I know I play my best when I swing more upright and keep the club in front of me, and make use of my legs.  I still sometimes find a semblance of that old swing, often after simple desperation has driven me to just hit the damned thing without thinking about it.  When this happens I still have some good results.  But I've been a confirmed tinkerer for much too long.  

My first and only golf instructional book was Golf My Way, by Jack Nicklaus.  Then I branched out and read Hogan's Modern Fundamentals of Golf, along with goodness knows how many other books.  Five minutes with a good pro might have saved me a great deal of time, energy, and disappointment.  But the beauty of this game is that, as long as you can still swing a club, there's hope.  But, it's also hard, if not downright impossible, to go back.  In fact, some people say you can never really go back.  So, instead I will have to just try to go forward.