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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

It Ain't How Far It's How Many

My son tells me he is finally giving up rugby to finally turn his attention to golf.  His knee that now requires surgery and his wonky shoulder have contributed to that decision; not to mention the fact that he is getting older and tends to take a longer time to recover from the bumps and bruises that are a big part of the game.  I am glad that he has made the decision--making it about the same time in his life that I did, when I  gave up hockey for a slightly more gentlemanly pursuit.  

From now on, hopefully it will be golf in the summer and squash in the winter for my boy.  Those are pursuits much less hazardous to your health and fitting for a young army officer, even if the rugby pitch will likely always call out to him.

He's strong like bull.  He can hit a pitching wedge 170 yards, generally over the back of whatever green he's aiming at.  He drives it long and crooked as well.  But he's a pretty decent chipper and putter, which suggests to me that he could actually become a fair player.  The key will be whether he can forget his driver and develop his touch.

We spoke the other night and came up with a plan.  Matt will begin the season using only a seven iron, a wedge, and a putter.  He will work on getting the ball in play off the tee and honing his skills around the green.  My wife learned to play this way and very quickly learned to get it around the course--although she'd still sooner walk the course with a camera and a ball retriever photographing the wild life and hawking previously enjoyed Titleists.

I really hope Matt can learn to love the game.  So far, his experiences on the links have pretty much left him cold.  Golf is no fun when you're spending all day looking for your tee shot in the woods somewhere in the next county.  It also isn't all that fun for your playing companions unless they play the same sort of game.  One soon tires of searching for someone else's ball.  He's also not very fond of having his old man beat him all the time, since he's a competitive character.

As Bob Toski and Harvey Penick taught, golf is best learned from the green back to the tee.  Someone who can chip and putt--and get the ball in play off the tee--can play with anyone.  Besides, according to Harvey, the golf swing is really nothing more than a long chip shot.  It's all about controlling distance and direction that counts and that comes from the strike.

The challenge for Matt will be resisting the urge to hit the driver.  It won't be difficult, however, if he just leaves it at home.  It also won't be hard to forget the driver if he learns what all good players must eventually learn; it ain't how far, it's how many.  If he starts seeing his scores dropping, he won't miss that driver at all.