Thursday, May 1, 2008

No Perfect Method

I was very fortunate to be an assistant golf professional at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge during the early 80’s. Each year in March, the PGA Tour would come to Bay Hill. Out of respect to our owner, Arnold Palmer, the event would attract the best players in the world. One of the responsibilities of the pro shop staff in those days was to take care of the needs of the players and NBC’s broadcast team during the week. The great advantage of being one of the “go to” people for the week was that you were able to meet and get to know, at least on a short term basis, all the stars of the event. One of my favorites was Lee Trevino, who besides playing in the event, also worked as the color commentator for NBC. Lee was always great to the guys on staff and we loved him because he was one of us. A former club pro who had washed carts, cleaned clubs, searched for lost head covers, just like we did everyday. One night Lee was working on his clubs at the repair trailer and as usual he had drawn a crowd listening to his stories. One of my co-workers asked him what he had done over the years to make himself a great player. His answer is something I have shared with every golfer I have worked with since. He said, “I never wasted any time looking for a perfect method, I only worked to perfect my own method.”
We all have tendencies when it comes to playing golf. We all have a dominate eye and a dominate hand. We all have different physical strengths and weaknesses, and also different emotional reactions. All of this and much more combine to create a unique golfer that is you. So how do we sort it all out to perfect our own method? While I can’t help you solve it all in one column, I will tell you that the best place to start is to understand that the process of hitting a golf shot is divided into two very separate parts; the first is visual and the second mechanical. Before we ever make a swing we have to identify a target and align the mechanism used to swing the club (our body) properly to that target. So as we create a personal method or strategy, we can’t have a discussion about “how” until we decide “where”. Next week we will try to help start the process by talking a little about target selection for all golf shots and how the way you “see” influences how you play.

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