One of the big golf events of the summer here in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan was the opening of the Nicklaus Designed, The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan. For the Grand Opening, Jack Nicklaus, Mr. Palmer, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson conducted a clinic and played a team skin game. Like many other golf fans I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see these four together and maybe get a chance to see and shake hands with Mr. Palmer and lucky for me my bosses found a way for us to go.
I stood in the crowd, on the path to the practice range, thinking the only chance I would have to get his attention was as he made his way to the practice tee for the clinic. As he pulled by in his cart I yelled, “Long ways from home aren’t you?” He laughed when he heard my voice and that is when I realized I had made a tactical error. He stopped the cart and came over to shake hands and just that fast I was surrounded. Not by a few people, but by hundreds, typical of AP he never missed a beat as we traded updates from when we had last seen each other. He even signed some autographs as we stood. He got the better end of it as he was adored by all and I got stabbed with Sharpie Pens.
The next great part of the day was the wake up call I got from these greats during the clinic. The first came from Tom Watson, as he told the story of learning the game from his Dad. Tom said that the first lesson from his Dad showed him how to grip the club and then how too make the ball curve by showing him how to hit hooks and fades. Not one way to stand and one place to position the ball and then search for straight. Experiment; there is no success or fail, only information gained. I know well the story of Mr. Palmer’s first lesson from his father that was in essence the very same thing. What I didn’t realize was that the first lessons for Johnny Miller and jack Nicklaus were the same as well. Later on Mr. Palmer took the mike and offered the following advice. In this world of methods and systems he told the audience that the best way to play the game was to find your own way to play the game. So what was the wake up call? I had grown up in the business knowing these two things to be absolutely true, but I had gotten away from these concepts in an attempt to be like other instructors. Unfortunately in my business the right way isn’t always the most profitable way. But never the less, my job is not to show you the best way, it is to help you find yours.