Monday, January 7, 2013

Play Swing or Play Golf

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the Harbor Shores Golf Club in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Designer Jack Nicklaus was joined by Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller for a clinic and a round of golf. The clinic began with Tom Watson explaining his beginnings in golf. He described how his first lesson came from his Dad. Mr. Watson showed young Tom how to hold the club, how to make the ball curve left and how to curve the ball curve to the right. He taught him how to hook and slice it on the very first day and then how to use that knowledge. Not one way to stand, or the proper positions during the swing, but how to control the clubface and make the ball curve.
As a former employee of Arnold Palmer I was well aware of the story of Mr. Palmer’s first lesson from his father that was in essence the same story. What I didn’t realize was that the first lessons for Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus were the same as well. They were taught to hit shots, not how to swing a club. Experiment, not with the thought of good or bad, but with the intention of gaining information by experience. All of these Hall of Famers started the game with the concept that to play successful golf requires a variety of shots.
#7 The Fort Golf Course and Resort
I think for many inexperienced players the idea of a shot curving is considered a negative thing. Poor shots curve and good shots go straight. The truth is just the opposite, most golf courses are not built to be played effectively with a straight ball. Using the member courses of The Pete Dye Golf Trail as examples, each requires different types of shots to get around the golf course successfully. The mastery of Mr. Dye's build strategy is that each hole is a puzzle to be solved and more easily solved if you can bend the ball around some of the trouble.
Over the course of the offseason we will continue this conversation of strategic play and how it will benefit your scores as you challenge the Trail next season.

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