Patience is still a virtue
Golf Things Considered column by John Rogers
In the era of fast food, DSL and guaranteed overnight deliveries, improving the golf game can seem like a long and difficult process. Especially when a golfer wants to turn his chunky pull-slice into a power draw with a one-hour lesson.
As a teaching professional, I have had the pleasure of working with golfers from all around the world, and the one word I try to learn in other languages is patience. I’ve learned it in German and Korean, and even in Irish slang.
The problem is that most golfers have little understanding of how the many parts of the golf swing fit together, which is my job, after all, not theirs. If a player has been aiming to the right of the target and pulling the ball trying to get it back to the target, we can’t just fix the alignment and expect pin-seekers, we also have to eliminate the pull.
For example, I had a golfer at the driving range today whose grip caused the ball to go to the right, but his clubface alignment told the ball to go left. He took the clubhead too far inside during the backswing, which promotes a rightward ball flight, then slammed his arms through the hitting area, which makes the old Titleist go left. He lunged his body toward the target – ball goes right; flipped his wrists sideways – ball goes left.
Basically, this guy’s swing was like a roll of the dice. He had three parts of the setup and swing telling the ball to go right, three parts telling it to go left. When he got them all lined up and timed them perfectly, the ball would go straight. But there were too many competing factors for him to see consistent results.
After working on his grip, we would both love to see immediate results – a high, straight, long shot. But what it does is change the odds when he rolls the dice in favor of the three parts that still encourage a leftward ball flight. So I spend half of my workday saying things like, “Don’t worry about the ball yet,” which is like telling a stock-market junkie not to watch the ticker tape.
To get the consistency he wants, my friend will have to work on all the flawed parts of his swing, which is more than we can do in one session. Fortunately this golfer is patient, willing to practice, and ready to take multiple lessons.
This reminds me of a sign I saw in a pro shop once: It said that the fee for a single lesson is $1,000, but a series of five lessons costs $100. At the bottom it said, “If you want a miracle, you’ve got to pay for it.”
Harrisonburg High and Spotswood represented the Valley District in the regional tournament this week. HHS posted a team score of 316 to finish in third place, and Spotswood tied for fourth with 321.
Neither team will advance to the state tournament next week, but Jim Stevens (HHS) and Michael Pence (SHS) qualified as individuals with score of 74 and 76, respectively. The district player of the year, Timmy Driver, was not able to overcome a head cold and weakened legs; he shot 80 at Lake Monticello to finish an impressive high-school career at Spotswood.
The state tournament will take place on Oct. 11 and 12 at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Front Royal.