VERONICA KARAMAN: Open Quest Finds 'Celebration Move'
Paul Barnsley might be the greatest golf instructor you've never heard of. He certainly is for me.
I found him as a result of a crushing disappointment followed by an invisible swing of divine direction.
Last week I wrote about my futile trip for golf lessons. Desperate to find a new swing coach to help me in my Open quest, I discovered Paul through an Internet search on Jim Hardy's Web site.
Jim Hardy is the master instructor who popularized the one-plane swing, the theory I have been working on. Jim believes that there is more than one fundamental way to swing the club.
He calls the two ways the one-plane swing and the two-plane swing.
Imagine that. No cloning to be like Tiger or Annika.
Jim believes that if you are more comfortable swinging around yourself than swinging up, it is a perfectly sound way to swing -- and he shows you how.
Clicking on the link to "instructors," I located Paul, a longtime disciple of Jim's, in Philadelphia. I gave him a quick call and we hit it off. He sounded just like the type of person I wanted to learn from.
With less than two months to the Open Qualifier, I had to assess just how much mechanics I could work on versus just playing to tune up my game. As I shared my hesitancy with Paul, he didn't mince words, "Look, you have got to get going. You are on a mission! If you don't have sound mechanics, all the play in the world isn't going to help you. C'mon up and stay for a few days and we'll make it worth your time and travel."
His words rang true to me -- and Southwest made it easy for me to book my flight as that night was the last night I could book a $100 round trip to Philly.
I'm feelin' the love already! Stephanie, my neighbor, was happy to look after Teddy-boy, my faithful canine travel companion (he doesn't go airborne though.) A few more calls, and I booked my room. Ta da! With a little research and faith in action, I just created a "new shot" and direction for myself.
Just a few days before I left, a major snowstorm hit Philly, and my indecision hit me again. Why in the world should I make a trip to a snow-laden city, blow my entire instruction budget, and most likely have to make radical swing changes? But I decided to trust and go.
Once I arrived at The Meadowlands, a very private club north of the city, the snow still covered the ground, but my fears and doubts quickly melted away as my lesson with Paul began.
After a cordial introduction, we got right down to business with his videotaping my swing in his indoor instruction facility, which I affectionately called the "incubator room" -- a place where new swings are conceived and cultivated.
I was anticipating his tearing apart my swing, not unlike a slap-happy birthday boy ripping open the wrapping off a gift box. Instead, like a skilled surgeon, he carefully examined each angle of my swing, fully explaining how each move related to the next in a direct cause-effect relationship.
"The body moves out of need," Paul explained. "If you swing your arms out toward the ball too much, your body will respond by falling back so that you can hit it."
He quickly caught my across-the-line move at the top, a move which nobody has been able to fix, that is until now.
"If you take the club away feeling like it is hooded and then keep your right elbow up and out, instead of in, then rotate your forearms, you can correct your across-the-line move."
Paul had his own terminology for my swing. I had so much movement at the top of my swing, he playfully labeled it "my celebration move."
"All changes are radical," Paul explained. "You have to feel the change, and in order to do that, you have to exaggerate the move in rehearsal. Your actual swing will look different."
I was so concerned about making radical changes, but after hours and hours of drilling, video-analysis, and Paul's relentless attention to and explanation of the swing, I came away with not only a new vision of my swing, but a full understanding of how to achieve it.
A simply transformational experience! I was not getting a lesson, I was getting metamorphosed.
After my three days with Paul, I left determined to create a new "celebration move" at the top of my swing, a move to also include a mindset that is no longer afraid of radical changes, knowing that I can do each one a step at a time.
The true champion lesson I took away from Philadelphia, applicable to everyone, is not to let disappointment stop you in your quest.
Out of severe disappointment can come a transcendent experience. Embracing this truth is new for me. In the past, I would dwell on an emotional blow for far too long, allowing it to paralyze me to the point of despair. This would not only sabotage my purpose, but also waste precious time.
This time I just decided to accept my mishap and move on, taking the blow as directional. It was answered prayer, a divine swing taking me from getting good instruction to getting the highest level of instruction from the greatest golf instructor you now have heard of, Paul Barnsley.
If you are struggling with a disappointment, I want to encourage you. Don't dwell on it. Seek help in a new direction, and go forward in spite of the snow.
Take courage to make the investment, trusting that there's a new celebration move awaiting you, too.
Go ahead, and book your flight. It may be radical, but it will be good. Fresh hope is on the way!
Veronica Karaman lives in Pinehurst. She is a golf professional, life coach and speaker. To learn more about Karaman's quest, visit www.truechampioncoaching.com. Contact Karaman at email@example.com.
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