Evolution of Swing Big Mystery
If you’ve played golf long enough, you know that the game goes through stages of evolution.
Most of us, at least those of us who began playing in another century, more or less just picked up the game. Those early rounds were fun, but only because we didn’t know any better. Heck, it was hit the ball, find the ball, hit the ball again.
Most of us started with topped balls and huge slices. I vividly remember having to aim left of the fairway to have any chance of getting my banana ball to catch a piece of the short grass on the right.
I had been playing for perhaps five years when I went to the late L.B. Floyd’s driving range during a lunch break. L.B. watched me hitting for a few minutes, then could stand it no longer.
“Son,” he said, “would you like to get rid of that slice?”
Did I want to get rid of it? Heck, it was the only shot I had. I might have to give the game up. But I was young and willing to try anything. At least once.
So L.B. changed my grip, changed my stance and taught me how to roll my right arm over, something he called pronating. Pronating? I knew procrastination.
“Remember when you were playing baseball?” he asked. “It’s the same principle.”
Before I left the range, I was actually hooking the ball. I was so excited I didn’t want to quit hitting balls. And ol’ L.B. loved that because he was racking up 50 cents per basket. It almost cost me my job, though. I was punching a clock in those days and had a hard time explaining to the composing room foreman why I was 15 minutes late getting back from lunch.
Sometimes I wonder if I could have been a decent player if I had taken a few real lessons when I was starting the game.
Oh well, we’ll never know. But I think I could get a few testimonials from some of the best teachers in the country that nothing could ever have made me a good player.
But as the years passed, when my game got in trouble, I would call L.B. and ask him for a Band-Aid. He was the best at the quick fix of anyone I’ve ever met. He’d look at me hit a ball and say, “OK, here’s what you need to do.”
My game has always been a mystery, though. I’ve never known when it was going to the course with me. I could play great one day and couldn’t break 90 the next. I just lived with it.
One of the most dramatic changes in my game came during a round at Arcadian Shores in North Myrtle Beach.
At that time I had gone to what I liked to call my “power fade,” starting the ball down the left side and letting it drift back to the fairway. In fact, that strategy was working pretty well at the time and I had posted a decent first-round in the 36-hole Carolinas Golf Reporters Championship.
The host professional at Arcadian Shores was a nice young man, although I can’t recall his name. While we were warming up, he came to the driving range and worked individually with each of us.
He watched my fade for a minute and said, “You can get rid of that fade if you’ll just strengthen the left hand a little.”
Hmmmm. Shades of ol’ L.B. Could it be déjà vu?
Emboldened, I went to the first tee determined to try the new method and proceeded to play some of the worst golf you can imagine. At the turn I had shot myself out of the tournament with a 47.
Frustrated, I went back to my normal grip on the back nine and shot 33. Best 80 I ever had. My sometimes friend Michael Dann of the Carolinas Golf Association still ribs me about that day.
Now, of course, my game has evolutionized to the point I have no idea what is going to happen from one swing to another. I can hit smother hooks, cold shanks and pop-ups from the same lie.
But at least they’re consistent. None of them go very far.
More like this story