Suddenly, the swing I've known forever, that love/hate relationship that can turn a mild mannered reasonably constructive member of society into a foul mouthed whining lunatic, has vanished. It's fled, to one or all of the cardinal points of a compass. Standing on the 16th tee without a clue how to get the golfball from the tee onto the green a mere 155 yards distant.
I wonder how it suddenly became so difficult to swing a golf club. Having clunked two of three iron shots for the entire round, it appears that my brain and body have forgotten the how's of communicating. The head has no idea about anything at this point, save sending random messages in disheveled order to the limbs and musculature of a body used to just doing rather than being told to move in ways which would cramp a marionette. Pathetic. Frightening. Very ugly.
Deep breathe, smooth practice swing, step up to the ball and "CLANK" a six iron meant to fly with a little hook to hold it against the 15mph cross wind goes 11o yards in knuckle ball fashion leaving a 60 yard pitch. The legs have no idea what kind of pirouette they just performed and the elbows repelled each other like magnets of similar polarity, while the left shoulder attempted to touch the middle of the back and the right shoulder wanted to kiss the left foot. Makes awkward look graceful.
Angry Golfer Smiling Golf Ball
Every golfer I know has been here one time or another, some more than others. It's not a comfortable place to be. I'll either be playing with someone I don't know, or in an event where I've been included because I'm pretty good at this game (most of the time). I'm not sure which is more humiliating, playing with folks I'll never see again and leaving the lasting memory of the bozo whose swing resembles someone incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time; or playing with those who know I have a fair idea of how to swing but appear to be deep in the throes of some kind of narcotic withdrawal. At times like these I remember fatherly wisdom, son you aren't good enough to get angry. Hard point to argue, given the hurting I've been laying on the ball. Thank goodness these balls don't smile back after hitting a 9 iron with a 2 iron ballflight like the balata's of old. That used to add injury to insult, I knew the swing was lousy, and to top it all off the ball smiled back at me as if to say, happy now you've murdered me with that savage lashing. Now that we've gotten here, how to find the exit. Where does one go searching for a lost golf swing? Even the clubhouse has no lost and found, which would be simple. Just go through a closet full of swings until I find mine, take it out and put it back in the golf bag and that's that. But no, when a golf swing goes missing it doesn't particularly want to be found, and even long time playing partners have no idea where it might have gone.
I Swing better the More I Drink
How does someone go about getting their swing back. I asked around among both casual and avid golfers and the answers were surprisingly limited. There are the guys who drink more, figuring I guess, if enough brain cells are impaired the offending culprits should be victimized. By killing the head the body should perform better on its own. Good theory, lousy reality. I have played with only a rare handful of folks whose game actually improved with alcohol consumption. Even they suffered from the law of diminishing returns. Practitioners of this swing recovery process remind me of most of the fishermen I know, golf is a socially acceptable activity around which drinking at 10 a.m. is approved of and expected. I have yet to witness anyone too drunk to fish, too drunk to golf is sometimes entertaining and never ever pretty.
I Like to Whine About My Swing
Another school of thought is to ignore the problem, hoping that it will correct itself either magically or osmotically by watching repeats of Playing Lessons from the Pros. These are the true recreational players, those that play 8-10 times a year who, if watched closely, get upset while constantly complaining about the lousy state of their game. They appear to derive more pleasure, not from actually playing, but from the whining and complaining that accompanies every shot. And when they hit over a hundred shots a round that's one heck of a lot of whining. Swing is something done to begin the moaning, not to move the ball successfully around the course. This philosophy has never worked for me in finding my swing. It has however provided me endless hours of entertainment on the golf course.
Take a Lesson or Dig it Out
Take a lesson. I here this all the time in real life, on TV, screamed in giant headlines from magazine covers, and in books lining the public library shelves. I even have some of the books myself. I've taken four lessons in my 40 plus years of playing this game. Three as a kid, when the city park district had free lessons, and one as an adult which I paid cash to a professional teacher in order to learn something. From the free lessons I learned the overlapping grip to replace the baseball grip taught me by my dad. The paid lesson taught me that the swing is a rotational movement (brilliant eh?).
I still don't understand what that is supposed to mean, or how it is going to make my swing better. I have nothing against lessons, even the tour professionals have teachers. But then golf is their job, a job which will make them financially secure forever. I'd get me a teacher too if that were the case. Maybe. I know my swing pretty well. I've hit thousands of balls over the years because I'm not a natural enough talent not too need a lot of practice. Dig it out of the dirt. I think Ben Hogan said that, or something much like that. When I've had the time and the gumption to practice regularly I've become pretty good at this game. Still and amateur mind you, but a decent enough player.
If I never practice I can't break 90, and have sometimes hit triple digits. Not pretty, not a lot of fun, not how I want to play the game. With a little practice, once every other week for a couple of hours I can break 85 consistently. A little more time and I can break 80 most of the time. So I have a fair idea of what my swing is all about. I can't do technical. I don't know if the club is laid off (heck I'm not sure I even know what that means) at the top, or whether I cup my right wrist. What I do know is how it feels to swing the club correctly. When I get that feel the ball behaves quite well so I get around a golf course while having a lot of fun. It's all in the dirt. I just have to go dig it out of there and then I can take it to the course with me. That at least is the theory.