A Transformational Experience
You can’t change effectively unless you fully understand what you are trying to do.
- The Five Lessons of the Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan
- The Full Swing by Jack Nicklaus
- The Natural Golf Swing by George Knudson
- The Absolute Best Grip in The World by Bob Byman
- The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin
- Mastery by Robert Greene
- The Coleman Video on YouTube.
I was 15 years old living in Boulder, Colorado. I had a budding junior golf career in the making. I absolutely loved the game and I wanted to know and understand everything necessary to become the best player that I could be. With this in mind, my brother Ed and I decided to attend the 1970 PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma at Southern Hills Country Club. The anticipation of seeing the best players in the world, which would be the first time that I would be able to observe them in person, made the all night car ride pass quickly.
We arrived around 8:30 on Tuesday morning and I went directly to the range. The practice area at Southern Hills was expansive, gently downhill and the seating was configured on a little slanted hill behind the teeing ground. It was a perfect viewing area. The weather was clear, hot, and humid with a left to right breeze. I was thrilled to be there!
I eagerly started looking around noticing various recognizable players warming up. Then, to my utter amazement, the Master of all Masters, Ben Hogan, walked up on the tee and found a spot right in front of me! He was no more than 40 feet away. It was like I was going to have a private performance, and I was ready. My senses where heightened, I was front row center and totally engaged. He lit a cigarette, took a few practice swings and then started hitting wedges. He hit about every third club through the golf bag eventually ending with the driver. I watched him hit about 50 balls that morning. It was the most remarkable exhibition of ball striking I have ever seen…to date. Firstly, the quality and consistency of the shots were extraordinary. Every shot with each individual club had a character that was beyond anything that I had ever seen and later would realize anything that I would ever see. Secondly, the sound, trajectory, shape and speed of the ball were awesome.
I do not use the word awesome lightly: I would recognize “awe as an experience of such perceptual vastness that it forces you to reconfigure your mental schema.” – Jason Silva
The distinct solid thwack of impact produced a shot that zipped away from the clubface and tracked on a slightly lower than medium height trajectory as the ball quivered in the air drawing to the left at the end of its flight a couple feet before the wind pushed it back to the right. Not only did his swing look absolutely repetitive, the ball went the same way, with each individual club, time after time. I discerned no variation.
His swing was so fluid, so agile, so powerful, so efficient and so well balanced. My description at the time, I remember, was that he just twirled the club around his body in one continuous flow of motion. He marched to the first tee and I followed to watch him play. It was a beautiful thing to see…simply Mastery displayed through the medium of professional competitive golf. He played nine holes and called it a day.
Hogan ended up not competing that year. He withdrew before the tournament started due to the heat, the hills and his deteriorating body. He was 58 years old and was still dealing with the effects of the car crash that he and his wife, Valerie, had endured 21 years before. To be able to swing in that manner, to move that well at the end of his competitive career only emphasized the greatness of the man in his prime. I would never see Hogan hit another ball in person. However, I have watched him hit thousands of balls on tape and YouTube since that time. My quest had begun. That day had been so transformational.
I had seen Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, I had experienced Einstein’s E=MC2.
What did this man do that allowed him to express himself with near perfect execution? I felt like it should be quantifiable and I wanted to know. I was determined to understand. What did he do that was so different from all the other players? The best ball strikers on the PGA Tour over the past 45 years have hit 80% of the fairways and 75% of greens in regulation. Hogan hit 90% + in each category for the 15 years of his prime. He was a singular shining light to which all golfers can look as a model from which to start to learn. So the search in earnest began that day.
Ben Hogan, George Knudson, Sam Snead, Mickey Wright, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods…they were my teachers. After decades of study, 4 million practice shots, 500+ amateur and professional tournaments and 27 years of building champion golfers, to my students I am the Master of my trade…teaching and coaching golf. The circle has been closed.
Although there have been a number a variations of style that have produced successful golf careers, the most direct pathway…the pathway of least resistance to your maximum expression has been established. I have synthesized the commonalities of all the players who have dominated the sport in their prime. I have organized a quantifiable number of time tested fundamentals that have created a method of instruction that will allow you to optimize all of your golfing gifts and talents. No more guess work, no more trial and error. Simply feed the fundamentals into your game…one at a time. You will be able to achieve anything that your mind can conceive. You will be able to achieve all of your golfing goals, because you will fully understand what you are trying to do. The game is waiting for you. Let’s get to work.
In future posts, I will identify these fundamentals for you. May all your swings be free.