News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Rub of the Green

August 1, 2010

Rub of the Green: One size does NOT fit all when it comes to golfing ability

TERRE HAUTE — Literally hundreds of books have been written on the subject of golf instruction, and we can be certain they all agree on one fundamental, always keep your head stationary throughout the swing.

Right? Nope, wrong as it could be! How’s that, you say? As examples both David Duval and Annika Sorenstam at one time were rated the world’s No. 1 professional golfers, respectively, and both swiveled their heads well before their clubheads reached the impact zone. In fact, Duval is one of a select few who has a 59 to his credit on the PGA Tour.

Gardner Dickinson was a Ben Hogan disciple. He had worked for Ben as an assistant pro, and Dickinson went on to become a winner on tour, despite the fact that his head dropped some 13 inches on his downswing.

These examples give credence to the fact that golf swings, far from being uniform, vary from player to player depending on something most educators call “individual differences”.

Most golfers over the age of 50 wouldn’t be able to bend their bodies in the same positions as a 20-year old unless, of course, they were related to Sam Snead who at the age of 59 could stand on a curb, bend over and place his hands, palms down, on the street without bending his legs. Sam could also kick a leg up and touch the top of a doorjamb. An average individual might end up in the hospital trying to emulate Slamming Sammy’s fluid swing.

Doug Sanders, another winner on the PGA Tour made no effort to take a full swing. Most instructional books recommend taking the club back until the club shaft is parallel to the ground. Instead, Doug barely made a “half swing” with his driver, but still got adequate distance. We watched Sanders beat long-hitting Mike Souchak in the Western Open many years ago. Sanders was advertised as a golfer who could hit shag balls out of a telephone booth.

Golf legend Tommy Armour came out with a book urging golfers to hit their shots with the right hand supplying most of the power needed to propel the shot. A pair of PGA golfers had to pay strict attention to that advice.

Ed Furgeol won the U.S. Open with a withered left arm, which was injured in a playground accident when he was a youngster. Furgeol’s left arm was 13 inches shorter than his right arm.

Calvin Peete, despite a left arm which was nearly useless, won four victories in 1982, with a manufactured swing. He would go on to become one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball the PGA Tour had seen. His wins included the Tournament of Champions and the Tournament Players Championship. But then there is Fred Couples who often finishes blasting from a bunker with only his left hand holding the club.

Jimmy Nichols played the tour for a while with just his left arm. He lost the other one in an auto accident. When he missed a shot, which wasn’t often, he usually blamed it on “too much right hand”. Then there was Charles Coody, the most right-handed, right-sided golfer I’ve ever seen. Could he play? Well, he won The Masters along with some other titles.

Golfers still argue over which hand should be dominant when swinging the club. Some say that golf is difficult to learn due to the fact that it’s a left-handed game for right-handed players and vice versa. Which is correct? We’re back to “different strokes for different folks.”

The point is this; it’s next to impossible to pigeonhole golfers into categories in so far as “what works and what doesn’t” is concerned. Successful players have abilities that translate to adjustments that allow them to come out on top, regardless of whether these adjustments are physical or mental.

Golf can be complicated or simple all during the course of a single round. The game definitely is unpredictable.

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• The Mark LaGrange Memorial Golf Scramble sponsored by The Friends of Seelyville, will be held at Mark’s Par Three Golf Course on Aug. 13. Registration for the event begins at 3:30 p.m. and entry forms can be picked up at the golf course.

Call B. J. Tucker at (812) 870-5307 for questions regarding sponsorships, teams, donations, prizes, awards, etc. Friends of Seelyville is a 501c3 Corporation. Other contacts: Margaret Manus (812) 877-1245 and Jerry Reynolds (812) 232-5313 or (812) 877-2936

• The 11th Annual Marine Corp League Golf Scramble saw the team of Jimmy King, Ray Sumner, Dave Treadway and Larry Davis claim first place with a 61 at Rea Park recently.

A tie for second with 64s developed with the team of Butch Carson, Dave Storms, Jimmy Joseph and Shane Allen — taking runner-up honors by a scorecard rundown. Carl Swalls, John Newlin, Rick Wheeler and Dave Fields placed third with Jack Myers, Jim O’Neal and Dan McNabb finishing fourth with a 65.

Closest to the hole prizes were won by Dave Storms on No. 3; Randy Nicoson, No. 13 and Willy Strickland No. 17. A field of 84 players took part in the tournament. John Nevins was the tournament chairman.

• The annual Elks Cannon Tournament was conducted recently, and a four-hole playoff was required to determine a winner. After Frank Perry chipped in for an eagle on the fourth extra hole, it was Perry, Tim Tennant, John Pollock, Mike Harden and Don Pfister in the top spot with a 58.

In second place also with 58 was a squad that included Lee Shipley, Harvey Cabak, Carl Swalls, Dr. Deady and Bob Harvey. Taking third with 59 strokes were Junior Sumner, Ray Sumner, Ken Bosc, Randy Jenkins and Mike Wagle.

• Players in the Terre Haute Junior Championship braved some sizzling temperatures before Shelby Stewart secured a single shot win over Brandon Bekkering. Sam Pollock and Cory Gertz were two shots behind the winner. The fellows played some excellent golf.

In the girl’s division, it was Rachel Welker who took home the championship trophy with a 14-stroke advantage over Bailey Craft.

•In the Ladies’ City Tourney, a more exciting final match couldn’t have been scripted. Two-time champion Rachael Pruett survived a pair of “make it or go home” putts on the 18th and the first extra hole to take a one up, 20-hole decision over ISU golfer Mackenzie Mack. Pruett is ready for her senior year at Ball State University.

In the years gone by, Rachel’s father, Chris, was assistant sports editor for the Tribune-Star.

• • •

TIP OF THE WEEK: Most golfers have the tendency to play too conservatively after posting an extremely low score. Rory McIlroy fired 63, then an 80 in the recent British Open. The idea is to play aggressively after shooting a low number. It entails a learning experience that baffles many players. The best golfer I have ever seen who could “get it going and keep it going” was the late Gene Verostko. You could learn much about golf just by being in his company.

Keep your head down and your shoestrings tied. We’ll be back.

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    March 12, 2010