Warning: Swanson, the author of this story, does not exist… except in his writing. His character is completely imagined, but that doesn’t mean his opinions aren’t real.
Recently, I shared with the GolfWRX community my golden nuggets for selecting the 14 clubs in your bag, as to abide by the USGA maximum club rule. Some of you were astoundingly unappreciative. I’ve been getting hate mail and negative comments since it’s been published.
Therefore, I’d like to use the first half of this story to address the responses, which are utterly appalling. The second half of this week’s article will be dedicated to an equipment tip for Jordan Spieth to improve his game and avoid any future meltdowns.
Responding to the Hate
Swanson: “Duffer,” you sound like quite the stick. But think about this: If I couldn’t hit a 1-iron better than Hogan (he actually hit it too low), would you care what I had to say? Golfers always complain that the best teachers can’t play a lick or hit it out of their shadow. Consider me your saving grace. How’s this: I’ll play each of the top-100 teachers in match play, and we’ll see who knows more about golf.
Swanson: Loser? I remember the last time I needed a 2-iron to reach a par 5. It was around when Bush was in office… Bush Sr. If you want to play for big prize money, you can find me at my country club every week with a locker full of cash and a tee time.
Swanson: 17 handicap, yes. When I play the entire round with a putter.
Swanson: Stab at Ian Poulter? Uh no, he’s a family friend. My father sold Poults his first Ferrari back in ’92 before my father bought Ferrari (the company).
Swanson: Funny story. I’m good buddies with the character on which Spaulding Smails is based. He’s a “good egg,” as they say. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m named after the driver of the boat in Caddyshack, since my father loves boats and yachts.
“Move over Swanson, I’m driving!” Just never gets old!
Swanson: They’re handmade by the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man, and I have his cell number if you’re serious. Message me and I’ll get you a price estimate.
Swanson: The last part of the last sentence was spot on.
An equipment tip for Jordan Spieth
I actually feel bad for Jordan. He probably thinks he choked The Masters away. I mean he did, but it wasn’t his fault. I went through literally the same exact thing, so I know what happened.
You see, I’ve also hit a tee shot into the water on No. 12 at Augusta National (I also used the drop zone and got up and down for bogey, but that’s not the point). I got fit for new irons the week before I played Augusta for the first time. Admittedly, I wasn’t the stellar ball striker I am now, so the fitter put me into a set of game-improvement style irons. You know, thick top line, cavity back, thin face… the whole works. They were basically garbage cans, but who was I to question the fitter, right?
So I get to Augusta National with a bag full of shovels, and I struggled a bit on the front nine and made the turn in a few under par. The par 5s are basically par 4s, and the par 4s are basically par-3.5’s, so nothing special. I just wasn’t catching the new irons flush, and didn’t have the precision I had with my forged blades.
Nos. 10 and 11 aren’t nearly as difficult as the pros claim, so I cruise through those with easy pars. But then I get to the 12th.
The pin was all the way on the right, similar to where it is on Sunday for the Masters. The hole was playing 154 yards and the wind was swirling. I decided to try and take the wind out of play, and went with a low-slinging draw with my 9 iron. It’s a shot I’d hit a million times with my forged blades, but the ball floated out to the right and never drew back to the pin.
I knew immediately it was the club’s fault. The forgiveness of the irons kept the ball from drawing back to the pin.
I went onto birdie 5 of the last 6 holes (I missed 3-foot eagle putts on Nos. 13 and 15 because I was flustered), and would have had the course record (which is only 63) if it wasn’t for my irons.
But I learned my lesson. That was the last day I ever played an iron with even an ounce of “technology” in it. In fact, after the round I took a NetJets home to get my forged blade irons, and played the course again the next day. I couldn’t get it going with the putter and shot 66… but I made a hole-in-one on No. 12.
They say there’s only been three holes-in-one on that hole, but there’s actually been four. When I told the committee at Augusta National I made a hole-in-one there with a low-squeezer 9 iron, they didn’t believe me, and no one was there to attest. They no longer allow me on the premises because of the dispute, but if you jump into the pond in front of the green, you’ll find a set of game-improvement irons.
And that’s where Jordan Spieth’s irons should be, too. If he wants to win any more majors, he needs to ditch those irons with all that forgiveness and switch to blades. It’s no wonder he hit the worst tee shot I’ve ever seen there, he had zero ball control.
Please email ([email protected]) or tweet me (@longballswan1) with questions you’d like me to answer for a new segment called “Yo, Swanson!” I’ll answer anything you want since I know pretty much everything about everything golf-related, and I can help you avoid you’re own major meltdown.
Longball Swanson, out.
A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)
Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.
As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.
Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)
No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.
Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.
No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.
In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.
Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.
Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.
They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.
Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.
How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?
(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)
Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.
(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)
If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?
It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.
Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.
They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.
Artwork by JaeB
Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!
Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.
The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine
I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.
This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.
Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.
The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.
On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.
Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.
This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.
So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?
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