Almost exactly a year ago, I took four lessons in four weeks. Numbers 1, 2 & 4 were with Andy Fisher, our club’s head pro and No. 3 was an emergency lesson with an assistant who was not aware of the depth of my problems. “The poor assistant” fell for my line, “My life and swing are in chaos and I have a game in a couple of hours!” Simply put, I was looking for a Band-Aid that could keep my score below 90. Somehow, someway I managed an 88 and only lost $6.
As Andy walked up to the range for lesson No. 4, he asked, “Why am I here?” I tried to calmly relate my latest woes – no distance with any club; occasional bloopers to the right (toe jobs, not shanks) with my irons; inconsistency with my chips shots and putts that often missed to the right.
He then made the mistake of asking me what I was thinking before those various shots. After going through my lengthy list of often-used swing thoughts, he just shook his head and said, “Let’s see you swing.”
His prescription for recovery was not complicated -- a longer backswing on my full shots, a more descending blow on my chips and eyes over or just inside the ball on my putts.
Those were the swing fixes, but Andy knows desperation when he sees it, so he had two other suggestions.
The first one was GABA (also known as Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid). It is an amino acid. According to WebMD, “GABA may boost mood or have a calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system.” As Andy said, “You wouldn’t be the first golfer in the world to take a little something to quiet the nerves.” He dispensed that advice with a smile, but he may have been serious.
Andy’s second suggestion was said in all seriousness: “Remember, you are out here to have fun. Think fun! It’s called perspective.”
In order to get into The Fun Zone, I started looking for golf quotes that put a smile on my face. My game has been up and down since then, but Andy’s “Think fun” advice has stuck with me even when my game is hanging on by a thread. My collection of fun quotes has become every bit as important as my collection of swing thoughts. Okay, to be honest, as a 13 handicapper, more important.
“The muttered hint, ‘Remember, you have a stroke here,’ freezes my joints like a blast from Siberia.” – American author John Updike
“The higher a golfer's handicap, the more likely he is to try to tell you what you're doing wrong.” – Anonymous
“Confidence, of course, is an admirable asset to a golfer, but it should be an unspoken confidence. It is perilous to put it into speech. The gods of golf lie in wait to chasten the presumptuous.” – English humorist P. G. Wodehouse
“Golfers who carry ball retrievers are gatherers, not hunters. … Their dreams are no longer of conquest, but only of salvage.” – David Owen, author of the books, My Usual Game and Hit & Hope.
“Some people say I play erratic golf. What they mean is I frequently play lousy.” – Tom Shaw (born 1938), winner of four PGA Tour events
“The best way to tell whether any golf gadget will help your game is to try to picture Fred Couples using it.” – Humorist Henry Beard
The trick now is to remember EVERYTHING I learned last year in Lessons 1, 2, 3 & 4, especially No 4!