Wise Guys: Words of Wisdom from the World’s Greatest Golfers

Today starts the beginning of a new year – THANK GOD! I will never forget the craziness, monotony and unpredictability of 2020. The Covid virus thing, the impeachment, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s split with the Royal family, all of the election fury, the imposed and self-imposed isolation, the political correctness, Big Tech flexing its muscle, the ups and downs of the stock market, and the sports calendar being turned upside down brought words to mind such as unprecedented, plodding, gloomy, apocalyptic, bizarre and unsettling. I never thought the damn thing would come to an end.

Here’s the one word I want to use to describe 2021: NORMAL. I want to hear the word “normal” over and over again except when it comes to my golf game. When it comes that, I would like to hear Andy Fisher say, “Improved.” This past year has been a roller coaster ride with 15 being my handicap in January then working my way down to an 11 in September and now ending up as a 14. I recorded 71 rounds in 2020 with my low being a legitimate 79 and my high a head-scratching 96. Going through so many ups and downs is no way to live. I am motivated to find a more reliable me.

Here’s my thinking. The rest of the week is going to be cold and damp here in Kansas City, so I am going to focus on getting in the right frame of mind by reading and recording the thoughts and beliefs of the world’s best golfers. Once the weather permits, I will take these thoughts and put them into action. Now that I have a plan, I can’t wait for 2021!


“I have proved to myself what I have always said – that a good golfer doesn’t have to be born that way. He can be made. I was, and practice is what made me – practice and tough , unrelenting labor.” -- Ben Hogan (1912 to 1997), winner of nine Majors and 64 PGA Tour victories, which ranks 4th all-time.


“To visualize besides being useful to motivate is good for concentration and focus." -- Seve Ballesteros (1957 to 2011), who won the Masters in 1980 & 1983 and British Open in 1979, 1984 & 1988.


“Fight tautness whenever it occurs; strive for relaxed muscles throughout.” -- Bobby Jones (1902 – 1971) won 13 Majors, including the Grand Slam in 1930. At that time the four Majors were: The British Amateur, The British Open, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.


“Some people say you should curve your tee shot to match the direction a hole turns, like playing a draw on a dogleg-left hole. But it has been my experience that most amateurs can’t do that consistently. I’d rather see you play every hole, no matter which way it curves, using your usual shot shape. It might not leave you in the best position—for example, you might be on the outside corner of a dogleg -- but you’ll likely be on or near the fairway.” -- Tom Watson (b. 1949), won eight Majors – Masters 1977 & 1981; U.S. Open 1982 and British Open 1975, ‘77, ‘80, ’82 & ’83.


“If you want to help yourself and the game, don’t play slowly. Your concentration wanders.” -- Walter Hagen (1892 to 1969), who won 11 Majors (U.S. Open: 1914, ‘19; British Open: 1922, ‘24, ‘28, ’29; PGA: 1921, ‘24, ‘25, ‘26, ‘27).


“Always use the club that takes the least out of you. Play with a long iron instead of forcing your shot with a short iron.  Never say, ‘Oh, I think I can reach it with such and such a club.’  There ought never to be any question of your reaching it, so use the next more powerful club in order that you will have a little in hand. -- Harry Vardon (1870 to 1937) won a record-setting six British Opens in 1896, 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911 & 1914 and the U.S. Open in 1900.


“Every individual stroke in medal play has to be thought out on its own merits, and the pros and cons of the situation and its possibilities must be weighed in your mind. Under these circumstances I have but one piece of advice to offer: Play a steady game.” – Englishman John Henry Taylor won the British Open five times –  1894, 1895, 1900, 1909 & 1913. He also designed over 80 courses in the UK and Europe.


“All putts are straight putts. If the contour of the green creates a right to left breaking putt, you aim at a point where you believe the ball will begin to turn toward the hole and hit the putt straight at that point.” -- South African Bobby Locke (1917 – 1987) won the British Open in 1949, ‘50, ’52, & ’57. According to Gary Player, “Probably the finest putters I ever saw were Bobby Locke and Arnold Palmer.”


“Play happy!” – KCCC’S Andy Fisher

Happy New Year!

Allan Stark

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