April 21, 2000
Every so often golfers should take a lesson from their local golf professionals. It had been a while since I followed my own advice on this topic—thirteen years, to be exact.
Last week seemed like a good time for my next lesson. Lately I had trouble with greenside bunkers. Besides, the gift certificate I received last Fathers’ Day would soon expire.
The session really helped. It confirmed several points about my playing ability—other than some problems with my grip, my stance, my backswing, my balance, and my finish, everything’s fine.
Jim Kealey, the PGA professional at Shawnee Country Club, greeted me at the club’s driving range. He handed me my 7-iron and told me to hit a half dozen shots, while he stared at some of my other clubs.
“You see the wear on these grips? There’s more worn away on the longer clubs than the shorter ones. Let me see your glove,” Kealey asked.
The slight fraying on the outside palm edge confirmed that I often re-grip the club during the swing, especially on the long clubs. The worn rubber on the grips also showed I was strangling them at the point where my right thumb made contact.
Kealey also suggested I might consider keeping both hands fully on the club, and not let my left hand hang off the edge. He had a point, of course. That common grip error makes controlling the club far harder than it needs to be.
Kealey continued his gentle interrogation as I whaled away. “I’ll bet you don’t see too much of the right side of any green with your short iron shots.”
“You’re right. If they’re not straight, they’re left,” I replied.
“That’s partly because you swing mostly with your arms, your backswing goes too far, and you’re out of balance. We can fix that,” Kealey grinned.
I’ve been told this before, but I didn’t know how to stop it.
Some of my playing partners are kind enough to simply say, “I can’t watch you swing. It screws me up too much.”
Others are more direct.
Kealey made me keep my left foot flat against the turf during the swing. This one change immediately cut short the backswing. Combined with a concentrated effort to make a “three-quarter” swing (actually full), the results were instantaneous. The pulls stopped, and the trajectories and distance were consistent.
Learning how to balance was another revelation. I tried my normal swing while keeping my feet together. I almost buried the club in the turf.
Continued practice with this stance proved that I didn’t need to swing nearly as hard to have the same or better results. I just need to make a better turn and stay in balance.
Practice will help ingrain the new habits that will help my performance. I can see the benefits already. My only regret is that I didn’t sign up for lessons sooner.
Cape golf team gains first in state rankings
The Cape Henlopen golf team kept up its sterling team performance in its last two outings before spring break. The Vikings’ record is now 7-0, and this week the team was ranked first in the state.
On April 13, the Vikings put on a scoring show while beating Smyrna, 146-175 at Rehoboth Beach Country Club. Tyler Witman won medalist honors with a 2-under par 34. Mark Johnson shot his lowest round of the year by playing the front nine in par 36. Josh Marr and J.J. Oakley completed the team’s outstanding performance with a pair of 38s.
“That was the lowest score of any team I’ve ever been associated with,” said co-head coach Jerry Dorneman. “It’s the kind of effort we’re going to need to play Dover and in the state championships.”
The April 18 scheduled match with Caesar Rodney High School fell victim to heavy rains, and is rescheduled for May 8 at Wild Quail Golf Club.
Cape then faced Sussex Central at Rehoboth Beach Country Club April 19 and won handily, 160-185. Witman again had the lowest round, with a par 36. Johnson and Josh Marr followed up with 41s, while Oakley and Adam Talley both shot 42s. Beau Marr’s 43 did not count, and neither did one of the 42s.
Dorneman said, “The rough was unbelievable. It had thickened up considerably because of all the rain, and the bad weather kept if from being cut. The boys definitely had a tougher time out there today.”
Congratulations to Pete Oakley for his play in the 2000 PGA Seniors’ Championship, completed on Monday, April 17. Bad weather made conditions extremely difficult at the $1.8 million dollar event, held at the PGA National Resort and Spa at Palm Spring Gardens, Florida. Oakley pocketed $3,400 for his 9-over performance.