The past few days I have been in Orlando at the annual Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) show. This annual event highlights the golf industries new and most modern “tools of the trade”. Prior to the show, the PGA holds a tournament called the PGA Pro/Pro in which PGA professionals from all across the world come into Orlando and team up (2 man teams) in a four-ball / best-ball competition. Over 2 days, close to 150 teams competed. Myself (Tim Graves) and Ken Martin registered to play as one of those teams.
On the first day, my partner (Ken) and myself were paired with Gerry James and his partner. Many of you my remember Gerry from the last episodes of the Golf Channel’s Big Break – Mesquite. Gerry was the 50 year old contestant whose history includes many long drive championships, membership in the National Long Driver’s Association, Mr. California (“muscle man” competition), and wrestling professionally under the name “Agent Orange”. Needless to say, this guy is MASSIVE. I believe Gerry finished in the final 4 on the Big Break Mesquite.
When Gerry arrived on our first hole (#18 – shotgun start) (at Hunter’s Creek Golf Course), he stepped out of the cart with his partner, shook Ken and my hands (we felt like little kids standing next to him) and he proceeded to tee up his first ball on the 430 yard par 4. Gerry heeled (hit the ball off the heel of the driver) the ball down the left side of the fairway, and complained about the hit as the hole was the long drive contest hole for the tournament. The rest of our foursome then hit.
As we approached our drives, there were 3 drives down the middle, 270 / 290 yards from the tee, and then there was Gerry’s – about 60 yards ahead of ours. I hit a 7 iron into the green, Gerry hit a flip wedge. He drive was well over 310 / 320 yards. In fact, that drive did hold up as the long drive for the entire tournament – Gerry’s first drive of the day.
Back to our first tee…. After Gerry hit is first drive, I noticed a very common problem among some many golfers who focus on distance rather than technique. Gerry had a very strong lead hand grip. In other words, his left hand (Gerry is right handed) was rotated too far to the right. In Gerry’s case, strong enough to be noticeable from a down the line view. As he hit his first drive, I turned to Ken and said “There’s a hook waiting to happen” (trust me, out of Gerry’s ear shot of course – I might be right, but I’m not stupid, this guy is massive…). Ken looked back at me and said, “No doubt!”
The round proceeded, in fact, we birdied our first hole hitting mid irons into the green, Gerry and his partner made par. On to our 2nd hole we went, a tight par 4 into the wind – 410 yards. Ken and I hit down the right middle of the fairway, guess what Gerry did? Yes, snap hook – 50 yards left of the fairway. He was 30 yards ahead of us, but 50 yards left. Both teams ended up making par, needless to say, good thing Gerry had a partner.
I’m not going to go hole by hole with you, but during and after the round, I kept thinking to myself, “What a good lesson for all my students, I wish they could watch what I was watching.” Picture in you mind, Mr. “Long Drive” and his partner against two single axis “Moe” golfers. As I said to Ken, “The beast vs. the steady Eddies…”
For the next 9 holes, Gerry only hit one fairway, in fact, not only was he now hitting hooks, now he was starting to block cut his tee shots because he “was holding on for dear life”. In his mind, if he didn’t release the club, maybe he could keep it from going left….. so we watched snap hook, block, hook, block…
On our 13th hole, we approached the tee. Ken and I were 3 under, Gerry and his partner were 1 over par. The 13th was a 200 yard uphill par 3 into the wind. Gerry’s team had the honor’s as his partner had birdied the previous hole. Gerry pulled out a 3 iron. Now, I am sorry, but even Tiger on his best day would have had difficulty getting a 3 iron to the green (did I mention it was 45 degrees, now with a 20 mph north wind into our face). Gerry hit his shot – block – short of the green side bunker. HIs partner did the same – block right.
Ken and I stepped on to the tee. Ken pulled out a 2 hybrid, swung easy, (finesse type shot), no backspin… front edge of green. I hit the same shot, except mine ended up 5 feet short of the hole. We went on to make birdie.
Last story about the round, then I want to talk about a couple of lessons to be learned from my experience. When we stepped on the 14th tee, Gerry was pretty calm (he really is a very nice guy..). We had a wait as the group ahead of us was going for the par 5 in 2. Gerry knew, if he hit it hard, there was no question he’d make a birdie or an eagle. We were talking, Gerry was telling us a couple funny stories about the Big Break, then it was his time to hit. He wound up as much as he had all day, and snapped hooked it into the left lake on the hole. He then absolutely went CRAZY. Screaming, cussing, slamming his driver into the ground. I (and Ken) were pretty sure that was the first “roid rage” we had ever witnessed in person…WOW!! Gerry proceeded to bogey the easy par 5.
Finally, when all was over, my team finished 6 under for the day, and after 2 days, a total of 12 under par. Gerry’s team finished 1 over for the first day, and didn’t place in the tournament. We (Ken and myself) finished 2nd overall in the PGA Pro/Pro Tournament (lost by 1 shot).
Now let’s talk about what I wish all my student’s could have seen (besides the “roid rage”..) and learn from our experience.
First, as I stated, after Gerry’s first tee shot, there was no question he was in for a long day full of hooks, or blocks (if he didn’t release the club face due to the previous hook). Gerry kept saying through the round (after he’d hook or block a drive), “Got to get on my left side”, “Got to keep my left shoulder in “, “Got to quite spinning so hard”, “Need to control my tempo”, “I’m over swinging”, etc.. etc.. He was trying to convince himself of why he was hooking the ball so bad. The issue was a FUNDAMENTAL problem – his GRIP. It was too strong and at impact the club face was completely shot down. In fact, it was extremely obvious at the top of his swing, club face shot, no chance for a consistent hit. Gerry, a PGA professional who plays for a living was committing a “golfer sin” – he had forgotten to check the fundamentals when things were going bad. He could try and fix everything he was mentioning, but until he fixes his grip, he will continue with his problems.
Second, I will take “Mr. Steady Eddie” everyday over “Mr. Long Knock”. Only one time did Ken and I not have a shot in to a green in regulation, Gerry’s team lost before they started. You only had to watch the pairing, the “Moe guys” will beat the “Long dogs” 99% of the time. Add a little short game to the “Moe guys”, no chance the “Long dogs” will even come close.
In other words, golf is a game of CONSISTENCY and ACCURACY, not brute force.
Third, use the technology to help your game. On the 200 yard par 3, a hybrid was the correct call. In fact, the 2nd day at a different course, Ken almost aced a 210 yard par 3 with the same shot (finesse hybrid). No way, no how, hitting a long iron would have allowed us those shots, no way!! Hybrids and other new technology like big headed drivers, forgiving irons, etc.. can and will make the game easier, USE THEM!! After the grip, that would have been my second recommendation to Gerry, make it easier on yourself.
Finally, DO NOT play your opponents game. NEVER, EVER, EVER!!! Let me tell you about my mistake and please learn from it. On the first day on our 5th hole, Gerry had honors and hit a hard block, about 350 yards down the right side of a par 5 – he got lucky as the hole doglegged right. I set up over my drive, and not wanting to be out driven, thought to myself, hit it hard. I proceeded to block it right behind a tree. Ken hit a good drive, but pulled his 3 wood 2nd shot left. Believe it or not, we ended up bogeying a par 5 in a 4-ball competition, not good!! And when all was said and done, this was our only bogey of the tournament. We lost by 1 shot – I got out of “my game” and it cost our first place…. lesson learned….hopefully. Cost us a few dollars, but lesson was learned.
Now, what can you do? Learn from Gerry. From this day forward, quit guessing what is wrong with your game. Study the fundamentals of Moe Norman’s single axis swing. It is not hard. We have made it VERY EASY for you in our Total Game Overview – What the Moe Norman Swing is all About instructional DVD and if you want advanced swing work in our 7 Princples of Golf Improvement. This is why EVERY person who signs up for a GGA school or camp receives a GGA Total Game Overview included with the school as soon as they sign up. So they can study and review before they attend. It is a MUST!!
FYI – couple of facts, “take it or leave it”… We have sold 1,000s of our Total Game Overview DVDs and have had less than 20 returned in 6 years. And there is a 100% guarantee… you figure it out…. Fact #2 – Our’s (Graves Golf Academy’s) is the ONLY instructional products Natural Golf is now selling…. you figure it out…
Don’t just go out and do a bunch of drills.. you will probably be wasting your time needlessly as you will be drilling on things that are fine in your swing, and possibly drilling incorrectly on things that are wrong with your swing. Find out what is FUNDAMENTALLY wrong in your swing, determine how to fix it, then do the CORRECT drills and actions to fix the fundamental issue. Total Game Overview is EVERYONE’S start – GGA Trouble’s and Solution’s is a continuation of the drills/fixes. Troubles Solutions DVD
After you figure that out, call us, email us, send us a “email video”. We’ll help you fix your swing and take your game to levels you have only dreamed. If you doubt me, just go to my forum at www.moenormanforum.com – talk to the 1,000s of GGA Moe Norman Golfers who are already reaching levels they only dreamed of a while back. Even better – You might eventually go out and “Break the Big Break”.
Hope this gives you a little “food for thought” when you are working on your game/swing.
This is our path to aid you in playing your BEST GOLF EVER!!!!
As always – please, please PRACTICE WITH A PURPOSE.