The Golf Swing

I was living in Phoenix a few years back, probably 10 years ago now; when  I met a guy named Sam who was a golf pro at a local high end golf course. Sam was in his early 60’s and  was a goofy looking dude. He was the guy Happy Gilmore talks about when he said, “if I saw myself in clothes like those, I’d have to kick my own ass”.  For real, he wore the awful plaid short’s with a missed match collared shirt; and his curly blonde mullet didn’t help his appearance much. But underneath it all, he was a pretty cool guy. As we gotten more acquainted, I told him I enjoyed playing golf but I wasn’t very good. So he invited me to the golf course and said he could show me a thing or two. I took him up on his offer and met him at 7 am on a cool desert Tuesday morning.

As soon as we got to the driving range, Sam insisted that I go first.  So I took out my driver and  sliced it to the right with my first swing. He then said, hit another one. Same thing, sliced it right. Little did I know that Sam was watching my mechanics. He was taking note at the placement of my stance, my arms, hands and legs; the position of the club and where the ball was in accordance with my feet. He took notes for three swings before he began making adjustments on my approach.

He said I was too far off the ball and I needed to bend my legs more. He then told me to take a step back with my lead foot, which was my left foot,  and to align it with the ball. I was told to straighten my back and roll my hands over the club handle a bit more and then to push my arms to the left and away from my body. Needless to say, the adjustments were a bit uncomfortable and not how I was used to holding a club. In my mind, I was thinking, this is stupid and doesn’t feel right; but Sam insisted I give it a try.

I approached the ball with little confidence, worried that he was going to have to readjust my stance after I botched it. But I did as he suggested and took a swing. I think he realized before I did how straight and far the ball went as he let out a quick shout. I stood there shocked for a second, but then I quickly asked him, “what other advise can you give me?”.  He laughed and said, ” just keep trying, keep practicing,  don’t give up and most importantly, be teachable”. He said, “I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and failed more than I have succeeded, but I learn something new every time I hit the course.”

Sam and I played nine holes as he gave me tips and helped with my short game. That morning I think I finished 15 or 20 over PAR. However, I got my first birdie on a PAR 3 and made PAR on a PAR 5. For a guy who plays bogey golf, that’s a pretty big deal.

I’m not great at golf by any stretch, but I’m better. I was even able to show our youngest boy a few tips with the golf club the other day, and he’s even improved a little bit.  It took Sam all of five minutes to make a few minor adjustments in my approach before I was able to drive the ball better than I had been. The point of this story, is that sometimes we need an outside perspective; no matter what it is we are doing or trying to accomplish. Whether it’s working on a car, raising kids, smoking a slab of ribs, or trying to make a sale.  We need someone to take a look at our approach. We need someone to make adjustments on the way we’ve been doing things. We need a fresh perspective from someone who has been there, tried it and been successful at it; but most importantly, someone who has failed at it.

The Golf Swing

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