My Game and Yours
ON LEARING GOLF, PLAYING GOLF, AND TEACHING PEOPLE HOW TO PLAY GOLF
On April 11, 1948, members of two prestigious golf clubs -- Seminole in North Palm Beach, Florida, and Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, New York-clanged glasses of champagne, guzzled beer, sipped Scotch whisky, and sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" at their respective 19th holes into the wee hours of the morning, to celebrate the great achievement of one of their own. Claude Harmon, the same pro who taught them on Sunday mornings how to cure a vicious slice or splash the ball out of sand, had just won the highly coveted Masters championship.
I was 4 years old at the time of my father's victory. I was staying in Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters is played every year, with my mom and dad. Dad came in late after a night of celebration. According to my mom, when he returned, he covered me with the green jacket they give to the Masters winner, a gesture that made perfect sense since Dad always shared everything with his family.
Played over the hilly and highly demanding Augusta National Golf Club course, the Masters, along with the U.S. Open, the PGA, and the British Open, is one of golf's four major championships. For a big-name pro to win this prestigious event was one thing. That was expected. What wasn't expected was a little-known self-taught pro shooting a recordtying score of 279, over 72 holes, to beat his nearest rival, Cary Middlecoff, by five strokes, and such seasoned stars as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Gene Sarazen, by even bigger margins. According to star gazers and golf aficionados, this wasn't supposed to happen. After all, club pros watch the bad swings of members all day long, have little time to practice, and are not accustomed to playing under pressure. Claude Harmon sure proved the press, and all other doubters, wrong.
Over the years I asked my dad, hundreds of times, about that victory -- how he clinched it with a birdie, birdie, eagle run on holes 6, 7, and 8 of the final round -- and, as always, he was very modest in his explanation. Instead of taking full credit for shooting scores of 70, 69, and 70, he repeatedly thanked Craig Wood, his former boss at Winged Foot, for teaching him a lot about golf swing technique. Ironically, Wood was the head professional at Winged Foot when he, too, won a Masters -- his in 1941.
Prior to the 1948 Masters, Wood shared his local knowledge about Augusta National with Dad, and told him which shots he should practice. Consequently, Dad was ready for battle.
According to Dad, another reason he was able to hit such spectacular shots and shoot under par the final day to clinch the Masters was that he worked at Seminole and Winged Foot: two clubs with world-class courses that forced him to become an accurate striker of the ball and an inventive shotmaker. To put it simply, at both courses, but at Winged Foot particularly, you had to hit straight drives to avoid playing an approach shot through trees; you had to be a master of sand and an expert chipper and pitcher too, if you wanted to save par from close by the greens.
There are two courses at Winged Foot Golf Club, the West and the East, both designed in 1923 by Albert W. Tillinghast, an architectural genius with a flair for hazards.
Both courses, situated on rolling terrain, feature tree-lined fairways and undulated greens of sundry shapes and sizes. The East Course has been the venue for two women's United States Open championships. The West Course, the longer and the most famous of this dynamic duo, has hosted four United States Open Golf Championships: in 1929, 1959, 1974, and 1984. Both courses are very challenging. The West, however, is the one that demands the greatest degree of controlled length off the tee. It demands cool nerves, too, when hitting approach shots through shoots of tall oak trees to elevated greens surrounded by steep-faced bunkers.
The Seminole Golf Club was started by E. E Hutton, whose Wall Street cronies, along with the duPonts, Baruchs, Kennedys, Phippses, and other socialite families, popularized this winter wonderland. The fact that His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor, cited Seminole as one of his favorite courses made the Palm Beach club an even more special place.
The Seminole golf course was designed by Donald Ross, the renowned course architect whose other most famous works include Pinehurst Number Two in North Carolina, Oakland Hills in Michigan, Inverness and Scioto in Ohio, and Oak Hill in New York.
In building Seminole, Ross was influenced by the layout of Royal Dornoch, a spectacular course located in Dornoch, Scotland, his hometown.
One of Ross's trademarks, and a throwback to Dornoch, was the crown green at the top of an upslope. There are several of those to test even the nerves of scratch players and visiting pros at Seminole.
Ross had a flair for creating hazards, too, which is why the numerous pure white sand traps, all strategically placed around Seminole's fairly long layout, are no surprise. Should you be fortunate and play Seminole one day, you'll never forget the 16th hole, a dogleg-right par four that features a sea of sand surrounding a green that has the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop.
Because of my father, I was lucky to be able to play at these great courses with some of the greatest names in golf.
By the time I was 6 years old, I had a club in my hand, a shortened 7-wood that my father gave me. Dad told me to swing this club as hard as I could, because he always believed, as I do now, that it's easier to get a student to slow down his swing later in life than it is to get him to speed it up.
Early on, I was taught the basic fundamentals by my dad and his assistant at Winged Foot, Jack Burke, Jr., another fine player who went on to win the 1956 Masters and PGA championships.
When I was 8, Dad encouraged me to learn to play under pressure. He'd have me challenge the members at Seminole when they played the par-four 6th hole near our on-course home. I would drop a ball down about a hundred yards from the green, then bet the members a package of Life Savers that I could "get home."
As I grew older, I learned much more about the art of shotmaking and scoring. Dad's assistants -- Mike Souchak, Dick Mayer, and Dave Marr, who all went on to win major championships -- shared swing secrets with me. Tommy Armour, one of the all-time greats from Scotland, and Craig Wood both taught me some things about shotmaking as well. Dad, however, who incidentally held the course records at both Winged Foot courses with a score of 61, remained my chief mentor, particularly when it came to the subject of practice.
Like Ben Hogan, Dad was big on practice. Unlike Hogan, however, he didn't spend most of his hours trying to perfect the golf swing. Most of his time was spent practicing the short game. That was also what he encouraged me to do.
When I asked him why he had me hit so many chips, pitches, and sand shots, he explained that 65 percent of all shots are played from 100 yards in from the green.
My practice sessions with Dad were anything but run of the mill. To prepare me for serious competition, he'd have me hit shag bags of balls from different lies: chips and pitches from manicured fairway grass, light rough, deep rough, hardpan, and divot holes. In addition, he'd have me experiment with different clubs.
Furthermore, with the goal in mind to teach me how to become a creative shotmaker, he'd have me set the clubface square, open, or closed, so I would learn how the ball reacted in the air and on the ground.
When it came time to practice sand shots, I didn't learn how to recover from only good lies. I had to play from buried lies, downhill lies, uphill lies, and sidehill lies. Also, Dad would have me hit shots from bunkers using a 4- or 5-iron. That drill taught me that the proper technique -- a right-hand controlled method (where the right hand dominates throughout the entire backswing and downswing) -- was more critical to recovering than using a sand wedge, the normal club for playing out of bunkers.
When I finally got the chance to hit drives, Dad had me purposely try to hit fades and draws. I was never allowed to hit more than eight shots in a row in the same direction. That practice strategy kept my concentration powers sharp, and taught me how to work the ball in different wind conditions. Besides that, it got me used to hitting tee shots on holes that curved right or left.
To enhance my creativity and ability to play iron shots, Dad had me practice hitting off different lies, to ever-changing targets. Plus, he had me choke down sometimes to see how that affected distance control. Out on the course, he allowed me to play only even-numbered irons one day, odd-numbered irons the next. This forced me to be more inventive in my shotmaking. For example, if the distance called for a 6-iron, and I had to play an odd-numbered club, I learned how to play an easy 5-iron or a hard 7-iron instead, to reach the green.
Although at the time this stringent and unorthodox form of practice made little sense to me, and sometimes seemed more torturous than enjoyable, it paid off greatly. I soon realized Dad's master plan. I was practicing my weaknesses instead of my strengths, which made me a much more well-rounded shotmaker. Furthermore, this manner of practice readied me for anything the golf gods threw at me in tournament play.
During my teens, when not caddying for Dad and learning more and more about golf technique, I played in junior competitions, including three United States Junior championships.
In those days, my idol was Arnold Palmer, who my dad said I patterned my "physical" swing after. However, I learned more from Ben Hogan, one of the game's all-time best ball strikers and course strategists.
My dad had played many rounds with Hogan, and taught him how to hit a few fancy shots along the way. As a result, Mr. Hogan took great pleasure in educating me on two important aspects of the game: course management and the mental side of golf.
I played with Mr. Hogan in 1960 at the Meadow Brook Club on Long Island, New York. By that time, Mr. Hogan had won two PGA championships, four U.S. Open titles, two Masters, and one British Open; so I truly shook like a leaf on the first tee. Nevertheless, I returned a respectable score of 78. Hogan's score was 75, but his score wasn't what impressed me. It was how he shot that score. What I learned from him that day I have never forgotten, and for that reason I teach these valuable lessons to my students:
* Don't always select a driver to tee off with on a par-four or par-five hole.
* A fade is a much more highly controlled shot than a draw.
* Make a practice swing that is the exact rehearsal of the swing you intend to put on the ball.
* Set up the same way every time to play a particular club, unless you're hitting a specialty shot, such as a draw or low punch.
* Stare at the area of fairway where you want your tee shot to land.
* Take time to visualize the shot you intend to hit.
* Plan ahead on approach shots, so that if you mishit the ball you are left with a relatively easy chip to save par.
* Don't get upset by bad holes.
* Don't get overexcited or overconfident because you played a hole particularly well.
* Concentrate only on hitting fairways and greens.
* Stay patient and good scores will come.
Mr. Hogan's lessons, along with those from my dad, plus the swing and shotmaking tips given to me by the many top pros who played "The Foot," helped me improve quickly during my teenage years.
The highlight of these years was my 8 and 7 victory over Mike Turnesa, Jr., in the finals of the Metropolitan Junior, played in 1961 at the Inwood Country Club in New York. My opponent's uncle, Jim Turnesa, had won the 1952 PGA championship, so the local press had a field day building up a rivalry, then reporting it in the newspapers.
My impressive record in junior high and high school golf earned me a scholarship to the University of Houston, a school that over the years has produced a long list of Tour professionals.
Houston seemed to be the perfect place for me to learn a secondary profession and prepare myself competitively for a career on the PGA Tour. To make a short story shorter, it didn't work out. I didn't like the school or the state, something I find particularly amusing now since I live in Texas today.
I played on the PGA Tour as an amateur in 1962 to see if I had the ingredients that were needed for earning a living week after week. That was pressure enough. But, quite frankly, there were other pressures that were surfacing. Being the son of Claude Harmon, I was sort of in a Catch 22 situation. If I won tournaments, people would say, "Well, of course Butch played well, he's Harmon's kid." If I failed, they'd say, "Can't understand it, how come Harmon's son can't get his game up to Tour standard?"
Not sure whether I wanted to turn pro or not, I enlisted in the army in 1963. I spent two years in Alaska, during which time I won several allmilitary tournaments, and the Alaskan State Amateur.
Just as I was getting used to the cold weather and practicing in snow, I was whisked off to the jungles of Viet Nam, where shooting mortars took the place of shooting golf balls.
I left the service in 1966, then went to work for my dad as an assistant pro at Winged Foot. In 1968 I decided to try to qualify for the PGA Tour.
After qualifying I played on the Tour full time from 1969 to 1971. However, my only high points of this three-year stint were winning the first B.C. Open and playing in two U.S. Open championships. I decided to become a club professional instead and, like my father before me, devote my life to teaching people how to play golf.
I got that "club job," as we pros say. Or rather, that club job came and got me.
To tell this story I have to backtrack in time a few years.
In late 1967, His Royal Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, after reading How to Play Golf by Tommy Armour, expressed an interest in playing what is sometimes called the "royal and ancient pastime." Since kings generally want the very best, and can usually get it at the snap of their fingers, he notified his consulate in America that they were to look Tommy Armour up and bring him back to Morocco to be King Hassan's personal coach.
When Armour received the summons, he wrote a letter back to His Royal Majesty, telling him that he was honored about the invite and happy that his book was so well received. Sadly, however, he couldn't accept the job because he was getting on in years and had stopped traveling. Even the time he could devote to teaching in America was limited.
In that same letter, Armour recommended a "much better teacher." That teacher was my dad.
In 1968, my dad went over to Morocco and got the king started; and in 1969, because I was the first son in my family, I was invited to play in the Moroccan Open at a course just outside Casablanca. As luck would have it, I finished second in the event, which prompted His Majesty to invite me and Julius Boros, two-time U.S. Open champion and 1968 PGA champion, to play golf the next day at his personal nine-hole course, located on the summer palace grounds along the ocean.
On the 3rd hole His Majesty hit his ball into a greenside bunker. After watching him mishit the ball several times, Julius, who was one of the all-time great bunker players, took it upon himself to walk over to His Majesty and give him a quick lesson on hitting the ball out of the trap.
For ten minutes, while His Majesty and Julius were in that trap, all you could see was sand flying up in the air. No ball! Even with Julius's help, the king couldn't hit the ball out of the bunker. Subsequently, he gave up and we continued the round. After completing it, we bowed, then politely said our diplomatic good-byes.
Julius and I drove away in separate chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousines. Then, suddenly, my car was stopped by all the king's men.
"Mr. Harmon, His Majesty would like to know if you could come back and play with him tomorrow," said one of the king's aides.
"Sure, I'd love to, as long as you can have someone change my airline reservations, because I'm scheduled to leave."
"Very well," answered the aide.
"I'll let Julius know," I said, trying to be helpful.
"No, Mr. Boros has some business. He will not be able to make it," said the aide.
I accepted that.
The following day, there we were, the king and I, the only ones playing on his golf course. We played the first two holes and everything was fine; although I thought it kind of fishy that His Majesty hadn't mentioned Mr. Boros at all. On the 3rd hole I found out why.
His Majesty was putting, so I was just standing quietly nearby, not wanting to disturb his concentration, when I noticed something -- or rather didn't notice something -- that shocked me.
The sand trap that His Majesty couldn't hit out of the day before had been filled in and sodded, with plants and pretty flowers growing out of the new bright-green grass.
When His Majesty looked up and saw me staring in wonderment at the spot, he looked me straight in the eye and simply said, "Very bad lesson. I didn't want any memories of it."
On my trip to Morocco I visited the city of Rabat with Robert Trent Jones, a famous American golf course architect who was building Royal Dar Es-Salaam, a new 45-hole complex, for His Royal Majesty King Hassan II.
This project was only in the early construction stages, but I was asked if I'd like to be the golf pro when it was completed. Not to be disrespectful to a monarch, I said, "Sure," not thinking anything of it.
Two years later, about November 1971, the Tour was winding down and I was considering taking a club job, somewhere when I got a call from the palace.
"We're ready for you," said the aide.
"Ready for me for what?" I asked with perplexity in my voice.
"To be our pro. You said you would accept the job when the course was ready. Now it's ready," said the aide, referring to the completion of Royal Dar Es-Salaam.
I remember getting off the phone and calling my wife, Lillie. This is how that conversation went:
"Honey, how's your French?"
"Not too bad," she said.
"Good, get packed because we're moving to Morocco. I've accepted the job to be the head pro at Royal Dar Es-Salaam, and the personal teacher to His Royal Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco and the Moroccan Royal Family."
Two weeks later we were in North Africa. So you see, the club job got me -- I didn't get it.
I was King Hassan's full-time personal teacher -- always by his side, at home or while traveling for the day, via a converted Royal Air Moroccan jet, to places like Paris or other continental destinations.
The fact that His Majesty's picture was on all the money confirmed his importance. However, it took a couple more experiences to see what special really meant in Morocco.
One day I was giving the king a lesson in a tent equipped with fans to keep us cool in the sweltering heat. So as not to let too much hot air in, the front flap of the tent was turned up just high enough for the balls to fly out, but not high enough for me or the king to see the direction the balls took. Consequently, the king couldn't tell if he was hitting slices, hooks, shanks, pushes, or sky shots.
I explained to His Majesty that I didn't want to teach this way. I told him that I like to teach "off the ball" -- meaning that, for the student's benefit, I relate the curvature of a shot to a particular shape of swing. That way, the student is able to understand how a certain type of swing path (e.g., in-to-out, out-to-in) can create a particular kind of shot (e.g., duck hook, push slice). In short, I made it clear to the king that in order for him to improve on his 20 handicap, he needed to see the flight of the ball.
"That will be arranged, Claude," said the king.
The next day when we drove up, I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus had moved into town. The tent was so big that the King could now hit full shots in it without reaching the other side. And he didn't have to worry about one of his sky shots hitting the top of the tent. The ceiling was around 75 feet high.
"No wonder this guy's picture is on all the money!" I thought to myself.
Another time, His Majesty asked me to arrange for Lee Trevino to come to Morocco to join him in a game of golf. That request was, of course, taken care of, with Lee honored to play with the king (and I).
On the day of our game, Lee and I drove through the gates of the palace. Lee couldn't believe his eyes. The king showed up to greet us for a game of golf with Shetland ponies and dogs by his side. Moreover, before he reached us, he was kissed on the palm and back of each hand by generals and colonels.
Lee could only stand there and say, "Butchie, this is out of a movie. What do I do?"
"Just stand there and wait for him to come over," I said.
After His Majesty formally greeted "Buck" (as Trevino is familiarly known to his best friends), he stepped into a big room with one chair in the middle and more than fifty pairs of golf shoes lining the walls. After one of his aides slipped a pair that matched his attire on his feet, we were on our way.
Lee was so nervous, it took him a few minutes to settle into his opening tee shot. Once we left the tee, I gave him just one bit of advice, so as to avoid another "Boros incident." I told him, "Lee, no matter how bad the king swings, no matter how far he hits the ball off line, no matter how many putts he misses, only help him if you're asked."
The way things went on the 2nd hole, a par three, was indicative of how things were to go the entire day. According to the scorecard, hole number 2 was 140 yards. For this distance, Trevino usually hits a 9-iron. Lee didn't think the hole looked like 140 yards, so he asked, "Butch, how far is this?"
His Majesty said, "Hit an iron five."
Just to accommodate the king and make him feel like he had clubbed Lee perfectly, Lee hit a 5-iron on the green, even though he had to take 40 yards off the shot by swinging much easier than normal. Again and again this happened. Lee, who has a great sense of humor, got a real kick out of that.
During my stay in Morocco as the king's personal teacher, I used the general teaching advice and swing guidelines my father had passed on to me. They worked wonders. In the period of November 1971 to April 1975, I chopped the king's handicap from "20-something" down to 7, which was probably why the king then retained me on a part-time basis. Each winter, until 1980, I returned to Morocco to help His Majesty King Hassan II with his game.
When I left my full-time job as the king's teacher, I took a head pro job at the Crow Valley Golf Club in Iowa.
In 1978 I won the Iowa Match Play Championship. However, I couldn't be lured back to the Tour; teaching had become too much a part of me. In 1979, while in exile, the Shah and Empress of Iran appointed me as their personal teacher.
During the next decade, I worked for a course design and construction company under former PGA champion Dave Marr, accepted a job as golf director at the Bayou Golf Club in Texas City, Texas, opened the Harmon Golf School, and did trick shot exhibitions. In fact, nothing all that significant happened, until 1989, when my dad died. This was the saddest time of my life. But not long after the mourning period was over, I was, once again, blessed by fate. This time, rather than having a king for a student, I had Davis Love III, one of the PGA Tour's longest hitters.
Like me, Davis was the son of a domineering father who was a big name in the golf business, the late Davis Love, Jr. I had never really met the younger Love before, and how we got together in a teacher-student relationship in 1990 is an interesting story.
I was traveling to Japan with Jeff Sluman, the 1988 PGA champion, who was going there to play in a tournament. Davis, who was on this same trip, joined Jeff and me for dinner after 36 holes of the 72-hole event had been played. When he arrived, he wasn't happy with his game; he had shot 145, and was lying practically dead last after the cut.
We were casually sipping a few Japanese beers afterward, when Jeff asked me if I could help Davis. I turned to Davis and told him that I thought I knew what was wrong with his swing -- that it was too long and too steep -- and that I'd be glad to work with him upon his return to the States. To my surprise, Davis asked if I could come out and work with him in the morning. He explained to me that normally he would never allow a teacher to give him a formal lesson before a tournament round. I could understand that, because when you get on the course the last thing you want is a dozen swing thoughts swimming around in your head. In this case, however, Davis was so frustrated with the blocked shots he was hitting, and felt he was playing so badly, that he had nothing to lose and all to gain. That was enough for me to agree to meet him on the practice tee the next day after breakfast.
I told Davis to visualize a baseball batter's horizontal swing. Then, I had him hit shots off gentle sidehill lies, with the ball above his feet, to help him flatten his overly steep swing plane. His exaggerated upright plane, particularly, was causing him to hit weak, off-line shots.
I told myself as I worked with him that this is what Dad would have done. In fact, in my mind I could hear him saying, "Butch, when you're teaching someone, always get rid of the cancer first; that way, the student will hit better shots right away and regain his or her confidence quickly. Also, the other elements of the swing that were off track will fall back into place."
Well, with his new swing, Davis shot 131 the next two rounds and moved way up the leader board. We've been linked up ever since.
It's very satisfying to say that since I've taught Davis, he's won several big events, including the 1992 Tournament Players Championship (which many golf aficionados consider to be the "fifth major"), the 1992 MCI Heritage Classic, the 1993 Infinity Tournament of Champions, the 1993 Las Vegas Invitational, the 1995 New Orleans Open, and the 1996 Buick Invitational. Davis also finished second in the 1995 Masters, an accomplishment we both recognize as something special.
Still, the student I'm most proud of is Greg Norman. That's not because he's made such great strides since coming to me for lessons in late 1991, after finishing 53rd on the PGA Tour's money list. I'm impressed with Greg because he had the courage to face up to his weaknesses and do something to improve. He could have stuck with his game and probably won a few tournaments along the way. Not Greg. He is such a dedicated and determined individual that he was willing to make some major changes in his swing, pitching technique, and putting stroke to get to the level he is at today.
Only Ben Hogan before him, who worked extra hard to change a duck hook swing to a power fade swing, and Nick Faldo, who totally revamped his swing, have shown such courage. You can learn about the will to win and the definition of hard work on the practice tee by looking at what these guys had to go through to become the players they have been.
When Greg first started working with me, he told me that he wanted most to stop blocking drives and spinning pitch shots.
In his pitches, Greg was imparting so much spin to the ball that his shots would tend to land by the pin or just beyond it, back up off the green, then roll into the heavy fringe grass. Consequently, he was missing a lot of birdie opportunities, something you can't afford to do on the
PGA Tour where the competition is the toughest in the world.
Later on, Greg asked me to help him solve a putting problem.
We worked long and hard to fix his problems (something I'll explain later in the book). These days, Greg hits a lot more fairways and greens, and sinks many more putts, owing to the subtle changes made in his long-and short-game techniques. He's the first to admit that practice does, indeed, pay off. All you have to do is look at his record since we joined forces in late 1991.
In 1992 he finished eighteenth on the money list.
In 1993 he ranked third at the close of the season.
In 1994 he came in second by a whisker to Nick Price, earning $1,330,307 to Price's $1,499,927. However, Norman's entire game improved. His scoring average of 68.81 was lower than any other pro's on the PGA Tour.
In 1995 his scoring average was still the lowest on the PGA Tour. He came in first on the money list and he won Player of the Year honors as well -- a truly tremendous effort.
During that four-year stretch, Greg won some big events, including the 1992 Canadian Open, the 1993 Doral Open, the 1993 British Open, the 1994 Tournament Players Championship (shooting a record 24 under par score of 264 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida), the 1995 Memorial, and the 1995 World Series of Golf.
Tiger Woods is my most recent "celebrity" student, and it's hard to determine which is bigger, his dedication or his potential.
I started teaching Tiger in 1993. Tiger had lost in the second round of that year's U.S. Amateur championship. The previous year, Tiger lost in the same round, and in 1991 he failed to qualify for the match play. His father, Earl, called me to ask if I could take a look at Tiger's swing and make some suggestions. He wanted to stop whatever it was that was preventing his son from playing to his full potential.
Tiger, like Love and Norman, is tall, so he naturally has a tendency to set the wrists too early. This problem causes the club to dip well beyond the parallel position at the top, thereby hindering control of the swing. Furthermore, the arc of the swing narrows, causing vital power to be lost.
Another problem Tiger had when he came to me for lessons was letting his right foot rise up too early and much too high prior to impact. This fault ultimately caused him to hit either a push to the right of the target or a snap hook well left of the target, depending on how fast he could release his hands and arms.
Standing up, as I call it, before impact prevents you from shifting your weight fully to your left side and clearing your left hip out of the way. Consequently, the tendency is to hit either a push shot that flies well right of the target or a snap hook that darts left the second it leaves the clubface.
Fortunately, Tiger is very athletic and worked the problems out in a very short time; in fact, to such a degree that he started playing pro-style golf in 1994. His biggest win that year was the United States Amateur championship -- a tournament that he won again in 1995.
In helping all three of these players iron out their faults, I couldn't help but think of how far I had come since age 8, when I gave my first golf lesson to my brother Craig. I was proud of myself for persevering and taking pride in teaching golf. Furthermore, I couldn't help but think how much credit I owed to my father.
In teaching Norman, Love, and Woods, I found myself teaching them a lot of the same things my father taught me: namely, to know where the clubface is at all times during the swing; to bump the left hip toward the target before clearing it; and to let the heel of the right foot lead the toe end when shifting weight to your left side on the downswing. That made me feel good, because Dad always believed in passing on what he learned.
In Chapter Four, I'll describe in great detail the changes I made to the techniques of Dave Love III, Greg Norman, and Tiger Woods. You'll be surprised how similar their errors are to yours. Just by studying the photographs and reading the accompanying instruction, you'll learn quite a bit about how to improve your own game.
But before you do that, I want to teach you the building blocks, or fundamentals, that are needed for improving your scores and enjoying the game for a long time to come.
Copyright © 1996 by Claude Harmon, Jr., and John Andrisani