O, Teacher, My Teacher

Monday June 4th, 2007
Victor Juhasz

YEARS AGO, when a top player changed coaches, it was usually in a Greyhound bus terminal, but now it seems to be an affair for the paparazzi, complete with fuzzy spy photos taken from the roof of a nearby building and he-said-she-said slobberings printed as though they were (a) factual, or (b) interesting. The reality is that Tour players don't need someone to stand behind them and tell them where their club should be, they just need someone to tell them where the damn thing is.

That's why I refuse to teach. I never had the eye, the ability, or the patience for it. In fact, when I would tell people what I thought they should be doing, and they didn't do it, I had a tendency to slap them upside the head. This worked fine with kids, but the elderly would tell on me, or worse, kick my ass.

Now, when I watch our brilliant Peter Kostis break down a swing on his BizHub weapon of mass instruction, I'm amazed at how simple he makes it all seem. So simple, that I'm ready to take a crack at teaching again, but in a way never before tried, a method that might bring down the very foundation of the modern fundamentals themselves. Yes, I'm talking about reverse-engineering.

I know, I know, I can see you all now, slapping yourselves on your foreheads, cursing yourselves for not thinking of it first, but you're too late. In these next few paragraphs, I shall render Dan Jenkins catatonic by revealing Hogan's secret, put the squeeze on Butch's practice balls, give Hank the Heimlich, turn Leadbetter into a bed wetter, and put forth, quite possibly, the worst theory in the history of teaching golf. You're welcome.

First, you must assume you are going to hit a bad shot with the wrong club. This covers 99 percent of all golf shots played. So it follows that your pre-shot routine should start with an outburst of loud cursing and self-abuse. Now, take the wrong club out of the bag, wave it around like the conductor of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic during the finale of Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto (listen to the live version by Lang Lang from the Royal Albert Hall just once and golf will never matter to you again anyway), and try to stay off balance as you walk forward a couple of steps from where your swing would normally start.

From there, assume an uncomfortable follow-through position, with your weight mostly on your right side and your chest facing anywhere but at the target, and then swing the club violently backward over the ball and stop at the top of your backswing, with most of your weight over your forward knee. (Don't worry, the chances of you actually hitting the ball are zero.) From here, make a slow downswing, stop short of the ball, pause only for a couple of reverse waggles... and... breathe.

OK, you're confused, but here's the genius of my theory! You haven't made your practice swing yet, and it is a fact that nobody, but nobody, evermakes a crappy practice swing. When was the last time you made a practice swing and staggered around the tee saying, "Shit, what the hell was that!?!" No, dear pupil, you've just got that bit over with, and the only damage done is that you really weirded out your opponents. Now all you have to do is take your normal stance, address the ball, make your practice swing, and this time let the ball get in the way! This way, you'll find out where the ball actually goes when you make a tension-free swing. It might go right, left, or down the middle, but after going through my foolproof reverse-engineered after-pre-shot routine, all you'll have to do is figure out where the hell you should aim. And that's why you'll still need Rick Smith or Butch Harmon standing behind you.

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