Doug Weaver was the first person on the Island I turned to to quietly explain my golf affliction because I knew he’d understand, he would take it seriously and there’d be a better than even chance he could fix …
… whisper it … the sh@&ks.
So we got together on a Tuesday afternoon in the full sunshine of a beautiful day at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island, where Weaver is the teaching pro, and I explained to him, in hushed tones, that I’m a mess, stricken with a serious case of the “abrupt right turns”, a conundrum I can’t seem to overcome, despite reading books, poring over golf instruction videos and visiting a swing (call him a “witch”) doctor in the Northeast. (A disastrous story for another day).
Weaver, ever the laid back, quietly confident professional, listened empathetically, nodded emphatically and cut right to the chase.
“Your goal is to get rid of the SHANKS, and I’m not afraid to say it,” he said, perhaps a bit too loudly. About seven guys hitting balls on the range heard that awful word spoken out loud. They looked away, down at their clubs, or up, as if discovering the sky for the very first time.
But they listened in and they sneaked peeks — like watching a train wreck, witnessing the shanks is something you can’t take your eyes off, while you’re praying to your personal higher power that it doesn’t happen to you.
It didn’t take Doug long to analyze a disconnect between my stance and alignment.
“Now I want you to understand that you’ve been kind of fixing everything by avoiding everything,” he said. “You’re trying to avoid going right, by aiming to the left. Your poor alignment is causing mental anguish.”
Nail on head: I’m clearly a tangle of intentions.
To take the mental out of the equation, Weaver quotes the wit and wisdom of Lee Trevino, who once said “anytime your golf game is not going right, blame something else.”
I’ve been blaming my golf clubs, a major change of venue and the weather. Weaver buys none of it.
“I believe you can play with anybody’s clubs at any time as long as you do the fundamentals correctly,” Doug says. And the “fun”-damentals are: grip, stance, posture and alignment. His analysis provided video proof that my fundamentals were no fun.
- Grip: okay;
- Stance: okay;
- Posture: lousy (I looked like one of the Village People trying to form the “C” in YMCA);
- Alignment: confused. 50% in golf is not going to get you there and I was hedging .
Doug’s suggested solution was to commit to aligning shoulders with feet. Get everything aimed in the right direction and “believe.”
It’s been a while since Doug’s insight set me off on the path to a golf crisis solution. His has been a critical piece of solving a baffling puzzle. His tips didn’t solve the problem immediately. In fact, as soon as he left me alone on the range the “rights” crept back into my swing and my dreams became nightmares again. But like that famous Robin Williams origin of golf video, he had given me “hope”.
Weaver gives hope to golf hopefuls each Monday afternoon at 4 pm at the Robert Trent Jones course at Palmetto Dunes, where he typically provides a free intro lesson, covers a wide range of golf topics and sometimes analyzes swings.
Next time: A visit with a fellow former Minnesotan – when you face crushing conundrums in your life, sometimes you just have to head back to your roots.