Golf lesson in La Quinta: Become the surgeon of the greens
What are the odds that you show up in the Palm Springs, Calif., area and get rain two out of four days? Nevertheless, there’s a silver lining in every cloud, and I certainly found one earlier this week.
After taming the Mountain Course at the fabulous La Quinta Resort on the first day with my host Tim Hurja and PGA West Greg Norman Course head pro Joe Johnson, Tim and I retreated to Hurja’s studio for the afternoon as the first heavy rain set in. Located in the same building as Clint Eastwood’s second Hog’s Breath Inn restaurant location, Hurja’s place has a full-swing simulator, 3-D swing analysis system and video setup to analyze anything in your golf swing.
Yes, Hurja, besides promoting golf in the area, is also a PGA member and has a passion for teaching.
While we took a look at my full swing ? and that was entertaining and enlightening ? the more interesting discussion centered on my short game, or lack thereof. Bordering on the yips at times, I can turn an easy up-and-down for par into double-bogey. Hurja, who had witnessed my carnage around the greens first-hand, took a mental approach with me, not a mechanical approach.
Hurja, who counts guru Tony Robbins among his friends and students, changed my whole mindset. First he had me toss balls into a simulator to get a feeling for the motion and tempo to chip to a certain distance. Then he had me focus on making precise contact ? between the second and third groove from the bottom in the center of the clubface to an exact dimple on the ball as I swung the club from point A to point B, letting the ball get in the way of the swinging motion.
He also had me set the club directly behind the ball, kissing said dimple, and not grounding the club. Then he told me that from now on ? I am the “surgeon of the greens.”
In other words, approach it like a surgeon, with the precision needed to perform the lobotomy most of us really need to play better golf. Any unnecessary movement, he said, would certainly kill the patient.
“I am the surgeon of the greens.”
I repeated it aloud over and over again the next day during a round at the difficult Stadium Course at PGA West. I had a pretty good stretch of even-par holes, in large part due to my new outlook on chipping. Unfortunately, my driver went awry late in the round, but I still broke 90 ? barely.
Now we need to be the “surgeon off the tee.” Surely, Hurja has a pretty good plan for that as well.
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