Monday, March 9, 2009

Flippy Flop

I've never considered myself a good short game player. I always spent too much time pounding drivers and irons, and never enough time working on the more delicate shots. These past months I've been in the position where 1) My appetite for golf has been greater than it has in a long time, and 2) My recent back surgery prevented me from doing anything other than the short game. Consequently, I worked on my short game. I'm still not a good short game player, but I'm starting to feel like I have a shot at knowing what I'm doing. I'm probably better now than I've ever been. The Ben Hogan forged wedges which used to shank once out of three tries now give me a lot of confidence. But I've been playing it safe and keeping it simple, focusing on one shot, essentially, alternating the G-Wedge and the L-Wedge. It's a knockdown shot, minimal wrist action, ball by my right foot, hands in front of the ball at impact. I lose some loft that way, but I have been making consistent contact with both clubs. For some unexpected ego-driven reason I was inspired to start adding a new shot at the greens the other day. I was working on my safe shot, but I was watching some High School kid do short flop shots to the green. He was clearly showing off (which I recognized because if I could hit shots like that I would be showing off too.) I thought maybe this was the time for me to try something different. I knew my 60 degree wedge with 4 degrees of bounce was the ideal club for that shot. I played around with it a bit the other day, and really worked on it today, and that's when it happened: I got in the zone !!! Here I was, MR Shankopotomus to you, air-mailing 50 yard lob after 50 yard lob over a bunker and landing nice and softly on the green. I felt like I was launching bottle rockets. On this shot I keep my right elbow nice and close to my body, ball far forward in my stance, and I slide the club under the ball like a spatula under a fried egg. Follow-through is imperative, or it goes nowhere. I'd say I used a 3/4 swing for these shots. I probably hit a dozen shots like that, one after the other. I didn't want to stop, in case I would never be able to hit another one. It was so much FUN. Maybe the exhileration came from the fact that if I hit one thin it would go 40 yards over the green. Maybe it was because if I try this shot again in two days I may be shanking them into the parking lot. Either way, it's been a long time since hitting golf shots provided me with such pure, unadulterated joy. I literally had to force myself to go back to work on my safe shot, which I know will be ten times more useful on the course. But now I know why Phil Mickelson walks around grinning like a Cheshire cat on the course. He knows that if he has to he can pull that shot out of his bag, and if he has to it'll be the most fun he has on the course all day

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