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Butch Harmons Playing Lessons
By Harmon, Butch
Simon & SchusterCopyright © 1999 Harmon, Butch
All right reserved.
My first book, The Four Cornerstones of Winning Golf, concentrated on four main areas: ball striking; the short game; the mental side of golf, including course management; and physical conditioning. Almost all of the instructional tips I presented in the book were given to me by my dad, and so the book was also partly autobiographical. I told readers how my dad and I each evolved in the golf world, and I relayed the story of my dad's proudest moment, when he won the 1948 Masters as an underdog; club professionals are not supposed to win major championships.
In addition to describing the cornerstones in detail, I also analyzed the swings of Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, and Greg Norman, three players I had helped rebuild their swings. I wanted to show how easily faults can sneak into even a pro's swing and how easily they can be ironed out. Further, I showed how, just by making minor changes in the swing, a player's shotmaking -- and his scores -- can sometimes improve virtually overnight.
I now want to take the improvement process literally to the grass-roots level. In the course of this book, I take an A, a B, and a C player out on the course with me, and teach them how to play strategically smart golf that's right for their games and also teach them new shots, correct their faults, offer them drills for improvement, and lots more.
The course we play on is composed of 18 of America's best holes -- in my book anyway. We tee off at the first hole at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, Long Island, and finish the round again near New York City, playing the Westchester Country Club's 18th hole. There's a good mix of par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes on our course, including the 12th at Augusta National, the 14th at Muirfield Village, and the 11th at the Tournament Players Club. Whether you've played these courses and the others of our layout already, or never play them in your lifetime, doesn't really matter; these holes are so famous that almost all modern designers have built similar holes. The situations that the players in my fictitious group run into are ones that you will face on your local course or on one you will visit.
What I suggest you do is match yourself up with either Player A, Player B, or Player C, and see how you would play the hole differently, or what you can learn from his experiences. Player A is an 8 handicap who hits solid tee shots 250 yards, a 5-iron 175 yards. If you're a single-digit player yourself, you will be able to relate well to his game. Player B's handicap is 14, his average drive is 230 yards, and his average 5-iron flies 160 yards. If your handicap falls between 10 and 16, you pretty much play the same game he does. Player C plays off a 22 handicap, drives the ball 210 yards, and hits 5-iron shots about 145 yards. In all cases, if these players take one more club, they hit it 10 yards father; one less club, 10 yards shorter. In other words, Player A hits a 6-iron 165 yards, a 4-iron 185 yards.
Player A is, of course, the best shotmaker of the group, but as you'll see, he, like the others, learns a lot during this round. Player B hits the ball a fair distance and has a basic understanding of the game, but makes some silly mistakes -- namely, in club selection and in shotmaking choices. Player C, like most high-handicappers, has great potential, but he lacks power and needs to learn how to read lies better and play more shots. A little help in these areas can pay immediate dividends.
From tee to green, I offer tips on the total game: everything from where and how to aim, how to hit a power-draw, how to hit out of a divot, how to play from a buried lie in sand, to how to pace a long putt to the hole. Photographs and drawings are included to give you a better understanding of the hole itself or the instructional message I'm trying to relate.
Since the handicaps of the three players vary so much, you'll be treated to a wide range of shots. Personally, I think the entire book can serve as a refresher course for even the most experienced player.
Although I offer advice and constructive criticism along the way, it's at the end of each hole, in the section called Butch's Lessons, that I analyze each player's mistakes and tell him how to improve.
On the day of our game, Player A shot 76, Player B shot 84, and Player C shot 89, and I like to think I had something to do with that.
Let's see if I can't shave some numbers off your score.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Copyright © 1998 by Claude Harmon, Jr., and John Andrisani
Excerpted from Butch Harmons Playing Lessons by Harmon, Butch Copyright © 1999 by Harmon, Butch. Excerpted by permission.
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