Archive for July, 2013

Grace in Victory

Class is a key trait that goes much deeper than developing image, or the superficial trappings of fine clothes or a catchy nickname. This intangible quality is, without doubt, absolutely essential if you are ever going to be universally recognized as a champion by friends, peers and enemies alike. All champions have class.

Robert Tyre Jones was the epitome of the true Southern gentleman. He was known the world over as the complete sportsman, and this resulted in large part because he never had anything but praise for his opponents. In 1930, Jones won the Gram Slam by winning both the British and US Amateur championships, as well as the British and US Open titles, a feat that has never been, and almost certainly never will be equaled.

The first of his four historic victories, in the British Amateur, occurred on the windswept links of St. Andrews in Scotland, the birthplace of golf. In an early round, Jones found himself engaged in a tense and strenuous duel with British Walker Cup player, Cyril Tolley — a match that Jones likened to a sword fight to the death.

At the famous 17th, the “road hole,” the match was even. You’ve probably seen the road hole on TV. It’s named for a road running parallel to the 17th green that has spelled disaster for many a would-be champion. Following a good drive and playing first, Jones took a 4-iron and hit the ball long and a little left of the green. In this way he avoided both the road on the right and the cavernous road bunker on the left. Tolley, seeing Jones in position for an easy chip and a putt to make four, went for the green. It is entirely possible that feelings of doubt may have crept into his mind, for he rolled his hands on the shot and pulled it short and left. Jones chipped up to eight feet. Now Tolley was faced with a devilish short pitch, downwind to a raised green, with the menacing road bunker between him and the putting surface and the road directly beyond the green. Bobby Jones himself describes Tolley’s shot.

“It cannot be stated as fact, but it is nevertheless my conviction that Tolley’s third shot on this hole has never been surpassed for exquisitely beautiful execution. I shall carry to my grave the impression of the lovely little stroke with which he dropped the ball so softly in exactly the right spot, so that in the only possible way it finished dead to the hole.”

Jones made his putt and eventually defeated Tolley at the 19th hole. He went on to win the Championship and the Grand Slam, hitting many superb shots along the way. 30 years later, however, Jones still maintained that the finest golf shot he ever saw was made by Tolley on the 17th at St. Andrews.

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

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Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent

Bizarre British Open Story

Bizarre British Open Story

The summer was 1976 was wicked hot that July as I made my way to Royal Birkdale, for my first ever taste of the British Open. I was in awe of Jack, Arnie and eventual winner Johnny Miller but after the first days blistering scores, in unheard of perfect weather, the name splashed on the sports pages was still that of one Maurice G. Flitcroft,

Filtcroft, was a chain-smoking crane-operator from near by Barrow-in-Furness who having bought a half-set of mail order clubs had set his sights on finding “fame and fortune” by applying to play in the British Open “with Jack Nicklaus and all that lot”. He prepared by hacking balls on a local football field armed only with a Peter Allis instruction book from the library and some articles by Al Geiberger.

Shortly thereafter he acquired an entry form from the unsuspecting Royal and Ancient, (who run the event) When he discovered, to his shock, that any amateur entering R & A competitions needed an official handicap something, he lacked – he simply chose the other option on the entry form and declared himself to be a professional.

Invited to play in the qualifier at Formby, he put in a performance which one witness described as a “blizzard of triple and quadruple bogeys ruined by a solitary par”, achieving a total of 121 – 49 over par, the worst score recorded in the tournament’s 141-year history. Since his marker latter admitted to having lost count on several holes the actual score is regarded as only a rough estimate.

Playing partner, Jim Howard, recalled his suspicions being aroused almost immediately: “After gripping the club like he was intent on murdering someone, Flitcroft hoisted it straight up, came down vertically. The ball travelled precisely four feet,” he said. “I put that one down to nerves, but after he shanked a second one we called the R&A officials.” Under the rules of the tournament, however, nothing could be done. “It wasn’t funny at the time,” Howard recalled.

Flitcroft’s performance dominated the next day’s sports pages, while stars such as Jack Nicklaus found themselves relegated to the small print. Flitcroft was interviewed endlessly. The score, he maintained, “weren’t a fair reflection” of his play. He had been suffering from “lumbago and fibrositis, but I don’t want to make excuses”, and he blamed the fact that he had left his four-wood in the car: “I was an expert with the four-wood, deadly accurate.”

Furious that their game had been held up to ridicule, R&A secretary, Keith Mackenzie, tightened the entry rules and turned Flitcroft down when he applied to play the following year, due to “no proof of an improvement.”  The letter sparked a prolonged correspondence, during which Flitcroft challenged Mackenzie to a match at the Old Course to settle the debate about talent. Not amused, Mackenzie subsequently Flitcroft was banned from all R&A tournaments for life.

Refusing to be beaten, in 1978 he posed as an American professional named Gene Pacecki (“as in pay cheque”, he explained helpfully) and blagged his way into the qualifier at South Herts, where he was detected after a few holes and bundled unceremoniously off the course.  In 1983, he tried again, this time disguised, dyeing his hair, donning a false moustache and masquerading as Gerald Hoppy, a professional golfer from Switzerland. He fared rather better this time, playing nine holes and 63 strokes before officials realized that they had “another Maurice Flitcroft” on their hands. “Imagine their surprise when they discovered they had the actual Maurice Flitcroft,” he said.

In 1990 he entered this time as James Beau Jolley (as in Beaujolais), an American golf professional. After a double bogey at the first hole and a bogey at the second; he claimed to be “looking at a par” at the third before he was rudely interrupted by an R&A golf cart which screeched to a halt in front of him and escorted him off the course.

Flitcroft never understood why the R&A was so upset. “I never set out to belittle them. Golf’s just a game and I tried my best. What did they need to get so uptight about?”

Flitcroft’s antics made him a cult figure in some golfing circles and he became a “C” list celebrity receiving mail from around the world addressed simply to Maurice Flitcroft, Golfer, England.  A club in New York named a trophy after him, while another, Blythfield Country Club in Michigan, named a member-guest tournament in his honor, the event featuring a green with two holes to give the truly hopeless a sporting chance. In 1988, when Flitcroft was flown in as an honorary competitor at the event, he explained that it was the first time he and his wife had been out of the house together “since our gas oven exploded”. His game seemed to have improved somewhat and he completed the course with a score in the low 90s. “I hit a lot of good shots,” he claimed proudly.

During one of his last interviews Flitcroft recalled, “I was looking to find fame and fortune, but only achieved one of the two!”

BOS

 

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

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Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent

Find a Coach

“We all continue to learn; if we didn’t we would be in trouble. I’ve learned an awful lot from playing with great golfers; with the exposure to them and talking with them.”

Jack Nicklaus

Since it is perfect practice that makes perfect and not just practice, we must decide by whose standards we are going to define perfection. These are the options. We can seek out a coach and mentor, and accept his advice on the steps we must take in order to achieve perfection. Examples would be the gaggle of pro’s who follow coaches like Jimmy Ballard and David Leadbetter. This group includes players like Nick Faldo, Nick Price, Sandy Lyle and Johnny Miller. Arnie had in his father, Deacon Palmer, a person whose knowledge of his swing he could trust and on whose help he could rely to improve, repair and revamp his game as necessary. Nicklaus’ mentor and coach was Jack Grout, the local professional at the Country Club in Ohio, near which Nicklaus grew up. At the beginning of each new golf season Jack would go to Grout and say to him, “I’d like to take up golf.  Show me how to hold the club, address the ball and swing the club.” This not only demonstrates the value of having a sound instructor, but also the value of going back to the basics of your craft, whatever it may be. I can’t overstress the importance of a yearly review of your techniques and strategies with someone who both knows and cares about the desired outcome. Regardless of your profession, it is easy to slip into bad habits that inhibit your progress. By allowing someone knowledgeable to critique your performance, you can often uncover basic flaws that are costing you strokes, sales, time, money and customers.

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

PS. Come down and tee it up to make some magic moments of your own. Check our website at 

www.markwoodgolfacademy.co.uk

Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent

Happy Birthday Tony Jacklin

Anthony Jacklin CBE was born in the North Lincolnshire town of Scunthorpe in 7 July, 1944, the son of a truck driver was the most successful British player of his generation, winning two major championships. He was also the most successful European Ryder Cup captain ever.

In 1969, Jacklin became the first British player to win The Open Championship for 18 years, winning by two strokes at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The following season he won his second major title, the U.S. Open by seven strokes on a windblown Hazeltine National Golf Club course.[1] It was the only U.S. Open victory by a European player in an 84-year span (1926–2009); Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell ended that streak in 2010.

Jacklin won eight events on the European Tour between its first season in 1972 and 1982. He also won tournaments in Europe prior to the European Tour era, and in the United States, South America, South Africa and Australasia. His 1968 PGA Tour win at the Jacksonville Open Invitational was the first by a European player on the U.S. Tour since the 1920s;

Tony Jack

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

PS. Come down and tee it up to make some magic moments of your own. Check our website at 

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Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent

 

Hogan’s Miracle Letter

Hogan’s Miracle Letter

Ben Hogan once said he believed he had a purpose in life, and it was to give courage to those who are sick or broken in body. In one case, by writing an encouraging letter to a young boy he had never met, Hogan did more than just giving him courage. He helped inspire another champion.

Bobby Nichols was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. After caddying for several years round the time he was 14 he really started to take golf seriously. He developed a fine, fluid swing and won the State caddie championship at the age of 15. Then came the night of September 4, 1952, he was 16 years old with a bunch of friends traveling a high speed in a car which at 8pm, failed to make the next bend. When they finally came to rest, four boys and a girl lay trapped in the twisted wreckage. Firefighters, police and paramedics arrived quickly and fought to extricate them. A doctor at the scene indicated that no time should be wasted on Nichols since he wasn’t going to make it anyway. A priest performed last rites on the 16 year-old boy.

Bobb

Two days later, Bobby was still clinging to life but the medical prognosis was not good. He was still unconscious and, in addition to a variety of minor injuries, he had a broken pelvis, a damaged spine, a collapsed lung, a bruised kidney, brain concussion and was paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor advised his distressed parents that, if he lived, he would probably never walk again. His dreams of golfing greatness had apparently ended in a head-on collision with a utility pole. For 13 tension-filled days friends and family maintained a vigil beside Bobby’s hospital bed. Suddenly he opened his eyes, looked around, and asked two questions. How long had he been asleep, and had he missed football practice? He quickly learned the answer to the second question when he discovered to his horror that he couldn’t move his legs. Bobby Nichols went home a month later. At least he was alive.

The weeks dragged by, and Bobby’s spirits sank even lower as it became more and more apparent that he might not recover. Then his golf coach, Brother Jerome conceived an idea that just might help. He knew that Bobby idolized Ben Hogan, who had gone through a similar terrible experience. Perhaps the great golfer would be kind enough to write the boy a few words of encouragement. There was nothing to lose, so he wrote to Hogan asking for his help, and the Hawk quickly responded. When Bobby’s mother handed him the letter with his idol’s name above the return address, he thought it was a practical joke, but when he opened the letter he found it was genuine. Hogan had written:

Dear Bobby,

I received a letter the other day from Brother Jerome at Saint Xavier’s High School, telling of your misfortune, and asking me to drop you a note. I was delighted to receive his letter, although it wasn’t necessary for him to tell me to write you. I would have done that anyway knowing of your accident.

I don’t know if there is anything I can say to you that would console you mentally or physically since I know you have been through everything. I always figured that no one ever went through life without some things happening to them, some of them minor, some major. Those of us who have had minor things just don’t have to work as hard recuperating as the people like you who have the major things.

I don’t have to tell you that the human body probably is the greatest machine ever known plus the fact that given the chance, it will heal any sickness or hurt. It is the determination and will of a person to do the exercises that will get him well, and, as you certainly know, there are no shortcuts.

I don’t want to sound like a preacher, and I hope you understand my thought for you. I am terribly sorry for your misfortune and you shall be remembered in my prayers.

My best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery.

I am sincerely,

Ben Hogan

The letter had an effect no doctor could ever have hoped to achieve. By the time he had finished reading it, Bobby Nichols was determined to walk, to play golf and to be a champion. Only days after receiving the letter, he sat up unassisted for the first time. A few weeks later he was out of bed, on crutches, practicing his putting and chipping. One small step led to another until, after several months, the happiest day Bobby had experienced for a long time finally arrived, and he threw away his crutches.

12 years after the near fatal crash, the 28 year-old Nichols realized one of his lifelong ambitions when he was paired in a tournament with his idol, Ben Hogan. It was the 1964 PGA Championship held at the Columbus Country Club in Ohio, right in Jack Nicklaus’ back yard.

Nichols opened the tournament with a course record 64 in the first round. He followed that with a solid 71 in the second round and a scrambling 69 in the third, giving him a one shot lead over Arnold Palmer going into the final round. That evening, looking at the giant scoreboard, he was excited to see that Hogan had shot 68 and had moved up in the standings. Under the PGA’s complicated pairing system they would be playing together in the final round.

The gallery was 100% Arnie’s Army as Nichols came to the 10th tee. He could hear them telling one another, “Nichols is going to choke,” or, “He’s about to blow up.” He could hear them saying that Arnie was charging and quickly found out from the vocal crowd that Palmer had just eagled the 10th. He knew he needed a birdie at worst to stay in contention. The tenth was a 536 yard par five, with a large ravine guarding the left side of the green. The long-hitting Nichols hit his tee shot as hard as he had ever hit a drive in his life. It traveled straight as a bullet, 300 yards down the center of the fairway. From there, ignoring the ravine, he went for the green in two with a 3-wood, leaving his ball 40 feet from the cup. His long eagle putt rolled towards the hole, broke several feet, and fell into the cup, dead center! He was confident now that the championship was his. Birdies at the 15th and 17th gave him a three stroke advantage over Palmer and Nicklaus.

Nichols also set PGA Championship records at the time by leading the tournament after all four rounds and setting a new low 72 hole score of 271. It was his crowning achievement in a professional career that would span four decades. Even more, it was a dramatic demonstration of the power of persistence and determination to succeed, no matter what obstacles one encounters in life.

Later that evening, Hogan came up to Nichols and congratulated him again. “You know,” he said, “I would never have gone for the green on the 10th the way you did.” Nichols recalls, “It made me feel proud, hitting a shot Ben Hogan wouldn’t have attempted, and having him acknowledge it as a great shot!”

I hope you enjoyed the article, any comments or Questions then please leave a comment below..

Until next time I wish you all the golfing success

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

PS. Come down and tee it up to make some magic moments of your own. Check our website at 

www.markwoodgolfacademy.co.uk

Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent

Mirroring

Mirroring

Alternatively, we can find another golfer whose swing or method we can attempt to emulate in the hope of achieving similar results. Greg Norman is an excellent example of this technique. He modeled his swing and many of his mannerisms after Jack Nicklaus, and it has paid off handsomely for him.

Ben Hogan, who dropped out of school prior to graduation, made up for his lack of education by being a voracious reader and a keen observer. He studied the golf swing as no one had done before. He viewed newsreel films of the best players to modify his hip action. He picked up his club head waggle from US Open winner, Johnny Revolta, and worked with his swing plane night after night in the bathroom mirrors of his hotel room. Other players hated to room next to him because of the incessant thump of golf balls hitting the baseboard as he practiced his putting stroke at all hours of the day and night.

When mirroring a golfer, it pays to find a player of similar age, height and build, making it easier to copy his swing.

Never underestimate the power of the written word to improve your putting, your swing or your life. Although it isn’t a good idea to be constantly tinkering and fiddling with your basic game, don’t be afraid of looking for valuable knowledge in the pages of a book.

Improve you game book a lesson with one of our PGA pros call now 07796 271661

I hope you enjoyed the article, any comments or Questions then please leave a comment below..

From Your Friends at Mark Wood Golf Academy

PS. Come down and tee it up to make some magic moments of your own. Check our website at 

www.markwoodgolfacademy.co.uk

Mark Wood

PGA Advanced Professional
UK’s No1 Golf Coach

The Best Golf Lessons in Sussex and Kent