The King watched me hit balls

Several years ago I signed an endorsement deal with Cleveland Golf. I was living at PGA West and the Tour rep asked me to meet him on Monday at the range at Indian Wells during the Bob Hope (The home course that year and where all the club trailers were).

He wanted to fit me for all my weapons and thought that was as good a place as any to try out all sorts of club and shaft combos. The range was empty and I had it all to myself with brand new Titleists.

Anyway, we got my wedges and irons fit and it was time to fit the driver. For those of you who don’t know the range an Indian Wells, it goes straight uphill and there is a rock at the top of the range where long hitters in those days could get their driver to.

I started trying out different drivers and was hitting them just to and over the rock into the desert over the end of the range. While doing this the rep says hello and his hello was returned by a familiar voice, but I didn’t place it. I was engrossed in all my new goodies and hitting them. I hit one pretty solid and the new voice says, “Wow son, that is a big ball.”

It was The King himself, Arnold Palmer. I won’t lie, I was awestruck. The rep introduced us and The King asked me to hit some more balls. I was a bit nervous and distracted, but lucky for my ego and confidence, I was swinging really well. I hit 4 or 5 in a row dead at the rock, over it and you could put a blanket over them.

Mr. Palmer shook my hand and told me how impressive my driving ability was and started to walk away. The rep took it upon himself to say, “Arnold, wait, watch one more. Monte, get into one.”

So I did and I hit it about 20 yards past the rock.

The rep then said, “Monte, really get into one,” and I hit it 50 yards past the rock.

You can imagine how big my head got when The King said, “Son, that is the longest ball I have ever seen and I am not blowing smoke. You ever learn how to wedge it, these guys are in trouble.”

The rep said, “He can and he can putt too.”

The sad part of the story is I went to the Dave Pelz school a few months later and I haven’t been able to wedge it or putt worth a damn since.

In case you are wondering, I take full responsibility for being a moron and trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. In hindsight, I knew how to hit every shot. I needed more experience, more maturity and learn how to get it around on bad days…that’s all that stood in my way.

Which brings us to today where I am preaching avoidance of anything system oriented and doing nothing more than tweaking one or two things that are getting in your way, by doing what your individual body will do more efficiently.

Like I always say…read the blog and only pick out the things that make simple sense to both you and your body. If you go back and read the blog for the last 3 years, I have only said about 10 things. I just say them over and over again and in different ways, hoping to reach each of you with a tidbit or two that will make things easier…and hopefully entertain you in the process.

Today’s story is about how awesome I used to be, until I got in my own way. Some in the golf business expected me to be the big splash after John Daly and before Tiger.

I am still holding out hope I can make a splash now. It would be Roy Hobbs-esque if I finally got myself back to the beginning. Some days there is no question in my mind it’s going to happen, while others make me think my time has passed. I can still hit the ball far and I am not nervy on short putts.

There is always the Champions Tour, but I know for certain I still have a small window of opportunity if I can just mentally get out of my own way and start playing golf again…and I mean that literally. Less grinding on my game and more time on the course. I played Wednesday and was beyond awful as a I found myself working on my swing, chipping and putting. I played like a 10 handicap who hit it far.

PS-For the sake of accuracy, my recollection is it was the range at Indian Wells. It was 15 years ago. Suffices to say, it was the course in the Hope rotation that is uphill with a rock at the top.

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18 Comments

  1. Mike from Canada

    Monte,

    I know you preach “do what your body does naturally” and i don’t disagree in some circumstances, but the thing is, for many people what comes naturally is a terrible swing.

    When most people start golf they are terrible and swing the wrong way. This isn’t so much of a problem for kids starting, but more after 20 years old.

    So I think your advice applies to natural golfers and people that have already found there swing. I mean, if you have been playing for a while and you still can’t break 100, you might as well tinker with some things, right?

    Cool Arnold Palmer story. I don’t think I would have been able to hit the ball. I would have been gripping way too tight.

    Reply
      • Mike from Canada

        Ahhh… I guess I should read every day, eh. Yesterday’s post relates to my buddy. He absolutely loves golf and has been playing for a long time, but still swings the club like he is chopping down a tree. He’s scared to change his swing though and just makes the most of it. He is super fun to play with though becuase he loves the game so much and is really happy with a 15 footer for par.

        Reply
      • Monte Scheinblum

        Mike, I don’t see any reason for someone like that to change anything.

        Reply
      • Mike from Canada

        Your right. As long as he is happy playing to that level. The problem is that his swing can only take him so far. The swing is all arms and therefore, his drive is about 200 yards if he really gets ahold of it.

        Now, if he ever wants to shoot in the 80s, he won’t be able to do it with his current swing.

        I think changing your swing is riskier the more you have to lose. For instance, I used to shoot high to mid 90s about 7 years ago. I have changed my swing a few times and I definitely did some things that were wrong; however, I have learned a tremendous amount about what works for me and about the golf swing in general. I now shoot low 80s to high 70s and have gone as low as 76. I still want to get better so I keep tinkering. However, I do feel I am close do being done my swing journey. I am close to a comfortable and effective swing and all my gains will then come with focusing on my short game more.

        I didn’t have much to lose at mid 90s… I guess I have more to lose now if I mess myself up, but I don’t see that happen. Even when I tried the one plane swing, which was a huge mistake for me, I was able to go back to my roots.

        Reply
  2. rojoass

    That’s a great read Monte but a sad one too. You need to get your head outta yer butt (I say that with a great deal of affection) & play some tourneys no matter what level & just play..play…….play……..

    What a waste. It makes me sad so I can imagine how you feel.Swingcrack is a terrible thing.

    http://rojoass.com/

    Reply
  3. Doug B

    Nice story, Monte. Arnold Palmer was my first and only golfing hero. I follow and root for other guys, but there is something about a childhood hero that sets them on a different plane. He played an exhibition in the mid 1950’s with Art Wall at my dad’s club near Harrisburg, PA. I was about six years old at the time and my dad took me along. It was my first golfing experience with my dad and it served as my introduction to the game. Dad passed away about two years ago and I think of my him every time I see Mr. Palmer on television. Thanks for helping me remember again.

    Reply
  4. Calvin D

    Really good story Monte.

    You have to try to qualify for the Open. If you don’t make it you’ll just be in the same place you are right now. Playing bad today has absolutely nothing to do with tomorrow.

    Reply
      • Calvin D

        What would be the coolest thing ever in golf?
        Somebody coming out of left field and contending on Sunday
        in the US Open. That would be better than Watson almost winning
        the Open. Better than Daly at the PGA. Think of it. Just getting in would be harder than contending. Then you have to find that zone. Then you have to get some breaks. That happening with those odds would be mind bending.

        Reply
  5. Peter B

    Making the cut would be a cool story already but another Ouimet story would be cool indeed like in “the greatest game ever played”.

    Reply
  6. john

    Pick me out a winner Bobby.

    OK.

    Reply
    • Calvin D

      David Duval made the cut. That’s pretty cool.

      Reply
  7. Eric32

    Monte my grandpa watched me hit a few drivers today and said i kept moving in front of the ball.. Do you have any drills on how not to do that ?

    Reply
    • Monte Scheinblum

      Keep you right shoulder low through impact…or the head back…or feel more tilt.

      Anyone of those…or any other feel that keeps your upper body behind ball at impact.

      Reply

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