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.