WOLAK: Coming up short

Nich Wolak • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:53 PM

I approached the driving range, ready to — um — drive.

But sometimes life throws you a curve ball (*insert wrong sports cliché here).

“We’re working on the short game today,” Troy said at the beginning of my lesson.

This was going to be interesting.

I had just started to feel a little bit comfortable with the long game, and now we were switching things up.

Visions of putt-putt came back to me.

The game is one of those things in life that you get really excited to do, and half way through you wonder why. You then proceed to do everything in your power to avoid having a meltdown in the presence of small children.

I once had a date who wondered aloud whether or not I was letting her win — needless to say — I let her keep wondering.

I was convinced that whatever made me struggle in the long-game would doubly hurt me in the short.

Early on, it looked like I might be right.

We started my introduction with the bump-n-run technique.

I used to take it as an insult when any cornerback would use that strategy against me on the gridiron, and it appeared that golf was similarly insulted with me.

The ball was supposed to run across the green — toward the hole — when it came off my 7-iron. Instead, it sprinted past it.

Troy pointed out that my death grip wasn’t doing me any favors.

“It’s like a trampoline effect with your grip pressure,” he said.

That helped.

As did bringing my club back a shorter distance and moving it forward slower.

Speed and power were no longer my friends. I left my Fulton Reed slap shot in favor of his teammates’ egg-passing drill.

I wasn’t going to make any long putts, but maybe I could avoid some double-bogeys.

Troy and I also worked on using vaulted clubs to get over the sand.

I was better at this, picking up the wrist twitch faster than any of the other techniques, and avoiding the sand for the most part.

Alas, Troy said it was a strategy to be avoided usually. Golfers love to get the ball in the air on long putts, but the landing is so much softer off the vaulted clubs that most can’t muster the accuracy needed to make it work.

I have no notions of grandeur of being one of the few who can.

The last bit of my lesson was spent going over the motion of my drive, and adding some height to the back portion of my swing.

Troy mentioned that my form had improved.

It looked as if my practice was beginning to pay off, that soon I might be able to couple a developing long game with a short one.

But then I remembered something Troy said early on in our lesson, “You need to practice twice as much at the short game as the driving range.”

OK, so it might be a while.

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