Practice, practice, practice; then it’s easy, right?

The Gauntlet: Ouch!

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 4/7/21

MAGNOLIA POINT - If golf was such an easy game, no player would ever have anxiety or stress.

Day three with The Golf Academy of North Florida teaching pro Tim Cooper got a bit more …

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Practice, practice, practice; then it’s easy, right?

The Gauntlet: Ouch!

Posted

MAGNOLIA POINT - If golf was such an easy game, no player would ever have anxiety or stress.

Day three with The Golf Academy of North Florida teaching pro Tim Cooper got a bit more philosophical.

“You don’t think about how far your arm goes back when you have to throw a ball a certain distance; say a 10 yard pass as opposed to a 40 yard pass; you just do it,” Cooper, in lesson three for Clay Today Sports Editor Randy Lefko’s triumphant return to golf set up a series of colored pool flotation noodles to begin our lesson on stroke distance equals ball travel; or something like that. “With golf, the reason why the pros are so precise with their club choice is that their strokes are nearly perfect. The key is a consistent stroke followed by an awareness of the swing’s distance.”

My eyes were crossed over on that one. I was thinking the harder you hit the ball, the further it goes.

At the Magnolia Point golf driving range, Cooper set up the noodles in a line with a different color every 5-6 feet with the furthest just about 12 feet away.

How hard could this drill be?

“I will say orange and blue and you have to chip the ball between those two,” he instructed. “I say blue and green (the furthest away-between 8-12 feet) and you have to chip there. Kind of like the three point shooting contest in two minutes on TV. No time to think of the shot, just repitition and execute.”

The pressure was now on and I failed miserably; like three of 10 shots where they were supposed to land.

“Swing, swoosh, finish,” was all Cooper said.

“The length of the back swing which is equal to the finish determines the distance of the ball, the swoosh skims the top of the grass to get under the ball and the finish sends the ball in the direction of the target,” he reiterated.

I don’t my 50 degree swoosh was working.

One note here is that I did come to the lesson having had a root canal a day prior and also a ruptured ligament in my right hand between the thumb and forefinger. Yes, a well orchestrated set of excuses.

Cooper knew of the excuse-laden injuries and surgery and held off on driving lessons, thus the chipping and some putting.

Next, we tried the Gauntlet. Sounds ominous and daunting and it was.

Not to divulge the exact Gauntlet specifications, it is a fun (LOL) chip to distance exercise that puts a golfer measured distances from a large chip-catching basket.

“The record is 37 of 50 by Dale Claussen (head guy at The Golf Academy of North Florida),” said Cooper. “He was 10 of 10 from the first two distances.”

Cooper’s best effort was 21.

Me, I hit seven with one controversial, but my main inspiration was that my spread of shots that missed was pretty darn close to the basket which was not the size of the hole on a green, but about two foot square.

“It’s a fun way to teach consistency in chipping,” said Cooper. “By the way, the basket does get smaller as you get further away. It’s a good visual exercise that, set up properly, can determine consistency and improvement. Your seven may be 10 next time. Optimist?”

Finally, my last vestige of success came on the putting green. Cooper’s triangle of putting; a set of three holes in a triangle at various distances with stroke count to land all three was a target of eight.

Last week, it took me nine.

This week, first two attempts finished at seven, then a six, then a five with a one stroke on the furthest target.

“Small steps,” said Cooper. “Now, we have to get you on the green consistently.”

Barring another week of surgery and injury, next week’s segment is an actual game of golf on two or three holes.

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