Science and Imagination
I was in Richmond, VA this past weekend, and had the opportunity Tuesday to have lunch and reconnect with my good friend of many years, Robert Wrenn. Some of you will remember Robert for his successful career on the PGA Tour in the 1980s. He won the Buick Open with a then-record score and had a number of good years around the #40-50 spot on the money list. But once Robert married his lovely wife Kathy, and then when they had their first child, the nomadic life of a tour professional lost a bit of its luster.
I remember him telling me back then that it became increasingly hard to pack up and head to the airport on Sundays and Mondays. He worked for ESPN for a while then settled down into a second career in financial management in Richmond, and is “living happily ever after”. I have always admired Robert for chasing his dream of playing professionally, then realizing when the dream changed to being the best dad and husband he could be – and he’s great at both.
Anyway, Robert and I were visiting about the new SCOR clubs I had sent, and the conversation migrated to the importance of the short game, and his work with a number of the local college players and mini-tour players. His take on this was fresh and clear, so I thought I would share it with you all.
Robert’s view is that the modern young players are all very well versed in the science and mechanics of the swing, and all of them hit the ball tremendously well. When he was playing, he said, only a few of the guys hit the ball as well as the average young player does now. But the difference was in their short games. He specifically mentioned his friend Corey Pavin, who was (and still is) the scrappiest player out there. He wasn’t blessed with great physical attributes, and was never going to be long. But he made up for it with a short range skill set that was unmatched.
As Robert explained it to me, these guys had imagination around the greens. When they got inside scoring range, it was no longer about mechanics or the science of the full swing. It was all about seeing a shot clearly in their mind, and knowing how to execute it. He sees that lacking in too many of the young players today. They have all spent so much time on launch monitors and video, on the range beating balls, they have the full swing skills down to a science. But they don’t spend enough time just experimenting with their wedges around the greens to see all the crazy things they can make a golf ball do just by trial and error.
We see that today in only a few of the players. Michelson comes to mind, and Tiger was (and probably still is) a magician around the greens. But few others come to mind and draw out that kind of description.
If you go to the range at any PGA or mini-tour event, you’ll see cookie-cutter swings and you wonder how any of them ever miss a fairway or green. But how many are over at the short game area practicing flop shots with an 8-iron? Or seeing how many different shots they can hit with a gap wedge?
The answer is not many. Something to think about, huh?
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[ comments ]
Gordon 1955 says:
Luke Donald is one of the shortest hitters on the tour but his short game is brilliant!!!! From within 150 yards I do not think that anyone can beat him - not even Phil Michelson or Tiger Woods.
Mickelson not michelson.
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