At the risk of showing my age, I want to share something that played a role in shaping who I am today. In the late 70’s, I was on the verge of becoming a teenager. My folks had gone through some tough times. Dad lost his job and Mom barely made enough to put Spam on the table. I didn’t know any better and thought that Spam, Green Stamps and Dollar Store knock off tennis shoes were the way that awesome people lived. It was around this time that the first generation Atari video game console was released. The lust for an in home gaming system became an obsession and even with my folks down on funds, I lobbied them daily for what I thought was the greatest item in human history.
If you’re not a child of the 70’s, it’s pretty hard to wrap your head around the video arcade scene and how easy it was to drop a bunch of dollars on games like Missile Command, Space Invaders, Centipede and Asteroids. There were entire buildings and Putt Putt places that made a good living off of kids like me. When it became possible to enjoy the experience at home, it was almost too much to fathom. After being obnoxious for long enough, my folks finally relented and put an Atari 2600 and a couple of games on a credit card that was already top heavy. Of course, I’ve felt bad looking back at my selfishness but at the time, I felt like I was king of the World.
As pictured above, the original Atari system came with 2 joystick controllers with a stick and a red button. There was no internet or Google to show you how to use and operate the equipment and as a result, I learned to hold the controller sideways. For whatever reason, this grip was efficient and allowed me to absolutely dominate all comers. This grip was responsible for my brother yelling his first cuss word and it was responsible for the often heard phrase of “if all I had to do was play a stupid video game, I’d be great too”.
I wasn’t blessed to play golf as a kid and in fact, the most I ever did was drive the cart for my Dad about once per year. My Father has always loved golf but I thought it was lame and I could not afford to try until a few years back. One thing that I did have as a kid and young adult was a unique golf grip and swing. I remember playing a round with a person that loved to be negative about my golf game. We were at a difficult course and for whatever reason, my crazy grip allowed me to keep the ball a bit lower and under the wind. I ended up almost beating my partner who had been playing forever and all he could do was talk crap about my game, swing and grip. Eventually, I went away from my strong grip and adopted a more “traditional” grip. It’s been so long now that I can’t hardly remember the original grip and feeling of pouring my soul into a natural and fluid golf grip and swing. While playing a recent round, I happened back upon a version of the golf grip that brought back a lot of positive memories and I’m exploring a journey back to what works best for me.
I have coached a lot of people since I’ve dedicated myself to the game of golf and it’s mostly based upon my own journey. I’ve become fascinated by how stiff the game can be. Even the most war hardened golfer can make a beautiful and smooth practice swing and then become a stiff statue as they address the ball. Why can’t the golf swing be relaxed and consistent? Why do we pressure ourselves to be exactly like everyone else? Sometimes coaching any sport can simply become a business with a one size fits all mentality and I’m here to tell you that there is room for natural ability and confidence in any game. Pick up your club and get as comfortable as possible because only then can you swing at your true potential. Confidence is perhaps one of the biggest components of a great golf game and when you’re pretending to be someone else, it’s hard to be the real you. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a trusted person who you can go to when you struggle and we all do.
When you find what works for you, don’t be afraid to show it to the world. When you find your best effort, you’ll be surprised how well it can stack up against others. Swinging is believing and until you put in enough time and effort to develop your own character swing, the game of golf will continue to be a cruel mistress. Never forget the things that make you great.
Shark Attack Golf