Going wrong

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Every golfer at some point has hit an errant shot off the tee, looked quizzically at his playing partners with arms out, and asked, “What did I do wrong?”
Where did you learn to play the game?
Who has influenced you?
Who do you turn to help you with your problems?
For most of us growing up in central Kentucky, formal lessons with a professional was not a consideration and we were pretty much self taught or turned to our friends for assistance.
I grew up in an era when Lebanon produced several outstanding golfers who were close to my age, and they often worked with the younger players. We learned how to hook the ball, how to slice the ball, and we tried trick shots to improve our skills.
More importantly, however, was the interest the older gentlemen in the club took in us. They inquired about the state of our game and made suggestions if we asked questions. They didn’t ignore us when we played, but would ask us to join them if their foursome was not full. We knew we had to be on our best behavior because we didn’t want our parents to hear of club throwing or temper tantrums.
I thought I was destined to be sent to hell when I uttered a profane word in front of Monsignor Gettelfinger one day. I quickly apologized, and he comforted me by saying, “Dennis, I feel the temptation to say things I shouldn’t when I play golf!”
Golfers can also learn how to play the game by spending time with better players and by practicing more. I fondly remember spending evenings in the practice area at the Lebanon course with Rob Spragens and the late Skeeter Leake. We spent as much time socializing as we did practicing. But for a young 13-handicapper, I picked up lots of pointers by sitting in a cart and watching them hit ball after ball. Occasionally, they would stand behind me and work with my grip, alignment and takeaway. I never mastered some things, and my clubs didn’t have a dark mark the size of a nickel like Skeeter’s did from hitting so many shots in the same spot.
We played hundreds of rounds together. I learned by watching. I learned to manage my round by observing their course management. Where to hit the ball. Or, in my case, where not to hit the ball. We traveled to Liberty and to Greensburg and to Campbellsville and to Columbia to participate in tournaments. They showed me how to play under pressure, a trait that I have still not perfected.
My game got better because of playing with them. It mattered not that I was much younger. As a matter of fact, Skeeter had a son older than me. As with many golfers of a previous generation and every club had them, they only wanted to enjoy the game and pass on to others what they knew.
Professional lessons are more readily available in this area now. In Bardstown, Joan Rizer, Chris Osborne, Kevin Hurst and Angela Schmelzer have all helped me with my game. Mike Kehoe in Campbellsville teaches from daylight to dark at his club.
But that’s not to say that adults should leave the teaching to the professionals. Not all kids can afford lessons. Not all kids can see a pro on a regular basis.
I think I’m taking a roundabout way to ask all of you to take interest in a young golfer. Don’t go rushing by them in a golf cart as you play through. Don’t hurriedly walk by them as they practice. Stop and say hello. Ask how they are playing. Heck, even ask them to play along with you.


Other golf notes
* I was watching some of the young golfers playing in last week’s Mussellman-Dunne tournament at Rosewood when a gentleman approached me.
“This golf course is in great shape and well cared for,” he said.
He told me that he was from Bowling Green and I asked where he played there.
“Olde Stone,” he replied.
Since that course is among the best in the state, it was a nice compliment to the job done by Mike Gootee and his staff at Rosewood.
Golf Link rated the local course as the 18th best in Kentucky.
And in the interest of equal time, I must say that Larry Mattingly’s work at the Lebanon Country Club is also praised by those from out of town who play there. His dad taught him well.

* In a move that was not completely expected, the PGA Tour announced last week that it will not fight the ban on anchored putters that goes into effect in January of 2016. That doesn’t mean that some PGA players will not file suit to prevent the implementation of the rule.
The PGA Tour did ask the USGA and Royal and Ancient to issue a temporary reprieve for those who play the game for fun. If you’ll recall, amateur players were given an extension on replacing their square grooved clubs after that they were deemed non-conforming.
For several years now, there have been those who believe that there should be a difference in rules that professionals play by and those that rule the amateur game.
Greg Norman tweeted last week, “BIFURCATE (obviously his word and not mine) the rules for Pros and Ams. We are pros and can and should adapt to any equipment and rule. I believe the Ams should have all the help they can get from the rules to love playing the game.”

* How did local golfers fare in last week’s Mussellman-Dunne event held in Lebanon on July 3?
13-14 Boys - Houston Raikes 13th
15-16 Boys - Javen Thomas T-5 and Henry Smith 12th.
17-18 Boys- Logan Medley T-4
College Women - Amy Brown - 1st
Medley also competed in the Kentucky Junior Amateur Tournament at Maywood the previous two days. With well over 100 golfers in his flight, he managed to finish 98th on a tough lay-out. Clay County high schooler Tyler McDaniel, who recently became the youngest golfer to win the men’s State Amateur, won the Bardstown event with rounds of 69-71 for a total of 4-under par 140.

* David Sparks gained some brownie points when he teamed up with his boss Doug Vyverberg to compete in the 2013 Kentucky State Four Ball Championship at Gibson Bay Golf Course in Richmond. They did quite well, winning the Mid-Senior Flight by an impressive 10 shots after firing net scores of 62-63.

* July 14 is the deadline for Lebanon Country Club members to attempt to qualify for the Presidents Cup team that will take on Lincoln Homestead on July 20-21.