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Original Issue

Where the natural athlete goes wrong

I have played golf with big six-by-four football players and other tremendously strong athletes who were terribly chagrined because they couldn't hit the ball as far as a woman. They were trying to muscle the ball out, and that just doesn't work in golf. Golf takes more technique, its own technique. At college, for example, I used to play golf with Pauline Betz, our national tennis champion and a wonderful athlete. Pauline used to try to hit the golf ball with an adaption of the tennis forehand, moving forward low with her body as she "stepped into" the ball. That wasn't successful, for golf, as I was saying, has a technique that is singular and subtle.

If the natural athlete approaches golf with the proper respect, he (or she) will not be defeated by the game and give it up, as many do in their first frustration. The natural athlete must toss away the idea that prowess in another game is going to allow him to take short cuts that eliminate learning new (and different) fundamentals. They must, for example, learn to grip the club with the hands together—which most natural athletes new to golf think will weaken their power. Similarly, they all seem to want to move around a lot over the ball, and here again they must understand that gathering brute force and using the natural reflexes for other sports is a language foreign to golf. Golf is golf. However, if a natural athlete has the sense and patience to acquire the fundamentals, then he has an excellent chance to develop into a fine player because of his native coordination.

PEGGY KIRK BELL, Pine Needles CC, Southern Pines, N.C.



NEXT WEEK: Jay Hebert on opening the hips