By Robert Bicknell

June 2008

Swing like yourself...

For those of you who have been following the saga of my shoulder in my newspaper column (Sunday Vietnam News), itís May and I still have not yet had surgery on it for a multitude of reasons. Suffice it to say that doctors prefer to exhaust all possible non-surgical options first and operate only as a last resort.

Cortisone steroid injections didnít help much, nor did waving a live chicken over my head during a full moon, so the only remaining option is finding an available date for the surgery.

Unlucky dates in late March killed that time frame, additional diagnosis and negotiating with the insurance company killed early April, new project owners took over my company in the 2nd week of April, Passover was in the third week and Liberation Day made sure nobody works this coming week.

I swear itís a conspiracy to keep me in pain.

However, some interesting things have happened in the meantime, such as my finding a golf swing that I can use which doesnít cause me pain...

Unfortunately, itís very Fuyrk-esque...thatís right, it looks like an octopus falling out of a tree, but it works and I have even felt a bit more comfortable with it at times than my old swing...

Yes, I know that is a sickening thought, but it does open the door to a more important question and one which I have answered consistently over the years when posed to me by golf students.

"What is the most important part of a golf swing?"

The answer is simple...impact. You have to be square at impact and the swing has to be repeatable.

Everything else is window dressing and if youíve got those two things, you have the basis for a swing you can use for a long time and, perhaps, make a lot of money from your friends.

Nothing in the book says a swing has to be beautiful and Jim Furyk is proof of that. In fact, throughout history there have been great golfers with horrible swings.

Arnold Palmer always looked like he was losing a tug-of-war, Lee Trevino looked like he was slinging mud against the base of an adobe hut, Gardiner Dickenson looked like he was fly fishing and, of course, Jim Furyk is in a league of his own.

I knew a guy at a municipal course in the US played cross-handed. Yes you read that right. He played to a 2-handicap using a cross-handed grip and when people saw him for the first time theyíd salivate and couldnít wait to bet him.

He rarely lost and consistently took home peopleís wallets.

There are some tin-miners in Phuket, Thailand, who have the worst swings on the planet, but they can get up and down from the ball washer every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I, and many others, have lost a lot of money to these guys.

Like I said, consistently square at impact and repeatable is whatís really important. Having a picture-perfect swing that is so beautiful it brings tears to peopleís eyes is nice, but itís worthless if you cannot score well with it.

Jim Furykís college coach tried to "fix" his swing and, for a while, he had a nice, "normal-looking" swing...but he couldnít post a good score if his life depended on it. So he went back to what works...the old tried and true "octopus falling out of a tree."

When I fix peopleís swings, I am a lot like the doctors who are trying to fix my shoulder. Radical surgery is the last thing on my mind.

When people say they want to "swing like Tiger Woods" I gently try to steer them in a different direction because the fact of the matter is that only Tiger can swing like Tiger. Itís just the way it is and one of the major problems I have with David Leadbetterís style of teaching where he tries to make everyone swing the same way.

Unfortunately, we all have different bodies, different strengths and weaknesses and, most importantly, different characters.

If you examine Leadbetterís "success stories" youíd see most fit a specific pattern, whereas most of his failures lacked certain traits, and that list of failures included Scott Simpson and Greg Norman.

I have always felt that itís best to reduce the weaknesses and boost the strengths of each personís golf swing, but to maintain the character of the swing and the player. People have to swing according to their character.

Now, as for me, while I had a picture perfect swing most of my life, I can also appreciate the absurdity of a Furyk-style swing and it appeals to the comedian in me. Thus, I can make it work.

Like I said, ya gotta be yourself.

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