We've all read - or at least own - some kind of Golf instruction book. Some are based in the experience of the author or deep research and physics. Some, are based in...magic. The book described here is definitely the latter. Larry
On most days, Conor Owen, who lives in Stuporville Junction, sits at his computer, with his thesaurus. "I'm a Writer," he says. "Freelance mostly. Right now, I'm working on an interior design article." He leans aside and invites me to squint at a picture on his computer. It's a cat sleeping by the fire in front of a floral sofa under a large window as snow flies outside. Under the picture, Owen has written:
A cozy nook for a warm cup of Earl Grey with a splash of milk and honey. Here is all you need to bring the joy of life to a cold winter day as your kitty purrs a heartfelt, homey tune.
"Interesting," I say, as I look for a clean sheet of note paper. The Writer fills in the dead air. “In the last month, I’ve also written 'To Glue Stick or Not' for Bingo Monthly, an uncredited piece for The Weekly Shopper entitled ‘Tag Sale, Yard Sale, Garage Sale: Which One is Best?’ and my favorite: 'A Visit to My Attic' for Lo-Cost Travel Adventure Magazine."
I turn my notebook upside down and begin writing on the back of previously used paper. "So, you've written a Golf book."
He takes a long, satisfied sip from his tea cup. "Yeah. Actually, I'm on the verge of having two Golf books. I just finished the first draft of Turley Burd - His Glory Year in Traylor County. But, it needs some tweaking." (Turley Burd, of course is the late local Golf legend who famously challenged Bobby Jones to a match - with both hands behind his back. (Jones refused to play with his hands behind his back, so the match never happened.) “But, here’s what I’m really proud of!” The Writer reaches into a desk drawer, pulls out at least a ream of paper and plops it on the desk. Its title is simple and straight forward: Instruction Manual for Golf - The Head Game You Play With Your Hands and Your Head…But, Mostly Your Hands.
Good title. So, I ask the obvious: "Are you a Golf Professional?"
"No. But, I'm a student of The Game...and the brain. It's your brain that plays Golf." Owen hands me the stack of papers, title page up. "Go on. Pick a chapter. Any chapter."
I do. It's good! So good, I thought it was worth giving you a little preview before what's sure to be a bestseller hits bookstores. Here, with Mr. Owen's permission, is an excerpt:
A Brief Medical Discussion
No matter which grip you choose to use during a round of Golf, one thing remains constant: The club connects to your hands. Medically speaking, and I think most M.D.'s will back me up on this, your hands connect to your forearms, which "hook-on" to your upper arms with an ingenious device known as the "elbow." Your upper arms connect to your shoulders, then your neck - and through a series of what I call "brain muscles" - to your mind. There, in your body's control center, all important Golfing decisions are made. Your hands simply carry out your brain's commands! If you ever wondered what the old Golfing axiom, "Its all between your ears," actually means, perhaps this will clear it up for you! This old saw refers to your "brain," which, in most cases, is located in your head! And that means, it's - between your ears!
Right away, I can see this guy had a grip on the basics. But, I have to ask: "Medical background?"
He takes the book out of my hands and flips purposely through the pages. "No. Common sense. Check this out." He flips more pages, looking for a favorite passage.
"Where do you play?" I ask.
He's still flipping...looking. "Traylor Park. I've had a few lessons from Legolas Demott. We went to High School together. Ah! Found it! Here. Read this." He plops the stack of paper back into my hands.
Plan Your Swing Keys
Your swing keys are the key to your round. Perhaps that's why they're called "keys." Of course, every individual who plays The Game must, and should, have different keys or "thoughts" that will help that person make a swing that's smooth and effortless every time. In this case, I have a hard and fast rule: Plan (and re-plan if necessary) your swing keys for the day - in the car as you approach the Golf Course parking lot.
Usually, I'll turn down the radio briefly, look into my eyes in the rearview mirror to get my attention, and say: "Okay, Conor. Let's get serious." As soon as I have my attention and I know I have something important to tell myself, I go through each swing key with precision.
"Hands ahead," I intone as I mentally put my hands ahead of the ball at address. Sometimes it helps me to close my eyes to visualize the ball. "Kick the right knee in." My right leg usually jerks, adding a burst of speed to my already-over-the-speed-limit trip. "Low and slow," I mutter firmly. My hands move imperceptibly to the right. "Turn!" I usually twist in the car seat, straining against the shoulder strap, my right foot drifting briefly off the accelerator, car gliding right toward the sidewalk. Pedestrians scatter. But, only because they don’t know I’m only practicing my golf swing - not driving dangerously! “Swing, as if you were pulling an overhanging light bulb chain!” My car almost always swerves back to the left - away from foot traffic - and pick ups speed as my right foot returns to the gas pedal. I have heard others say that you'll never play well unless you can play with one swing thought. I’m pretty sure, this example shoots that idea down in flames!
Now, as your car lurches into the parking lot of the appointed Golf Course, you will have the quiet confidence of knowing that you have completed all phases of Preplanning your Plan to Play. You will have used the checkoff list in the back of the book as a reassurance that you have covered all your bases. So, as you emerge from your vehicle, you will be ready to face anyone, except someone really good, in a winner-take-all match (up to and including $1.00)!
Shortly after I finish reading the excerpt - and, before I can formulate a response to it - Owen gets a call from the Home Furnishings and Decor Editor of SuperGood Home Decorating Magazine and has to excuse himself to rewrite some cut lines for the picture of the Birdcage near the Armoire. I get up to leave...impressed. Here is a local boy about to make good! As I reach the door, the Writer puts his Editor on hold. "If you know anybody who would publish this - let me know. I'm not sure how many more sofas I can write about."
I tell him I'm sure, if he self-publishes, he might get his book in a rack at the local Health Food Store, "Natural Nugget."
Editor's Note: A follow up call to Natural Nugget management revealed Mr. Owen's book is under consideration for a potential position in the self-published book kiosk at the back of the store near expired canned goods sale rack. Ed.
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."