40 on the Front Nine

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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For some of us a 40 on the front nine is good, for others not so much. In this case 40 is a pretty good score.  

My bride and I have celebrated 40 years of married life and I wanted to relate how golf is now a big part of what we do. We take golf anniversary trips now and normally play multiple rounds no matter where we go. 

This year we went to Durango, Colorado and played the Glacier Club and Dalton Ranch multiple times. While I am not promoting these places the golf, food and lodging were spectacular. My real enjoyment comes from watching her play this wonderful game and watching the evolution and growth as a player. 

My bride started playing like most ladies and harnessed her aggressive tendencies (yes, ladies we all have them) and was happy to chip the ball down the fairways and around the greens. I have always been rather careful not to interject too much teaching, and disguise it when I do. She may have a different opinion of this though. An example would be when I wanted so desperately to change her swing plane from so very vertical to something more rounded. This was done by changing how she took the club back, and after a little time we have a more rounded swing plane. 

Instead of just repeating swing harder (I knew she needed more distance), we took less club and broke out of the mold of settling for being short of the green all the time. My bride, like so many ladies, assumed that a ball rolling down the fairway would go further than one in the air. We solved most of this by playing shots into hills. This forced her into trying to hit the ball higher. She has learned that many times a more lofted club gets much more distance when hitting shots into hills. 

When you’re learning or attempting to make changes to what you are doing sometimes mechanics are not the answer. While we as teachers get lost in the mechanical maze, many times the simplest way out of the maze is to never go into it. 

Hogan found the answer in the dirt and today most of us just do not want to get our hands dirty with practice. Will I ever attempt to get my bride to flat foot load or even float loading while working on lag with drag to achieve the desired? Nope! I am looking forward to getting to that 50 year anniversary!   

In golf you may reach a point that the skill level produces the desired result. 

If you see us on the course, take a quick look. She is good enough to finish any 18 hole round in 3 hours, which leaves us plenty of time for a leisurely dinner. That, my friends, is the desired result.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email tvelarde@blackmesagolfclub.com.