Playing with ‘The Sniper’

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

More Information

I am sure I shared the story last year about getting beaned by a full three wood or utility wood by ‘The Sniper’. I have recovered fully, although I still can hit the deck after the fo comes out of fore. 

I played with ‘The Sniper’ again and we had a great time. Seems that no one else will drive him around and I figured out the safest place with him was me in the cart. He is an older gentleman who is quite pleasant and who has a good sense of humor. As we played, we talked and he gave me some good information. Seems that his balance is not quite what it used to be and it causes problems when he plays.

I took this as a request for help and we embarked on a remarkable journey of discovery for both of us. Traditional balance has us over the instep of our feet with our balance point somewhere over the ball of the foot. The center of gravity is basically in the middle of our stance.  

‘The Sniper’ was so far over his toes that this lead to a big sway back and through which was the root cause of wayward shots.  We changed his address position to reflect more weight to the middle of the feet and we worked to eliminate any sway during the backswing. 

‘The Sniper’ now started to hit shots that had him laughing like a child that has experienced ice cream for the first time. The joy was unbounded. With these good shots he started to score and instead of losing a few wagers now started to win some.  

I learned as a teacher that many times it is not the age that causes us to lose balance, it’s we just forget where we should be on our feet. So let’s make this very clear. At address your center of gravity should be mid center of your stance with your feet about hip width. When you bend from the waist forward, towards the ball, you now should feel a downward force into the middle of your instep. From this position you can now make the most athletic turns possible without losing balance. 

If you’re having trouble finding center, do this drill. Spread your feet to hip width. Now, shift weight to the back foot and now shift to the front foot. Do this while looking into a full length mirror so you can easily see if you’re shifting weight or leaning your upper body? Once you can identify that you can now shift weight, put your weight in the center of your stance. You should see yourself stacked on your feet. There is no lean to the front or back foot.  Do the same from the side on view rocking weight to the toes and then to the heels until you can find the center of your instep.  

Balance in all walks of life is worth finding. See you on the first tee I will be the guy taking ‘the Sniper’ as my partner or has they now call him, Sandy.  

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