Every week when I watch the PGA tour I see different types of golfers. Guys with funky golf swings (hello Jim Furyk). Guys with pot bellies (hello Carl Pettersson, John Daly and plenty of others), and guys who just don’t look like athletes (sorry Jason Dufner). Like most golfers who have taken the sport up later in life because they were busy with other “real” sports, I have watched these players and wondered if a hacker like me could have been a real player with the right teacher and enough practice. Well, the Maine Golf Report is dedicated to finding out the answer to mine and many other golfers age old question – are golfers born or are they made?
The teacher is 2-time Maine PGA teacher of the year Scott Mayer and the student is 30 year old Jake O’Donal. Jake is an avid golfer who picked up the game several years ago, but despite good athletic ability has not progressed beyond hacker level. Jake has the ability and desire to be an excellent golfer so he has graciously agreed to be our first project.
Recently I played an 18 hole round with Jake to establish a base line for our experiment. The round was played at Dunegrass Golf Club in Old Orchard Beach from the white tee’s which gave us a good challenge for someone with Jake’s handicap, which is in the 16-20 range.
The final stats were surprising to Jake but pretty typical of someone his level. His final score was a 98 with only 4 greens in regulation and 2 fairways hit. Not surprisingly he failed to have a sand save or an up and down while accumulating 34 putts. The biggest surprise to Jake was the 9 swings that resulted in penalty shots. That was nine balls into the woods, into a pond or some other unsavory hazard. Simply put, if Jake eliminates his penalty strokes alone he is shooting in the 80’s.
Now it’s time for the real work. First it will be a lesson with Scott Mayer, one of Maine’s most decorated PGA teaching professionals and then practice, practice, practice, followed by more lessons. We will check in with Jake each month to see how he is progressing and you can also follow his progress every week on the First Tee of Maine, Maine Golf Report on the Big Jab 96.3 FM. Tune in every Thursday morning at 7am for updates and plenty of golf talk. It should be an interesting ride and by the end of this season we will know if our experiment will produce a real golfer with much lower scores, or if we have a Frankengolfer on our hands that will still strike fear into the hearts of fellow players with his wayward tee shots.