The fine players in golf all know their theory backward and forward, but it is that hard-to-explain quality, feel, that makes them the shotmakers they are. Throughout their swings, they actually do sense where their clubhead is traveling and what it is doing. Their superb timing comes from this. They think of the body as an accessory that folds in with the swing and helps them to hit the ball with the clubhead.
When I go to open championships, I frequently hear people say, "Well, I've learned one thing. No two of the players swing the same way." But they do. Each swing is truly built on feel. How do you build feel? There is only one way: through mastering the fundamentals of the golf swing. (Unless you work on the fundamentals and keep going back to them, you will develop on an oblique, and develop wrong.) When you develop a sound swing, you create for yourself a benevolent cycle: the sense of how you want to swing helps you to get set up right and this in turn helps you to perform your swing well. You have to be set up correctly to get feel. The finest players are those who are able to get set up time and time again in a position which produces the same feel every time.
Ben Hogan helped me immeasurably by making me put my left hand straighter on the club. I had thought it was impossible. What fortifying this fundamental did for me was to put my feel less in my grip and more in the clubhead, and it strengthened my whole swing.
PEGGY KIRK BELL, Pine Needles CC, Southern Pines, N.C.
NEXT WEEK: Joe Pryke on contacting the ball with the putter