Archive: November 2012
Michelle Wie shot 69 on Sunday at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Championship to finish T62 at 10 over. Some would say it was another disappointing result in a disappointing season. Personally, I’m surprised she’s doing so well with all the junk she’s had to deal with throughout her career.
I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I never thought Wie would be the superstar that everyone else did. The expectations have always been way too high. She’s never won a lot and she has never done anything at any level to make me think she would be a world-beater on the LPGA Tour.
The stats bear this out. Wie notched just one top 10 finish in 2012 -- her first full season on the LPGA Tour since graduating from Stanford in June. Her putting stats are poor (128th in putting average) and her greens in regulation are just so-so (65th). She still hits it far -- third in driving distance -- but she’s not getting anything out of it.
The truth is, at 23, Wie is just another young woman trying to make a living at professional golf. She’s won, she’ll win again and she’ll probably have a nice career. But the expectations that she would win lots of majors were totally unfair.
You can point to a lot of factors: her parents’ intense involvement in her career (including the insane idea that she should play against men), and the media’s push to bill her as the Tiger Woods of women’s golf. There’s a lot of blame to go around, but it shouldn’t fall on Wie. I have a 13-year-old daughter, and I couldn’t imagine her having to face the kind of pressure that’s been on Wie since her early teens.
That pressure hasn’t gone away, either. In her first full season, Wie actually played worse than when she was a college student and part-time player. The feeling that she should “turn the corner” now that she’s playing full-time ended up putting more pressure on her. She’ll play a lot better once she doesn’t feel the weight of the world on her shoulders.
From the start, Wie said she couldn’t play golf full-time. I don’t think golf is as important to her as it is to many of the girls out there. A lot of them haven’t finished four-year degrees. They don’t have as many interests. Wie is a well-rounded young woman who enjoys other things. Good for her.
What Wie needs to succeed in golf is to play in more events like the Solheim Cup. She’s played pretty well in her two appearances. These events are great for Wie because the focus is on the team and not on her. It seemed like the other players really opened up to her in that environment.
But what would really be best for Wie is for all of us to judge her game on its merits, and not on what people thought she’d be when she was 13. She has the potential to be a pretty good LPGA pro if we’d all just give her a break.
[Photo: Michelle Wie at the 2012 Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November. Getty Images]
Don Kotnik, Toldeo Country Club, Toledo, Ohio
I knew Jim since 1970. He was a pioneer in the teaching profession as well as a mentor to all young teachers. He always had time for you, and he was the finest communicator I have ever known. Jim will be remembered and missed by all who knew him.
Prestwick Golf Club, Woodbury, Minn.
I first met Jim Flick in 1973 at a three-day PGA Seminar held at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis. There were approximately 20 people in the group. We sat together in small boardroom with our two instructors for the duration of the seminar -- Jim Flick and Harvey Penick. After few introductory remarks, the host professional asked Jim Flick to begin by describing his teaching philosophy.
The book, “Square to Square,” written by Dick Aultman, had just been published and Jim was teaching the method. He stood and with great enthusiasm explained its principles and the benefits of what was then thought to be a new and groundbreaking approach to the swing.
Then Jim turned the floor over to Mr. Penick, who rose slowly from his chair, making eye contact with those in the group, and said, “Gentlemen, the swing is like shaking hands.” And then, gesturing, he continued, “You turn to your right and say how do you do and then turn to left and say how do you do.” And with that he was finished and sat down.
I had never seen a sharper contrast between two teachers -- one who had embraced the future and the other who still embraced the past. Jim was a gentleman thorough and through. He exemplified the meaning of the quotation, “It’s nice to be important, but it is important to be nice.”
John Elliott, Jr., Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, Ocala, Fla.
Jim was the pioneer of the “pre-swing” routine, and he was totally committed to two themes of teaching: arms-and-hands for the high handicapper or new player, and whatever-they-need for the better players and Tour talents. He was probably the best communicator and motivator the game has ever seen.
Jim died doing what he loved -- teaching golf. He has a group of young students who will carry his name and values forward long after his death. I will miss Jim as much as I have missed my father, as Jim helped guide me in life and golf, and always with class and dignity.
Craig Shankland, LPGA International, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Jim Flick has meant a lot to many of us. Bob Toski and Flick were the teachers who unselfishly passed on so much to help others. Jim was a pioneer. He was a model for all of us, a true professional and a great presenter who never tired because he loved teaching so much.
He was a humble man who always respected the views of others in a dignified, non-combative way. I liked Jim Flick. We have learned so much from Jim, and I thank him for all he has done for golf and for the teachers.
Josh Zander, Zander Golf, Palo Alto, Calif.
I was so sad when I heard about the passing of Jim Flick. When I think of Jim, I think about a genuine educator and a class act. I remember him leading a discussion at the PGA coaching and teaching summit years ago. The topic was arms vs. body in the golf swing, and it got pretty heated. He was the one who could stand above the fray, moderate the entire discussion and do it in a classy way that allowed people to agree to disagree. He did it with a smile on his face, and you could tell he was in love with teaching golf and with the people he helped. The bottom line is that he was just an awesome, inspiring person. I will miss him.
Brian Manzella, English Turn Golf and Country Club, New Orleans, La.
Jim Flick helped set the stage for the golf school business that we have today. He also was around long enough to re-invent himself a couple of times. He showed that changing what you are teaching can help your career and even extend it. He also held his own in the spotlight of all teaching summits, including in the famous debate with Jimmy Ballard. First class in every way, he will be missed -- a lot.
Chuck Evans, Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Golf Canyon, Ariz.
While I didn't have a deep personal relationship with Jim I did get to spend some time with him over the years. We first met when I was a young teaching pro and I watched him work with players of all handicap levels. No matter who they were he always made them feel comfortable and at home. He took slicers and made them drawers of the ball, hookers and made them faders. What I truly liked about Jim's style was that he didn't teach a method, unless you want to call swinging the arms a method.
Jim's contribution to our profession is priceless and should be a model for all of us to follow.
Donald Crawley, Boulders Golf Academy, Carefree, Ariz.
I didn't know Jim well but we did serve together once on a PGA teaching summit. Jim came across as a very wise, caring, father figure, and he was a delight to be around. He was from the old school, and was part of the dying art of the “arm swingers.” He will be sorely missed in the golf teaching world.
Bill Moretti, Academy of Golf Dynamics, Austin, Texas
I met Mr. Flick on several occasions. I talked to him about teaching, his philosophy and helping players. I found him compassionate, giving and humble. He is a fellow teacher whom I will always try to emulate. I send my thoughts and prayers to him and his family.
Todd Sones, White Deer Golf Course, Vernon Hills, Ill.
Jim Flick is one of the greats. To me he stands out is one of the most professional teachers in the game. He has always been a total gentlemen, confident but not arrogant. I have had a couple of interactions with Jim over the years. The one I remember most happened at the Top 100 Teachers school at the World Golf Village. I had dinner with Jim at the Caddyshack restaurant along with some other instructors and teachers. He held court, but it wasn't about himself. He spent the night learning about all the people at the table. He was one of those rare people who cared a lot more about the people he was with than himself. At the end of the evening I realized he knew more about me on a personal level than I learned about him. As a young professional I learned a great life-lesson that evening. I will always be grateful to Jim for that.
Mark Steinbauer, Carlton Woods, The Woodlands, Texas
Jim Flick hired me to be one of the original teachers for the Nicklaus/Flick golf schools. I was thrilled he hired me despite my not being from the Golf Digest family of instructors. Mr. Flick always treated me like a son. He’d give me a hard time when needed, but I fondly remember our time teaching at all the golf schools all over the country. We are both members of the TaylorMade family and see each other this time of year at the TaylorMade Invitational. He always liked to tell people he knew me 20 pounds ago. I make it a point to go to the event each year in my best shape knowing that Mr. Flick will be watching. I can honestly say that Mr. Flick is the best instructor in a golf school setting I have ever seen. No one has taught as many people as he has. He made his students feel special and he cared about their games. I owe a lot to him.
Bill Harmon, Toscana Country Club, Indian Wells, Calif.
Jim Flick's desire to teach and learn set him apart from others. Many years ago he advocated the "square to square" method, and although he was criticized for it, he had the courage to put it out there. Over the years he moved toward a "swing the clubhead and use the hands and arms" method. The fact is that he never stopped learning and trying to figure out a way to help as many golfers as possible.
He was a true servant of the game and all of us who play and teach have been touched by him. I only wish that I could listen to Jim and my dad, Claude Harmon, debating swing theory and the best way to communicate their ideas to their students! That would make a fascinating discussion.
Tom Patri, Tom Patri Golf Services, Naples, Fla.
It was with a very sad and heavy heart that I read about my old and dear friend Jim Flick. As I learned about Jim's illness, I could only remember my treasured occasions during my career that I was blessed to have spent time with Mr. Flick. I grew to admire and respect Jim Flick as both a gentlemen and one of the great teaching minds. Many may be better known, but none were more talented. Jim and I only spent a half-dozen occasions together, but his kindness, openness, and brilliance touched me deeply. He will forever be a part of me every day that I go to the tee.
Bill Davis, Jupiter Hills Club, Tequesta, Fla.
Jim has influenced so many coaches in so many ways. The one that sticks out with me was his professionalism. He was very gentlemanly, professional, caring and smart. It was hard to be around him and not be excited about golf. All new coaches of golf would be smart to copy his infectious style.
Rick Grayson, Rivercut Golf Club, Springfield, Mo.
The first time I met Jim Flick was in March 1984 at Tucson National. I was there as an observer, and Mr. Flick could not have been nicer to me. I learned so much from him, not only about the golf swing, but also how he treated his students. He was outstanding, and I have never forgotten it. He was so caring and put so much passion into each and every student. I still remember it almost 30 years later. Mr. Flick encouraged me to learn as much as I could about the golf swing, and I still try and use that advice today. One of my most prized possessions is my copy of “How to Become a Complete Golfer” that Mr. Flick autographed for me and that I still keep it handy.
Kellie Stenzel, Palm Beach Country Club, Palm Beach, Fla.
What an amazing influence on golf and so many teaching careers. I had the privilege to watch Mr. Flick teach at PGA National when they had schools there. I remember watching him like it was yesterday as he pured drivers sitting in a chair with his feet off the ground. The thing that still sticks with me today was his amazing ability to communicate with and motivate his students. He was a great role model for all of us.
Steve Bosdosh, Members Club at Four Streams, Beallsville, Md.
Jim was one of the first teachers I ever went to visit and observe. I was young, afraid to approach him, and I didn't think he would allow me to watch. Boy was I wrong! I came with a notepad, but I didn't have time to write notes because he actually got me involved with his school! I remember he controlled the whole show. Everyone thought they were being watched by Jim -- and they were! He'd be working on one student's grip and telling the student behind him what a good job he was doing, or he what can do better. He just made everyone feel important. Not only did Jim get me involved, he later asked to watch me hit some balls, and then later asked me to join the staff for dinner. We talked well into the evening about teaching, theories and ideas. It was one of my highlights in my career.
I think of those two days with him often. He truly cared about those around him, and he will be missed.
Jon Tattersall, Terminus Club, Atlanta, Ga.
When I was a young instructor I applied for a job with The Nicklaus/Flick group. I wasn't qualified at that time to join their team -- I realize that now -- but I received a handwritten response to my letter from Jim Flick, who in the early '90s was already a legendary teacher. I was always struck by Jim's passion for teaching and his desire to positively affect lives though golf. Jim taking time to write (although it was literally a "Dear Jon" note) left me an incredibly positive impression about Jim and his coaching skills that endures to this day.
He has contributed much to our profession, and although many may debate his ideas on technique, none can debate his dedication and coaching success.
Joe Hallett, Vanderbilt Legends Club, Franklin, Tenn.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Flick a few times through our PGA teaching summits and committees and at TaylorMade events. His humanity and compassion for both the game and its players overshadowed his immense knowledge of the swing. I learned then that this is the trait that all great instructors must have, and I have tried my entire career to make sure I am keeping that characteristic as my underlying value. Although Jim is no longer with us, I sense that this attribute has been picked up by thousands of PGA professionals worldwide. It will keep our profession in good hands, and the love of the game at the forefront for golfers for future generations.
Horse racing may be the sport of kings, but golf is clearly the sport of presidents. Every president we’ve had since George H.W. Bush has been an avid player, and even those presidents who didn’t play regularly -- like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan -- knew their way around the course. (Related: Top 10 presidential golfers) In fact, other than Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman, who preferred a game of poker, every modern president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was as comfortable on the first tee as on the stump.
We had Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Brady Riggs analyze these videos to find out which president had the best swing, which president was the most overrated golfer, and to see what you can learn from our Golfers in Chief. Fore!
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
Swing at 0:44
One of the nice things about golf is that people reveal their personalities during a round. There’s no place to hide your true self on the course, and that’s certainly the case with President Obama. First, check out his setup. It looks like a well-trained address position, one amateurs could copy. Obama is square to the target, with good posture and alignment. This is a well-prepared setup, the kind you’d expect from a Harvard Law School graduate. He looks ready to hit a good shot. His backswing move is very compact and cautious. Obama’s backswing is the opposite of wild: it’s controlled and focused on avoiding mistakes. Coming down he’s pretty good. He’s got his weight moving in the right direction and makes good contact. The funny thing is that even though he aims down the middle, his shots fly to the left. Hmmmmm.
George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
Swing at 0:12
George W. Bush has the best presidential swing I’ve seen. It looks like the swing of an athlete, and it really has some speed in it. Obviously, he’s had time to work on his game; his family has been around golf forever. The best thing about this swing is that Bush never stops moving. That’s something amateurs should keep in mind in their own swings. My favorite part of this swing is the twirl at the very end. It’s like a cowboy spinning his six-shooter before returning it to the holster. Completely unnecessary, but it looks cool.
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
Swing at 0:12
How would I describe former President Bill Clinton’s golf swing? Entertaining and dangerous. Let’s start with the good stuff. In his mid-60s, Clinton still has a lot of flexibility, and he creates some decent speed with his swing. He’s a big guy who still has some athleticism; he doesn’t look like an old man out there. See the way he gets off his back foot? He’s really swinging at it and not leaving anything in the bag. It’s an aggressive move. Unfortunately, it’s not a good move from a technical standpoint. His grip is too weak and his left shoulder is open, so he is set up to hit the ball right. He also doesn’t keep his balance through the swing. At the end, he staggers around a little, so the swing feels a little incomplete. Clinton and Obama played in 2011 and Clinton said Obama beat him by “a couple shots.” That sounds right to me. Everything about Obama’s swing looks more solid than Clinton's. That said, Obama doesn’t swing the club as aggressively as Clinton. Clinton has a bigger swing with a wider range of motion, but that weak grip doesn’t give him much of a chance. Obama won’t hit it as far as Clinton, but Clinton is more likely to find trouble. Clinton also looks like he’d probably be the most fun to play with of the presidential golfers.
George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States
Swing at 1:22
This swing is all about speed. If everyone played as fast as President Bush, we’d never see a round longer than 3 hours and 30 minutes. Forget about John Daly: Bush 41 was the original grip-it-and-rip-it. (He also was a long-putter pioneer, but that’s a different story.) Bush just walks up and hits it. That’s a good way for amateurs to play because it keeps you out of your head, which is where most amateurs don’t want to be. He swings the club in a very similar way to his son, Bush 43. Blast it and don’t overanalyze.
Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States
Swing at 0:08
Now that’s a hot mess. I remember watching President Ford at the Bob Hope as a kid, and if he wasn’t hitting a spectator every nine holes, you were surprised. The funny thing is that the swing itself isn’t bad, but the result is. Talk about a great “Hank Haney Project” candidate. We all know that Ford was a great athlete -- he played on two national championship football teams at Michigan -- so what was the problem? It could be hand-eye coordination. It could be stress. He has one of those swings that looks like it would work on the range pretty good, but something happens when you take it to the course. That’s a good lesson for amateurs. You can have a swing that looks pretty good, but if the clubface isn’t square at impact, you have no chance. And the less we say about Ford’s short game, the better. All I can say about Ford’s chip at 0:30 is that I’d never seen a ball do that before.
Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States
Practice swing at 0:30
There’s a lot of missing tape here. It’s ironic that when watching our most secretive president’s swing, you can’t actually see what you want to see. Still, it doesn’t look bad. He's got some movement in it. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of good practice swings. Who knows what’s going to happen when he hits the ball? I’ll say one thing, though: President Nixon has the look down. He reminds me of Ken Venturi in that tam o' shanter, and those pants are at about sternum height.
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Swing at 0:20
I’d heard that JFK was a decent player, but he looks like a rank amateur in this video. His backswing is super-flat and his leg action is terrible, his right leg peels off the ground way too early. Not a lot of pivot either. One thing you could take away from JFK’s swing is that he looks pretty relaxed. That’s a good approach to the game. He’s clearly athletic, but it looks like someone who hasn’t done very much with his game. I don’t see anything here to lead me to believe that JFK was a good golfer, unless he was the best putter of all time. (RELATED ARTICLE AND VIDEO: Arnold Palmer analzyes JFK's swing)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
Swing at 0:04
This is the same video as the Nixon swing. President Eisenhower belongs in the World Golf Hall of Fame for his love of the golf, but this swing is awful. He completely loses his posture. His body stays where it was at the top of his swing and never moves through the swing. As a teacher, I don’t know where I’d begin to fix a swing like that. We’d probably start from scratch. Obviously, Ike was a passionate golfer and he played hundreds of rounds as president, many of them at Augusta National. So why wasn’t he a better golfer? It’s something we teachers call the L.O.F.T principle: lack of friggin talent. Some guys are just never going to play golf well. It speaks highly of President Eisenhower that he loved golf so much despite not being very good at it.
In the end, that’s the reason golf is such a great game. None of our golfing presidents were serious players, but they embraced golf because the pursuit of excellence in golf is so challenging. It’s not surprising that these talented, ambitious and driven men were so drawn to golf. It’s a game that requires a strong sense of self-belief, and no matter what side of the aisle they sat on, all our presidents have had that in spades.