My name is Mike Cortson. I have been a PGA Tour Player Manager for Bruce Crampton for several years. My own skill as a golfer is less than perfect as I have had the misfortune of severe illness visit me. Nevertheless, I have been around the game and golf pros for more years than I care to admit. I have seen more successful golf swings than you can shake a stick at. Some are great to look at and some are just down right unbelievable. I was trained as a lawyer and my eye for detail is quite keen. It is far more difficult to catch a good liar than to catch a great golf swing.
When I took up the game any hope I might have had for turning professional was long past. As most wannabe golfers I decided one day to take up the game. I did the usual and went to the sporting goods store and bought myself all of the latest paraphernalia, loaded up my trunk, drove to the nearest driving range, plopped down a few dollars, took a bucket of balls up to the range, dumped them out onto the ground and began to immediately make a damned fool out of myself. At first I was quite embarrassed. Then I noticed that in the grand scheme of the company I was keeping, I fit right in. I spoke to a few guys and they offered me all sorts of advice. You’d think I was at a surgeon’s convention and had a cancerous mole the size of a golf ball on the end of my nose.
Oh they had all of the right answers. You had to “grip” the club just so, “stand to the ball” just so, you had to “turn”, “bend your knees” just so, “take the club back” just so, have a good “swing thought” (whatever the heck that is, my thought was “knock the hell out of it!”), then you had to “pivot” and drop the club into a “slot” and then BANG!...it was over in an instant. Did it work? No!
Well, I wasn’t discouraged. I went to the book store and bought instruction books. I went to the video stores and bought videos up the ying yang. I had a golf library within a month. Oh I had to also subscribe to every golf magazine too. My wife was ready to kill me, and rightly so. It was now an obsession to hit that little white ball.
I flailed at it like a monkey with a hatchet trying to crack a coconut. I looked like one too. Well if I couldn’t be a great player I at least had to look good. I watched every tournament every chance I got. I taped tournaments and would stay up until the wee hours of the morning trying to find out that “secret”. Hell, there just had to be one. Those guys on TV weren’t any bigger than me and made it all look so easy.
I finally relented. I did the unthinkable…I signed up to take golf lessons. Ah, now that just had to work. I was now paying big bucks and just like everything else, you could buy the secret. What could be easier? Oh, why didn’t I think of that before? How stupid of me.
I went back to the driving range and met with the instructor. He came highly recommended. He sounded just like the teacher I saw on the videos I had bought…and I had all of them. I knew each one of them by heart. Nothing escaped this attorney’s keen eye.
The golf swing was under the microscope and it was going to be conquered like it or not “Mr. Golf Swing”. Your butt was mine!
So what happened? I was still flailing away getting nowhere fast. The only thing that was getting better was my teacher’s bank account. If it wasn’t for putting, I would never have even broken 100. I beat my brains out. I would sneak out of the
office early and whack balls until dark night after night. Bang! Bang! Bang!...dribble…boink….clank. I stank.
One Sunday afternoon I went back up to the range and got 3 large buckets of balls. I looked like I should be on tour. I had the clothes, the best clubs, and a fancy staff bag with my name on it. The best golf balls…you name it. Golf was mine.
About half way through the first bucket of embarrassment I noticed that the person behind me was quietly hitting shots. I heard them before I actually looked at where they were going. I was convinced never to look at a crummy player as the bad habits might be contagious. I finally had to see just what was causing this sound of “bullets” coming from behind me.
There was a man in his mid to late 50’s in tattered clothes and leather skin wearing a sweat stained visor. He had an old golf bag that had his name on it and the clubs were “blades” which I knew from all of my study were only used by “pros” since they were impossible to hit. He was zipping shot after shot boring into the air. I was sure that he must be cheating some way. No one that I knew, other than the pros I had seen on TV came even close to what this man was doing. The ball bolted off of the clubface and pierced the air leaving a loud stinging sound in its wake. I shook my head. The man looked up for a second and said simply, “Hi.” I returned to splaying balls all over the place.
This continued for about another 10 minutes when finally I heard the man from behind me say, “Hey kid.” I said, “What?” He said, “You suck.” I slowly turned around and said, “Oh, Mr. Holmes I presume?” We both laughed. He said, “Kid, let me show you something.” I thought to myself, oh no here we go again. I politely declined but he insisted. He kept pressing me out of pity no doubt. I finally relented.
He asked me, “Kid, you ever heard of a man called Ben Hogan?” I said, “Sure, I have his books and some tapes of him.” He said, “Well kid, I was Ben’s only student. My name’s John, John Schlee.” I said, “Nice to meet you. Wow, you know Ben Hogan?” He smiled and said, “Yes. He taught me something many years ago and if you have a minute I’d like to show it to you too. But…”
And this was the big proviso “but”. “But kid, you can’t tell anyone about this until I’m dead and Mr. Hogan is dead. Promise?” I thought for a nano-second and said, “Hell yes!” He said, “You ever heard of ‘The Secret’?” I said, “Sure, everyone has heard of Mr. Hogan’s secret.” John smiled and said, “Well kid, it ain’t in them books you been readin’. Mr. Hogan never put it in the books. He swore me to secrecy and I’m breakin’ it. Don’t ask me why. I know I’m sick and no one will believe you anyway so here goes.”
And away we go… “You wanna know a ‘secret’?” Come on in for a minute. That’s all it will take.