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How Golf Digest helped me get a hole-in-one

The evening before I hit my hole in one, I was on the can reading the latest issue of Golf Digest. There was a Jack Nicklaus tip from Jim Flick. It seems that Jack used to tell Jim that rather than lining up the club perpendicular to the intended target line, he let the club open up about a quarter of an inch since the club was resting about a quarter of an inch behind the ball at address. If the club was lined up perpendicular, it makes sense to think that the clubface would be closed at contact causing a hook. Just before I took the club back for my fateful swing, I looked down to make sure I had lined up the club face the way Jack had suggested.

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On Saturday June 16, 2007, I got my first hole-in-one. It was at the par 3 13th at Royal Ashburn. The tee was set up at 155 yards and the stick had a middle (red) flag. I grooved a beautiful 6 iron that had a gentle draw. The hole was cut behind a mound so I didn`t see where it ended up. I knew the ball had to be close. One of my playing partners was off to the right and said Å“I think it went in. But she wasn`t sure and I wouldn`t let myself believe. I walked up to the green with my normal pace but craned my neck to see how many balls were there. The closer I got the more green I saw. When I finally realized that I only saw two balls and could account for whose they were, a huge smile broke out across my face. I let one of my other playing partners check the hole and when he confirmed the hole-in-one, I threw a fist up in the air and began high-fiving all around.

I shot a 78 on Saturday with three bogeys coming in and three lip outs on the front nine. It was the best round I have ever played at Royal Ashburn. More importantly, it was the best and most consistent ball striking I have ever experienced.

I have been determined to increase my distance and accuracy off the tee so I started to take a series of lessons with the club pro, Frank Corby about 6 weeks. He helped me with my alignment and shoulder turn which was a major reason my swing has come together. My biggest problem now was getting to a good finishing position. But it was last Friday morning, on the way to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls, that I had a swing epiphany “ I get those every once and a while.

It occurred to me on that drive to the golf course that rather than trying to hit the ball as hard as I can, I should only swing as fast as I need to get to a strong finished position. I went through my entire set and discovered that that speed was different for every club so I needed to make sure the rhythm worked for whatever club I help in my hands. And for the most part it worked.

When I showed up at the course on Saturday morning, I was determined to keep the one swing thought in my head and not over swing with any club. As you can see, it worked out well. Hopefully it stays with me this weekend. Fingers crossed.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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