Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Warning: prospective golf story

What follows is a story I've submitted to the major golf magazines. I just got my hair cut by a woman who asked what I did for a living. I've been leaning more and more toward just saying, "worm farmer," anytime anyone asks what I do.

And it's true. I am a worm farmer. I took a vermiculture class a couple of years ago. Vermiculture is a recycling procedure where a big bin of dirt and worms are used to recycle discarded food stuffs like uneaten vegetables, tea bags and shredded newspapers. I'm an avid recycle and love this aspect of the game. The harvested worm poo makes a great, nutrient-rich fertilizer for other plants.

Plus, for the past two years I've been invited to my daughter's school to discuss the project. If it keeps up, in the eyes of some of the children I'll always be the "worm farmer guy."

That's much better than what I told the haircutter. To her, I said, "Well, I'm a writer. I work for a bunch of magazines and get rejected by the rest. I write about travel, interesting people, trends, restaurants and I do a lot of golf stuff. I work with Arnold Palmer and have covered some major tournaments. Most of the time I'll just come up with a story and try and submit it to magazines. If they pass on it -- and they almost always do -- I usually just dump it on the orphanage page at my website,"

At this point, I glanced up in the mirror and saw she was looking for a sharp instrument to jab into her eye as punishment for bothering to ask.

But I know some of my regular readers (Hiya, Ronnie!) are as avid about golf as I am about worm farming. For his and your benefit, here's an unedited story about an unusual practice swing I'd heard about.

So if you don't like golf or are that poor woman who had to cut my hair, you'd better click off right now. Either way, you've been warned or "wormed," as it were.

"Super fast improving through super slow-motion practice swings!"

I’m like most busy golfers in that I’ll devote countless hours to range work, but I’m too impatient to give even a measly minute to a tedious training technique that just might revolutionize golf.

It’s the super slow-motion golf swing. I learned about it at Wintergreen Golf Academy in Virginia where I was told that reducing my golf swing to one full minute would bestow the physical and neurological benefits of smacking 1,000 range balls.

One minute. Sixty seconds. I shared the revelation with friends who greeted it with ridicule. “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. You must have made a mistake.”

I checked with the super slo-mo swing’s chief promoter, renown teacher and former tour player Mike Malaska, and he told me my buddy was correct. I had made a mistake.

“Actually, it’s a three-minute swing. One minute for the back swing, one for the downswing and one for the follow through.”

You won’t find many beginner’s licenses out on the Autobahn, but we all practice the golf swing with our foot slammed on the accelerator. In fact, most practice ranges are populated by golfers who resemble lumberjacks. They thoughtlessly swing at the ball-after-ball like woodsmen eager to split all the logs before the last bowl of Dinty Moore’s gone.

The result is that most range practice simply reinforces bad habits and makes it harder than ever to improve.

The super-slow motion swing rewires the brain so that a lifetime of bad habits are thoughtfully displaced by exemplary ones. The drill is based on the wisdoms of Tai Chi martial arts that seeks to focus the mind solely on movements of the form to bring about mental calm and clarity.

“The results are dramatic,” says Malaska who daily practices the three phases of the swing in three five-minute increments. “I’ve seen guys go from shooting 100s to 70s in one year. I have made more progress with my swing under pressure in one year than in all my years on tour.”

Malaska says it’s hard to convince golfers to commit to the swing. Your friends, none of whom wants you to get any better, will make fun of you, as did mine. But an even more ruthless adversary stands in the way. My own mind brims with an impatience for anything in these days of instant messaging . . . that . . . deliberately . . . moves . . . so . . . slowly.

I’ve tried it in the quiet of my own back yard. My self-timing mind rushed through the whole swing in 45 seconds. When I vainly try and stretch it out to three minutes, I feel like Rory Sabbatini’s going to rush out of the woods and take a swing at me for slow play.

But I vow to stick with it. Years of beating balls on the practice range have done nothing to improve my game, something I desperately want to do.

I believe in the wisdom behind the super-slow motion swing. I have the motivation to master it. Now, if I could only find the time.


Amy said...

Hey Chris! I didn't know you were a worm farmer! I recently killed a whole batch of redworms trying to get them established in a composter thingiee. Haven't had the time to try and figure out where my experiment went wrong, but it seems to have headed south sometime during the winter. How much cold can they stand?

Eastside Business said...

I'm a worm farmer too Chris (as well as a hair farmer) and am much more interested in vermiculture than golf (although I was on the winning team in the first and only golf tournament I participated in).