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A Day in the rain with Joe Norwood – 1975

Gramps was 82 when I started going to him for golf lessons. I visited him only once at the driving range prior to me calling him in 1973. It was in the early 1960’s and I don’t remember much about that trip but my Dad never took me to get lessons and when I was able to drive, the thought just never occurred to me. My Dad didn’t discuss his fathers success with me ever, in fact up until 2009 my Dad always felt he knew more about the Joe Norwood Golf Swing than I did. Looking back it’s sad that my Father and Grandfather had a falling out at some point in their lives, this is best evidenced by the one and only Sunday my Father came out to Studio City when I was practicing with Gramp’s. Instead of sitting up close to Gramp’s, Dad sat on the back bench, that view, that moment still is so fresh in my memory.

It was a rainy day in February or thereabouts and I would always call my Grandfather to make sure he was going to the range. Little did I know going to the range was the only thing keeping him alive. It had not rained yet but the clouds were there so when Gramp’s said he would be at Rancho Park in Los Angeles I was surprised because he was not going to the range off of Moraga Drive. I got in my car and made the drive from San Gabriel to Los Angeles and saw him at the range with a small entourage. He always had an entourage with him, from 7 -10 golfers glistening on his knowledge.

It was my time to practice and take a lesson. At that time I was no one really special in the Joe Norwood Golf World as I had just been taking lessons from him for a little  over a year and was struggling with his swing. Learning a golf swing that is opposite of what feels comfortable was tough enough but add to it learning from an 83 year old man who not only taught slowly, one small move forward at a time but also talked in Bostonian english. I was frustrated many times.

Gramp’s was working me over and some guy whom I cannot recall started making comments on Gramp’s teachings to me and most likely it had to do with the seal of the wrists and rotation. I know at that moment I was having difficulty in making contact and hitting the ball correctly and this man spoke up and my Grandfather just went at him. He, point blank, told the guy that he had absolutely no knowledge of the golf swing at all and got up from his chair and started to form my body as if I were clay. I was slightly stunned at the time but went with the flow and as Gramp’s would put me into a position he would tell the man exactly why he was wrong and that the position I was in at the time was exactly perfect.

If I were clay I felt as hard as a rock but somehow Gramps at 83 got me into all the positions of the golf swing and told me to swing and of course the ball started to go perfectly straight. He would keep putting me into position and telling me to swing as if to prove to the fellow that not only was he wrong but that he should have kept his mouth shut in the first place.

That was the only time my Grandfather got angry and firm. How dare someone tell him how to teach and how dare he do it while teaching his Grandson. A day like that never occurred again. My earliest struggles were the seal of the wrists and laterally moving forward before my arms started down. I would move just a quarter to a half-inch forward and I kept hitting the ball somewhat thin. I used to get so angry that I could not hold my legs then one day years later he gave me the left leg into right thigh leg lock. I said: Gramp’s why didn’t you give this to me before? he replied; Danny, I gave it to you many times, this is the first time you listened, this is the first time you are ready for it. I didn’t move laterally ever again until impact.

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