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FORE January/February 2013 : Page 16

RANGE TOKENS +LWWKH 'DPQ%DOO very guy gets a nickname from his friends. They might just shorten your last name or call you by your initials. Or they could do what my golfi ng buddies did to me. Call me Sergio. I didn’t like or want the nickname, but a guy doesn’t really have a say in the matter. Worst part is, I deserved it. I gave my friends a lot of time to use it at each tee box while I stood over the ball, hoping, trying and begging to pull the club back. But I just couldn’t do it. Maybe I was running too many swing thoughts through my head. Maybe I was running too many life thoughts through my BY MARK WILLARD ( not on a golf course. At that speed, you have little chance to play well, meaning you have a good chance of being in a bad mood afterward. And try taking that bad mood home to the wife when she’s been watching the kids all day so you can golf. Goes over like a cop at a house party. The point is the speed of your round is one of THE most important aspects of the day. But it’s not the aspect I think about when I stretch out on the fi rst tee. Personally, I think harder about whether I want a dog or a turkey sando at the turn than I do about what I can do to keep my pace high. But that’s probably a mistake. AT A CERTAIN POINT IN THE PROCESS, I HAD TO SAY TO MYSELF “ THE SAME THING THAT DUDE IN NEW YORK SAID TO SERGIO. ” head. But honestly, who knows. If I knew, I would have stopped. In 2002, Sergio Garcia inspired a fan at Beth-page Black to yell, “hit the damn ball, Sergio.” Now, the fan was a New York fan, so the comment was just typical dinner table conversation for this guy. But it became a moment in time, and a turning point for Sergio. He no longer re-grips his club 30 times before swinging. I wonder how he stopped. I can only guess that he did it the same way I did. Every golfer knows which courses in his or her area are the “six-hour round” courses. Sometimes a trip to the DMV seems tame when compared to a tee time at 10 a.m. that has you telling the wife you might be home for dinner. Pace of play is probably the most underrated aspect of amateur golf. I love spending six hours with friends, but I had to work very hard at the range to get rid of my re-grips. My waggles. My head bobs. At a certain point in the process, I had to say to myself the same thing that dude in New York said to Ser-gio. Hey, hit the damn ball. I was embarrassed into it. I was slowing down everyone’s round, which means I was the cause of that bad mood the guy behind me was bringing home to his wife. Try not to spend 10 minutes looking for your ball. Try not to let a bet make you think your round is more important than the other guy on the course. And above all, just hit the damn ball. ■ You can catch Mark Willard on ESPNLA (710AM) weekday mornings from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. where he gives instant reactions on the hottest topics in Los Angeles-based sports. 16 | FORE Magazine | JANUAR Y/FEBRUAR Y 2013 SCGA.ORG

Range Tokens

Mark Willard

<br /> Hit the Damn Ball<br /> <br /> Every guy gets a nickname from his friends. They might just shorten your last name or call you by your initials. Or they could do what my golfing buddies did to me. Call me Sergio.<br /> <br /> I didn’t like or want the nickname, but a guy doesn’t really have a say in the matter. Worst part is, I deserved it. I gave my friends a lot of time to use it at each tee box while I stood over the ball, hoping, trying and begging to pull the club back. But I just couldn’t do it. Maybe I was running too many swing thoughts through my head. Maybe I was running too many life thoughts through my head. But honestly, who knows. If I knew, I would have stopped.<br /> <br /> In 2002, Sergio Garcia inspired a fan at Bethpage Black to yell, “hit the damn ball, Sergio.” Now, the fan was a New York fan, so the comment was just typical dinner table conversation for this guy. But it became a moment in time, and a turning point for Sergio. He no longer re-grips his club 30 times before swinging. I wonder how he stopped. I can only guess that he did it the same way I did.<br /> <br /> Every golfer knows which courses in his or her area are the “six-hour round” courses. Sometimes a trip to the DMV seems tame when compared to a tee time at 10 a.m. that has you telling the wife you might be home for dinner. Pace of play is probably the most underrated aspect of amateur golf. I love spending six hours with friends, but not on a golf course. At that speed, you have little chance to play well, meaning you have a good chance of being in a bad mood afterward. And try taking that bad mood home to the wife when she’s been watching the kids all day so you can golf. Goes over like a cop at a house party.<br /> <br /> The point is the speed of your round is one of THE most important aspects of the day. But it’s not the aspect I think about when I stretch out on the first tee. Personally, I think harder about whether I want a dog or a turkey sando at the turn than I do about what I can do to keep my pace high. But that’s probably a mistake.<br /> <br /> I had to work very hard at the range to get rid of my re-grips. My waggles. My head bobs. At a certain point in the process, I had to say to myself the same thing that dude in New York said to Sergio. Hey, hit the damn ball. I was embarrassed into it. I was slowing down everyone’s round, which means I was the cause of that bad mood the guy behind me was bringing home to his wife.<br /> <br /> Try not to spend 10 minutes looking for your ball. Try not to let a bet make you think your round is more important than the other guy on the course. And above all, just hit the damn ball.<br /> <br /> You can catch Mark Willard on ESPNLA (710AM) weekday mornings from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. where he gives instant reactions on the hottest topics in Los Angeles-based sports. <br />

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