Lee Trevino owns his swing, and here’s how that came to be.
When he was a younger man — before he was PGA Tour rookie of the year in 1967, before he won 29 Tour events, including six majors — he worked on a driving range. And often, instead of picking up balls, he’d walk to where they’d landed and hit them back from whence they came.
“The greatest way in the world to learn shot-making is to help the driving range guy, is go out there on the driving range with one club and go around and around in a golf cart and hit balls back to the center of the range,” he said Wednesday, speaking at Belfair Plantation at a financial seminar sponsored by Cherrington Brotsky Conscious Capital.
It’s unclear if the 100-plus folks in the crowd knew they were in for a free golf lesson, but they got one — and some stand-up comedy.
Here are the highlights, and how you can start to own your own swing:
1. Get the (right) shaft, or you’ll get the shaft
“That’s the important thing about a golf club,” Trevino said of the shaft. “It’s not the lie — the lie on a club has a lot to do with the irons — but the most important thing ... is you gotta have the right shaft.”
Mass-produced clubs, even good ones, will have cheap shafts, he said. So instead, invest some time and money with a TrackMan, a device that measures different parts of your swing. Then, use that data to get the right equipment.
Cheap shafts might cost $7 — one Trevino regularly uses is $400.
“I have one that’s $1,000,” he said.
Folks in the crowd whistled.
“Yeah,” he said. “I just talk about it — I don’t use it.”
“’Cause somebody’ll steal it. And that’s my department, stealing it.”
2. Chipping with a rubber band
“The secret to being a good chipper is ... once the club is back, you want to react like there’s a rubber band tied to that club face and that ball,” Trevino said. “And when you take (the club) back, you have stretched that rubber band, and you let it go and ... ”
WHACK! A good shot, every time ... if you do the following:
▪ play the ball back in your stance; the shorter the shot, the farther back you should play it
▪ bend your knees and bring your legs close together, like skiers do when they’re making slight side-to-side adjustments as they jet down a mountain
▪ assuming you’re right-handed, align your left big toe with your right heel and turn your left foot toward the target — not directly at the target, but maybe 45 degrees from it
▪ your weight should be on the left side of your body, which creates a steeper swing, which, in turn, allows you to hit down on the back of the ball
▪ don’t try to flip, or scoop, the ball into the air
“That’s why the (wedge) has 60 degrees of loft on it,’ Trevino said, driving his point home.
Trevino said the 60-degree wedge was the worst thing to happen to the game — a tongue-and-cheek remark.
You didn’t need all that loft in the past, he said, because the ball wouldn’t fall off the green. But nowadays, the way courses are designed ... well, it’s a different story.
3. Hard shots from hard sand, and soft sand
Three basic things, from Trevino’s perspective:
▪ hit down on the ball
▪ don’t aim whatever number of inches behind the ball — aim at the back of the ball
▪ realize there’s always going to be a cushion of sand on your club face, and the quicker the sands falls off the face, the shorter your shot
If the sand is soft, play the ball forward in your stance.
To keep sand on the club face for as long as possible, try snapping it closed as soon as you feel it make contact with the ball.
For buried lies, pretend you’re using your hand and chopping — almost straight down — a cue ball on a pool table, which creates backspin and pops the ball from the bunker.
“First time I played with my wife and she couldn’t get out of the sand,” Trevino said. “ And I taught her that — 19 in a row she got out.”
Oohs and ahs from the crowd.
“Yeah,” Trevino said, smiling, manufacturing a dramatic pause.
“That was the greatest week I ever spent in Palm Spring, I tell ya.”
Bonus Lee Trevino quotes
On not standing over the ball too long before swinging: “I played that way because I used to slip on the golf course and I wanted to play as many holes as I could before they caught me.”
On putters: “The third (most important club, behind the wedge and the driver) is the putter — if you ever get on the green. You can’t say it’s a real important club if you don’t get on the green in time. ... But putters are like kittens, you know. You know ... if you’ve ever had a litter of cats, they’re born and they’re blind. You go in that pro shop — you can’t putt with your putter — you go in that pro shop and you buy a putter and take it on the (practice) putting green and you make everything with it. It’s like a kitten, now: You buy it, (a) week later it opens its eyes and recognizes you, (and) you’ll never make another putt again.”
On social media: “I’ve never been into that. ... I have a flip phone. ... Right now it’s in the suitcase, I don’t even carry it with me. I leave it in my golf bag most of the time.”