In this issue, I’d like to share with you insights from a book written by Bob Hill, someone I met while visiting the PGA Fall Expo last September in Las Vegas. Hill’s The Left Hand in the Golf Swing is a discussion of athleticism, cross-training and golf. Don’t be confused by the title, this book is not simply focusing on every golfer’s left hand. Rather, the author examines the non-dominant hand, which for me would be my right hand since I golf from the left side.
Hill explains that most golfers swing the club with a dominant right hand because 90 percent of the population is right-handed. Thus, developing strength and manipulative dexterity in the hand that handles the butt of the club is the key to improvement. “Enhanced ability there (in that hand) will naturally bring talent to one’s game,” says Hill.
This brief treatise on the game we love to hate is delivered from the author’s personal experiences and sprinkled with bits of wisdom from Ted Williams, Ozzie Smith and Jack Nicklaus.
Hill suggests that in gradually strengthening the off hand, golfers will add finesse to their short game and variation to shot selection. “It’s amazing how when one’s talent progresses, mountains turn into molehills,” says Hill, who played junior college tennis and earned a journalism degree at the University of Florida in 1980.
“I’ve dogmatically sought to make my left hand as good as my right hand,” says Hill. “I believe that as the left improves, so does the golf game.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Although an avid golfer, Hill suggests, in his book, that building non-dominant hand strength can be achieved through other sports and activities as well, including tennis, handball, baseball and Frisbee, and by switching hands to accomplish simple daily tasks such as eating, brushing teeth and buttoning a button.
Much of what Hill suggests is nothing more than routine physical practice en route to increasing strength and dexterity in the off hand. However, the mental aspect of golf cannot be overlooked. Hill says, “We cannot become worse if we diligently seek to improve the fundamentals. We can only become better, first and always, in our minds.”
Improving your game, though, is a double-edged sword: The better you get, the tougher it is. Hill says that if it were any other way, they wouldn’t call it golf. Spell “golf” backwards and you’ll understand why.
Remember: It shall be done unto you as you believe. You can hunker down on it, frowning, and call it work, or you can smile the whole way and call it a game.
Great Year-Round Course
The one thing that stands out after playing Horseshoe Lake Golf Course (besides the cart girls in chaps!) is the wild ride on the back nine. Collectively, the entire course in Port Orchard, Washington, is quite challenging. But the final nine holes, with their steep terrain and winding fairways, require a cart, whether you want one or not.
There are a lot of great holes at Horseshoe Lake, although there isn’t any one hole in particular that has the distinction of being “the” signature hole, according to head pro Chris Morris. However, many who have played the course a number of times, like Kenny Clauson of Gig Harbor, Washington, have deemed a stretch of holes—13, 14 and 15—as falling into that category. “I never get tired of playing these holes,” says Clauson. “They are always a challenge.”
Though the front nine is gently rolling, you could compare the back nine to a thrilling roller-coaster ride.
For example, number 13 is a tricky par 3, measuring 191 yards from the blue tees and 160 yards from the whites. Golfers must walk to the front of the tee box to assess the layout before hitting because this is a blind hole; you cannot see the pin from the tee box. It’s also treacherous to the right, which drops into Minter Creek. To the left is a very steep and wooded slope above the green. Simply put, you need to be a straight shooter on this one.
After 13, a steep twisting cart path leads you to the 14th hole, which is a short par 4 at 365 yards from the blues and 355 from the whites. The elevated tee, wide canyon and gradually rising fairway will keep you in check. The hole bends left, while the fairway slopes to the right. Anything hit right of center will probably find the woods.
The 15th isn’t any less forgiving. This par 4, 377-yarder (345 yard from the whites) requires precision on the drive. With a serious dogleg left, golfers must aim for the 150-yard marker on the left of the rising fairway. According to Clauson, after you find your distance from the green, you should take two clubs less to accommodate the descent to the green.
The 6,120-yard Horseshoe Lake Golf Course opened in the summer of 1992. Its theme from the beginning has always incorporated a touch of the Old West. For example, cart girls wear chaps—when it’s not too hot out. And marshals ride horseback—really. Keeping with the theme is the Lucky Horseshoe Restaurant and Saloon, which is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And the entire staff is downright hospitable.
Located in south Kitsap County just 20 minutes from Tacoma, Horseshoe Lake is an excellent year-round course. Over the last four years, regulars have noted that several of the fairways have been widened—a pleasing note to many an amateur golfer.
Green fees are quite reasonable at Horseshoe Lake. Average prices are less than $30 during the week for 18 holes, including a cart on the back nine. Prices fluctuate slightly throughout the year, however.
For more information, contact Horseshoe Lake Golf Course at (253) 857-3326 for the pro shop and (253) 857-3784 for the restaurant or see www.HLgolf.com.
Rick Stedman is an avid RVer, golfer and writer who lives in Yakima, Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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