Aggressive Golf Is Exciting and Perilous
Don’t Try This at Home
Those of us at a certain age have watched a lot of golf in the past few decades, and we’ve seen a lot of power hitters winning tournaments, and even more importantly, looking great doing it. Particularly for men as a group, putting a golf ball out of sight is satisfying at the most primitive level, and once in a while, you’ve just got to feel good at the primitive level. We are a species filled and beset by aggressive urges. The same ones that drive us to war drive us to competition once our more civilized brain has restored order. Aggressive golf is exciting and perilous…and did I mention, exciting? Oh, I did.
Men aren’t the only ones who get a major jolt out of tearing the cover off the ball. Women love it as well. And, as a parallel interest, there are some us, regardless of gender, who don’t like what we think of as mamby-pamby course management that excludes our risking a hernia every time there’s a driver in our hands. Of coure, we want to score well, but we don’t want to play lyrically and conservatively all the time. Tiger, Arnie, Jack, and George Bayer all got away with power hitting. Tiger, being an athlete, couldn’t have looked more perfect. Arnie looked like he was fighting Joe Louis with his bobbing and weaving, Jack’s disciplined swing mixed with a farm boy attitude made us believe that these guys weren’t worried about strategy. That was a thing you start thinking about from the second shot on. They were, instead, being aggressive.
Over on the LPGA, Lexi Thompson, who just won the LPGA Hana Bank Championship in Asia, refers to herself as an aggressive player. She is, without a doubt, a healthy hitter, but it continues through to the green for Thompson. Claiming that if she has 190 yards to go, she has no patience for laying up. Well, if it’s all right for her to do it, why can’t we?
There are numerous answers to that question, but one is that while we view the rough, or a bunker, or a lake, as trouble, someone like Lexi views them all in a different way, just another shot in the repertoire. She professes to outright enjoyment at hitting flop shots out of the rough. Get that, weekenders? The rough is fun for her. For us, it’s still trouble.
Confirmations of that reality keep coming and coming. I asked my scratch brother why Tiger, Jack, Arnie…and yes, George Bayer, could get away with that. He said, “Look (little brother). They’ve developed a sensitivity and self-knowledge in this game that you and I are never going to develop. Along with the fine-tuning, knowledge, discipline, and skill, is the ability to utterly over-swing and still survive it, maybe even turn it into an asset.” He suggested that I would have to find what club speed I could between 10 and 2, because wild, chaotic swinging over my head and opposite shoulder was going to produce wild and chaotic shots – which is precisely what they did. Aggressive wasn’t good for me.
Still, I wanted it, and persisted through my entire youth, never giving myself the chance to calm and refine the swing. Even at my present age, the urge to outdrive my younger, stronger colleagues burns bright. And speaking of course management, there are two ways to proceed, according to my brother. Number one – you want to score? Strategize and manage away. Plan three shots ahead like a chess game. There’s good reality in that, but number two is equally valid. “You’re not going to win the British Open, no matter what you do. You won’t win or lose any money. So just grip it and rip it. Exercise you’re warrior self.” I, for one, thought that the lecture was a bit “aggressive,” and I still don’t know what to do next weekend.