Legendary golf instructor Bob Toski recently gave a clinic at the Hadley Golf Learning Center and I was there to watch and learn from this master teacher.
It was a stunningly beautiful night in Western Massachusetts that evening so it set the stage for a fun and insightful learning session.
I arrived about 5 (the clinic was to begin at 5:30pm) but the “Tosk” was already out here with a good crowd already mingling around him.
You can’t imagine this man is 86 years old! it’s mind boggling. He’s out there dancing around, hitting tricks shots, barreling ’em down the fairway about 230-40 or so. It was just amazing!
On to the the clinic – Mostly Mr. Toski is very strict about golf fundamentals. Line up square, hit it square. Open your stance, hit a cut. Close your stance, hit a draw. What I got in this segment is how important these fundamentals are. Give yourself a chance to hit solid golf shots, he mentioned.
Everybody wants the “quick fix,” the one golf tip that will turn it all around but if it were that easy we’d all be better, right?
One drill I saw him do was something I believe Harvey Penick endorsed as well and that is try to do slow-motion swings. Feel yourself getting into proper positions. Feel your hips open before they come whipping into the ball. Again, this is a drill that takes time and patience but one you might want to try.
In the end, Mr. Toski said golf is a pretty simple game but not an easy one. There are so many books and aids and all this stuff to distract you from the true fundamentals. Stick with those and practice. Yes, practice!
I love this quote by Bob:
Everything about golf is better today, except the sounds. The click of a persimmon driver striking one of those soft balata balls and the sound of steel spikes clattering across the parking lot were heavenly. The plink of titanium does nothing for me.
His wit is also as sharp as ever. He is ever the showman. He had the crowd laughing, cheering, interacting and more. I mean it’s quite a site to see this 86 year old pull a Happy Gilmore and run up to the ball and smack it miles down the fairway – now that’s golf entertainment!
He shared a couple of other funny one-liners. When a golfer asked him “How do I fix my swing,” he said, “You don’t have one!” When another asked, “What do you think of my execution” he said, “I’m in favor of it!”
Toward the end he took some questions and one of mine was, “What do you think has attributed to Ken Duke’s recent success?” That question launched him into about a 15 minute answer of how he worked with Ken.
One of the biggest changes was that he had to square up Ken’s address position. He came to him with a very open stance and was hitting everything with a cut. Hen mentioned he might have been doing this because of the rod in his back but once he got him to square up progress started to really happen.
I also noticed he mentioned that he started Ken out hitting real half shots with irons to groove this new position. He understood it was going to take some time. It wasn’t a quick fix.
If I were betting on golf my bet would be on Ken Duke to win even more PGA victories (and why not throw in a major – just for fun!) For more on Ken please check out my recent article on, Dreaming of Ken Duke.
It was kinda funny as I was reflecting on this later. You think the pros have such different issues as us amateurs have but simple things like alignment are also the very things that plague the pros as well. No different at all.
It was a great privilege attending this clinic. I mean how often can you chat with and learn from one of the greats of the game who played with Hogan, talked golf with some of the greats of the game and devoted his life to helping others enjoy the game.
Bob Toski is a member of both World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame and the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame.
Here are a few “Tosk” books you might want to add to your golf library: