As were all the instructors. Golf school was to teaching aids what the Pink Pussycat is to marital aids: a cornucopia of intriguing devices designed to broaden our horizons and increase our fulfillment. One of Flick's minions strapped a prosthetic-looking piece of plastic on my five-iron that forced me to cock my left wrist. Dana Rader had me putt over a long mirror that told me if my shoulder alignment was off, and if my nostril hair needed trimming. (Yes, and yes.)
At the end of his session Pelz sent us off on this less-than-optimistic note: "I can't imagine going to 10 different sessions with 10 different people, getting 10 different viewpoints," he said. "I don't know what that's going to do for your game."
"Actually, the instruction's been pretty consistent," said a man in front of me.
"Bull," whispered the guy to my immediate left. This was John from Orlando, and he was still chapped about how he had been treated in Flick's class the day before. Here's what happened: After watching John hit a few balls, Flick asked him what his handicap was. "I'm a five," said John.
"Wow," said Flick. "If you can have a swing that complex and be a five, you must be great around the greens. You must be a super athlete!"
When Flick was gone, John fumed, "He was questioning my handicap!"
Gee, John, ya think?
Next to John on the range was a short, intense man, 60-ish, with a brace on his left knee. When Flick remarked on his swing, Knee Brace replied—with some petulance, I thought—"This isn't my swing." In other words, this is the swing one of your lieutenants is forcing me to use.
Flick, God bless him, didn't miss a beat. "Why the hell'd you come down here if you didn't want to learn?" he asked. "Do you want us to have a pity party for you?"
Well, yes, Mr. Flick, I do. Because the more classes I took and the more coaching I absorbed, the more time I spent standing over the ball, fighting the paralysis that overtook me as I sifted through a myriad of swing thoughts. Soften the left hand (Forney). Stand tall (Flick). Dip the right shoulder (Bender). Hinge the right wrist at takeaway (Perpich, Flick). Hit the little white ball before the big green ball ( Pelz). Turn to your left after you toe a ball off a nearby golf bag, in hopes that people will think the shanker is your neighbor (Murphy).