It's another golf season and another search for the elusive perfect golf swing.
Even before snow melts on Carroll County courses, golfers are inundated with ways and means to achieve better scores for the new season. Never before has the game offered so much information for pupils to study.
Videotapes, lessons on television, newspaper and magazine articles overflow with suggestions. Clinics and classes are available by club professionals for players of all levels.
Besides all this, there are the unavoidable tips pushed by everyone from commentators on the PGA tour to the guys at the end of the club house locker room. All are well intended, but not always helpful. In fact, some of them can be downright damaging.
Bill Horney, head professional at Wakefield Valley, always is amused to overhear a 100-plus golfer offering tips to a 110 shooter.
"Some advice should not be taken too seriously," warned Horney. Among them are: keep your head down during the swing; swing with a stiff left arm; open the clubface for sand shots; make a change in your grip; and swing harder to get more distance.
"While keeping your head down during the swing can be a means of preventing a player from looking up too early, it can at the same time ruin the swing's rhythm," he said. "A firm left arm is acceptable to a point, but the swing would be destroyed without some break of the elbow.
"Again, there is some merit to opening the clubface in sand, but except for accomplished players, it causes high-handicappers to shank the shot. When making even the slightest change of grip, a golfer's natural tempo can be wrecked. Swinging harder doesn't always produce more distance. The player would be better off working for control to get longer drives."
Besides the written word, some new visual golf gimmicks are displayed on TV this season. Among them is a putter that stands on its own. The idea is that the player stands the putter up behind the ball, then steps back to see if the alignment is correct with the hole.
He then repeatedly steps back to assess the alignment before taking his stance over the ball. One wonders with so much emphasis on a faster pace of golf, how much this putter will impede progress.
Another much-advertised TV gimmick is a training swing that attaches the player's driver to an elaborate overhead metal frame. A swivel allows the clubhead to swing in what is said to be the perfect arc.
New director at Bear Creek
Gil Taylor of Hanover has been named new director of golf at the Bear Creek Course.
The 30-year-old Taylor will have complete charge of planning the club's tournament program this year. Included will be two new men's industrial leagues.
Teeing off in sunnier climes
Groups of Piney Branch members are taking off for southern trips.
A troupe of 20 now is at Jekyl Isle in Georgia. Another group of 16 is booked in Arizona this month and 30 more are scheduled at Fox Fire, N.C., on March 30.
A group of Piney Branch golfers participated at Myrtle Beach earlier this winter.
Qualifying for Wakefield
As soon as the snow melts, qualifying will begin for places on the Wakefield team for the Maryland State matches.
A 12-man team will be made up of Bill Horney, the winner and runner-up of the club's stroke play championship, the winner and runner-up of the match play championship, one player at large, plus six more through 54 holes of qualifying.