POTOMAC -- Usually, when a tour golfer contemplates a change in his game, be it moving his left hand three degrees to the left or changing his ball from a Titleist 2 to a Titleist 3, he scampers off to seclusion with his pro and several advisors and a slow, painstaking process begins.
Then there's Bill Glasson.
'Tis said if the spirit moves him, the defending champion of the Kemper Open coming to the TPC course at Avenel in a couple of weeks will make an adjustment in the middle of his backswing.
While this may not make Glasson completely unique in the golfing fraternity, it does mark him as unusual in that Bill has never been what you'd call a play-it-safe kind of guy.
"In this game," he says, "there's a lot of money to be made, and a guy can make a very comfortable living sticking with the percentages. I'm not knocking that. But, frankly, I don't want to be in the middle of the pack. I'd just as soon try things and take a shot at the top than just continue to struggle along."
No doubt this is the attitude that rescued Glasson from oblivion as far as a golf career was concerned when he was struck with severe lower back problems in 1990. Making matters worse was a pair of knees that have required almost as much work as those belonging to Joe Namath.
To that point, things had been going well for Glasson, a two-time All-American from Oral Roberts University who broke onto the tour in 1984. His first tournament victory came at this same Kemper Open, played in 1985 at the Congressional Country Club. A few years later, Bill reached the 30th and 19th spot on the money list while winning three tourneys.
The bad times turned to good last year at Avenel when Glasson tacked a 68 to earlier rounds of 69-68-71 and left John Daly, Howard Twitty, Mike Soringer and Ken Green just a shot back as he was registering his fifth tour win.
"I'm aware golf is mostly mental," continued Bill, "but I'm not really into sports psychology. What a psychologist tells you, in effect, is to believe and keep on believing. When I'm aiming for a tree, for instance, and I've spent the day not coming close to the things I've been aiming at, why should I have a lot of confidence that I'm going to be successful this time?
"What I've always looked for on the golf course is a feel; a feeling that will give me the shot I'm looking for. I've been off for a couple of weeks, but the last tourney I played in, I putted cross-handed one hole, then went back to the conventional style the next. It just felt right."
To date this season, Glasson has made the cut in all tournaments entered, posted a couple of top 10 finishes and had his most successful West Coast swing ever, winning more than $100,000 in four stops. He's been off lately, wanting to head back to this area to work on some things with his coach, teaching pro Kent Clancy of Congressional.
He says, "If Kent was caddying for me in the tournament, chances are we'd be changing stuff on every hole.
"The way I see it, there's no disgrace in trying different approaches and failing. But, if I didn't, I could see myself waking up some morning at 50 years old and feeling bad that I didn't at least try. If you're struggling along, what's to be lost if you do some experimenting and it doesn't work out. You miss the cut. I'd just as soon that happen because then I'd be off on the weekend and working on something."
* Players will compete for $1.3 million at the Kemper Open May 23-26 and charities will benefit to the tune of $300,000 from the tourney, making this area one of the prized stops on the PGA Tour. Yet, "in its infinite wisdom," as tournament director Ben Brundage puts it, "the tour has moved us up a couple of weeks to a spot in the middle of two tournaments in Texas."
After playing in Atlanta this week, the PGA hits Fort Worth (May 13-16), then doubles back after the Kemper to Dallas (May 27-30). The Texas cities are 30 miles apart.
Besides the early date working against the Avenel layout being in top shape due to the delayed growing season, placing the Washington stop in the midst of the swing through the Southwest doesn't do much to assure a top-flight field.