A young Jackie Burke, Jr. pictured above. A still young Jackie Burke, Jr. pictured with yours truly below Monday last, on his home turf at Champions Golf Club in Houston.
Who dat, you ask - and how in the name of "cow pasture pool" (that's what golf was called when Burke and pal Jimmy Demaret - featured in painting in background - founded Champions in 1957) can this forever young man help you in your games of golf, and life? 96 ways - that's the number of years Mr. Burke has roamed the earth - if not more. Not to worry though, oh-so busy 'making a living' boys & girls (Mr. Burke has been more preoccupied with making a difference over the decades), nary a few drops of wisdom - knowledge and information are cheap, BTW, and not always helpful - to follow from our chat in his office:
"And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true.
To get started, however, how 'bout a tune for young and old alike, courtesy of ever shaggy-haired Rod Stewart. The lyrics fit nicely with the insight you'll glean from multiple major winner and golf Oracle, Jackie Burke, Jr....
"May the Good Lord be with ya down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you're far from home"
Burke was in the house of the 'Good Lord' not long before he teed it in the final round of the 1956 Masters. To the point of having only 15 minutes to warm up that fateful day. Less physical warm up, OK - but what do you think his state of mind was upon arriving? Stressed, head still at the workplace or stuck in gridlock? Or, thankful just to be playing the ball-chasing game with stick in hand (at Augusta National, or your home golf park)? You choose; Burke did, and made up an eight-stroke deficit to win the green jacket.
JB: "God only gave us 10 rules, but the USGA managed to come up with 34..."
Sunshine and happiness? Not on that day... the wind blew like hell and Burke was one of only two players to break par that day. Guess his four year stint in the Marines helped with his physical and mental toughness.
JB: "Your clubs don't know if it's raining. Don't blame outside influences for your failure, or give them too much credit when you succeed. Just make a point of being 100% accountable for your actions."
And do unto others as you'd have done to you."
Proud and dignified fo sho when he accepted the green jacket for his victory, above. Yet Mr. Burke stressed multiple times during our conversation that "golf isn't supposed to make you someone..."
And the blazer: give me the name of the person handing it to him - as well as the three other gentlemen in closest vicinity to the new champion - and I'll offer an hour of my time to help you or a loved one with your game. Guess and mistake the identities (you only get 1 try, like when playing golf) - and you owe me my hourly fee. Deal? Whaaaa... afraid of a little wager? Some pressure and consequence? Burke wasn't:
JB: "Stomping around in search of a sprinkler head that has "162" stamped on it is a complete waste of time. Before they invented the 150-yard marker, we used a formula that worked better than numbers. Determine what club you'd need to use — with $1,000 riding on it — to fly the ball over the green. You have to be honest with yourself: There's $1,000 at stake, so you better not underclub. If that club is a 6-iron, simply take one club less — the 7-iron — and hit it firmly or softly depending on whether the hole is front, middle or back. The formula never fails. It also teaches you feel, touch and a sense for wind and elevation. One more thing: It'll cut half an hour off your round."
"May good fortune be with you, may your guiding light be strong,
Build a stairway to heaven with a prince or a vagabond."
Or maybe a Stone Age Hunter.
JB: "The first athlete was the Stone Age Hunter. You have to admire him. When he ventured into the jungle with only a crude spear, he either killed something or his family starved. So this fellow developed some serious skills.
He used patience, stealth, alertness, experience, and intuition. When the primitive hunter threw a spear at his prey, there's no question he finished with his weight on his left foot and followed through. The forward part of the golf swing is a throwing motion, plain and simple. It's all fairly natural, and it doesn't do much good overthinking the process. Stone Age man was fairly unconcerned with swing plane. He just performed."
Coaching & Guidance
You? Under-performing? In need of developing some 'serious' skills? Overthinking the process?
I can help. At Eugene Country Club, or a golf park near you.
"The game is growing all right — just look at the stomach of your basic country club member. The emphasis on food in clubs is just unbelievable. The chef is praised or vilified more than the head pro."
- - Jackie Burke, Jr.
~ CS ~