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"So I hit me a shawndale out there..."

Legendary Sam Snead's quote in regards to his second shot on 18 at Riviera in the final round of the 1950 Los Angeles Open.
You know - a shawndale!

Read on for some clarification and insight from two of golf's all-time greats.  You may never be able to hit it like this beyond-dynamic duo, yet there are pieces from their physical, mental and emotional makeups that can help you better navigate the links, and daily sidewalks.  Shawndales, or not...

"I hit a great drive," Snead later recounted. "But I still didn't have a clear shot to the pin because of that big sycamore tree out there.  So I hit me a shawndale up there and hit it off the hill and onto the green about 12 feet away."
  The 18th hole at Riviera (pictured just above, and below), an uphill, 453-yard dogleg to the right, is among the most demanding finishing holes in golf. Snead needed a birdie to force the playoff that year with - who else - Ben Hogan.


He made the putt and forced the playoff, but rain the next day caused the postponement.   A week later, Hogan and Snead returned from the Crosby, which Snead had won. They no longer had to worry about rain, but a misty fog had settled over Riviera for their 18-hole playoff.  Snead won the playoff by shooting a 72, one over par, to Hogan's 76.

The Slammer's four-stroke playoff victory was anticlimactic. It was Hogan's comeback on one of his favorite courses that stirred the public.  'Twas early February 1949 when Hogan and his wife had their infamous accident that nearly killed them -and now less than a year after the horrific crash - Hogan was going to make his comeback at Riviera. In 1947 he won the Los Angeles Open at Riviera, then won it again in 1948. He won the United States Open that same year, again at Riviera, which was by then being called "Hogan's Alley."

See if you could do it

Because Hogan had such a great record at Riviera, he decided to enter the Los Angeles Open, just to see if he could do it. 

See if he could still play after breaking his pelvis in two places, his collarbone, his left ankle, multiple ribs, and suffering severe shock when his car collided with that Greyhound bus.

See if he could do it after a blood clot had developed in one of his legs due to phlebitis post-crash, and his very life was on the line.

See if he could do it after doctors told him he'd never play golf again, let alone at tournament level. 

See if he could do it after spending 58 days flat on his back and weighing in at a paltry 95 pounds.

Now you: something holding you back physically or emotionally?  I understand.  Cry Ben Hogan a river and remember the lines just above next time you're looking for excuses.  Complaining about your aches and pains.  Whining about how tough the course, and the conditions, are.

Instead, put your big boys & girls pants on, and see if you can do it.  And "it" starts with your intention - what you want.

Want something new on your back next trip to the links?  Click on the pair below for some ideas from Nike Golf.

"A lot of people didn't think he would be able to play very well, but I knew he would play well that week," Snead said, recalling the tournament. "Knowing Ben the way I did, I knew he would never be unprepared to play in a tournament. If he said he was ready to play, I knew he was ready to play great."

And so was "The Slammer," shawndales and all.  So.............................. just what is a shawndale, you ask (yet again), and how does one go about hitting one?

Why, it's a fade, ladies and gentlemen - you know - a flight where the ball drops gently to the right (for righty golfers).  No, no, no - not a slice, carp or left-to-right banana ball - a fade. 

Snead had it in his arsenal to the point where he could hit it under the gun, when it mattered.  And how did this hillbilly from West Virginia, who often practiced barefoot (I know - you need some golf boots to play, huh? Click on the black & white pic of #18 at The Riv just below, to find a pair to your liking), learn to hit that shawndale?  Why - by experience - how else (nothing has been learned until it has been experienced).  Trial. Error.  Failure.  Fluctuation.  Feedback (from the ball and his five, highly acute senses).  Found it!

Question for you: does your practice involve consequence, stress and large degrees of 'caring?'  Or is it more like a happy hour, where you're kibitzing with friends, mindlessly whacking ball after ball off of perfect lies, not an ounce of anxiety in your entire system?  And you wonder why this sort of training doesn't transfer to the golf course? 

I don't, it's why I created the Train2Trust programs; come for a taste sometime soon. 

The true master of the shawndale, however, was Hogan himself.  And of course, he learned to hit it with the aid of a Doppler-radar that tracked his golf ball, spontaneously producing, via a reverse algorithm, the projected club data at impact (off of a wonderfully flat, artificial surface).  I'm kidding, amigos - but let us not forget so quickly George Carlin's quote about 'stupid people' from my last missive :)

Both Hogan and Snead learned to hit golf shots through trial-and-error, using 'measuring systems' inherent to us all (your mind/body system..), in golf-like situations.  See if you can do it (here's a few hints)...

- Take a mid-length iron and go hit some nuggets trying to make the ball curve both ways.  You don't need a plug and play device, App, or blue-lit screen - it's all inside you already.  Trust me - it's largely how you've survived this long.

- Relate the motion to something else you already do well, like throwing a ball, or playing ping pong, tennis or racquetball.  No, it's not exactly the same motion or pattern, but it will help you develop a feel that is unique to you. 

- Get off the driving range and get onto the golf course.  Simulate true golf situations.  Replicate the environment - physical & mental - that you encounter when you play the game.  Practice golf shots (like shawndales) instead of golf swings. 

Ah... but what would our fav orange box spit it, re Hogan's patented shawndale, anyway?  Click on Mr. "See if I can do it" above to peruse an interesting piece on the question.

Coaching & Guidance


Now, let's see if you can do it:

- Improve your game

- Further enjoy the walk in the golf park

- Learn to hit a shawndale (and more) with the guru in you (and a bit of guidance)

I'm here to help.  At Eugene Country Club, or at a golf park near you.


"The ball did not so much fly from left to right and obviously curl off, as anyone else’s might. It traveled like someone struggling to enter a jam-packed subway train in New York or Tokyo, pushing against a mass of back muscles, rumps, and elbows; there was the slightest amount of give, but no penetration.”

- - Al Barkow on Ben Hogan's signature fade, from Golf’s Golden Grind

          ~ CS ~
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