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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mickey Wright Talks About Feel

So far this month I've given you a lot of thoughts from great male golfers. Now it's the ladies' turn... and I can think of no one better to start with than Mickey Wright.

Mickey Wright will be 75 in a couple of months, so most of us are a bit young to have seen her play. But she's 2nd in all-time wins with 82 LPGA wins (just 6 behind leader Kathy Whitworth) and 13 majors (just 2 behind leader Patty Berg). Ben Hogan reportedly said she had the best swing he'd ever seen. This is a woman who knows a little about hitting a golf ball!

Back in 1962 she wrote a book called Play Golf the Wright Way. The book is slim and loaded with pictures, but the text is an interesting look at a woman who might have been the John Daly of her day. She believed in hitting the ball as hard as she possibly could, a task she undertook with what she called "jaw-clinching determination." I plan to share several of Wright's thoughts on the game because she just isn't talked about like the other legends. Today I'd like to look at something she said about feel:
When I was twelve years old, I was given a copy of Patty Berg's golf book. Every night when I went to bed, I'd study the illustrations of Patty's swing and try to imagine myself in the various positions.

How does she feel when she does that? I'd ask myself. Then I'd visualize myself swinging and feeling the same way. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was forming a "good study habit," for subconsciously I was conditioning my mind and my muscles to react in a given circumstance. (p.9)
This pretty much a standard method for improvement these days, and you may note that it's similar to what I've been recommending you do. What amazes me is that this was the instinct of a 12-year-old; that would have been 1947. (Wright was born in 1935.) Is it any wonder that this child became one of the game's greats?

For most of us, it's too cold to go out and play. That doesn't mean you can't take Mickey Wright's advice and hit the mental practice range. Look what it did for her!


  1. After the lights go out and I'm laying in bed each night, I visualize Ruthless Chipping as I fall asleep, but I can't figure out whether to use an eight or a nine iron. Oh, the dilemma!

  2. I'm glad to know you're visualizing from such a fine instructional piece, Diane! ;-) If you're really having a problem, I'd suggest taking the speed of the green into account - on fast greens, take the nine; on slow greens, take the eight. Maybe that will help you determine which feels best.

    BTW, thanks for buying my book. And sweet dreams!

  3. Right before it got cold here I had the opportunity to play one round with each. The results were inconclusive, but not problematic. I really like the concept though, because it's even more elegantly simple than what I had been using (60*, PW, 7i).

    One of these days I'll email you my thoughts on the putting book.

  4. I'll look forward to hearing from you. After all, the only way I can improve the book is if I get feedback. The idea was to create something inexpensive that would help players improve without the need to buy costly training aids. With the economy like it is, that cash is needed for greens fees!

    I've gotten some positive response, but for the most part I can only hope it's been helpful.