NAPLES — I thought a long time about my column topic this week. The clear choice would have been the opening event on the PGA Tour and the upcoming season. However, my heart led me back to two dear friends. One is a wonderful and fellow instructor. He is someone each of you have seen as a regular on the Golf Channel. The other is a longtime student of mine who splits his time between here and New York, as I do.
These two quality gentlemen both have recently have been punched square in the face by the heavyweight we all know as cancer. In both cases, these men at the pinnacle of there careers have been involved in extremely intensive and sometimes radical treatments. As some of you I'm sure know via loved ones, the treatments can sometimes be as brutal as the disease itself.
The fellow professional is so in love with our sport and his craft of teaching that when he learned the news and heard how long and difficult his battle could well be, he decided to pre-film as many episodes of his show as possible, so he wouldn't let down his viewers and not to draw attention to his problems. In a recent phone conversation with him, I was expressing that I felt bad for him, he quickly stopped my pity and said "Each day we are given is a bonus, healthy or diseased."
During a recent visit to Naples between treatments with my longtime student, it was clear he is in the battle of battles. Although he is of strong mind and spoke continually of watching his grandkids grow up, as I looked into his eyes all I could see was immense fear.
I couldn't even begin to truly understand what these two men think as they lay in bed at night.
One day, your life is healthy, happy, successful. The next day, bam. The point or request of the column this week are simple — Say a prayer, not just for my two friends, but for every soul and their families involved in the battle, and write a check (no matter the size) to any charity involved in the war with this ugly disease. Choose one and get behind it.
Finally, the next time you're on the links and hit a really great shot, stop, look up, and dedicate that positive vibe to a soul that needs a lift and wants desperately to have the chance to hit the same shot you just did again someday.
Wishing every one of you and your families a happy and healthy New Year. God bless.
TP's Tip: If you suffer from the classic "over-the-top chop" and big slices, you must learn to correct the path of your swing. All you'll need is a midiron, a handful of tees, a pile of practice balls, and a two-by-four.
Lay the two-by-four so it is in line with your target, and standing so its 4-inch side is vertical. Then tee up a ball a clubhead away from the board at about the board's midpoint.
Practice hitting shots now. If you come over the top, you'll clip the board before you reach the ball. You'll quickly learn to attack your ball from a more inside path, and be on the way to straighter shots.
Don't be intimidated by the board. In 30 years, I have never had a student break a club, or a wrist for that matter.
Tom Patri gives lessons at the Quarry on Immokalee Road, and is at Friar's Head in New York from May-December. Patri is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher. Visit Patri's website at www.tompatri.com, www.facebook.com/TomPatri or email him at email@example.com.