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Clear & Present

By: Billy Bondaruk


Wouldn't it be great if you could learn a new swing change and never suffer any setbacks? You would probable say yes, what's the secret? Wouldn't it be great if there were some magical position to make during the swing or a type of swing trainer that would groove the swing for you? Actually, the answer is no, and that's a good thing. One of the worst things that could happen for you as a golfer would be to not go through the growing pains of improvement. Ask yourself if you would like to evolve as a golfer or stay right where you are.

As you go through tough spells while playing, try to recall the trials of simply growing up. Enduring some of life's tests is - to a great degree - the reason you are where you are and who you are today. You had to go through the tests and pains and will continue to do so until you can get beyond resisting the struggles. By that point you are probably enlightened in some way and en route to learning a new life lesson.

When you try to make a swing change it is often the same thing. You may say to yourself something like, "I shouldn't have to struggle this much or it can't be this hard to change." These thoughts and words are without a doubt the reasons behind more struggles. The reality is that you have to accept the struggle in order to overcome it.

If you look at this the wrong way, you're going to miss my point. To go to the practice facility and just pound balls while trying to make a change or create a new swing is like going through life without a purpose - you are going about life aimlessly. Doing something without being there is the problem.

I have been a great believer in staying in the moment, the here and now. Hitting thousands of balls every week is like whipping yourself. If your mind isn't in the moment for each ball, staying consciously aware of the moment for each shot, you won't succeed in making change. Hitting a golf ball demands your attention in the moment. This is, in fact, the reasons mis-hits happen.

In so many ways a missed shot is a reflection of what occurs in life. They both have to do with your attention. I believe that I have hit better shots - with very little to do with making the perfect swing - simply because my awareness of the shot was absolutely in the moment. I have also missed shots with good swings by not being in the present; I was in the future, caught up in the results of where I wanted the ball to go. I think these were good swings - perhaps the tension that floods into the body right before the club makes contact only leaves the impression that it may have been a good swing. I can truly say that I wasn't present for the swing, so I don't really know.

Forming a good golf swing is important; staying there for the shot is more important. It's kind of like that old quote by Woody Allen: "90 percent of life is just showing up." There is quite a bit of truth to that. Scott McCarron told me that at one point when he was playing well on the PGA Tour a few years back that he stopped working so hard on his swing because he felt he got it to where it worked well. All he did was work with mind coaches.

I can see significance in this. Once you have the swing formulated, let it be formless. Scott had a formless attention to hitting a ball. On a separate note, Scott said that he has undergone a surgery on his elbow that occurred while he was trying to protect a broken rib. This is why we have not seen much of him lately. He recently told me he was working on his short game and will be coming back strong. He has been an avid reader of my mental game stuff on PGA.com and my book 7mythsofgolf.com.

I can imagine that Scott will become a modern version of Gil Morgan. For those of you that may not remember, Morgan was out from a back surgery for a whole year and was only able to work on his short game. The following season he won a bunch of tournaments and became the first player to go to double digits under par in the U.S. Open. The wind that year got him as it did most everybody, except for Tom Kite. I'm interested to hear from Scott on his comeback. I'll keep you posted.

Bill Bondaruk is a PGA Class A member and the director of instruction at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, Calif. He was named the 2006 Northern California Teacher of the Year. Billy learned the principals of golf by such legendary luminaries as Eddie Merrins, Jerry Barber, Paul Runyan, Mike Austin, Ben Doyle, Mac O'Grady, Jim McLean, Mike Labauve, Scott Sackett and his father.

Bondaruk started playing golf and caddying at age 7 at Franklin Park Golf Course in Boston. He played for the University of Massachusetts golf team while pursuing studies in Biomechanics. He took his game to the upper levels at age 24. He's played in over 100 tournaments on various mini tours, including the Hogan Tour in 1990. He was a Benson & Hedges Tour member in Mexico 1992-93, and was a second stage qualifier for the PGA Tour in 1995.

His playing highlights: two-time winner on the NGA Tour, 1985 Arizona; two-time winner on the Sun Belt Tour 1989, Phoenix; winner of the North Atlantic Tour 1991, Massachusetts; winner of the Northern California Section Apprentice Championship 1995; runner-up in the Western States Apprentice Championship 1993, Palm Desert Calif., and Mass State Open in 1996.

After traveling on the mini tours, Bill began teaching at a few world-renowned golf schools such as John Jacobs, Jim McLean, and Scott Sackett's Resort Golf.

He came to Catta Verdera by way of Tucson, where he was the Director of Instruction at Arizona National, Canoa Hills, San Ignacio Golf Club and worked as an instructor for the University of Arizona men's and women's golf teams. Among the Tour pros, sports celebrities and collegiate stars he's worked with are Glen Day, Lorena Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis, Ricky Barnes and Scott McCarran.

Billy's book, "The 7 Myths of Golf," is a video-enhanced web-based learning system, complete with e-lesson capability. The "The 7 Myths of Golf" (visit http://www.7mythsofgolf.com) has grown in popularity as it features videos of Tour pros. He is currently a feature writer for PGA.com's "Improve your Game" section and writes for the Press Tribune of Lincoln, Roseville and Grant Bay.

With his background in Biomechanics, Bill is leading the way on how best to teach and learn golf. Above all, he promises to bring joy and enthusiasm to your game.

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