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Swing Time

Aug 31, 2008 05:00PM ● By Super Admin

Let me start by saying this: this wasn’t exactly my first golf lesson. In an effort to learn the sport near and dear to my fiancé’s heart, I signed up for a series of three golf lessons back in 2005. We had hoped we could play together on our honeymoon in Maui that upcoming summer. My first lesson, unfortunately, was not particularly helpful, and on the way to my second, I got into a fender-bender, which, alas, totaled my car and resulted in a trip to the emergency room (and a couple stitches in my forehead). And that was that: bye-bye golf for me. Though we did plenty of other fun things in Maui on our honeymoon, golf was not one of them.

Looking back, I guess it was silly to give up on the sport that quickly, and excuse me, but golf is hard! Never one to want to wear the label of quitter, when the opportunity arose again for me to take my second-first-golf-lesson, I gave it another try. I packed up my clubs, bought a cute new polo shirt, and headed out to meet Sarah Huarte, golf pro at Woodcreek Golf Club.

From the moment she greeted me in the pro-shop, she made me feel comfortable and a lot less like the klutzy golfer who I feared I’d be, and more like the Tigress-Woods-in-training who I hoped to be. Well, maybe not quite that awesome, but we were definitely off to a good start.

I learned Huarte was born and raised in the area, and grew up to be a Cal Berkeley grad, a two-time All American golfer, a former member of the Curtis Cup Team and World Amateur Team, recipient of the NCAA Championship Individual Title and a pro since 2004. Oh, and last year she was on the LPGA tour and competed in eight events. Whew. I was in good hands.

On the driving range, we worked on the basics: grip, posture and alignment. She taught me that if these three things were mastered first, I would be seeing vast improvements in my game. “The better that you can hold your starting position posture throughout your swing, the easier it will be to hit consistent shots. The spine angle [should] rotate, but not straighten,” Huarte says.

I was finding it a little difficult to keep all of the variables straight in my head. When I approached the tee, my mind was racing: Grip? Check. Posture? Check. Alignment? Check. Club position? Ball position? Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes…? It was overwhelming and I wanted to be perfect — her best student, ever.

“I think beginners should start practicing with a seven or nine iron until they are consistently hitting the ball in the air every time,” Huarte told me. Keep it simple, at first. Good point.

So that’s what I did, and though I whiffed the ball more than a couple times, and swung over the top of the ball, causing it to roll a few feet instead of fly far, far away; slowly but surely, I began to hit the ball in the air. My lesson was working!

The half-hour that Huarte spent with me on the driving range helped to erase the negative connotations that I associated with golf just a few years ago. I left the driving range feeling more confident and inspired to keep practicing, not only because of Huarte’s skill as an instructor, but also because of her encouraging nature. She helped my game, and she taught me how to be OK with not being an immediate golf goddess. I’m working on it, though. I just have to convince my husband to take me back to Maui to practice.

Sarah Huarte is a Golf Professional at Woodcreek Golf Club in Roseville. She can be reached at 916-773-0727 ext. 6, or [email protected].