You Don't Need Me Now ...
Although I did not sustain this greenside practice regimen for the reminder of my professional playing career, there is a certain amount of that short game skill still retained right up to the present time. Despite not playing or competing as much as time went on, those short game skills would remain on display [PHOTO 14] when called upon and continue to teach the lessons that Paul Harney so fervently believed in.
As a longtime PGA teaching professional, I've had the occasion to work with several PGA Apprentices in search of passing their PGA Players Ability Test [15-over course rating for 36-holes]. A PGA Membership requirement, many accomplished players are unable to pass this 'PAT' on repeated attempts, despite having enough talent/skill from tee to green. What is often lacking is the short game skill to 'save' their score through greenside 'scrambling' - i.e., getting the ball up and down.
Such was the case with a young, brash upstart amateur ['Josh'] who thought he had what it takes to become a PGA Member, but who had failed the 'PAT' several times. I was teaching at a local golf range and learning center in the greater Boston area at the time, when the facility owner asked me to take 'Josh' under my wing and help him pass his 'PAT'.
Josh was a bit on the cocky side, so I thought I might take a page out of the 'Paul Harney School of Hard Knocks' timeless lessons book and channel 'Josh' a lifetime lesson. I took him over to the practice green and introduced him to a game of 18-hole 'up and down'. Each of the 18- holes would be a Par 2 and the winner of each previous hole could pick out the greenside shot attempt to get up and down. I gave 'Josh' the honor of picking the first greenside up/down shot.
With each hole being a Par 2, I was able to 'Par' 12 out of 18- holes and 'bogey' the rest to end up +6 or 6 over par. 'Josh' didn't fare so well and was able to 'Par' only 3 out of 18 holes [bogeying the rest] and was a whopping +15 or 15 over par. My parting shot to him was that he couldn't even beat a 'washed up old, rusty pro' who didn't practice or play that much anymore . And despite my short game score being almost 10 strokes lower than his, even I would struggle to break 80 on a championship course with the short game I had just displayed...
Well that must have got 'Joshs' competitive juices flowing and I knew he had taken the 'dusting' to heart because every day for the next few months, whenever he wasn't working at the range he was spending time on/around the practice green working on his greenside short game skills. About 6- months later, much to my surprise as and I was walking by him practicing his short game he shouts out with supreme confidence,
"Hey pro - I wanna play you again in that game of up/down - how about a rematch?"
I was hoping that through the time Josh was spending on his short game since our up/down match, he had acquired the skills and confidence necessary to challenge me again - so at that point when he did, I knew my job was done.
"You don't need me now." I shot back with a wry smile. "Time to go out and play - take the "PAT" again ..."
And he did take the PAT for a 4th time ... and passed with flying colors.
Lesson: Work long on short game to cut shots off your score!