HOMEMADE HIT MAN
Weekley's swing is more finely crafted than you think
By Matthew Rudy
HOMEMADE HIT MAN
If you listen to what Boo Weekley calls the "redneck stuff," you wouldn't believe that the affable PGA Tour player from the Florida Panhandle could make it out of the swamp, much less hit it where he was aiming.
Yes, he played in rain pants and sneakers when he first made it on tour, in 2002. And yes, he missed his flight to Hawaii for the Mercedes-Benz Championship in January, when he forgot to take the bullets from his last hunting trip out of his carry-on bag.
But don't forget, Weekley qualified for the trip to Maui because he won at Hilton Head last April, shooting four rounds of 69 or better and beating Ernie Els by a shot. And at practice ranges where tour players are jaded by the sound of solidly struck shots, Weekley draws crowds because his sound like they came out of, well, a rifle.
"He'll tell you he doesn't have a teacher, but he really does," says Golf Digest Teaching Professional and fellow Southerner Hank Johnson. "He's his own teacher. He goes out and gets opinions from people he trusts, then evaluates them himself. He's built that swing the hard way."
Weekley has carried two basics with him from high school, where he played on the same Milton, Fla., team as fellow tour pro Heath Slocum. One is to keep his head steady. The other is to make a controlled hip turn. "They rigged up this contraption with poles and a hard hat attached to it that kept you still," says Weekley. "And I hit shots with a rubber ball between my knees to get a better hip turn. I still have those things in my swing."
After losing his card in 2002, Weekley honed his swing on the Nationwide Tour and in money games across North Florida. He was ready for his second chance.
Weekley earned $2.6 million and finished 11th in total driving last year, but also hit some nasty pulls -- which he's addressing with a stance change (see previous page). "An open stance certainly invites a shot that starts left," says Johnson, who has golf academies in Birmingham, Ala., and Destin, Fla. "That's OK if you fade the ball. Boo's working on the right things."