October 29, 2008

America's Fifty Greatest Teachers

Chuck Cook

Chuck Cook was an anonymous young teacher when he asked Ben Hogan if he could watch him hit practice balls on a range in Texas in 1980. Cook waited until Hogan finished, gathered his courage and asked the famously taciturn legend if there was anything he lived by. "He told me it came down to 10 two-letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me," says Cook. "I never forgot that."

Cook started out as a range assistant in the earliest incarnation of the Golf Digest Schools, helping such teachers as Davis Love Jr., Bob Toski and Jim Flick. Within two years, Cook had worked his way up to an instructor's position at the Schools, giving momentum to a career that includes teaching five major-championship winners—Tom Kite, Corey Pavin, Payne Stewart, Bill Rogers and Mark Brooks.

"Tom Kite made me the teacher I am today," says Cook. "He was always bringing new information, and he would take what I offered and try it. He has no fear. There aren't many students like that."

Practice punch shots to learn compression.

You might see some variations between tour players when it comes to the backswing, but one aspect of the swing is the same for all of them: The hands are ahead of the clubhead at impact.Improve your impact position by making some short swings with a 6-iron. Feel as if you're hitting a low punch shot, and really exaggerate the sensation of your hands staying out ahead of the clubhead through the bottom of the swing. This drill will reinforce the idea that you don't have to hit up on the ball to make it fly high. The key to trajectory and distance is compressing the ball with the clubface.

Number Seven: Jim Hardy