By Roger Schiffman
Rhythm and tempo
On Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Jack Nicklaus, the greatest player in the history of the game, for an upcoming instruction series for Golf Digest. In his office in North Palm Beach, Fla., we talked about a number of subjects, but one that might be important this weekend with the impending rain in the Southeast, is how to play in bad weather.
We talked about a lesson Jack first produced with Ken Bowden in the classic series "Jack Nicklaus' Lesson Tee," which ran in the magazine in the '70s and became a book. Here is the lesson, with Jack's current comment:
"Rhythm and tempo take on extra importance when you're being bullied by the elements. With rain running down your neck, you subconsciously risk hurrying both your setup and your swing. In those circumstances I try to make a conscious effort to get properly settled over the ball, then to swing as smoothly and fully as possible. Two of my key thoughts at such times are: 'Make a deliberate takeaway' and 'Complete the backswing.' "
"That's a great tip," Jack told me on Friday. "I never considered myself a mudder, like Tom Watson, who relished wind and rain, but there are three categories of golfers in bad weather:
"One simply stays home until the rain stops. If you're playing in a tournament, you can't do that. Another group goes out and plays but with a negative attitude and usually a lot of griping and poor scores. The third group accepts the elements as just another variation of the game. They assume the scores will be higher and don't get upset when they make a poor shot or a bad score. When I was playing tournament golf, I made sure I was in that third group."
So if you want to play your best golf in inclement conditions, adopt Jack's attitude and think of your rhythm and tempo.