The Way of an Eagle
by Bob Darden,
P. J. Richardson,
Despite a career that's seen him go from fifty-ninth on the money list to Q School in a single year, David Ogrin remains one of the Tour's most colorful, quotable players. With his sharp wit and sneaky-funny quips, he's as popular on the Tour Bible study as he is completing a foursome at the GTE Byron Nelson.
Ogrin was a legendary midwestern amateur, winning a host of tournaments before turning pro. On the PGA he's finished second three times (losing two heartbreaking play-offs) and won a couple of unofficial events, the 1989 Chrysler Team Championship with Ted Schulz and the 1987 Deposit Guarantee Golf Classic.
The PGA Tour's ultimate Chicago Cubs fan (his fourth child is named Clark Adison--two streets that adjoin Wrigley Field), Ogrin made a great pennant run at the end of 1994, finishing with just an eyelash less than $200,000. He opened 1995 strongly as well, carding a twelve-under-par fifth-place tie at the Buick Invitational.
I think where the turnaround came fro me was on a bus ride back from a college tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. I hadn't had a particularly good day, and I was going through a mental checklist:
1. Do I practice enough? "Yes," I said to myself.
2. Do I study enough? "Yes."
3. Am I in shape? "Yes."
Then out of nowhere, a "little voice" spoke to me and said, "What about Jesus?"
Suddenly it dawned on me. I'm one of the fellows on this team who goes to church with some regularity. I'm someone whose father cares about me, who urges me to be in church each week. I'm someone who's supposed to be a Christian.
I'd been praying sincere prayers. I had no question about Jesus Christ, the Trinity and the Bible. But my faith was "head" faith. An intellectual faith rather than a heartfelt faith.
I realized on that bus ride that being a Christian involved a personal relationship with Christ. It became crystal clear that I either had to start believing in Jesus Christ and the prayers that I prayed or discard them. I decided right then and there that a flip-flop must happen in my checklist. Jesus could be no place but first.
Sitting there by myself, I silently began praying. Suddenly, something awesome happened. I had a new, wonderful sensation that God was there really listening to my prayers. I felt as if my belief had dropped from my head to my heart.
I later attended a conference in Chicago with twenty-five other collegiate golfers and most of the PGA Tour Bible study group. There I learned about the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I found out that following Jesus Christ boils down to getting with the Spirit and getting into His Word. I also realized that if I did that, the path for my life would be drawn for me by the Lord.
A few years later, I was playing at the Honda Inverray Classic in Ft. Lauderdale. As I was meandering down one of the fairways on the back nine, I started talking to the Lord. And it occurred to me how much had changed between college and my first years on the PGA Tour.
I compared my actions when I used to get angry with the way I just talk with Him when I get angry now. And I also compared how I talk to Him when I'm happy.
And that day, I had another talk with God. He asked me the questions this time:
"Why are you out here, Dave?"
"To do all to the glory of God," I said.
"Okay," He said.
And I walked along some more and said, "Okay, now let's do it."
And I've been trying to do it ever since.
Memories are plentiful, of course, now that I'm on my twentieth year on the Tour--if you count my college career. So there are a lot of memories, but it's hard to look past the Texas Open in San Antonio in 1994 when I shot a 26 for nine holes during the pro-am. Even today that's still like, "Whoa! Twenty-six!" Nobody's hardly ever heard of a 26! Some of the guys started calling me "Mr. 26," which is fine, I guess.
During the round, I knew it was going on--like a pitcher in baseball with a no-hitter. It was a really, really cool experience because I've done a lot of things in recent years to improve my golf game.
I once had a dentist, Dr. Humberto Berger, challenge me. He said, "You're a professional in golf just like I'm a professional in dentistry, David. But in order for you to improve, you've got to have continuing education. What have you done to continue your education?"
I thought, "Whoa! Now that's an interesting concept."
So I did some things. I hired Dr. James K. Suttie at Pine Needles, who is my swing coach, and I hired Dave Pelz, who is my short-game guru, and I hired Chuck Hogan, who is my sports psychologist-type guru, even though you're not supposed to call him a sports psychologist.
Then for two hours one Wednesday morning in October of 1994, all of the education I'd put together worked in this magnificent symphony of birdie shots and wonderful thoughts. It was so easy, and yet I knew what I was doing. And it didn't surprise me tremendously when I made a hole in one on the ninth hole!
I've done something now that is really special.
There are so many factors that went into it, I'm just thankful that I had the chance to experience that. It was tremendous.
Plus, the golf "magic" was with me. Magic can mean a lot of different things to different people, but when you play sports, one of the things that makes sports sports and not accounting is that the ball will bounce in varied ways. If you're in accounting and you bounce a 5 in the wrong column, you're in big trouble--and it doesn't bounce back. In golf, you hit the ball, you put it up in God's air, where He can do whatever He wants with it, and it comes down and hits on a green mowed by a human being.
Every time I hit a shot during my 26, each bounce the ball took during the nine holes made each shot better. On top of that--part of the magic, again--every time I hit a shot, it stopped just right and at such a distance that I knew I had a club for hitting the shot exactly that distance. During those nine holes, all the intangibles, every little detail you can think of, was in my favor. Therefore, the stroke magic, the golfing magic, was with me.
And that includes the ninth hole. It's a 155-yard shot, which is a perfect half seven iron for me. I've hit the shot hundreds of times in practice--155 yards! Actually, I usually hit it 150 and it rolls five.
So I hit the shot, and I'm already seven under par for the nine, so I'm already going to post a phenomenal score. I hit the seven iron solidly, it's a swing, it's in the air, and I say, "Go in!" I call it! The ball's in the air, and goes straight in the hole! It hits probably a foot left of the hole and breaks right into the hole.
When I got up to the green, I was amazed like everybody else. My ball had hit on the cup of the green where it had been mown around the edge a couple of times. My ball hit right on the seam, which helped kick it a little right.
Here's the thing: when 29 happens or 27 happens or especially when 26 happens, everything is so perfectly crystal clear. There is no deliberation, no hesitation, no anguish, no fear, no doubt, no nothing. Everything is crystal clear. The ball is in the air, and I can see the bounce before it happens! It was a capstone for an incredible nine holes.
The strength of my game right now is straight driving. Not long driving, but straight driving. If you'll look at the straight driving stastistics, you won't see a whole lot of players who aren't successful on the money list!
The big key, I think, in straight driving is tooling. One of them is mechanical and the other is equipment.
The equipment part is the tough one, because you have to get a driver that fits you, not just lie and loft, but shaft-wise as well. That will be an immeasurable help for your accuracy.
The tip I would give the amateurs who are looking for a driver that fits them, especially in graphite, is to pay no attention to the label on the shaft. And if they can't quite find one that fits, try a softer shaft.
The mechanical tip is that, at impact, you want to develop a golf swing that has no angles. You don't want your hands way in front of the ball, or your knees really bent and twisted, or your shoulders tilted backward--or the club coming to the ball in a severe inside-out or outside-in angle either. It's better to develop a swing that is going straight down the line--with no angles. This is actually easier to do than finding a club that fits.
I know, especially for the better players, they're always reaching for more power, and so all the tips that go to power are the antithesis of straight. That's because to get power you've got to create more angles and release them later in a shorter period of time. All the power tips are the opposite of straight tips.
So, at a certain point, you're going to hit the ball as far as you're ever going to hit it. And once you recognize that point, you've got to start developing a swing so that you'll hit it straighter and straighter and straighter.
What I would say to the amateur, as a general principle, is this: All the power tips in moderation will help straighten out your tee shots.
A great drill to help an amateur learn to hit the ball straight is to take a fairly long 2 x 4 x 2 x 6 foot-long board and put it on the ground so that the board is pointing at your target. And then tee the ball off, right next to the board, with about a half-inch clearance for the toe of your driver and the board.
And then as you're hitting the ball, swing your club next to the board. Don't hit the board. If you go inside out, you'll go across the ball and clunk the board. If you're slicing it, you'll come outside in and hit the board before you hit the ball. So keep your club on this side of the board, without hitting the board, and you'll hit the ball solid and straight.
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