Jerry York extends himself with his driver. Swing film by Scott Johnson
Herewith a typical day in the golfing life of Jerry York as he continues his dogged, life-long search for a repeatable golf swing:
“Hey, guy,” Jerry says to the parking attendant as he pulls into the lot at his Oakley Club golf course in Watertown for another round of golf with his good friends from BC.
“Morning, coach …. Ooops, former coach,” the valet says. “Take a look, will you, at my grip,” Jerry says. “Do you think my left hand’s too weak, that the V ought to be aimed more to the right?” The valet, never having hit a golf ball in his 50-plus years, nods. “Could be,” he says. “Thought so,” Jerry says and walks away with his hands furiously mimicking a grip.
Now in the locker room, Jerry meets up with best-pal Art Byrne. “Think my swing’s too long?” he asks Art. “How would I know,” says Art, whose backswing barely gets above his knees. ‘But you do wrap the club around your head and wave it around up there in no-man’s land, like you want to hit a slap shot. Or take out the lights.”
Jerry goes over to the mirror and studies his swing as the locker room manager stops by. “What’s up, Coach?” he says. “Is my backswing too long?” Jerry asks in response.
“Never seen you swing,” the manager says, “but I’ve heard you talk about your swing to the whole world … and you must have a problem. I mean, you ask everyone you see for their advice. Heard you ask someone the other day if it’s true that all putts break to the ocean. What ocean were you talking about.”
Joe Norberg comes by and tells Jerry that his stance while addressing the ball is too narrow, that his shoulders should be inside the width of his feet, and that his head should be slightly cocked and set behind the ball.
Jerry nods, says he read something about that in a Scottish golf pamphlet, and heads back to the mirror so he can simulate his new very-wide stance.
“Remember to keep your weight back at address with the driver,” Norberg says. “And point that left toe out,” Byrne adds. “You’ve got to make a better turn … and get your left shoulder under your chin.”
Poor Yorkie seems baffled. His pals are deep into his head well before they reach the first tee.
At this point, Paul (the rolly polly Ol’ Goalie from BC High) Fulchino, just in from D.C., pipes up: “And your hands are always too high at address, which is one of a thousand reasons why your swing speed is so slow. But the biggest problem is that you shot the puck from the left side and you hit the golf ball from the right. You have no power, no speed through the ball.”
Jerry shrugs his head. “I need a new putter,” he says to Jimmy Logue. “I tried a Cameron, then a Taylor-Made, and last week an Odyssey. The other day
I found a Bulls-Eye from like 1970 in my garage and tried it, but nothing went in. Today I think I’ll try a Ping. Not a blade, though. Maybe try a mallet type? Or should I think about using one of those long broomstick putters like you do. Very confusing.”
Jerry heads to the pro shop to check out the putter rack and to review all of the above advice with club pro Scott Johnson, but he’s somewhere out on the back nine, teaching 24-handicappers how to get out of bunkers. So, Jerry again shakes his head and heads to the range to exchange swing thoughts with his caddie.
But Scott — York-ie calls his “My Swing Guru” — has left this message for Jerry: “Remember what we worked on yesterday — Softer, quieter hands at address and throughout the swing. Don’t strangle the club. That’s another reason why you don’t get much power. Today try holding it with tender, loving care.”
So, Jerry again shakes his head and heads to the range to exchange swing thoughts with his 13-year-old caddie.
His day has only just begun.
Mark Mulvoy was the longtime editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated.