|MUNIE The Jitterbug Collection
A novel by Bobby Steiner
Reviewed by John K. Darling,
This book has been reviewed by a number of people who really know golf, playing golf, and teaching golf. They are very prominent authorities that know what they are talking about and all give commendable reviews. I am going to review this book by not just making comments but also by presenting content summaries. The reason I am doing this is because MUNIE is both a delightful novel based on non-fiction as well as an unusual golf instruction book. I want to be able to refer back to specific content to help me improve my game without having to mark up the book and try to find what I need when I need it by going back to search through 150 or so pages. After you read this book, if you want a copy of this information just email me at john@SeniorFriendlygolf.com and I will send you this article. To order this book, go to Bobby's web site www.jitterbugbooks.com. There you will also find reviews, more about Bobby, golf tips of the week (bookmark his site as one of your favorites along with SeniorFriendlyGolf.com) and short biographies of all the instructors (characters) in the book.
A good place to start your reading and study of MUNI is to read the EPILOGUE from Bobby first. Next, I suggest your read and think about the words of wisdom at the beginning of each chapter, which set the stage for what will follow.
Chapter One: Smiley Changed Everything (chipping)
You will meet Smiley Bell, who is the person who started Bobby Steiner on his path to becoming a golf professional. Smiley, was an African-American gentleman in his 80s, who has since died. He introduced Bobby to chipping. His tips will help you improve that part of your game as well. First of all you will learn to practice on one leg, then the none-to-none (10' in) approach, and finally some-to-none (30' in).
Chapter Two: The Indian on the Hill (form)
What I got out of this chapter is that if you look good from a distance you will probably begin to play well. I'm not talking about how you dress, but how you swing your club. By looking good you will eventually have a good grip, stance, ball position, take-a-way, complete back swing, beginning your swing the correct way, shifting your weight properly, making contact and following through to a complete finish. You'll also find out that "keep your head down" and other on-course advice you hear everyone giving is usually meaningless. The only advice Jitterbug gives is "relax and be smooth." In short, beginning golfers should not sweat it and just go out and play for the enjoyment of the game no matter their skill level.
Chapter Three: Surrender to Gravity (club speed)
It's not how hard you swing, but how you swing. In this chapter Jitterbug helps you understand the difference between using gravity and not strength to hit your shots, especially your long shots. This will take time to master. You will have to learn to have soft hands and loose arms. Most of all you will have to gain faith in yourself to let gravity do the work for you. Getting your left shoulder back and bringing your right hip through is important to achieve swing success as well. If you are a lefty, you will do the opposite of course.
You have heard the expression of having "great touch?" To develop great touch you have to relax and stay light, says Jitterbug. You must hold your club lightly throughout your swing, and it will naturally tighten up a split second before ball contact.
Chapter Four: Obie Vaughn (grip)
If you are plagued by an extreme fade (SLICE!) you will find in this chapter Obie Vaughn cures Bobby's problem by changing his grip. It all starts with the grip. I personally found this out when attending a golf school at the Rancho Mirage Mission Hills Resort in California. I was so excited to start playing golf more in fairways than in the rough. I mentioned to a fellow I was playing golf with a few months later that I had never had a grip before. He then advised me that now I don't have a clue. Anyway, this chapter will help cure your slice, so get the book and find out how (pages 30, 31). The Power Waggle is in this chapter as well and you can use it yourself to help you make sure your grip is correct. In short, you hold your club in you fingers, not the palm of your hand. This chapter also explores the grip for short game success. Cause and effect is explored. This is like treating the symptom rather than the disease. When you have a problem you need to go back to where it all starts, with the grip, and then work through all the other fundamentals (page 33).
Chapter Five: Lord Berry (putting)
The key to putting is to think more about the hole than the ball, the stroke, eye over the ball, take-away etc. Or to put it another way, good putters spend more time thinking about the hole while bad putters think more about the way they are going to stroke the ball (page 38). Jitterbug points to how kids putt. They spend all their time looking, or aiming, at the hole. They really want to get the ball in that hole. Also, the outcome of any putt lies in how confidently the golfer accelerates through impact, or to say it another way, their follow through and finish after contacting the ball. Smiley makes the point that follow through is not a physical thing, but a mental mind set. I guess what he means is that you will develop follow through naturally as you develop your putting skill by concentrating on the hole.
You will also get instruction from Charlie Rucker on putting, which refers mostly to long putts. His approach is more on the mental side. Years ago I read a book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, PSYCO-CYBERNETICS. In this book there is an example of how powerful visualizing can be. There were two basketball teams. Each shot specific shots from specific spots for a specified period of time. Then they came back and did the same thing except one team did not shoot actual balls. They simply stood at their spots and mentally visualized making their shots. When both teams came back again and they shot balls from the same the second time had improved almost as much as the team that practiced actually shooting balls. Charlie Rucker uses the same technique before he puts. He spends time visualizing his put going from his putter to the hole along the line he visualizes is required.
Lord Berry also spends his time putting four-foot putts and not worrying about other distances. If you think about it, if you master four-footers and can always get your first putts to within four feed you'll usually two putt. You can relate this to Phil Mickelson missing that short putt at the 2004 U.S. Open which took him out of the competition. He did not think the ball into the hole.
Chapter Six: Tempo Triggers (fundamentals)
Have you ever made changes during a round of golf that seem to get you into a grove of more enjoyable golf that day? Maybe, maybe not? Some golfers change a grip, modify their swing, change their stances, and so on. This chapter points out that there is no substitute for sound fundamentals. So, the next time you need to coach yourself on the course, first notice if you are using the correct grip, then is your posture correct, and is the ball in a consistent position in your stance, and finally is your alignment correct on each shot.
Jitterbug, in teaching at a kids' clinic, points out on level lies they are to have the same ball position inside their outside, left, foot for all clubs and that the same weight shift is used as well. You try it.
Jitterbug also touches on slow play and makes the point that when beginning a person should play for the enjoyment and even tee up their ball in the fairway if needed, but not to hold up everyone's play hunting for balls in the rough or taking a large number of practice swings.
Mr. Vaughn explains that there are three "in-motion musts." First make a full turn away from the ball with the left shoulder behind the ball on the back swing. Second weight transfer to the left leg while your club shaft is still on the target. Third, after impact the right arm rolls over to shake hands with the target, which happens only as your body turns. A fourth would be to have your right shoulder in line with the target at your finish unless of course you are older in which case your chest should be facing the target at your finish.
Chapter Seven: The Flutter-by Shot (chipping and sand shots)
Jitterbug will teach you the flutter-by shot that will enable you to make those short chips from just off the green onto a fast sloping green or when the cup is close to the edge where your ball is. This shot is for a chip that you need to stop quickly. It's the answer to not being able to putt through a heavy greenside rough or frog hair or to chip over a sprinkler nozzle or other obstruction.
T-Ball Taylor will help you with your sand game in this chapter. The main point he makes with all sand shots is for your club to enter the sand two to three inches behind the ball. There is a bit of technical instruction about opening and closing clubface and angle of your swing for varying circumstances.
Smiley gets back into the story here too. He suggests that you learn to chip with every club in your bag from your sand wedge to your five iron. A point to remember is that the less loft (five iron) the more roll your ball will get. So, rather than lofting a chip and hoping it will stop where you want it to, try using a five iron like a putter close to the putting surface.
Chapter Eight: The Perfect Practice Round
(getting to know what each club can do)
Jitterbug often practices by using a limited number of clubs, like no woods. You can use a variation of this by taking only odd or even numbered clubs. I have a friend who annually plays in a three-club tournament. That's where you can pick any three clubs to play with. On page 92 Jitterbug reviews how to hit long drives. He also feels a golfer should learn about what each club can do. Here again, maybe playing a round with just your five iron, or any other, is a means to that end. To score better Jitterbug suggests that golf is not about hitting long shots longer, but short shots closer. Think about that. Also, on page 94 he explains that every shot in golf should be designed to make the next shot easier. That reminds me about shooting good pool.
Sherman Paxton, Pinky's father, gives a neat acronym for a light grip. Hold your club like squeezing a new tube of toothpaste. He continues with insuring that you start your back swing with your shoulders and not your wrists and have your weight completely shifted to your left foot at impact and above all finish your swing.
Chapter Nine: Pinky Paxton (long drives)
Pinky explains that successful long shots are "…all about extension." You will learn how to get more arc in your shots and even an exercise using just one arm to practice.
Jitterbug will explain why you should grip down on your club and why golf grips are designed to flair out slightly at the end. Jitterbug helps Bobby understand why they lost a match with other players whose ability was actually less than theirs.
Smiley remembers a comment made by Billy Prescott, whom he believes to be the best amateur there ever was. "You can't never win a match by out hitting somebody. You have to outthink them."
Chapter Ten: Panny Oliver (how to play in windy conditions)
Panny's nickname is Hardpan. He teaches Bobby how to hit into and with the wind. Thought and technique is required to know what club to use and when to swing it in windy conditions. For instance, use a four or five wood playing with the wind and you may out drive that long hitter you are playing with who uses an oversized Taylor Made. Hardpan will also teach you how to use your "wind wedge." Okay, what's a wind wedge? It's using your putter and sort of "popping" the ball from the rough nears the putting surface. You will actually be chipping with your putter, but you will need to learn the technique. Bottom line is that it's easer to judge the distance in rolling a ball than having to judge distance, height, flight release, etc. with a regular chip shot. Also, using a putter eliminates thinking you have to get a ball "up."
Chapter Eleven: The Unnatural Laws (things that don't seem right)
We have all been there. Something right does not feel right. That's golf and golf swings, right? Jitterbug explores these. "Your relative good and bad days will always, to some degree, depend on how successfully you've dealt with the unnatural laws of the game."
Page 117: Taking a divot. We hit down on the ball to make it go up. Jitterbug encourages us to not get divot averse. Remember that you take divots after impact. I played in a pro-am scramble last year with the golf director of the Vail Golf Club in our foursome. What a pleasure it was to play with a professional. I noticed that every time he placed his ball on the fairway he looked for a divot. Finding one he always placed his ball on the fairway just before the inside edge where divots were from previous shots by players. I did not think to ask him why he did this, but he knew something. We were 10 under after 11 holes. He had to leave early and we ended up 12 under with we three amateurs playing together. So next time I play in a scramble I am going to follow his lead and see what happens.
Page 118: Enough turn on pitches. From 25 to 80 yards out, "the only way to have control over pitch shots is to control the club with turning your body, not your twitchy, flippy wrists and arms."
Page 118: Greenside bunker shots. Most golfers cannot get themselves to follow through enough; i.e., to a complete finish.
Page 119: Swing slowly to maximize power. Most golfers think to hit the ball farther requires swinging harder with a faster turn. Just the opposite is true. To maximize club speed to get more distance requires a slow body turn.
Page 119: Taking the wrong club. I recently had an explanation from a pro at the Ken Venturi Golf Academies explain to me why I could not break 100. After he explained to me that my problem was course management, I went out and shot 99 on my first and only 18 hole round this year.
Jitterbug explains that there are times you should use an eight iron to tee off on a difficult four or five par hole. If you tend to feel you have to unload with your driver on low handicap holes you will improve your game by reading this section of chapter eleven. It's really about course management.
THE SECRET TO GOLF (overcoming the reoccurring fear of a hole)
Have you ever been psyched out on one particular hole? I have. Number one at the Valley Hi Golf Course in Colorado Springs. It's a five par and I am convinced the left side gully has a ball magnet in it. I could use the instruction I have received in course management or learn to approach the hole differently, as Jitterbug suggests. This too can be considered course management. To cure the problem try other clubs, line up differently if the grass is cut to optically pull you to one side or the other from the tee box. According to Jitterbug "golf isn't about playing shots you are unsure about. Golf is about finding a way to get sure when you're not."
THE CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP (getting out of a slump)
According to Mr. Vaughn, "a powerful swing, by itself, is never enough to win. But, sometimes, it's all you need to lose." This chapter will help you get out of a slump if your game is going south.
ACCELERATION (a state of mind)
Acceleration is a thought process that applies not just to a swing for more distance but to other aspects of life as well, according to Jitterbug. Acceleration is an attitude…a certain spirit. "An accelerating spirit sees only the target, never the trouble surrounding it. A decelerating spirit, on the other hand, doesn't attempt to hit fairways or make putts, but rather, guards against missing them." Wow! That's powerful, isn't it?
RIDING WITH MR VAUGHN
When Bobby asked Mr. Vaughn about the advances in new equipment, techniques, and teaching golf he got some straight talk. Mr. Vaughn made an observation that even with all the new fangled stuff the average handicap of players is still the same. No matter what the advancement, the only thing that will improve a golfer's game is practice. A lesson is no substitute is practice. "Advice without ample time to practice just wrecks people."
THE SKYLAND OPEN
This is about adjusting your game. It's a bad idea to try to coach and adjust your play during a tournament. Correct your game later.
Chapter Twelve: JITTERBUG ALWAYS KNEW THE ANSWER (character)
Jitterbug. "How you play golf shows a little bit about your character, how you lose at golf shows every bit of it." If you are a businessman playing with another businessman and he cheats at golf, what can you expect from him in his business dealings? (my observation). In this chapter Bobby gives numerous tips and instruction to a lady just taking up the game. She plays like most other new golfers, i.e. e., not very well. Jitterbug finally takes over and diplomatically explores what other sports she has played well and helps her hit her golf shots with the imagery related to that sport. So, if you are a baseball player visualize hitting a low pitch with your swing.
PLAYER ABILITY TEST
Part of the Professional Golf Association requirements is to shoot a target score on 36 holes of golf on the same day. The day Bobby satisfied this requirement he had to shoot a 154 and it was a rainy day. In fact, by the time his foursome hit the 18th hole monsoon type rains were confronting them. They considered stopping in protest with a large number of others. However, Jitterbug motivated one of the other players in the foursome and they carried on regardless of the adversity. Bobby and one of the others in his foursome, along with only six others trying to qualify, finished to pass their test with scores of 154 or less. The lesson to be learned is NEVER QUIT!
The book ends with Bobby getting Smiley's pitching wedge after his funeral on May 4, 1988. Jitterbug explained to Bobby that he got Smiley's attention and respect after Bobby asked for help and was instructed to spend two weeks chipping off one foot (see chapter one). Smiley never expected Bobby to show up again, but he did. Remember that Bobby was, and is, a man who knows how to make a commitment and how to keep it. In just three years he became a PGA professional. Bobby showed up, he did not quit, now he got Smiley's wedge.
NOW GO OUT AND ORDER THE BOOK, READ IT, ENJOY IT, AND IMPROVE YOUR GOLF GAME.. www.jitterbugbooks.com