Wednesday, October 5

Playing Clinic: Billy Casper

"Billy has the greatest pair of hands God ever gave a human being," said Johnny Miller.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

While interviewing golf legends for my book Playing with the Pros: Golf Lessons from the Senior Tour (1990), I arranged some of their answers into a separate chapter I called "Playing Clinic." Following are words of wisdom from some of the best players.

Next up is Billy Casper (June 24, 1931 - February 7, 2015). Casper won 51 PGA Tour titles, including three majors, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He also made eight Ryder Cup appearances as a player and won a total of 23 1/2 points, which is the U.S. record.

Q: Should I have the same swing for all clubs?

CASPER: I do. I use basically a three-quarter swing on my woods and irons. And I place the ball more or less from the same position in my stance.

Q: What happens when you lose your feel for the golf swing?

CASPER: We all do that. You just have to go back out onto the practice tee and search for it. You'll find it.

Q: Besides the fundamentals, what else should you take into consideration when you are about to hit a shot?

CASPER: The wind, hazards and the next shot. I want to position this shot so that I have a chance of scoring with the next one. That's simple golf-course management.

Q: Do I need to buy all the clubs I see in a professional's bag?

CASPER: Perhaps not every one. Also, many pros play with clubs that are less than standard, and that's one reason they go farther than the average player's. But to be serious about golf, you need a full set. At least four woods, 11 irons, including a sand wedge and a pitching wedge. And, of course, a putter.

Q: How far should I take the long irons back at the top of the swing?

CASPER: I still use my three-quarter swing, and I think that works best for the average golfer as well.

Q: How long do you think all of these seniors will keep playing golf?

CASPER: For as long as they can keep teeing it up, and as long as anyone wants to come watch us play. We could go on forever.

More Playing Clinic:

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

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