Grip It and Rip It

The freshly cut grass, a cool spring breeze, and the great feeling after hitting a good shot. Those are just some of the things local golfers are raving about after a warm stretch of weather has gotten them out to the course early.

And different golfers go for different things. Naperville resident Lou Altmann says his golfing philosophy is “don’t hurt yourself and try not to lose too much money.”

For Plainfield resident Dan Blake, who is heading to the links this spring with new clubs, it’s all about improvement.
“I just like getting out and doing it,” said Blake, “(I’m) just trying to better my game.

For many early-season golfers, that’s the main mantra–improving before everyone, including their golfing buddies, is out on the course come June, July and August. And while adjusting to new equipment can be a priority, Naperville Park District golf officials say there’s another glaring problem–bad swing mechanics.

Like most golfers, I have plenty of issues with my swing. I decided to get some help from Springbrook Golf Course Assistant Golf Pro Joe Sterr. Sterr didn’t even let me make a swing at first because he already saw my problem.

Ever since I started this frustrating but rewarding game of golf at age nine, I had used the “ten finger” or baseball grip. Sterr said that was a no-no right away, switching my hands to the stronger “overlapping grip.”

Once we got to the actual swing, Sterr tweaked a few other things, including softening my finish and trying to stop my constant slicing by helping to close my club face.

The Naperville Park District employs a whole team of golf pros like Joe Sterr at both of its courses: Naperbrook and Springbrook. And although lessons have their skeptics, Park District Director of Golf Ed Provow stands by his men.

“They can help you,” said Provow, “A lot of people say you’ll get worse before you get better. I don’t necessarily agree, I think you can see improvement right away.”

And although I can’t say Joe made me an instant success, his advice, after many tries, eventually got me hitting the ball straight. And he said the one phrase that’s beautiful music to any golfer’s ears–“Good Ball.”

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