As we look towards the Masters and the opening of the golf season in the northern part of the country, I think now would be a great time to set some goals about your golf game and to learn a few lessons from four of the great players of all time! Recently, I have been able to spend some quality time around some of the game’s best older players like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino.  What I took away from my conversations can be a great asset to most players.  Some of what I heard has nothing to do with the swing or technical part of the game, but more of what they believe made them the best players they could be.  Here is what I took away from four of the greats: Arnold Palmer – Play with integrity and develop a strong work ethic!  Mr. Palmer is a worker; he was successful at golf and business because he works.  He is also a person of the greatest integrity.  If he says he is going to do something, it is done.  These attributes helped shape his golf game and his career.  Many times, all of us say things like we are really going to work at something, but we give up and don’t finish what we set out to do.  As with life and golf, we have to set goals, stick to our goals, and work hard. Jack Nicklaus – Do what you do and get good at it!  For many players, the perfect swing is not always the goal to playing good golf.  As many of you know, Jack did not have what the modern golf gurus would call a perfect technical golf swing, but it sure worked.  As with all players, we all do some things really well, and we all have some things that we have to work on.  You have to learn to play to your strengths as you continue to work to improve your weaknesses.  If you naturally hit the ball high like Mr. Nicklaus did, then play to your strengths. Don’t spend all your time trying to figure out how to hit it lower.  Do what you do! Gary Player – You have to be fit to play well!  Gary Player has been the fitness model for professional golf for 50 years.  If you ever get the chance to be around the man, you will be amazed at his energy and his fitness.  What I took from Gary is that if you want to be a good player, you have to maintain a good level of fitness and flexibility.   If you can’t do a push-up or touch your toes, it is highly unlikely that you could maintain a good posture or golf swing for an extended period of time.  As we all look at our own games, pay more attention to fitness. As we get older, we have to work harder at keeping our bodies in shape to play good golf. Lee Trevino – Pay attention to ball and clubface at impact!  Lee Trevino may be one of the greatest ballstrikers to ever play the game, and even in his later years he can still hit the golf ball solid and on-line like nothing you have ever seen.  I had the chance to watch him hit balls, and he took out his driver and proceeded to hit 125-yard little draws to a green on the range right at the flag, then started hitting 200-yard cuts, right next the pin on a different target, before hammering out rocket tee shots that were so straight that you could tie a line to the shot.  All the time, he was talking and laughing! His comments were so simple: Learn where the clubface is in relation to the ball. Too many times we focus on the mechanics; we need to focus on the ball.  If you can’t square the clubface at the ball at impact, then everything else is useless. So, this season, as you set your goals for your game, and the golf games of you students, think about what these great legends think about the game.  I hope it helps you with your game. I am looking to hear your comments. You can post your comments or questions on my BLOG at Arlen Bento Jr. is an award-winning golf professional, golf business owner, golf instructor and golf coach. He is the former head golf professional at PGA Country Club at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and former director of golf at Eagle Marsh Golf Club in Jensen Beach, Florida, and is a USGTF Master Teaching Professional. He currently lives in Jensen Beach and can be reached via his business website at <>  or via facebook at <>
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