Character Building

It has been a while since my last post. Much of it was spent on putting the finishing touches to my book about the life and times of my father: Jack Grout, A Legacy In Golf.  As you might imagine, writing a book isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires hard work, extreme ambition, and intense discipline. But, nothing in life is easy and accomplishing a dream is rare—and awesome.

Now for today’s post. Whereas golf on the PGA Tour has historically been recognized as a game of single-minded individualism – an important quality in a true badass – it’s obvious that this belief in self-determination isn’t universally accepted in the modern game. Today, numerous professional players surround themselves with full-swing instructors, short-game coaches, psychologists and other specialists who form their ever-present entourages. The player is rarely alone long enough to learn self-sufficiency or to develop any real faith and trust in himself.

Dr. Richard Orlando, a Columbus, Ohio resident who took golf lessons from my father and later observed the practice routines of hundreds of touring pros as the on-site ophthalmologist for Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament, talked skeptically of this phenomenon. “So many of the current players bring (David) Leadbetter, Rick Smith, Butch Harmon, etc., out on the range at every damn tournament. These guys can’t ever take the club back without having their ‘guru’ with them.”

In the heat of battle, a successful golfer must be able to self-diagnose and self-correct. Occasionally, great “old school” players like Nicklaus, Hogan and Snead have prevailed without firing on all cylinders. At times, these guys emerged victorious even when things had gotten downright ugly. They were able to do so because they learned their game and were able to control what they were doing.

When Jack Grout began teaching the game to Jack Nicklaus, he instilled in his young protege the importance of understanding why he was doing something on the golf course. My father insisted that Nicklaus learn to use his head, not just his golf swing. And, by the age of nineteen when Jack went out to play golf, he didn’t have to keep running back to his coach for answers. Grout taught Nicklaus the nuts and bolts of being independent. My father held the conviction that a little self-reliance never hurt anyone.

In 2017 Jack Nicklaus wrote; “I could go on and on about the different lessons Jack taught me, but his greatest was one that reminds of the great philosopher’s words, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Jack Grout knew the golf swing as well as anyone I have ever encountered. But his true genius was in knowing what was best for the individual. His greatest gift to his students was his belief in them and his ability to get them to believe in themselves. Jack wanted you to develop your skills, technically, but to be so confident of those skills that you could identify and fix your own swing flaws even in the heat of competition, and certainly without him there by your side. You always hear the word indispensable. Jack Grout’s life work, at least in my case, was to make himself dispensable. He wanted his students to be able to function at the highest level without him.”

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2 thoughts on “Character Building

  1. ….so good to hear from you Dick……hope this finds you, Denise and your family enjoying life…..I do miss my chats with Denise, especially about clothes,so give her a big hug… …..please keep me on your list, since I am not familiar with blogging……when the book comes out please let me know the process of purchasing and obtaining your autograph…. Keep up the great work and look forward to hearing from you soon. Bob

    Bob Groote RJG,Inc. 3736 Sand Hill Drive Conyers, Georgia 30094 770/922-9400 Office 770/922-8900 Fax 404/372-2614 Mobile bobgroote@yahoo.com

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