Today was a great day for many reasons. One was that I hit a 2-iron off of Lag’s deck.
As a new ABS student, I wanted to have a set of gear set to ABS specs. So, I jumped on the Hogan red line irons when Lag posted them on the ABS e-bay a couple of weeks ago. And since I live in the Bay Area, too, instead of shipping the clubs only a handful of miles, Lag invited me up to his house with the famous deck and beautiful canyon below.
Lag is just like the guy down the street. Except that he has a garage filled with awesome golf clubs. And he knows how to bend clubs. And he knows how to remove offset from an iron. And he knows how to talk golf because he has a wealth of knowledge that comes from a wealth of experience combined with a natural curiosity of what he loves.
And he knows how to teach.
After some conversation, we got down to my new red lines. Lag hadn’t quite finished putting the finishing touches on the blades, which turned out to be a treat. There was some bending to be done. OK, so you put an iron in a vice and you bend it to change the lie angle. But removing offset? That didn’t look the least bit straightforward.
“Have a look” he said before the de-offset operation.
“Looks like the shaft lines up with the leading edge” I guessed.
“Right. This club was made with a tiny bit of offset. I’ll change that.”
So Lag put the club back into the vice and started his wrestling match with the inanimate object. After a minute or so, he handed me back my new club that I feared would look mangled and warped.
“Wow. The shaft is lined up with the third groove. And it looks perfect!”
He just grinned. That’s what people do after they have done something that they have learned to do over a very long time and have perfected the technique. They just grin.
After more conversation, Lag said “grab your new 2-iron and let’s go out back.”
There it was. The Deck. I quickly noticed that it was made of ipe, one of the hardest woods known to mankind, which came as no surprise to me knowing Lag’s love of persimmon. But it is exactly the same kind of wood that I have on my back deck that is now featured in my Mod 1 videos. So naturally my mind started to wander toward visions of me hitting balls off my own ipe deck. But my wife would likely have none of that, so I quickly came back into the moment.
Then the teaching began.
Since I’m a Mod 1 student, I was instructed to hit the bag (yep, the same bag as in the instructional videos): first with the left hand, then the right hand, then with both hands. Pointers came fast, pointers that addressed the very things I was struggling with a bit. And then he simply said, “Shift your weight, from right foot to left foot.”
It all of a sudden felt easier. And, I could feel I was instantly generating more power into the bag with much better form.
“That looks good.”
But then the real teaching began. Lag grabbed his 1-iron and began talking about the hitters approach – aggressive, violent. “Tap, tap, tap” he said, recalling Trevino’s pre-shot routine.
He then swung his club a few times.
Now I’ve seen a lot of really good golfers swing a golf club live, including many of today’s touring pros. And I’ve seen Lag swing his golf club on videos. But I’ve never seen a human, in person, swing a golf club THAT hard.
WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH, WHOOSH.
I got what a real pivot-driven swing is supposed to look like, up close and personal.
Lag then put a ball down on the deck and said “I’m going to aim at that dead tree down in the bottom of the canyon.”
If the tree was alive, he would have killed it.
“OK. Now, let me see you swing your two iron.”
I just had witnessed a man killing air molecules by the thousands. I felt slightly intimidated. Nonetheless, I started swinging that club that I’d never had in my hand, and I swung it pretty much as hard as I could.
“You have a good looking swing.”
I thought that was a very generous statement from an ex-touring pro who had just looked at my still photos of my backswing and downswing positions in order to see how different two swing planes can be.
“Now hit a ball toward that dead tree.”
Lag had told me a story earlier in the garage about when he was playing a tournament in Australia. He was on the practice tee when a helicopter came down at the far end of the hitting line and Greg Norman emerged to hit some practice shots. The Shark chose the space right next to Lag.
For some reason I remembered that story when I put the ball on the ipa surface.
I’ve never hit this club, much less hit a forged blade with no offset in decades. And I’d never hit a club bent 8 degrees flat. But the teacher spoke.
“Just hit it like you normally do, but with a hitter’s intent.”
Felt like butter. A little left of the tree. But I pretty much nutted it.
He had put me at ease right after that helicopter landed. That’s the kind of things that good teachers know how to do.
We talked about a lot of things sitting out on the deck with that Bay Area breeze. Hitting vs swinging. Today’s golf industry and marketing. Golf courses. Old vs modern golf balls. Trying to start a persimmon tour. Trying to build a new ball with a balata-like cover. Wondering why the ABS swing, or at least something like it, isn’t taught as much today. Groundwater and farming. How oil is naturally formed. How oil is extracted from the earth. Playing a tournament near the Athabasca oil sand mine. Science and the golf swing. Driving cross country. The pleasures of Quebec and the Maritime provinces. Eating lobster on Prince Edward Island. And Ian Woosnam’s ability to hit a drive perfectly off the first tee after flying for 20 hours.
But then there were more clubs to look at, because after all I had come to not only pick up my new irons, but also to purchase a set of fully-ABSed persimmons. Lag showed me some newly-restored beauties, perhaps five sets. They were all stunning, and they will make their way onto the site’s forum soon. Except for the Hogan set of 1, 3, and 4. They sang to me. Looked right. Felt great. And had that brass at the back end of the head that just seemed to have my name on it.
So if you are ever in the Bay Area, contact Lag. He is one of the most generous people I have met in some time. Don’t miss the opportunity to come to his garage for a visit and a chat about the greatest game ever invented.
And if you make it to his deck, don’t be afraid of helicopters. It’s just a club, a golf ball, and one of the finest teachers golf has known.