I met John Andrisani in 1995 in my role as Natural Golf’s communication director. Then, our biggest marketing problem was getting some legal media recognition of Moe Norman’s golfing genius after which Natural Golf was modeled.
Moe, for golf insiders, was well known, but to the golfing public Moe’s proficient swing was a well – kept secret. So my job was to change that. John was the senior editor at Golf Magazine and one day we met to discuss his writing the introduction of our inaugural instruction book; Golf Reform Is At Hand.
John rocked me with his knowledge of Moe and went on to write a robust, yet sensitive assessment of the Canadian savant he described as “coming off like golf’s Forrest Gump.”
We went on to develop a fun relationship, though one of the most memorable was a well liquefied get together in the cellar of New York’s 21 Club. We were in John Andrisani’s element.
In his role as Senior Editor of Golf Magazine and author of a multitude of books on the subject of golf, he lent our efforts an authentic air.
John has written some 34 books in all. He was recognized in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in America. He has also authored books in his own name, such as the “hit” how-to instructional text, The Tiger Woods Way: Secrets to Tiger Woods’ Power-Swing Technique, and Think Like Tiger: An Analysis of Tiger Woods’ Mental Game; a book that broke the story of Tiger’s hypnosis and meditation, and how these sessions enhanced Tiger’s shot-creativity and repertoire.
In time, we headed to different points of the compass, but recently when Todd Graves engaged me to put some more pep in the PR engine of the Moe’s Way to Play that Graves Golf presents as The Single Plane Solution, I reconnected with John.
When I learned he lived in Orlando, near Todd’s school at Eagle Creek there, it wasn’t exactly rocket surgery to suggest he meet Todd and take a critical look at Moe’s Way. Todd’s intuition took John immediately to the lesson tee and what evolved stunned me.
Below, in John Andrisani’s words are highlights of what he called his “best lesson ever.”
They speak loudly and authentically.
Part of my longtime job at Golf Magazine was working on how-to articles with the game’s top golf instructors and leading tour players was assessing and evaluating golf swing methods and systems.
Years ago, I was impressed by Moe Norman’s unerring accuracy and eventually wrote about Moe’s shot-making genius in the introduction of Golf Reform Is At Hand, the 1996 preface to Moe’s way to play.
But, it took until recently for me to get a full-fledged lesson on Moe’s way. That I was known as his protégé’ Todd Graves’ best reading and my best learning session. It has everything to do with my hitting a dead straight drive 310 yards on my first shot after the experience was over and it was time for me to test its merit.
My shot earned me a high-five from Todd, since, once again, he’d witnessed a student convert to swinging Moe Norman’s way, and hitting the golf ball powerfully and accurately.
As the ball flew far and directly at my target in the distance, and Todd was in the process of giving me the high-five, I could only recall the unforgettable experience of watching Moe Norman hit drives, one winter afternoon in Florida, and hearing this champion of golf technique, a genuine swing virtuoso, exclaim again and again – “DEAD STRAIGHT!” – words every golfer dreams of repeating over and over, after witnessing the ball flying fast off the club’s face and into the air on the perfect and powerful flight path, tee-shot after tee-shot.
Here are my thoughts on that best lesson ever:
In preparing to hit a drive, Todd put me into the most unusual setup position I’d ever imagined, one that goes against almost all members of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America advocate, highlighted by the following:
Wide stance, spine tilted well away from the target such that upper body weight feels as if over right hip and leg, head well behind ball, left shoulder upright shoulder down, driver twelve inches behind the ball, club-head outside the target line with the ball closer to the heel of the club’s face rather than its center point “sweet-spot,” left arm straight and tense, right-wing extended yet relaxed with a little play in elbow such that it’s readied to fold on backswing.
Having made a living as a golf journalist, and having a nose for a good story, I knew, when taking note of the different setup elements presented by Todd, I was witnessing more than breaking news. I saw groundbreaking news!
In all the sixty-one years I’ve been playing golf, and all the 38 years I’ve been receiving swing and shot-making tips from the game’s premier PGA teachers and PGA Tour players, have I ever been instructed, during a golf lesson, to set up like Todd had me address the ball – Moe’s way. That said I felt extremely comfortable – entirely tension-free, in fact – as well as convinced that this setup was going to allow me to swing the club on the ideal angular paths and planes while, too, generating maximum controlled club-head speed and returning the sweet-spot of the club’s face squarely to the back of the ball.
What I found ironic about this setup position, particularly the upper body tilt, and shared with Todd, is that I had a sense of being positioned, virtually, in the impact position, which raised my level of confidence.
Moe shared these secrets or missing links for employing the most innovative method of swinging a golf club, invented through intuition and trial-and-error practice, hitting up to a thousand balls per day, with Todd, who passed them onto me during what I call my Best Ever Golf Lesson.
The reason is Todd got me to do what I’ve never been taught in a private one-on-one lesson or at any golf school attended as part of my longtime job at Golf Magazine, working on how-to articles with the game’s top golf instructors and leading tour players.
What I found so incredible about Todd’s lesson is I had to do with the fact that before me addressing the ball Todd’s way and Todd instructing me to get the feeling of staying behind the ball in the hitting area. Kind of like a boxer employs an uppercut punch, with my feet planted on the ground for increased leverage. Warming up for the lesson, I hit ten drives solidly, with a touch of fade- or draw-flight on a low trajectory, allowing me to pick up more yardage on the ground, once the ball landed on the fairway. Therefore, you can see why I never dreamed Todd could get me to hit the ball any better, especially trying something new that was so, so different.
Was I wrong!
In the years I’d been playing golf, I had never had the feeling of making such an accelerated swing. Yet so controlled I experienced a sense of synchronized oneness between my body and the club, of ultimate stored power ready to be released, of final balance, which is why the experience of hitting the ball dead straight with my driver, on a higher pro-like trajectory, with the entire experience of running the ball 300 yards, feeling effortless. It has taken me to age 68, to know I had experienced what Moe calls The Feeling of Greatness
The only time I ever came close to experiencing such a sensation of effortlessness I felt when hitting that booming 300-yard drive, according to Todd’s instructions, was, at age 15. When I made a smooth, rhythmic swing, with a six-iron, on a par-3 hole, watched the ball fly straight at the flagstick in the center of the green, bounce once upon landing, roll toward the hole, fall into the cup. Hole-in-One!
I thank Todd – – and Moe – – for allowing me to feel an even heightened feeling of greatness than the one experienced decades ago.
The best news of all and the bonus:
Todd, in making me a Single Plane Swing convert, taught me a system for swinging and for feeling every movement, rather than the typical smoke-in-mirrors instruction. So, I know I’ll be able to repeat this swing on the golf course.