Eureka Process—How Jon Weinmaster escaped golf hell

Ben and Jon June 15

ClubLink Academy teaching professional Ben Ferguson helped Jon Weinmaster to overcome five years of frustration with his driver.

The Eureka Process  focuses on golfers who have substantially improved their games, sharing their stories and their coaches’ perspectives so that we can learn the secrets of their success.

The Player: Jon Weinmaster, Oakville

Coach: Ben Ferguson, Teaching Professional, ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey

Jon Weinmaster can relate to Ian Baker-Finch, who won the 1991 Open Championship, decided to refine his game only to lose it.

Six years ago, Weinmaster was a 14-handicapper playing most every weekend games with his buddies and in corporate tournaments. Then he decided he wanted to draw the ball with his driver. Cue the eerie music; his “hellish journey” began. Soon he was hitting it “parking lot bad, embarrassingly bad,” said the 35-year-old marketing manager.

He pored himself into fixing the problem. From 2010-2014, he took a lesson per week through the golf season, and from January to March. (Do the math: that’s about five lessons per month over eight months—for five years.) That’s about 200 lessons and about 250 practice sessions.

Despite this herculean effort, he still hit off-the-world slices. He started to hate golf and stopped playing. It even stressed his relationship. Weinmaster was in a dank, dark pit of golf hell. His way out began this February with professional Ben Ferguson.

BEFORE WORKING WITH BEN FERGUSON: It’s tough to stand on the tee with your buddies and know you’ll either hit it 150 yards right, or barely hit it off the toe. People told me they had never seen anyone hit it that far right. Some nights, golf would consume my mind and make me so mad that I was hard to live with. It seemed hopeless. My wife suggested I try someone different. I wrote a very emotional email to the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey that made its way to Ben.

HOW BEN BECAME JON’S ROCK: When Jon came to me last winter, he was distraught. He wanted a coach who was willing to invest in his game and answer every question he could think of. Jon knows I am there to help him in any way I can.

WHAT BEN SAW: When I first met Jon, I sensed his previous teachers did not address some key issues and that he was not onboard with what they were teaching. He was coming through impact with a very open clubface. This is a killer move for golfers who block their drives. He was also spinning his hips and upper body way too fast on the downswing without any lateral movement of the hips. Jon’s swing path was very out-to-in.

WHAT BEN TAUGHT JON: At first, his spine was upright. I showed him that to hit the driver, you must have some upper body tilt at the address. This provided him with a better path into the ball. I taught him how to properly release the club with his hands and cross his forearms over after impact. By his fifth lesson, Jon was hitting pronounced pulls (shots that go left), which was great. Now he understood how to close the face at impact. Finally, I showed Jon drills to correct an out-to-in path.

WHAT JON WORKED ON: When I started working with him, Ben reassured me that he’d get me through this. He gave me hope. Through the winter, I made swings in slow motion in front of a mirror and had my wife to check the positions Ben wanted me to hit. I hit balls once a week indoors but only if I was hitting my positions. Once this season started, I began to hit balls three-to-five times a week. I haven’t played a game yet but Ben wants me to.

WORKING THROUGH THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS: Now I can hit a bucket without hitting half of them off the range or almost hitting the guy beside me. Some days I’ll hit 10 perfect drives with a slight draw, then block 10 balls right or hit them off the toe. I’ve learned from Ben that if you’re doing it wrong, the hard work doesn’t help. It hurts. So I’ll stop. Ben also told me not to let golf take over from other good things in life. I feel like I’m his only student. Isn’t that what every student wants to feel?

BEN APPLAUDS JON’S TENACITY: Jon’s bad shots still creep in, but I’ve explained he needs to focus on the positive things we’ve accomplished. This is a work in progress and he is getting better. He succeeded because of his work ethic between lessons and his passion for the game. He comes to me each lesson with precise questions about the swing and this helps him understand his swing much faster. The smile has returned to his face, which is extremely gratifying for me.

AFTER A FIVE-YEAR STRUGGLE, WHY DID HE BREAKTHROUGH NOW? It was a fresh start, which helped me to forget everything I thought I knew. He told me to trust him and this way we’d make progress. Ben had to slap my hand a few times before I got it. Previously, I had so many different swings in my mind. He’d say “That’s it, remember that feeling.” Now I understand what the right swing feels like and I’m less confused. Too much analyzing just makes things more confusing. Sometimes you just need to trust the experts unconditionally and the understanding will come later.

 

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a performance coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

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