A Lesson Learned: Persistence pays off

By Bob Toski, PGA
Published on

Note: Ken Duke, 44, captured his first PGA TOUR victory Sunday in the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., making a two-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to defeat Chris Stroud.
Since his youth, Duke has been a student under PGA Golf Professional Hall of Famer Bob Toski of Boca Raton, Fla., who also is a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. The PGA of America caught up with Toski shortly after Duke’s victory. The legendary teacher offered his perspective on his relationship with Duke and what the amateur golfer may take away from having witnessed Duke’s march to victory.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing after Ken Duke won the Travelers Championship. I’m very happy for him. It really is a milestone for me. I’m 86 and Ken’s 44. I guess it shows you that two old farts can get it done.

I talked to Ken last night and then again this morning. I said, “If you can get a 64, you will win. I felt that 14-under would win, and anything below might be in a playoff. Well, he shoots a 66, is tied at 12-under-par, and then makes a birdie in the playoff. That’ 13-under after it’s all said and done, right?

I’ve been with Ken when he was 4 years old, and now he’s 44. I have seen him go through so much, and the golf ball doesn’t know how old you are and doesn’t care. What you witnessed with Ken was a study of perseverance. How many amateur golfers would strive to do what he has to improve? He had his share of physical problems, but he kept working and working.

I can’t tell you the technical things that will work, because you have to be with me on the lesson tee. What I can tell you is that you have to learn the fundamentals and apply them at all times – the right grip, the right posture, and putting the ball in the right position.

Ken was never a great driver of the ball. He pushed his drive on 18 in regulation into the left rough and was able to save par. I would tell him at his setup that he was aiming left and swing to the right. If all amateurs could understand that know where you are swinging, you would be much better off. So, if you aim right, swing to the right.

How can you learn the proper way to aim to a target? I’ll tell you. You head straight to the putting green.

Start by stroking in a two-foot putt in a straight line. You concentrate on that, and start moving back to a longer putt, then a chip, a pitch, moving back through your irons and then to your driver. You learn that you keep all clubs square to the line of play.

That concept was introduced by (World Golf Teachers Hall of Famer) Seymour Dunn in 1922 (“Golf Fundamentals”). You learn that it all begins with a straight line. You will find that your aim will be better. I cannot guarantee that you will be playing golf like a professional like Ken Duke, but you may see a difference.


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