Making a swing change a few days before a major tournament usually guarantees problems ahead.
Glen Stubblefield was willing to roll golf's dice.
"I was hitting snap-hooks and my wrists were too involved. I had to get more body into my swing, get the big muscles involved and make a better turn," he decided. "Drastic times demand drastic actions."
The reward was worth the risk.
Stubblefield, the head professional at Ripon's Spring Creek Country Club, parlayed his adjustments into a berth in next year's Senior PGA Championship, one of the Champions Tour's majors. He did it two weeks ago in Port Lucie, Fla., by tying for 29th among a field of 288 at the National Senior Championship (formerly the Senior Club Pro Championship).
The top 35 finishers advance to the Senior PGA, and Stubblefield's 69-73-75-71 -- 288 made it on the number. He'll match shots for the second time with the nation's top seniors next May at Oak Hills (N.J.), which has welcomed the Ryder Cup matches and the U.S. Open.
"Six of us at 288 were waiting in the clubhouse watching the final players come in. We were thinking there might be a playoff," Stubblefield said. "When they posted the last score, we looked at each other and said, 'We're in!' "
Stubblefield, 61, has golfed his ball at a high level for many years. He's played in two U.S. Opens, two AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Ams and has earned NCPGA Player of the Year honors more than once.
Raised in the Salinas area, he worked at Salinas Fairways for many years before he relocated to La Contenta in Valley Springs. He then switched two years ago to Spring Creek, where he's shown off a classy putting stroke to the members.
"So many people get the smaller muscles involved and can't keep the blade square. I try to use the big muscles, the shoulders and keep the hands out of the stroke," Stubblefield said. "I also don't like the ball dying around the hole. That may work on fast greens, but we don't see those conditions all the time. I like to keep the ball on line with a little pace."
And if something is not working, he tries to fix it.
BEST SHOT -- Many readers, acting on our request in last week's column, have submitted upbeat and entertaining stories about their best-ever golf shots. It's not too late to join the crowd, because the best stories will be featured in next week's golf column.
Send in your account, detailing the best golf shot of your life, in 150 words or less to email@example.com or fax Bee Sports at 238-4551. Add your name, address and phone number for verification.
THE SHAG BAG -- The First Tee of Modesto along with 11 other First Tee chapters throughout the country will receive a special "ace" award for general excellence. It will be honored at a luncheon during The First Tee's 10th Anniversary Meeting on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla. The award is a major plus for executive director Sandra de Alcuaz and her First Tee staff, given the fact there are 202 chapters. Others to be honored include Greater Sacramento, Contra Costa and Southern Nevada. De Alcuaz will accept the award. ... Sacramento State senior Erica Yoshino, a graduate of East Union High of Manteca, overcame 50-mph wind and tied for 15th earlier this month at Boise State's 13-team Bronco Fall Classic in Kuna, Idaho. ...
Spring Creek may argue the point that golf is not a team sport. It won the NCGA Team Match Club Championship earlier this month -- its second title in the last five years -- by defeating Madera 23-13 in the finals at Poppy Hills. Team captain Sandy Sanders and partner Joel Tyrus, along with the Gil Huckle and Lauren Bartels tandem, swept all six of the available points en route to the win. Spring Creek topped 219 entries, representing more than half of the NCGA member clubs, in competition that began last summer. Other members of the winning team were Gary Fox, Bob Franceschetti, Eric Armstrong, Dan Castillon, Al Campopiano, Ron Thomlinson, Mike McNulty, Dan Peterson, Mike Weintz and Mike Kinch. ... Brian Morse of Merced CC will begin his fourth year as one of the directors of the NCGA. Mark House of Carmel Valley was named the 81st president of the NCGA during the organization's annual meeting at Castlewood CC in Pleasanton.
HOLES-IN-ONE -- Penny Weber, Modesto, 77-yard fourth at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 9-iron ... Jesminder Singh, Stevinson, 180-yard seventh at Stevinson Ranch, driver. ... Herb Boucher, Sonora, 160-yard fifth at Mountain Springs, Sonora, 5-wood. ... Larry Eppers, Turlock, 131-yard 17th at Diablo Grande (Ranch), 9-iron.
Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2302.