Ron Agostini

Agostini on Golf: Got 10 minutes? Time enough to fix your game

What can you accomplish in your life in 10 minutes?

Here's a random list: Drop a couple of slices in the toaster for breakfast; walk to the mailbox; e-mail a friend; check Wall Street for the good or bad news; etc.

Or, you can improve your golf game. No charge.

May is PGA Free Lesson Month, when PGA or LPGA professionals nation-wide provide golfers of every age and skill level a chance to tune up their swings in less time than it takes to drink your morning coffee.

All local club pros take part in this promotional campaign now in its 12th year. Arrange for an appointment and watch your handicap index drop three strokes in 10 minutes.

An apology: The last part was an embellishment -- an April Fool leftover -- but you will be surprised what can be accomplished so quickly.

"I can watch someone swing the club five times and see five or six things they're doing wrong, but I won't do that," Dryden Park pro George Price said. "I'll hit on a few major things and work on those."

This just in: They'll cheat and spend and expand the clock a few minutes to help. They're trying to grow the game, you know, and what better method than donating their time for everyone's enjoyment?

OK, I know what you're thinking: Not even David Leadbetter can cure all my golf ills in 10 minutes.

Fact is, the instructors can't work miracles. What they can do, however, is identify a few flaws in fundamentals just as stance, grip, alignment and swing plane.

"We probably gave about 100 lessons last May, and it almost always goes longer than 10 minutes, but that is what it's designed to do," said Alan Thomas, head pro at Manteca Park since 1976. "If we can help people hit a few good shots, they'll have a better time and come back."

Free Lesson Month, a collaborative campaign keyed by The PGA of America, Golf Digest Publications and Golf Channel, clearly has been successful.

Since the program was launched in 1998, more than 938,000 lessons have been given. It will top the 1-million mark this month.

Last year, nearly 6,340 pros throughout the country assisted more than 106,600 customers. About 54 percent were first-time visitors to the host course, 30 percent were women and 23 percent were new to the game. Which means the program is meeting its goals.

Everyone who takes part can enter a sweepstakes for a two-day two-night golf getaway to The PGA Center For Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla. One hundred runners-up will receive prizes.

The biggest prize, however, is a tip that will straighten a slice or a hook, or perhaps a slight adjustment that results in a perfect-rolling putt.

Let's say you've got the shanks, and I'm sorry to even write the word. From now on, it's the dreaded lateral shot or hosel rocket. Anyway, can this patient be saved in 10 minutes?

Price says "Yes."

"It means the hosel is coming into the ball first, so the solution is to feel like you're turning the toe of the club over when you're coming through. That's the way I would start."

Any hosel-hitting victims out there during Free Lesson Month, George?

"Not yet," he said, "but I'm ready for them."

SHAG BAG -- Stevinson Ranch offers the perfect gift for Mothers Day -- free golf for moms! All mothers will receive a free green and cart fee on Sunday, while everyone else plays for $46 and gets a cart for $15. ... Marc Peterson of Modesto missed the cut at Mazatlan, Mexico (75-75) in his only Canadian Tour appearance to date.

HOLES-IN-ONE -- Tom Reeser, Turlock, 178-yard 11th at Turlock CC, 4-hybrid (on his first day of retirement). ... Rick Maisel, Knights Ferry, 127-yard eighth at Jack Tone Golf, Ripon, 8-iron.

Bee sports writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or 578-2302.

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