Saturday, January 23, 2010

Brian Pavlet

Many times, personal Web site exaggerate tremendously. He's the best at this. She's wonderful at that. This product is the greatest on the market.

But after seeing Brian Pavlet on Saturday at the North Coast Golf Show in the Chicago area, one sentence in the biography section of his Web site told the tale perfectly.

"His engaging personality and performance make him one of golf’s premier showmen."

I sat in the audience and listened to Pavlet, a former RE/MAX World Long Drive champion. He was engaging, and he did perform well. And as far as showmanship was concerned, he made me laugh out loud several times. Besides, anyone who can stand before a bunch of golfers and say, "Putting is overrated," better be a good showman. We've all heard the line before: Drive for show and putt for dough. It's ingrained in most of our heads.

But when Pavlet directly contradicted that, it seemed OK because of the way he said it. With a smirk and a chuckle, he turned the world of golf tips upside-down. He mocked pre-shot routines and scoffed at the importance of using your lower body to get more distance.

To illustrate the latter, he told a story about how he was added to a longtime threesome at some golf course at the last minute. It was a set-up because these three never wanted a stranger added to their group, and they were focused and serious about beating each other, not wanting a fourth to foul things up. They had no idea that Pavlet was a long-drive champion.

So Pavlet strolled up to the first tee, he said, and they were looking at him with disdain. When he pulled out a 30-inch training driver, they thought he was strangest person on the planet. But then he started outdriving them with a 30-inch driver. (Most drivers are in the 45- or 46-inch range or so.) What makes this even more impressive is that he has to squat down so far just to hit the ball. He hit a few on stage, and you could see that he was almost in a split. He pointed out that you can't generate much lower-body strength to the swing when your stance is so wide open.

Anyway, he kept telling the audience," This is how I know that we (golfers) will try anything if we think it will work." The story went on that by the 9th hole, he was consistently outdriving the threesome, who were no longer looking at him condescendingly. And finally, one of them walked up to him and asked, "Where did you get that? I want one."

But probably the funniest story he told revolved around watching a guy, with a crazy pre-shot routine. Finally, after a few head rolls and waggles, the guy addressed the ball, and it looked like he was ready to hit it. But then he stepped away from the teebox, ran to his bag and started pulling out golf magazines until he found the one with the driver tip. He did a quick read, went back to the ball and whiffed it.

Pavlet's presentation, however, wasn't just about funny tales and comic relief. He did have good advice for golfers who wanted to get better. He said one way to beat your opponent is to intimidate him by getting a golf bag with your name on it. They'll look at it and say, "Oh, this guy is good. His name is on his bag."

And then there was the tip on the downswing. He said that people ask him all the time about how to start the downswing. He said teachers talk about "ringing the bell," pushing your pocket toward the target, throwing your right knee toward the target, stomping your left heel and many more. He said that when he gets to the top of his swing, the one thing that pops into his mind is: "GO THE OTHER WAY."

During his presentation - which included drives that nearly reached 400 yards - he said that all golfers want to hit the ball farther and that distance sometimes takes a back seat to accuracy. Even today's pros have that mentality, with their "slash and gouge" philosophy off the tee, Pavlet said.

"They hit it as far as they can off the tee, gouge it out of the rough onto the green and make the putt," he said.

Yeah, that works for the pros, but when I hit in the rough, I typically can't gouge it out onto the green. But I'm sure if Pavlet ever saw me try, I'd end up as a story in one of his presentations.

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