I had to learn more about the straps, for this story and in case I might use them one day. I called Maury at his home in New York City, where he was beside himself because it was freezing and he had no chance of getting to the Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., where he belongs and sometimes ventures even in the winter to whack some golf balls. It was going to be a busy day anyway, Maury told me.
“Walk the dog, try to work out, taping the show,” he said.
Maury didn’t take up golf until he was 30, when his father, the much-loved and tremendous sportswriter Shirley Povich got him a membership at a club in Washington, D.C. Twenty years later, Maury’s wife Connie Chung wanted to buy him something special for his 50th birthday. Maury told me she “scoured” the country and came up with one Peter Kostis - yes, that Peter Kostis. She bought Maury some lessons for his 50th birthday.
“Peter and I have been attached at the hip ever since,” Maury said. He added that Kostis, one of the most well-known swing coaches and tournament analysts – he works for CBS and was also a consultant on the movie Tin Cup – attended the University of New Hampshire, where he studied engineering. He is attached to golf gizmos, and uses them with his tour players, including Paul Casey and 2008 RBC Canadian Open winner Chez Reavie.
“Peter is a big believer in hip turn,” Maury told me while explaining the origins of the straps. It turns out that, to promote hip turn back from and through the ball, as opposed to a lateral slide, which, he believes, can ruin a swing, Kostis came up with the straps.
“It’s a rubber hose that you clip onto Velcro around your waist,” Maury said, and, good sport that he is, he was having a good time and laughing as he tried to describe the straps to me. I was trying to picture Kostis’s creation. Further, Maury said, you’re clipped into spikes four or five feet apart on the ground on your left and right side. You’re forced to turn your hips rather than slide them. Maury’s ball flight got higher and he had a gentle draw. Needless to say, he went to Home Depot and got his own straps that he carries in a gym bag and takes to the range when he’s practicing. He told me Kostis uses a similar device as the straps for teaching the proper shoulder turn. Maury referred to this as a shoulder harness.
“I was always lateral going forward,” Maury said. “Now my swing is faster, I have a fuller hip turn, and I don’t slide. I’m playing probably as good or better than I did 10 years ago. I still believe I can play better. Peter says if you look at guys on the senior (Champions) tour, the ones who can turn can play. The ones who can’t turn can’t play. He wants you to swing like you’re in a phone booth. You stay in the phone booth.”
How I’d love to stay in the phone booth. I’m a slider. I drift way off the ball. Ned is always admonishing me that I get way too ahead of the ball when I come through it because I slide. Clearly, I need the straps. Peter Kostis, where are you? Will you be at the PGA Show?
I hope so. From the truss to the Coach to the straps, I’m hooked. PGA Merchandise Show, golf gizmo area, here I come.
RELATED LINK: More blogs from Lorne Rubenstein
Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein