Professional golfer, Dr. Gil Morgan, was present Saturday evening, June 16th, 2012, at the Dr. Gil Morgan Municipal Golf Course to host a golf clinic at 6 pm during the 62nd Annual Pokkecetu Golf Tournament. A large crowd was in attendance to watch, listen and learn from the master golfer who began his pro career in 1973 and now resides in Edmond. Morgan gave tips on how to hit low and high balls, long drives, and chips that would roll onto a green with ease.
Morgan began the clinic by discussing his equipment and demonstrated his wedges, irons, hybrid and drivers in consecutive order. The clubs that Morgan uses on tour professionally include Titlest irons and Taylor Made R11S and RocketBallz drivers. His ball of choice is the Titleist Pro V1 Black because it is softer and has more spin than the Red. Morgan hit with his wedges first. For regular full shots with wedges, Morgan puts the ball in the center of his stance. For a low shot, he recommended moving the ball back in your stance, take a stronger grip, and put your weight further forward at address with your hands leading the club. For a shot up in the air, put the ball up in your stance, weight more towards the back foot and try to get the hands back a little bit, changing the trajectory of the shot. For left to right shots, Morgan explained some fundamental concepts. The more loft you have the harder it is to curve the ball, so that is why shots with wedges go straighter. The more loft you have the more back spin there is, and the more back spin, the less sidespin you have. It is harder to curve a wedge because of the straightness of the face. The long irons have less backspin.
When asked how he hits hook shots, Morgan said he releases the club a little more with his hands. “To hit curves you have to have the face closed to the path from which it is traveling. So if the club is traveling straight down and you have the face closed, it will start a little left and go a little left,” he said. “If I wanted to come more from the inside with the face closed, that puts a little bit of side spin (on the ball). So to make the face more closed at the hit, then I just released it earlier and a little harder than I would otherwise. Conversely with the slice or a cut, then I am trying to hold that off a little bit, trying to keep the face from turning over so much, so therefore it’s not as much energy as we were talking about previously,” stated Morgan. “To hit a little hook with this wedge, which is kind of hard to do, it’s a 58, I might shut the face down a little bit, then put my grip on it, there is no good putting your grip on it and then shutting the face because you haven’t really changed anything. You have to set the face closed first and then put your grip on it, then release the club a little faster hopefully to make it hook. The face angle controls where the ball starts a little more than the path does. The path controls some of that, but the face is actually more important in where the ball starts,” stated Morgan. If you set your club really closed, and swing straight back and straight through, the ball will go left. If you open the face and swing straight back and straight through, the ball will go right. Path is important for where the ball starts but face angle controls where it will end up. If the ball is hit with the face of the club square, and the swing path is straight back and straight through, the ball will move on target.
Morgan was asked when he started the pro tour. He said it was in 1973. Then he shifted his focus to irons. For these clubs, Morgan stated that nothing really changes much other than you stand a little further from the ball and your swing will be a little flatter than with wedges because of the length of the shaft. Morgan said he tries to line up his body a little left of the target line. People who aim right and then move back over the top when they hit it decrease the amount of force that they have to get back on line. “If you aim a little left of the target line with your body, you can accelerate down the line, having more energy,” stated Morgan. Morgan tends to have a strong grip pressure, especially when he’s nervous. When addressing the ball to begin the backswing, he carries his weight more to the right side because he wants to move forward. “If you stay on your left, then either you have to transfer a lot more weight back which could cause you to sway, or you might just stay there and that will cause you to move over the top,” he stated. Morgan said that if you want to hit a fade, you want to aim to the left a little bit and try to get your club open to the line a little bit.
When asked, “What was your process when starting your swing,” he said that he tries to visualize what kind of impact position he likes, and what he has to do to create that impact position. For instance, if he wants to hit a fade he wants to keep the face open, and there are certain things that have to happen first. He focuses on some of the mechanical things to make sure he does not over release the club, like holding onto the club tighter or finish a little higher or make it go left to right. He always tries to move the club head first. “Some people use their shoulders while some people use their shoulders and the body at the same time. There are a lot of different ways to do it. A lot of the kids today on the regular tour try to get as much extension as they can, but I don’t ever think about that myself because I feel like unless you need that to coil up, your arm is only so long and if you can keep it fairly straight and get your shoulders turned at least 90 degrees you can’t do much more. It’s like a ruler, you can’t get it any longer than that. I always thought that creates problems. Some people want to take the club back more closed with the face more shut, and some people take the club back more where it opens up,” he stated.
Morgan’s philosophy is that the club should be parallel to the line at waist high and the toe should be up. Morgan emphasized there are a lot of different ways to swing a club and that you have to find what works best for you. He said that sometimes he works on moving everything at the same time. He taps his club to the ground behind the ball before he starts his backswing before every swing. He does not move his head very much and tries to stay stable. If you move up and down you either have to change your spine angle or you have to change your leg angle. Most of his energy comes from his right side because he is right side dominant. When he was younger he over released the club a lot because he tried to hit too hard with his right side. To correct that problem he would work on extending his left side more to take it back and through because he knew that right hand was going to be there.
Morgan was asked, “When you start your backswing with your clubface, how long are you focusing on keeping your clubface square as you are coming back?” He replied, “It needs to go straight back to about the point of where your right foot is and then it begins to come slightly inside. The whole swings mostly takes place on this side of the ball (right side for right handed people) except for that foot area right at impact, (at this point Morgan brings his club all the way back in his backswing and slowly brings it back down and through) so that it’s on the inside here, inside, inside, inside, down the line (now the club is at the point of impact with the ball) inside, inside, inside (now the club is rising in the follow through of the swing). It’s a circle on an inclined plane.”
Morgan then demonstrated a swing focusing on trying to hit a low ball, but this time he used his seven iron. He said that he moves the ball back in his stance, moves his hands forward, moves his weight forward and tries to lead with his hands to the point and not try to transfer so much weight back to the right. To hit it high, you have to have more loft in the head, so he puts the ball forward in his stance, moves his hands back and tries to stay back (with the low shot he did not mind transferring weight forward by moving his body or axis forward so he could lead the club enough to cut the loft, changing the effective loft of the club a certain degree less). To hit it higher he has to have more effective loft than the club has. He wants to move the club up, keep his weight back and he wants the club to go up in the air by holding his hands back a little.
Morgan then demonstrated hitting with a hybrid. He said that they have changed the game a lot. They make it easier for people to hit the ball in the air and stop the ball on the greens as opposed to long irons. Long irons have always been hard for some people to hit because they don’t hit them trajectory wise high enough, but you can with a hybrid. One onlooker said that Gil had the best swing he had ever saw beside Ben Hogan’s. Another disagreed and said Morgan’s was better. Then Gil was asked who he felt like had the second best swing. Morgan said it was Tom Purtzer. He said that he is considered one of the better swingers. Morgan said that with a hybrid you can hit curves, high and low shots as long as you understand the principles that make it happen. He said you don’t think about a hybrid being a low club, but if you took it and moved it back and kept the weight in the right position and got through the ball you could make it work just like any other club. On the other side, if you need to hit a long shot over a bunker and make the ball stop pretty well you can hit it right in the air. When he first started hitting hybrids he said that he played them too far forward in his stance, but in time he moved the ball back in his stance like he was hitting an iron. Morgan said sometimes you can hit it like a wood though, depending on the lie and the situation. He said they are so much better out of the rough and hitting the ball out of bad lies. When asked, he agreed that most of the time he would hit a hybrid like an iron.
Morgan then pulled out his “dreaded driver.” He pulled out an R11S Taylor Made driver. The shaft was a very stiff Fujikura shaft. He played with an R11X most of his career, but he has gravitated towards the R11S and he tipped it about a half inch so it is stiffer than normal. It has a 9 degree loft. He played with 7.5 to 8.5 degree loft but has tried to change his angle of attack, so he changed to a higher angle loft. He had always been a high ball hitter. The average on tour is one degree down with a driver, and Morgan was 2 degrees up. His carry was long, but his roll out was not. He said he currently hits around 285 yards. He had too much spin on his high shots. He pulled out his 8 degree RocketBallz driver head and tossed it to one of the onlookers. Morgan said that the problem is when he tries to hit down on the club he gets across it too much and it pulls a little. He has worked to change that over the past month. He went to more loft in the driver but he hits down on it more so the trajectory is starting at a lower launch angle because of his angle of attack. He said he could still go back to hit the ball higher if he wants. You can make the driver do whatever you want as long as you understand the mechanics. On a side note, Morgan uses 4 Yards More Golf Tees because they don’t break very often and he can adjust the height easier, thereby giving him more consistency with his drives. Morgan said there are three ways to hit a hook with a driver and you can use the techniques separately or combined. He said you can strengthen your grip, close the club face and then grip it, or you can over or under release it to hit curves. The later is his normal approach, which he calls “face-angling-it.” From practicing the shot a lot, he has learned to feel the shot.
Throughout the hour long clinic, Morgan shared much laughter with the audience. Many who attended have known him for years and hold Morgan’s friendship and accomplishments to heart. He then concluded his clinic by signing a few items and taking pictures with audience members. He was warmly thanked by friends and strangers alike and stayed afterwards to give individual tips to those who still wanted to talk “golf,” despite the aroma of the tournament dinner lingering in the distance.