Bob Harrison, PGA Professional at Clovernook Country Club in Cincinnati for over 40 years, played a very large role in my first and most prized club championship victory. If you walk around Clovernook and talk to members there, they would have nothing but great things to say about Bob. Bob like many PGA Professionals help create champions by offering simple golf tips. This story highlights how Bob made a major impact on my life and helped me to win the club championship.
The night before the semi-final match is something I will never forget. While practicing at the course the day before the event, I “forgot” how to hit my normal draw. We have all been there to one extent or another, but it was a panicked 20 year old version of myself that went to Bob after the round and told him I was lost. Bob, in his normal calm demeanor, said “Matt, let’s walk out to the 7th hole and hit a few balls.” As I think about this story it makes me think of the Harvey Penick books with simple golf tips I used to listen to on tape with my grandpa as I learned about the game of golf.
We got out to the 7th hole. At that time, there wasn’t much of a range at Clovernook. Most people taking lessons would hit shots from next to 7 tee down to along the 1st fairway – I had taken several lessons at this very spot with Bob the past couple years. This time, Bob had something different in mind. We walked up to the 7th tee instead. The 7th hole is a hard dog leg left – Bob told me to hit my 3 wood and hit my normal draw. I struggled and continued to block my shots out. He said try something, make yourself feel like you are taking your normal backswing but when you come down, hit the ball at 7pm on a clock and finish coming through the ball at 11pm…something like this:
All of a sudden, I could hit my normal ball flight. As the sun went down and I prepped for the final rounds, I felt prepared. I won the semi-final match a couple up and during the final 36 hole match, I was able to think about the simple golf tip “7 to 11 o’clock” time and time again (no pun intended). On the final hole I won the Club Championship 1 up.
After winning the club championship, I asked Bob where he came up with the 7 to 11 method. He told me something to the effect of “the 7 to 11 didn’t mean anything, it just gave you something to think about so you could play your game.” Bob was such a thoughtful PGA coach and it shows through his ability to think outside of the box to help his players and offer a simple golf tip when they need it the most. PGA Coach Stories like this are plentiful and to this day I cherish the time I had to spend with Bob Harrison.
After writing this article I received the news that Bob passed away on June 4th, 2020 at the age of 79. I cannot say how great of a man Bob was and how he will be missed by many. It makes me proud to share this story as I know Bob impacted many more in similar ways. RIP Bob