At the AJGA Puerto Rico Open this past weekend, Chi Chi Rodriguez hosted a clinic for all the players in the field.
He told stories of playing with Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan and did impressions of hitting like Arnold Palmer and other players from his days playing the PGA Tour.
After the clinic, I approached Chi Chi and asked for a picture. We got talking and turns out, his family is originally from Spain too, like mine. We then began talking about the Academy and I told him I was a coach at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy.
He was very interested in what we did with trying to get our players college scholarships.
Two of my students were with me, Santiago Lopez and Emilio Maurer, and they were mesmerized with hearing everything Chi Chi said.
Chi Chi then asked Emilio what he shot and Emilio said 73.
“That’s a great score with how windy it was today,” Chi Chi said.
He then asked then same of Santi and Santi said 82.
Chi Chi was very surprised. He said, “82? With that swing?”
So he asked Santi to see his routine and watched Santi hit a few balls.
He didn’t see any problems with his swing but asked, about his decision-making.
“I have seen many swings, Arnold palmer and everyone is different,” Chi Chi said. “You guys have better swings than us, better equipment. Something that didn’t change though is your commitment to the target. Never change that. When you walk on the course, make sure you know where you want to go. Your target is always the most important thing. That’s going to give you confidence.”
Chi Chi followed by hitting a 5-iron and walked Santi and Emilio through his decision-making process.
He said, “Think where it’s going to go. I see my target and the shot I want to hit, and then I’m thinking about the shot I’m going to hit.”
And boom, he hit it right where he was just saying.
Santi and Emilio were impressed. It was different for them hearing about game strategy coming from someone like Chi Chi, rather than their coaches.
Chi Chi finished by offering words of encouragement to Santi and Emilio.
He said, “You always have to believe in yourself, have a goal and have quality practice. And don’t forget, you have to love the game of golf, not as a business. If you love it, you’re going to play better and you’re going to work hard. It allowed me to achieve my goals and you can do the same.”