Mel Flanagan and the search for the Holy Grail of golf

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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The renowned golf professional Mel Flanagan believes he has cracked the code to our great game.

Mel Flanagan, golf professional, course designer and author has never ceased in his quest to find the “Holy Grail” of golf. After 60 years in the game, and 41 years since he qualified as a PGA pro, Mel, a member of the Flanagan golfing clan of Sligo fame, believes he has cracked the code.

His newly-published book, written in collaboration with Longford-born, New York-based pro David Byrne, is based around instruction in ‘The One’ swing system that Mel discovered, which he believes is the answer to golfers’ prayers for a repeatable swing and performance improvement.

Titled: “The Swing – towards a new consciousness of golf” the book is also abundantly flavoured with passages reflecting Mel’s unique philosophy and uncompromising observations on the game.

His own passion and love for the sport, as well as his fascination with the mystique and mystery of golf come shining through, sprinkled with psychology, humour and the occasional diversion into spiritual philosophy.

With Mel, there’s a lively mind at work, constantly viewing life and golf from a wide-angle perspective, but be assured he wants you and me to play the game as well as we can. Mel also continually exhorts the average club golfer to aim high, to want better for their game instead of settling for high handicap mediocrity.

Take this passage on page 72 for instance: “…Ninety five per cent of professional tournaments, male and female are stroke play, over 72 holes, all shots added up with the very final putt counted.”

“On the other hand, today the majority of amateur events are Stableford points. Stableford is inherently unfair. It is my opinion that the Stableford system has seriously dented the idealism in golf. It has more or less destroyed the passion to be the best, to play off the lowest handicap and reach full potential…”

And these sentences on page 76: “I want you to push yourself to the limit. To have as an aim the lowest gross score, the lowest handicap, to be the very best you can be….Your goal must be to shoot the lowest score and to play off the lowest handicap.”

How to do that? Well, it’s all in the book, set out very clearly and quite simply. Mel’s System applies to putting, chipping, short game, and long game.

I don’t have the space to delve too much into it, but he has built it up from a simple day at the range when a golfer asked for help. He was, in his own words, “hitting it all over the parish” and Mel concurred.

Then Mel says: “I closed his stance. For some weird reason I focused then only on his takeaway. I went behind him, grabbed the head of the driver and pulled like hell as he held the grip. We repeated it a number of times until he began to get the stretch feel. “Go mad wide early” I told him “and forget after that, just let it happen, do your natural swing.”

“Well lo and behold, shot after shot dead straight… “I knew then as I know now, golf’s little secret is hidden where you would never expect it. It is not at impact, not on your downswing or top of your backswing or your posture set up… It’s hidden in what you and all else think is the most inconsequential part of your swing, the very first 9 inches of your takeaway..”

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