On April 14, 2021, our Central Florida community lost an amazing man who touched the lives of so many. As we reflect back on Brad Brewer’s contributions to Central Florida, we wanted to share with you a feature we ran in 2016 on Brad’s book that shares his experiences with Mr. Arnold Palmer as he was working in the ‘90s to help co-found the Arnold Palmer Golf Academies. Brad’s legacy will continue to live on in the lives he touched through his golf teachings as well as his faith and commitment to helping others on and off the golf course.
In his book titled “Mentored by the King,” Brad Brewer of Brad Brewer Golf Academy recounts his memories of working with and learning from Arnold Palmer. In Palmer’s memory, Brewer has graciously allowed us to reprint an excerpt from the book so we can all learn a little piece of the golf legend’s humble teachings.
Should you ever cross paths with any of my students from the past twenty years, they will undoubtedly remember my recitation of a favorite Arnold Palmer quote:
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. A child can play it well and a grown man can never master it. Any single round of it is full of unexpected triumphs and perfect shots that end in disaster. It is almost a science, yet it is a puzzle without an answer. It is gratifying and tantalizing, precise and unpredictable; it requires complete concentration and total relaxation. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening — and it is without doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”
Given how foundational Palmer’s philosophy of simplifying complexity has been to me, I’ve naturally been curious about how and where it originated. During a visit to his Latrobe office, I decided to ask.
“What has helped you keep your thoughts so deceptively simple about such complex things?” I asked. Arnold leaned back in his chair, rubbed his chin, and gazed out the window, his eyes brightening, his gaze settling on the distant course.“It was the way my father and mother raised me,” he began. “My dad taught me how to play, and he would keep it to the basic fundamentals, like a good grip, steady head, and the need to just hit it hard! That was fun for me, and it gave me great satisfaction to strike the ball this way when I was a young man. As I progressed during my career, if I ever felt like I was out of sorts, I would just go back to these simple thoughts, and I would find that ‘solid ball-striking’ that leads to winning golf tournaments again. But I have seen many fellow competitors get twisted into knots,” he continued, “trying new things and searching for that magical swing, though to no avail.
In fact, some unfortunate fellows just over-thought themselves right off the Tour and out of competitive golf. I tried to keep all of my energy focused on my goal of winning every tournament that I entered.
My thought was to create and execute good shots, one at a time. Not perfect swings, but keeping it simple with basic fundamentals that produced the good golf shots that proved to serve me well.”
Breaking Bad Habits
As a pro whose responsibility it is to “fix” the broken swings of my students, I find Palmer’s “swing thoughts” refreshingly (though deceptively)
simple. Mere mortals like us might easily discount them. After all, unlike Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam, many of us didn’t begin playing golf as a young boy or girl, or benefit from a parent or coach instilling good golfing habits back then. There’s a tremendous advantage in learning these simple lessons at a young age, before faulty habits set in and negative thoughts become the norm. Fortunately, just because you didn’t begin playing at age six doesn’t mean that you can’t reprogram your habits toward achieving what you want to accomplish.
If you’ve only picked up the game as an adult, take heart. The vast majority of players out there have done the very same thing. Elevating your game begins with awareness that certain fundamentals are necessary to develop a repeatable shot pattern.
This newly practiced paradigm will require conscious thought for a while, with several repetitions, before it becomes your newly formed habit. What I’m suggesting is nothing new, of course, but a return to the basic fundamentals of the game can be one of the most important things a golfer can do.