Episode 24 - The Byman Bros

Elk catches up with the Byman brothers to discuss golf history, coaching, and play a few holes at Champions Golf Club. Available 10pm EST on 12/12

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[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: On this episode of "The Rural Golfer"--

-Well, this is a real treat, Ed. I haven't seen you in a long time.

NARRATOR: Elk meets up with the Byman brothers and learns how their passion for golf has lasted a lifetime.

STEVE ELKINGTON: They Bymans, they are a wonderful golf family. There was a lot of history in the beginning for them. You won the Bay Hill Tournament. You are on tour.


NARRATOR: He discovers how to turn old clubs into new opportunities.

-$95 you gave me on the trade.

-That's exactly right.

-Trade in our old stuff, get money for it, and buy new stuff. Now, what could be better than that for a golfer?

NARRATOR: And as always, manages to squeeze in a little time for golf.

-You know, it's embarrassing when I get beat on the show. And I got guys that sell clubs wanting to beat me. I've got girls doing flips that want to beat me.

NARRATOR: "The Rural Golfer" is headed your way.


THEME SONG: One, two, three, four.


We've got the big show revving, their eyes are on the map. Where we're going next, we just can't see. Grab the clubs, let's hit some balls. We're making friends and playing golf. The rural golfer is coming your way.


-And I wind-- I wind up the top. See these wrinkles right here?

NARRATOR: In the modern game, pretty much every golfer has a teacher. But it wasn't always that way.

-You're sort of throwing the swing.

NARRATOR: And like most things, the first teachers were born from necessity.

STEVE ELKINGTON: You've been in the game the longest, probably longer than anybody in this country. I know you were very influenced by your dad. Why don't you tell us about when you started becoming aware of coaches, and teaching, and talking about the swing.

-There basically was no teachers. They all made clubs. They bought their heads in Scotland. And they put the shafts in.

STEVE ELKINGTON: And they would take those clubs, and then go to a member, and show them how to use them.


STEVE ELKINGTON: Is that how it began?

JACKIE BURKE: And then he became the teacher.

STEVE ELKINGTON: You know, we talked about where teaching began. It was interesting to me to know that when those pros made those clubs that then they went out and showed the member how to use it. Well, that was sort of how it started, right? Well, you could imagine that's OK, Elk, Mr. Member, this is how you put your hands on the club.

And this is what you do, right? That's where it started. Well, to some degree, it hasn't really left that. We're still going to put it like this and do it like that. Tell us about your research on the first coach.

-Well, I think the research that I've done, it may have been before Harry Vardon. But from what I could tell, that's where it all started. This guy put together a particular method of how to put your hands on the golf club to particularly influence how you had to move in order to make the ball go the way you wanted it to go.

NARRATOR: As golf's first superstar, Vardon captured 62 career victories, including seven major championships thanks to a demanding practice program and his unique grip.

-Very natural, very efficient, very effortless.

-Keep the club square.

-With the Vardon grip, basically, somewhere the palms or somewhere facing each other. And they're perpendicular to you. And they control the squareness, the loft, and the lie of the club.

-Well, that's-- you know, we talk so much about the grip all the time. But a lot of people just think the Vardon grip was this little pinky finger over here.

-No, way more than that.

STEVE ELKINGTON: There was a lot more to it than that.

BOB BYMAN: Yeah, it was way more.

NARRATOR: As we know, the grip is one of the most important pillars of the game. And Vardon revolutionized the way players held a club.

-You walk in with your Vardon grip. And the Vardon grip, one of the things, his hands were so big that he pulled them up. And that's when he started overlapping.


-Because there was a lot of players that just played with a baseball grip.

-I didn't realize that it was a sequence of events that had to go on. Most people think that the Vardon grip was all about that little overlap.

-The left hand goes on, the middle two. The pocket covers the index finger.

-When you say the pocket, you're talking--

-The pocket right in there.

-That makes a shape like that, like a--

-So it fits right into that left thumb. It's like two pieces to a puzzle right in there. There's no gaps in there.

STEVE ELKINGTON: A lot of people don't realize that--

BOB BYMAN: They go this way, or they go that way.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Yeah, they don't realize that that's important, do they?

BOB BYMAN: Oh, that's critical.

STEVE ELKINGTON: That's critical.

-If I were to condense a description of the swing in its most basic form, I would say it as this-- It's connecting a starting position to a finishing position within the confines and protection of beat and balance.

STEVE ELKINGTON: You've got to have that.

BOB BYMAN: That is critical up here where there is speed.


-So you can lag. If it goes this way, people get too hard up there, because they lose control.


BOB BYMAN: The first and most important condition of balance would be the connection that you have actually with the tool that's going to make the little projectile that you're going to hit out there toward your target so you can actually play the game.

STEVE ELKINGTON: You can see a couple knuckles there.

NARRATOR: But in the modern era most players have made one minor modification to the Vardon grip.

-One thing that's improved the game so much is the interlocking grip.

-You like that?

-I do, because it's easy to do.

-It's easy to do.

-And Jack Nicklaus, and a lot of the young guys are using the interlocking grip more than the Vardon.

-Tiger Woods is the famous and Jack Nicklaus both.



-And the young players coming out today, more of them are using this grip than the Vardon grip.

-You want to make sure that the interlock is the last thing that you do.

STEVE ELKINGTON: If you do it--

-You put all the other things on there. Now, the interlock goes on. It's all fine and dandy.


-OK? If it's the first thing that happens, it goes-- what happens is what you describe. Now, the right hand starts coming under this way.

-Right hand.

-The palm of the hand is facing up.

-And then--

-And now, you forget about it. You're a hooker.

-Yeah, your brain doesn't know where the flat is.

-No, I mean, most basically, the palms are pretty much facing each other perpendicular to you so that they're aligned with the club face.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I think debating and expressing yourself is good for you. As far as it goes with Jackie, and I, and Bob talking about coaching, well, that's up for interpretation whichever way you want it.


NARRATOR: The Byman brothers develop a shared passion for the game growing up in Kingston, New York. And they share winning at the highest level among their greatest achievements. As players on the PGA Tour in the '70s and '80s, Ed beat World Golf Hall of Famer Lee Trevino at the 1974 Mexican National Open, while Bob counts six victories worldwide, including the Bay Hill Classic, among his.

BOB BYMAN: Ed and I mostly dug the game out of the ground. You know, the secret is in the dirt for us. I grew up in an era when Nicholas was dominating. As I matured and you start trying to figure out how to be the best that you can be, you have to go back to the guys that allowed Jack to be as good as he could be.

Well, you start looking back, you know, Harry Vardon, and Bobby Jones, and Walter Hagen, and Hogan, and Snead, and Nelson, and you learn to take and appreciate what these guys did. A guy named George Knudson became very, very important to me, Canadian. George Knudson became one of the best maybe top five ball strikers of all time.

And then I read his book. He filled in all the gaps. So he has become a tremendous influence in my teaching. I'm an excellent teacher now. I have great passion for it. The combination of skill sets that I have is extremely rare.

-Good players tend to-- if they're going to miss them, they tend to always hit a little thin. I have a lot to offer anybody who wishes to learn.

NARRATOR: While Bob keeps his passion alive through teaching, Ed funnels his passion into the equipment side.

-I started a sales agency in North and South Carolina and represented several different golf companies. So I did that for about 20 years. And then in 2001, I started global golf. We sell all the new stuff, but we specialize in pre-owned equipment. We have read on the website on that product page where you can click for a conversation with a PGA pro who can give you the advice that you might need answer any real technical questions you might have to help you fit that club to your game.

-Globalgolf.com is the best website to buy stuff on, in my opinion, because Ed's created something that has tremendous value to golf.

ED BYMAN: We also do trade in. We created the blue book with all the prices for all of clubs that are on the market. So a guy can come, he can trade in what he currently has, and he can use that money towards the purchase of new equipment.

BOB BYMAN: This is a real treat, Ed. I haven't seen you in a long time. We're going to get to take a look and see what you're up to.

ED BYMAN: OK. I thought it was a great day, a chance to spend time with my brother Bob, who I don't get to see all that often. I know how much he's worked at it, and how accomplished he was playing, and how much time he's spent on the fundamentals of the game. So anything that he says I know is coming from the right spot, and it's going to be helpful.

BOB BYMAN: You're loading better than I've seen you do in a long time. Your loading as well as you've done any time you've played on tour, lovely. I'd like to see you get all the way over on the left. Get 100% of your weight on the left foot when you finish. Stay right there. So I could even talk you into doing that.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Having it come up? Roll up?

BOB BYMAN: Just an inch so that I know there isn't any weight there.

-That was pretty much-- I felt like the weight was off.

BOB BYMAN: It becomes an art form. Teaching is really more of an art form. I see myself many times as a master sculptor. You have a big block of granite. And you see the beautiful angel inside. And then you start hacking away at this thing, and nobody knows what's in there but you.

All you have to do is just keep that stable and just let everything go with it. That eliminates that issue.

-One of the big gaps in my life is not being with my brother and my mom and dad, because they live in Australia. And yesterday, I was a little bit envious of those guys being together talking about stuff. And my brother, he loved to give me a lesson, and really liked to beat me when we played.


STEVE ELKINGTON: This is a famous hole, because this is where Ben Hogan ended his career essentially. He had an accident. He had a bad knee. And he was hitting a one iron across here, and he didn't get over. And he hit another ball, and it didn't get over. So he walked over to Mr. Burke, who was there in the cart, and said, take me in. If I can't get over this creek with a one iron, I shouldn't be out here with these kids.

-To hear Steve's story and, of course, Mr. Burke tells that story about Hogan, what was really fun. And then, of course, to play it from the tee that we played it, I was like 225-yard par three. So it's a pretty intimidating hole with a barranca kind of in front of it.

-Oh, he's played-- he's played a smart shot. Jackie Burke called the green keeper at dinner the night before and said, hey, push that pin way left over there on 4. They even cut the pin in the Hogan spot today up on the back left.

BOB BYMAN: That is beautiful.

-You got to follow these green spots. That's a hell of a putt. Oh. You know what they say at number 4, a three here is always good. Hey, that's going to be all right. Whoa, baby.

-It breaks a lot, huh?

-It really does at the end, doesn't it? Oh, look at him putt. What a player.

ED BYMAN: I learned a great lesson about champions. You can hit the green and still be a long way from the hole.

STEVE ELKINGTON: So the trick is you've got to cut them into smaller green.

-So you cut it in half? You cut it in quarters?



-Quarters. That's how big they are.


NARRATOR: If there's one thing that we've learned on "The Rural Golfer" this season, it's that a good grip is the foundation of a good golf game. If you're not holding the club the right way, you'll never have the swing it takes to be successful.

BOB BYMAN: Good grip is the greatest gift that I can give any golfer. You can predict what the problems are.

-You agree with that, I know.

-Before they even begin.

-Before you even know--

-Then they hit a few shots, and you go, oh, OK, you actually do do that so that they're convinced that particular day again.

NARRATOR: And while the philosophy of golf can be debated for eternity, for our purposes, the grip is non-negotiable.

-If you hit a good shot, you feel it in your hands. You don't feel it in your feet. You feel it in your hands.

STEVE ELKINGTON: The right-hand grip action is very important to golf. They've got to be able to go through that first drill to where they can know that that's going to go straight if they do that. Then I can add power. I can add how to aim-- all of that can be attached on. But we've got to start right here.

-Even by professionals, we go on and on, and now, they're playing well, and they're hitting the ball beautifully. And I go now you're finally doing lesson one. You are finally doing it. Now, we can begin finally.

STEVE ELKINGTON: The rule of champions is you've got to take advantage of the par fives, because there is long par fours and long par threes. So this is the 13th hole. We love it because it goes down the creek, Cypress Creek. We've played number four, which went the other way on the creek. This hole normally plays dead into the prevailing wind, which is a narrow drive into the wind. Wow! Beauty.

BOB BYMAN: You got to get over the tree. That's the first thing you got to do.

-Yeah, the first thing you've got to be over the tree. Listen to your baby brother.

-Yeah, good enough. Oh, give me a look hook in there.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Come on, baby.

BOB BYMAN: You sweet ball. Get down a little bit.

STEVE ELKINGTON: That was nice .

ED BYMAN: That is awesome.

BOB BYMAN: Beautiful.

ED BYMAN: Oh, that's got to go. Over the hill, and oh, it just missed the spot.

STEVE ELKINGTON: OK. Come on, baby.

BOB BYMAN: Oh, it didn't break at the end.

ED BYMAN: That's a beautiful four.


ED BYMAN: Steve I got this going right across here, right?

-The grain is hard there, Ed, so whatever you are coming this way is going to be less, because the grain is going to eat it up. Come on, baby. Oh!

BOB BYMAN: Oh! Just a little too hard.

ED BYMAN: Oh, it was traveling a little quick, that one.

STEVE ELKINGTON: That was unlucky. You should be still even.


NARRATOR: Those who have the hunger to play better.

JACKIE BURKE: That's perfect.

NARRATOR: To swing better, to outdrive the best like no other, also possess the appetite to obtain the tools to get there. The golf professionals at globalgolf.com have come up with an innovative means to feed that hunger.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Ed's created something that has tremendous value to golfers, because they can get their equipment easily and cheaper.

-I would see clubs in the pro shops that people couldn't get rid-- people had traded in. So I said, boy, if I can find a market for those pre-owned clubs--

-We're going to have a little mock fun with this club. You're going to pull this up for me on the computer, and you're going to give me a trade-in value, because you spend all that time inventing what we call a blue book for every club on the market.

ED BYMAN: That's right. So we go to our trade-in center. So if someone is willing to take a pre-owned club rather than a new one, he can probably get into it for a little bit less money.

STEVE ELKINGTON: It's a TaylorMade Slider 430.

ED BYMAN: OK, so that's the club. You can verify looking at yours and looking at the picture. It's the same thing. So this club is worth $95 to trade in today.

-Let's face it, you don't have to go buy a $900 driver. You could trade in three of the ones you don't use anymore and maybe pay $100 and get the latest one you want.

-That's right. It's currency that's sitting in their garage.

-It's the ultimate thing, right? It's like if we've all got stuff in our closets, et cetera, he's giving us an angle where we can go trade in our old stuff, get money for it, and buy new stuff. Now, what could be better than that for a golfer? You're not going to get any trades out of me today. But I want to thank you for telling me how it works. But I will be going on your site.

-Well, good deal. Good deal. Thanks.

-Thank you, Ed.


-This hole is a very difficult hold. And this was Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer, both who came to this club many times, loved this hole. This was a turning point in the round where you had to play this hole well, this. You know, you get on a course where you've got to play a certain hole well, have a good scorecard.


STEVE ELKINGTON: This is one of those holes. 14 is the hole that if you don't position your drive off the tee. And I'm sure Hogan faded-- I know he faded it and so did Palmer up the right side, if it's a good angle in. It's just a very hard hole.

-There's a tree out there, what, that's about 230, 220?

-The little one.

-No, the taller one.

-Yeah, that's further. It's about 280.

-280, that one is.

-That's where we want to get it over that way.

BOB BYMAN: Oh, we got a little kick. Oh, that's all. That's OK. Toe jammer, go through, get low. Oh, that's going to be good. So the wind is perfect for a six iron.


ED BYMAN: Softly,.


ED BYMAN: Softly.

STEVE ELKINGTON: You know, it's embarrassing when I get beat in the show. And I got guys that sell clubs wanting to beat me. I got girls doing flips that want to beat me.

-And nobody can get there, can they?

-It's tough. No, they did.

-All right, Ed, I think it's time to make one.

-I do too, man. I was robbed the last hole.


ED BYMAN: I got a little too much heat on that one.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Too much speed.

BOB BYMAN: Yeah, looked pretty good there. He had a look. I saw the look. I saw the look on that one.

-It's my home track. Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Ed.

-Yes, thank you.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Let's face it, I had the huge advantage. It was my home course. On his home course, he probably would have won the match.

KIDS: Elk's Vintage Vault.

-Alex Mercer taught me this shot. And what it was is to be able to make the ball go across the green fast and then pull up late. But the weight has got to be 60%, 70% on the left leg. So in this case, we can be right here, right?

When you are coming in with this ball here, it comes down, it hits on the front side. It's driven into the turf. So it gets frictions on both sides of it. The feeling of the shot has to be the club head is above the ball. It's going to come out fast and finish up on the other end slow. I'm gong to get that club head above the ball.

MAN: Whoa!

-That slows it down the most.


NARRATOR: On the next episode of "The Rural Golfer"--

-I am standing on quite possibly the most unusual golf course in all of America. You lived your whole life in Baton Rouge, and you've never been to Angola State Prison Golf Course.

-I have heard about it, but I've never been.

STEVE ELKINGTON: This is the only prison in the United States that has its own golf course.

-And it's nice.

-And it's nice.

NARRATOR: Elk Discovers a unique family.

-My dad is an assistant warden here. My grandfather was the head warden here.

NARRATOR: And lands himself in a little trouble.

-You want me to lock him in?

WOMAN: Yes, please.