Grant Hirschman stops chasing speed, gets back to accurate play
November 01, 2021
By Nick Parker, PGATOUR.COM
- November 01, 2021
- Grant Hirschman is back at final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament this week. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The quest for speed has been an ongoing trend in professional golf for decades, but it’s become really in vogue over the last two years after Bryson DeChambeau returned from the COVID-19 pandemic, looking like a linebacker and bullying golf courses that previously had been able to fight back. As the need for speed has spread to DeChambeau’s opponents, so has the realization for some pros that bombs don’t equal birdies for everyone. Rory McIlroy had it, and Grant Hirschman got to that realization as well this season.
Hirschman, who finished 79th on the 2020-21 Korn Ferry Tour Points Standings, chased speed in the fall of 2020 and gained 15-20 yards, but he lost the comfort of knowing where it was going in the process. He’d always been a super straight hitter but never the longest hitter, so he hoped to gain distance without sacrificing accuracy. It just didn’t work.
“I decided to chase the speed and I did, but I don’t know if I went about it 100% the right way because my accuracy went all over the place,” Hirschman said. “I went from a guy that was always in the fairway to hitting it 15 or 20 yards further, but I was always off line and it just wasn’t worth it for me. I was playing out of the rough too much. I wasn’t used to it. Catching a lot more fliers. It was harder to control my ball.”
Hirschman is back at final stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament this week, hoping to improve his conditional status, and the 26-year-old thinks his game is getting back to where he’d like it. He’s worked to shed the weight he gained in his chase for speed and is returning to the formula he found success with previously: beating his opponents with precision.
“I just had to get back down to my game and realize that what’s made me a great golfer and the success I’ve had isn’t bombing the ball,” Hirschman said. “It’s been beating people with accuracy and precision and playing smart.”
Hirschman, who was a member of Oklahoma’s 2017 national championship team, also had to work on his grip. It had slowly gotten weaker throughout the season and was resulting in more clubface rotation than he was accustomed to. But grip changes are a process, and it was difficult to work on during the season.
“I had never experienced something like that in my golf swing,” Hirschman said. “It was just letting things kind of slip and it was very awkward to work on because it was uncomfortable on the course and uncomfortable on the range. But I just had to build confidence with it and accept it and know it’s for the best.”
Hirschman’s started to see the fruits of the work on returning to his old game and tidying up his grip towards the end of the Korn Ferry Tour season. He posted top-40s, including a season-best T4 at the Memorial Health Championship presented by LRS, in four of his last five starts to climb from outside of the top 100 up to No. 79, ensuring him a spot in final stage.
“I tried to adjust them during the season, but it wasn’t quite showing the results in the middle of the year, but I knew it was close and it finally kind of clicked there,” Hirschman said. “And then my confidence slowly started building week after week after week, and I stringed together five pretty solid weeks there on Korn Ferry but then the season ended.”
When the season ended, he still wanted more reps in advance of final stage, so he signed up for Monday qualifiers. The Memphis native played his way into the Sanderson Farms Championship three hours down the road in Mississippi and made the most of it, finishing T17 in his first PGA TOUR start in nearly four years.
The solid week in Mississippi helped him realize what he needs to do to make sure his third season on the Korn Ferry Tour is his last.
“I need to believe that I truly belong out there on the PGA TOUR and a week like I had out there is a great reminder,” Hirschman said. “My caddie, Ryan Boshoven, just kept reminding me the whole week that this is where you need to be each week. He said, ‘Look around, this is where you need to be. You belong. We didn’t do anything great this week, and you finished top 20. This is what you can do every single week.’”
With his confidence reignited and conditional status in hand already, Hirschman feels like he’s playing with house money at final stage this week and isn’t going in just trying to finish top 40 for guaranteed starts. His goals are bigger.
“I’m just looking at it as an opportunity. It’s really a different situation to be in already having good conditional status, so it’s kind of nothing to lose. I’m going to try to spend most of my focus on trying to win the golf tournament instead of paying so much attention on finishing top 40.”