The PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship is held each year in Myrtle Beach and hosts more than 3,000 golfers for a weeklong golf tournament. This year, the World Am is following three golfers as they pair up with top golf instructors from across the country to improve their game leading up to the event. Jamie Costanzo of Manchester, N.J. is an 11-year veteran of the World Am, and is training with renowned instructor Michael Breed to improve her golf game. Watch as we follow Jamie through her process of preparing for the World Am.
Jamie Costanzo: Hi, I’m Jamie Costanzo and I’m from Manchester, New Jersey.
In 2015, I came to the World Am for the first round. I want to say it was at either the first or second tee box, I took a real big swing and I could feel “Pop! Pop! Pop!” in my back. And my back felt cold and wet. It was the strangest feeling, I didn’t think anything of it, I wasn’t in any pain, but my legs stopped moving. I was dragging them like I was walking through quicksand. It was a very strange feeling, and all of a sudden I couldn’t walk anymore.
I wound up like 11 holes in and I had to quit. So I withdrew from the tournament. Very upsetting that I had to do that, because you wait all year for this tournament. I just went back the hotel room, waited for my husband to finish playing his rounds and he wanted me to go to the emergency room down there and I wouldn’t. I went home, went to the emergency room. They told me that they couldn’t help me. Went to a specialist, and he said that I’m killing my nerves down my legs and if I don’t have surgery soon, that I would never walk again.
Kyle Oland: Okay, So what was it originally that attracted you to play in the World Am?
Jamie: So, I played in New Jersey in a golf league. That’s competitive golf. They all, at the end of the year, a team wins the trip to the World Am. So the first year that I won it, I went down and I liked the competitiveness of it, the camaraderie of it, the people that you meet from all over the world. From your own state, the United States, and worldwide. It’s pretty cool.
Kyle: Gotcha. Tell me a little bit about what keeps you coming back every year.
Jamie: Wanting to win. You know, you always want to win your flight. You always want to be in that last group on Friday, and its something that you strive for. That’s the kicker.
Kyle: So you know, obviously you want to win. That’s why you go there. You know, having this opportunity to work with a world renowned golf instructor like Michael Breed, what are your expectations going into this on these lessons you’re going to take with him?
Jamie: Hoping to break 80. I think I have one major goal, to break 80. So my lowest score is 81, and 80, actually 80 was my lowest score and that was a few years ago and I just have not broken 80. So I’m hoping that he gets me there and drops my handicap so I can play competitively in the first ladies division.
Kyle: So what is your current handicap?
Kyle: Fourteen. Now going into this, do you have a goal of what you’d maybe like to see that handicap get down to after working with Michael?
Jamie: I was down to a 10 at one point and I’d like to get back down to that 10.
Michael Breed: Okay, a couple of things that we go by. One, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Whatever question you have, it’s fine. And there’s no such thing as a stupid answer.
Michael: If I ask you something, I don’t want to hear, “Well, this may sound like a stupid …” No, its fine. And if I ask you something and you don’t know an answer, “I don’t know” is fine. My job is to know more than you know. If we go the other way around we got a big problem. Okay?
Jamie: Might want to hire me.
Michael: Right. That’s exactly right, put me out of business. Flip around and you can teach me. I give you full permission to hit bad shots. Okay?
Michael: Okay. Don’t have to worry about it. Bad shots are a good thing. Now let’s talk a little bit about your golf clubs.
Michael: How old are these clubs?
Jamie: Two years.
Michael: Oh, I love that!
Kyle: Michael, if you could just talk through, recap what you saw in this and what you would work on right now.
Michael: What I saw was a lot of reliance on hands. So she’s got very strong hands. It’s actually not common for women to have strong hands and strong wrists. But when I ask her what she does, she’s a softball player. Now I understand, yes she’s gonna have strong hands and wrists. And as a shortstop, in all modesty, you’re gonna have strong hands and wrists. That’s the way you’re gonna operate. So she relies on her strength, which is hands. Great athletes are gonna be shortstops, quarterbacks, things like that. And they’re gonna have great hands. They’re gonna have strong hands. And so she clearly has strong hands and wrists. So she relies on that asset. And what I need her to do is I need her to rely on her softball hitting ability to rotate properly and then take some of the hand activity out. Which is why when she’s coming through I’ll get this release here, where she starts to get a cupped left wrist and a bowed right wrist, because her hands want to take over. And I’ve gotta try to take some of that out of the swing and let her body overpower her hands so the club is really dragging behind, which is the sense you’ll get of dragging the club.
Jamie: Yeah, so it was awesome. He changed a lot of things. I was a little leery at first, but I’m hitting drives, like, unbelievable. We went through some changes with grip and swinging around instead of down and up. It’s more of a round-type swing – something that I’ve never done before, so it was a little nerve racking at first, trying to hit that golf ball. And I’ll tell you, he’s got me swinging like I’ve never swung before. The greatest thing, which I didn’t tell him, is that my back doesn’t hurt. Usually after lessons my back is sore for, you know, hours. Even into the next day. And my back is great. I feel like I didn’t even swing. No pressure at all on my lower back. So, whatever he changed, changed my whole … the hips, and the way that the body moves, is just more connected.