Did a black cat cross my path this morning, did I walk under a ladder? I even checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't Friday 13th, because an impostor stole my body and tried to play golf in it! ....and he surely never played this game before.
Show me a golfer who has played the game for any length of time, and I'll show you a golfer who has asked themselves the type of question that is the topic for this article. Why did I hit the golf ball so badly today?
Personally, I've finished plenty of range sessions and rounds where the performance was bad, and my internal dialogue went something like, 'stupid game' or 'I am so rubbish'. Grumble, grumble, grumble, strop, strop, strop!
But because our game is both frustrating and inspiring at different times, that stinky mood doesn't last long does it?
While Zeus and Thor and their golfing god buddies look down and have a bit of a giggle at our expense, we try and drive away our frustration by doing a furious dive into a favourite golf instructional book, to look for a clue as to what the heck happened!
If there's no luck found in the books, that doesn't matter, the momentum has begun, so its out with the laptop and onto youtube in the hope of 'channeling' our inner Butch Harmon, for a shot of inspiration and a possible diagnosis!
Such is the eclectic blend of the human psyche and the game of golf, its not long before a theory begins to bubble, a light-bulb goes on and its bingo....GOT IT. The certainty of 'I know what I was doing wrong today' solidifies... and off we go again!
No need to feel hard done by though, its not just us amateurs paying a visit to the dungeon of despair, upon receiving a dose of the dreadful miss-hits.
Every pro feels the same, (negative emotions being what they are). So when Tiger or Rory McIlroy has a bad day, even their millions can't totally anaesthetise them from a stinky bad mood. Pro's have a similar program of reactions and diagnosis running too, but they don't have to watch youtube videos for inspiration from Butch, they can just ring him if they want to.
Anyways, figuring out a solution to the days ball striking woes (even if it's only in theory) creates an uplift in spirits, and with the love for the game rejuvenated once more, we cant wait to get back out there again.
Although once again armed with a bubbling enthusiasm of the potential for lower scores..... wouldn't it still be nice to get to the bottom of the inconsistencies?
Hmmmmmmmmmmm, so where do we look for clues..........? After all, its the same body and same mind! The mental attitude might be a bit different at times. May have been a bit rushed to get to the tee on time! That might make a difference. Might have been miffed by the sudden appearance of a raging slice, instead of a nice little fade. That can mess us up for sure.............but what if we can find just one thing to remember to return to, that rights the ship...... wouldn't that be great?
Of course we don't play like Tiger, but each of us can have very good, and very bad days just like he does. The thing is, with very, very good golfers the extremes aren't that wide. They mostly would shoot between 67 and 74......not the 15+ spread between good and bad scores that an amateur has, if he 'lost his focus' during any round!
Could a poor mental attitude actually make our body miss so many shots? Its possible I guess.
But, delving into swing mechanics, as a way of trying to Isolate why big inconsistencies in ball striking happen, is often the road to nowhere. Even if the hamster wheel of tips and beliefs refuse to stop spinning endless possibilities in your mind, it doesn't help much.
No. Becoming a more consistent golfer requires something altogether 'different'.
At this point its time to give yourself a break though. Most of us amateurs aren't introduced to golf until our late teens, early 20's, or even later. School life imprints us with trying harder! Mainly in team sports like football, rugby, tennis and cricket, which favour more determined concentration and aggression, whereas golf doesn't.......... and we have all this learnt baggage to hamper us.
We scream at ourselves inside, 'try harder'.....this fury is often followed by yet another 'top' off the tee or a visit to the bushes. The story of the 7 iron and the duck pond is a familiar one.
'We scream at ourselves inside 'try harder'.....this fury is often followed by yet another 'top' off the tee or a visit to the bushes. The story of the 7 iron and the duck pond is a familiar one'
All the bad shots are miss-hits (rock on Sherlock you might shout:-). No, just bear with me for a minute on this one please.
What causes miss-hits?...Is it poor balance, poor hand-eye co-ordination, poor timing? Maybe all of those! Things don't have to be off by a lot before everything unravels..........? If its poor balance, hand-eye co-ordination and poor timing, then what causes that to happen ?
Now we're getting somewhere by asking better questions!
Poor balance, poor hand-eye co-ordination and poor timing can be causative (caused by itself, for instance poor timing) and also happen as an effect (caused by something else).
So if your balance is poor because your balance is poor, and your hand-eye co-ordination is poor because your hand-eye co-ordination is poor etc etc, not too much can be done ....however, this is not often the case. We humans are pretty great when it comes to coordinating movement, we can walk, run, dance, juggle and even balance on a tight rope with enough practice.
If the cause isn't 'causative' (by poor hand-eye co-ordination etc)...............then something you are doing is effecting that co-ordination. Does that make sense?
.... and........because its then an effect of (consequence of) something you are doing or not doing.... and then you don't do it, or do, do it (I'm starting to sound like Boris Johnson....go out, don't go out) then you can fix it? As long as you know what .........'it'......... is! Confusing? Making you think eh? ...............what follows is the end to any confusion. I felt stupid until it dawned on me.
Confusing.....? I'm starting to sound like Boris Johnson 'go out, dont go out ' (Coronavirus reference)
If the forward swing isn't starting with the same series of movement (muscles) every time, then the body moves in a different way, throwing the action out, and causing more miss hits than usual! So if you are rushed, anxious, uncertain about the outcome, or have just had a bad start or run of holes, you might not notice it but your body is just working differently.
If you've ever lifted weights, you will know have an idea about what I mean.
Doing the bench press for example, you get to your maximum rep count and are near your limit, and to squeeze out the last one your back arches, or leverage shifts towards your stronger side. You don't to do it consciously, your body is just compensating, by trying to engage different muscle groups to finish the set.
This also happens in the golf swing because your body is trying to apply force or speed. The leverage is being applied by different muscle groups depending on your current state of play, which affects your mood, and how comfortable you are.
If the leverage doesn't start from the same place every time, the sequencing of your swings normal 'flow' is affected, and means that your hand-eye coordination is compromised. Different skeletal movements become engaged or are engaged out of sequence, and each bodily compensation interferes with the quality of contact.
One player may feel they start forward with a pull from the left arm, a slight lift of the left shoulder, another a shift of the hips, another drives the legs, another might be aware of an uncoiling of their body, and another might not be aware of anything at all.
Always initiate the forward part of the motion by 'rebound'.
As you swing back and reach the limit of your own flexibility, you are forced to 'rebound' forward........this is the natural change of direction. This rebounding effect will activate the same set of muscles each time and smooth out the sequencing. When the leverage begins from the same bodily action, your body learns a 'pattern' and you become much more consistent.
Go on try it.....its easy to disprove if its wrong.
'Players also use a variety of different training aids. They use them, in an attempt to tighten their technique, and to 'force' the body to work in a restricted manner'....read more!