Why 'your' school stopped you from becoming a really good golfer!
Before we press on, step into dreamland for a minute!
What if when you were a kid again, and your own school had the sort of facilities for golf that the Loretto School Golf
Academy in Scotland has (see pic above).... now wouldn't that have been something? Its amazing, and as dreams go, just imagine how good a golfer you'd be right now?
Got to blame someone right?
But, right now ***snap*** back to reality! You, were probably just like me, one of the 99.99% of kids that didn't go to a
school like that. So you didn't get taught how golf 'works'!
Do you remember all the different sports you played at school, and how they were taught to you? Have you ever considered, that those early experiences would determine just how good a golfer you could become?
Really, its true!.....because if you ever tried to get really good at our game, and somehow couldn't...... then school's to blame!
Out of the classroom at last!
Ahhhhhhhhhh, FREEDOM! P.E the best lessons of the week. Time to get out of the classroom, into a pair of shorts, and out for some fresh air! We got to kick a football, bash a cricket ball, figure out all balls aren't round with rugby, and that it helps to be 6' 11" when playing basketball................we didn't play golf.
Somewhere along the way you found golf! Maybe a mate played or dad, and you got invited along....Right there, an ADDICTION began to bud! The special fascination began, the first time you launched the ball into the air!
If it 'got you', like it has me, it isn't such a bad addiction to have! You don't get drunk and lose your driving licence. You don't get in trouble for staying out all night, like you probs would if you went night fishing. No, there is plenty of fresh air, you get out of her ladyships way just long enough for her to be able to 'shop' (unless she plays too), and you get to spend time with your mates.
My own resurgence came as I passed 50, and with the memories of being a poor golfer shouting abuse in my mind
Yippeeee doo-dah, as I delved into it, what I did I discover was that it might not have been all my own untalented fault.
When playing other sports I found that becoming more aggressive and determined during play (and being encouraged to
Later on though, after I got out of school and I applied that aggressiveness to golf, my game just got worse. The truth is,
How' we learnt at school
Try harder, run faster, get stuck in, revise more, aim higher, finish your home work, and pass your exams are school ethics. Its a mantra. Point effort at a problem and bingo all will be well. Whilst that quality of gritted teeth perseverance can be very helpful in many of life's pursuits, its just not great for learning to play good consistent golf.
The 'emphasis towards effort 'that we got drummed into us from teacher after teacher (and even parents) throughout our school years, means that we continue with that ethos outside of school life. We either comply or rebel but whatever we do, that principle isn't just what we do, its become what we 'are!
Now, in hindsight I remember that the more I applied grunting effort, grit and determination in an attempt to play better golf, the more mishits I had, and the more visits I made to the trees, the bushes and the water! Unfortunately for me anyway, when effort didn't work I was lost!
So, if sweat and effort isn't best suited to playing our game well, what is?
So, if sweat and effort isn't suited to playing our game well, then what is?
A bit of help in trying to solve the mystery!
If we've established that applying lots of effort doesn't work very well (by experience), we should probably ask 'why doesn't it'?
The straightforward answer is.......it doesn't work that well, because effort just adds extra bodily tension!..... and tension and golf don't mix well.
So, if that's the case, how do we access something more in harmony with the game? Its not obvious is it?...but there are some clues.
When we hit a golf ball, our body has to move just as fluidly as it does whilst playing other sports. However, in re-active sports like football and tennis, the tensions are dissipated by movement! The reflexive nature of trapping a football, or returning a backhand over the net, see to that.............but golf is entirely different.
In golf there is lots of tension but its so normal we just don't register it.
To begin with, taking the grip and setting up precisely for the shot initiates the tension. More is applied as you address the ball, carefully align your feet, knees and shoulders as you should .
Then the mind has to cope with the demands of the shot, and this causes more tension. Whether you are going well or not, you want to hit a good one, this adds performance pressure and more tension. There are 6+ spikes in tension for each shot. Is it any wonder that uncertainty is a characteristic feeling?
Even thinking things through in this basic way, its easy to see that all this preparation before you even hit the ball, is hardly conducive to the fluidity needed to freely swish the club.
It wasn't until I applied the softer principles of subtlety and finesse to my game, that I could tell the difference! What a shame I hadn't learn't those qualities at school.
So what's the opposite of tension?
The synonym of tension is looseness.
Do you remember the rounds you had when things went your way more often than normal. Inside you felt more certainty about making good contact, and consequently everything was a lot 'freer'.
Lets imagine we can bottle that 'flow' chemistry and order it up at will. Could we do that? Lets look at how the best players are functioning!
Most importantly they don't worry about mis-hitting badly. Sure, when watching the top pro's play, they often hit into the trees and the water, but its very very rare to see a shank ,and even rarer that a ball is topped off a tee.
The top golfers level of certainty about making solid contact is so high, it doesn't need to be considered. That part is automatic. They are 'less' tense because contact is 'more' certain.
The normal tension filled inner dialogue of the amateur wont be circulating round the mind of the pro. In fact unless something important is on the line such as the chance of a win, a breakthrough in performance such as a career low score, or a persistent poor ball striking period, they are playing habitually. Its not tension free but its not what you and I feel.
Years and years of playing have conditioned their system to function less restrictively.
Here's a thought! What do you think would happen if you approached golf as a collection of skills and play the round with freedom, individuality and flair. It would be more like art, because you're unique. No-one can swing like you can! If that idea appeals then begin to tear down some of the walls of tension, by assuming this modified truth!
That the game is about hand-eye co-ordination, and that each of us are only as gifted as we are?
The 'art' of finding your golfing flair
When I say art, I don't mean an airy fairy spiritual type of art! You don't have to start buying John Daly's clothing or wearing a cravat. I still mean being practical about it, just in a different kind of way.
Make shot decisions more instinctive, by doing what looks easiest rather than whats expected.
Reducing your rational way of approaching golf, begins to makes a ton of sense when you experiment with these opposites and get pleasant results. By driving your intentions in that direction, you will begin to notice for yourself that the stricter you are, and the more 'rules' you prescribe for yourself in preparation for hitting any shot, the more the tension levels spike!
If you set out to 'feel' loose prior to hitting, that's a great start.
You have been aiming a perfectionist attitude, towards an entirely imperfect pastime.
Instead, make a promise to yourself that 'only just enough thinking' is allowed, before you let your body do its thing. Just start to begin to 'know' that if tension takes hold it impedes the flow of your body, and its attempt at making decent contact.
'Flowing' into your best golf, starts with the intention of 'flowing into your round'! You're looking for a reduction in thought, so that what you know through months and years of play can be expressed
Don't be concerned that lessening some of the limits imposed by those over-precise pre-shot routines, will harm the potential of the shot. It frees you it up. The body doesn't speak in words, your body is just fluid and movement oriented.
We all move in an automatic, rehearsed, habit formed way, whether that's walking, running. driving, brushing your teeth....or hitting a golf ball etc.
If you are in doubt as to the validity of this message, think about other ball striking sports including football, cricket, snooker, pool, tennis, volleyball and baseball. How many of those sports require the player to hit the ball as hard as possible all the time? NONE!
Each sport is skill based, searching for accuracy by finesse.....(99% of the time anyway)! How often do you hit 'all out' when you play golf?
Sprinkling 'finesse' into your shots, rather than using pure force, means you begin to infuse your game with a confluence of skill, subtlety, flair and artistry, and this lowers the impulse of effort. It helps you to get past the 'fixing' mind.
Can you learn to play like that? Can you even try it, to see what happens?
Finesse is the intention of creating spin instead of just hoping for decent contact. The manipulation of the hands through impact to determine the type of shot.
The artistry is the heart of the game, its the bodies way of playing, its not the heads. The feel of the weight of the club head, the awareness of the path through the ball, the under-controlling freedom of that 'swish', and the dismissing of mistakes as Jimmy Greaves used to remark about football, saying, 'its a funny old game'!
Maybe the best description of the art of golf is................play!
Play Palmer style, play Seve style...play Michelson style or Bubba style for a change............ with freedom of expression as the new principle.
Break your own rules. Why let school life determine your own golfing fate.....?
He just knew, that when he stepped onto the 1st
tee that if his ball striking was just reasonable, he would be in with a great chance to win...........and if his ball striking was on point it would be hard for him to lose.....read more!
Golfers have to go out and grab their greatness....read more!