In the article ………………'If you want to play great golf..... dont just visualise', we discussed how visualising a golf shot was both necessary and unnecessary depending on the content that you include.
Further than that, visualising your shots on the course, and not doing the same thing in practise, means you miss a great opportunity to improve quickly.
By repetition alone, if a golfer looks at the ball, and swings the club with the intention of hitting it, over time they will become a pretty competent ball striker.......
But its virtually impossible to just whale away without some sort of specific thought, and any thought becomes a prompt for the motor function.
Our motor function needs precise feedback, with low variability, to be able to learn to produce an accurate result ……… so the intention (any thought or impulse that crosses your mind and you act on) has to be precise. The visualisation also has to be precise, otherwise the motor function is operating with only basic direction.
An example would be, where during practise the player begins to strike the ball well, so pays less attention to the specifics of contact. His mind wanders off elsewhere, and he hits ball after ball without visualising exactly what he wants to do with each shot.
The efficiency which our mind/body can operate, masks the need for the best guidance the whole time.
When striking improves, a golfers confidence increases, and when that grows, so does the optimism that the next shot will be as good.
....but, because of the way our minds work, accompanying the automatic nature of improved striking, there is a relaxation in approach to the strike. So unless the golfer notices thats happening, it will initiate the slide back toward their baseline performance.
One of our minds cognitive layers (emotional) can see this improvement as a new standard, when in fact, some unidentifiable reason is in play.
Sometimes, seemingly from out of nowhere, the golfers action aligns with the contact, and produces a series of improved results.
Being particularly mindful and diligent about the important details of ball contact, (as it relates to the shot you want to hit), when you are striking at your best, adds the 'WOW' to your shotmaking, and starts off an improved discipline to your routine.
There is an increase in certainty when striking improves
The stars aligned
Temporary improvement can be seen at every tournament, every week in the pro game, where a player strikes the ball, putts and scores significantly better than his average.
Occasionally a player is lucky enough for this hot streak to last for a week, and may even see them contend for the title.
This year (2018), Webb Simpson has been putting in a series of improved performances.
He finished in the top 10 in 4 starts in early 2018, at the Sony Open, Honda Classic, Valspar Championship & RBC Heritage Classic. Culminating in a win at the Players Championship in mid May.
Despite this run of improved form, no one could forsee, (not even Webb himself) that going into the 4th round of that Players Championship he would have a whopping 7 shot lead, but he did.
.... and he subsequently won it, pocketing $1.98m.
At certain points in a golfers life, and often by happenstance, their action slips into a more successful motion, (which not always the consequence of what they are working on).
When any golfer experiences improvements in shot making or putting, it makes a big impression on their psyche.
As mentioned previously, more predictable results, increases the players optimism, which increases the expectation that the next shot will be just as successful.
The reduction in uncertainty with the next shot means the player hits more freely & with less concern, until a succession of poorer shots sends the uncertainty levels higher, and a return to more expected performance…...ebb and flow.
More predicable results, increases the optimism. which increases the expectaction that the next shot will be just as successful.
Ebb & flow
The optimistic mode/mood that a player finds himself in, feeds itself, and can last for a few holes, a whole round or for a large part of a 4 round tournament as we observed in Webbs case.....but is only just another random event.
The player who is the recipient of this happy state of affairs, should thoroughly enjoy it because it cant last.
His ducks were in a row for that stretch & his stars were aligned.
New psychological events begin to happen because of the raising of expectations after such a win... and if the player isn't suitably prepared for the internal changes, or was motivated to get his 'next win', he will decline to a more normal level.
This type of effect can be seen in some very very good players such as Charley Hoffman, Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and many others who decline after a win. Its very common.
The above names should still be congratulated... golf history is littered with one time winners. The aforementioned players, just take a bit longer to build themselves back up again.... where others dont or cant.
So can the ebb and flow of form be altered to give a more stable outcome? I think every golfer would like to believe it can…. and it certainly can for some, as can be seen from the heights that a few gifted golfers achieve.
In our sport the player doesn't have to be genetically blessed, in the way Usain Bolt for instance has been for his sport.
Physical limitations count for a lot..... but golf, not being as physically/genetically selective as sprinting, allows far more people to be able to compete equally.
Many more people have a shot at being great at golf.
Watch Dustin Johnson add some predictability to his game
Why recycle old news
Putting 'some WOW into your ball striking the commonsense way' isnt actually that difficult.
Recent history points to Dustin Johnson doing just that. He altered 2 aspects of his game on the advice of Butch Harmon his coach, and climbed the world rankings to sit at No.1 for 64 consecutive weeks through 2017 & 2018.
Both of the alterations he was advised to make, increased the predictability of his shots.
....and that is the importance of it.
Really I am recycling old news here, but the importance of what he did is being lost. Average golfers and touring pro's would do well to try to understand more fully, (enough to put it into their own game), how much they will improve if they can add an element of predictability to it.
Even if it was just to ensure the clubface was open (or closed) at impact EVERYTIME.
Practise with preciseness & predictability in mind.
If we dont, we really do have to wait for 'our stars to align to play our best golf'.