A wasted round

What a waste! I played on a perfect day yesterday. The course was pristine and the weather ideal. I’ve also been in pretty good form so I was looking forward to the game. It was also great to get out of the office early and get some fresh air. But I stuffed up. And I’m annoyed about it.

I read a golf instruction book early in the week. It was a good book, one of the best I’ve read (I will talk more about it in another post) and it wasn’t overly complicated. But…

I got distracted. Thinking about technique caused me to make mistakes. I four putted one green. I stopped hitting my shot. I tried to do things I knew I couldn’t do. I stopped actually playing golf and was hatching.

By the 9th hole I was tired. I knew what I was doing was wrong but I thought I could get away with it. Two terrible bogeys on 12 and 13 got me frustrated. I then had five shots from twenty metres on the 16th. I was throwing shots away and by then I was powerless to stop it.

This post is a warning. No matter how good your game becomes you can never consciously control your swing. It’s not possible – no matter how good you think you are. This was an important wake up call for me.

The most annoying thing is I wasted a potentially great day. I walked off the course tired. It wasn’t overly enjoyable and I was left frustrated by all the shots I threw away. I took for granted my automatic game and let Pesky take control. He was thrilled. He got to try new shots and was more than happy to remind me that I only need a bit more practice and I’d master the technique. He told me to keep going, not to be discouraged and that all would be fine. I was stupid enough to listen.

And don’t think I’m saying technique is not important. It is. But there is a time and a place for everything. And I’m fairly sure that the golf course on competition day is not the right time. I let a remarkable golf opportunity slip by. I won’t get that day back again but at least I’ve learned a valuable lesson for my next hit.

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Gregor McCulloch - March 6, 2010

Do you find that the more you use auto the less you stray away from using it. What I mean is like practice it becomes more permanent the more you use it.
Also when you put references to previous articles in your posts it is quite interesting to look back over things I have read and put into practice but then over time strayed back to my old ways. ( I have identifed a few things since my last round which I know I should be doing but don’t )
Once you get into the way of doing something correctly so much it becomes automatic the more you do it. But you need to keep practicing the right things all the time to keep it fresh in your memory.
As golfers are we are guilty generally of falling back into our old ways and that is why improvement becomes so difficult

Grayden Provis - March 6, 2010

Gutsy post.

John Stead - March 6, 2010

Hi TRibers,
just goes to show you that we are all human and not immune from improve technique better golf syndrome. Cameron has shown that all good intentions can lead to disaster. We all have bad days at the course.As long as we learn from it. Trying to control is a key word here. Relax routine and repeat.

Cameron - March 6, 2010

@Gregor: You said, “Do you find that the more you use auto the less you stray away from using it.” The short answer is yes. It’s how we do most other things and golf really shouldn’t be any different. It’s as if automatic play becomes automatic.

@Grayden: I thought it is best being honest 🙂

@Steady: Pesky would have me believe it was a bad day – that I should keep trying with the new technique because it will work out. This would be foolhardy. New techniques are learned on the fairway, at home and away from the golf course. If you haven’t got the time to practice then you’re not going magically have the new technique.

Have you ever had an exam and left the studying while walking into the room? It doesn’t work too well. Either you know your stuff by this point or you don’t. I see golf performance as the same. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. If you haven’t got it then trying to find it is a waste of time and energy. Best that you play with what you’ve got.

The main point here is that I have identified the issue. I stopped playing automatically – it had nothing to do with poor technique and it wasn’t a bad day as such – I disrupted the process and paid the penalty.



Grayden Provis - March 6, 2010

I learned something today which I thought I would share with the Tribe……

I just played my usual Saturday morning comp and didn’t score well – only 29 stableford points.

I had a great deal of difficulty staying automatic through the shot all day. I was uptight and kept “losing” my counting towards the bottom of the swing because I was anxious about the length of the course and just didn’t trust my smooth, “gravity fed” swing to get the job done.

End result: I walked off the course frustrated and disappointed with myself and start thinking about taking up lawn bowls again (:-))

But here’s the difference these days – and its a big one:


Before finding this web site I would walk off the course CONFUSED and have no real idea what went wrong – and even less idea what I should do about it. Now I KNOW what was causing the problem and I KNOW what I have to do to fix it. As a result I can regain my composure quickly and look forward to getting out there again and making a renewed effort at just letting go and TRUSTING.

Learning this is priceless as far as I’m concerned. It puts me back in control. So thankyou Cameron for showing us a better way to tackle this incredible “game”. [Of course you realize its not just a “game” at all – its really LIFE 101 !! ]

    Cameron - March 7, 2010

    @Grayden: Thanks for this post. It’s important. There’s nothing worse than hitting the panic button and getting deeper and deeper into trouble. Best that you let the bad round go and forget about it.

    I still have my fair share of bad rounds. What I have found is that they’re normally limited to one in a row. This is much more manageable and easier to deal with.

Tony Lucas - March 7, 2010

Hi Cam
Played yesterday and had an indifferent day with a mixture of the good bad and the ugly .I too like Grayden was able to identify where my problems occurred and that was a mixture of incorrect decision making,trying to fix it mid round and a little doubt at times also.So instead of analysing what went wrong I looked at where I stayed auto and where I did not .At the end of the day it probably was not that bad but when I did make a mistake it was a biggie.I still feel very confident things a still moving in a positive direction and things are getting closer rather than further away.Make the commitment fellow tribers with me and keep at it,it will come.
Cheers Lukey

    Cameron - March 7, 2010

    @Lukey: Bad shots are par for the course. You can’t be scared to make mistakes and trying to avoid them at all costs is a waste of energy. I think I need to post some more stuff on course strategy. This is also important and something I haven’t don a lot on.

Grayden Provis - March 7, 2010

Lukey: I like the way you summarize it: “Things are getting closer rather than further away”. Excellent. You’ve put into words exactly how I feel too. Thanks for that.

Gregor McCulloch - March 8, 2010

I posted before about having a bad day with topped shots etc but todays round got worse whixh ruined a few holes. It’s really hard in this situation to keep going and trying not to fix things or think about technique, but I am finding using auto that I can hit a bad shot and the next one is generally fine. Simply because I can block out distractions ie thinking about the consequences. I even found myself literally telling Pesky to go away a couple of times. I hope i didn’t say it out loud.
By starting the count before the walk up and giving myself the chance to get into auto mode works best. Slightly different than the video but probably using the same principle.
However I do think I need to think about fixing these bad shots that are creeping into my game. It’s no good being in great position on the fairway and then topping your next shot 10yds or worse putting it on the beach. So the technique checking definitely has a place but as you say, not in the middel fo a round.

Grayden Provis - March 9, 2010

I’ve been asking myself lately:

“Can you be TOO relaxed before you play golf?”

In the past I would have always answered “yes” along with everyone else:

“Nerves are good, you just need to control them”
“If you’re too relaxed you won’t have any fire”
“You need some adrenaline to perform at your peak”

Yada, yada, yada…..

You know what, I’m really starting to wonder about that. I’m not sure you CAN be too relaxed. It seems to be the more relaxed I get the more enjoyable the game is. If there is such a point as “too relaxed” I certainly haven’t found it yet. I’m happy to keep trying though 🙂

John Stead - March 9, 2010

Hi Tribers,
yes Grayden you do need to be relaxed yet not so much to produce what I call a sloppy swing. Therefore it is imperative not to be tensed/stressed yet not so relaxed as to be clumsy. BTW adrenaline can be your worse enemy. You can literally hit the ball too far or be overcome with emotion not to perform at your best. Just My thoughts.

Grayden Provis - March 9, 2010

Hi Steady

Yes, the conventional wisdom is that too relaxed leads to “sloppy” and “clumsy” but having played automatic for a while now I’m starting to re-think that.

I’m starting to think that its impossible to be too relaxed AND play auto and that if there is “sloppy” or “clumsy” its actually still latent ANXIETY producing them, not “relaxed-ness”.

Seems to me that if you’re TRULY auto your body won’t allow you to swing “sloppy” or “clumsy” so if you’re still getting those it suggests to me you’re still using CONSCIOUS control which means there’s still some anxiety in there.

I’m finding there’s a sort of built in “sloppiness control” in us that prevents “sloppy” if we are TRULY swinging subconsciously.

As I said, all I know at present is that “more relaxed = more fun” and I haven’t yet reached the point where this runs out!

I wonder what the Master thinks?

    Cameron - March 9, 2010

    @Grayden: I have to agree. I’m also not one to adhere to conventional wisdom too much 🙂 The perfect mindset can almost be careless – you have to play golf (swing) like you don’t give a stuff.

    The automatic approach will only give you YOUR swing. You are not about to swing in some haphazard way when you play automatically – it will actually be your best swing.

    Quitting and giving up is not playing golf – this will lead to a sloppy swing. But a relaxed and carefree attitude is what you should be aiming for – this will give you the freedom to play golf like few get to experience.

    Thanks for posting.


Tony Lucas - March 9, 2010

Hi Cam
just a poser for you and that is I have decided to go with HFR because I find this really suits me.Now my approach to it is to practice it at home or in the hitting net at my golf course but when I go out to play I just play auto.Steady and myself feel that the thing I should look for is my speed of swing (ie not too slow or too quick) would be interested in your thoughts.
Cheers Lukey

Grayden Provis - March 9, 2010

Cameron: thanks very much for your response. There are some real nuggets in there. I’m going to print them out in fact and stick them in my golf bag so that I can read and re-read until they’re burned into my anxiety-ridden golf brain!

“This will give you the freedom to play golf like few get to experience”

Yep. THATS what I’m after and I know now that this is the way to get it.

The trouble with playing golf for 30 years with the wrong mindset is that you create a very big, slow ship that takes quite some time to come around. But come around she will!

A very helpful post. Many thanks.

Gregor McCulloch - March 9, 2010

I have read back through old posts and you mention on many occassions about being relaxed, letting go and above to being carefree. Like Graydens big slow ship hopefully this will start to sink in.

What is your view on this attitude between rounds. Should we have this attitude generally towards golf . Is it possible to over analyze even when you are not playing which means you are anxious before we even start.

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