An experiment I'd like to see

Aregular reader directed me to this article on Robert Allenby.

I like Robert Allenby. I think he’s a great player and one of Australia’s most consistent performers. This year he has made 24 cuts out of 25 tournaments and finished the year ranked 19th in the FedEx Cup. All up he has made US$2.8 million. Not a bad year and good work if you can get it.

But (there’s always a but)…

I think he has underachieved so far in his career.

Despite winning tournaments all over the world and being a member of the Presidents Cup team on numerous occasions I think he still has plenty to offer.

He has always been a great ball striker and I don’t think he can get much better at it. It’s hard to improve on perfection if you ask me.

Allenby needs to learn to play. By “play” I’m referring to bringing his A game to the course more of the time. His A game is as good as most and would probably give Tiger a run for his money.

Not sure if it would happen but I’d like to see Robert approach 2009 in the following way;

  • Sack all of his coaches starting immediately.
  • Ignore all technical swing advice from the golf gurus. Seriously, he has been very good for so long now that I doubt they can help him much.
  • Play carefree and without fear.
  • Rediscover a natural putting game. His current putting looks stiff and contrived and seems to hold him back.
  • Practice less. I don’t think he needs to hit so many golf balls. He is not going to lose his swing with less practice and it might just help him regain some enthusiasm for play.
  • If he does feel the need to practice spend that time on the short game.
  • Let go and play the way he really wants to. I think he would do well to forget all of the rules and regulations and play golf in a way that is fun for him.

I don’t expect for a minute for Allenby to do this but I believe it would make an interesting experiment. After 17 years on tour he could do with a break from the usual grind. Making the game more fun and returning to a natural method of play might rejuvenate his career – and just maybe help him do something remarkable, like win a major.

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MyGolfInstructor - October 3, 2008

You can’t make it on the tour with just talent. It takes hard work and constant swing adjustments in order to succeed. Look at Tiger, he was winning alot back in the early 2000’s and he fired Butch Harmon and started his coaching over and completely changed his swing. It took him a few years, but now he is better than ever. Not sure he would have gotten to this point with out a swing coach. How would Allenby ever survive.

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Cam Strax - October 3, 2008

Of course it takes hard work to survive on tour. It also helps if you have plenty of talent and skill. Both Tiger and Allenby have an abundance of this.

I would like to see Allenby experiment without a swing coach for a year or two and start playing more freely. You don’t lose your talent or swing if you stop working at it. By simply playing you’ll make minor adjustments and improvements naturally. This I believe is what is happening with Tiger, the more he plays the better he gets.

There are many cases of pro golfers who became fed up with golf coaches and started playing ‘their’ way with great results. Gene Sarazen and Lee Westwood are two that spring to mind.

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Douglas - October 18, 2008

Allenby seems to be his own worst enemy at times. I think he feels the stress of not being more successful on the US tour. Much like Garcia’s difficulty in winning a major. Stress on the course is the biggest obstacle to a good game. I know, I play poorly and it is primarily from the stress we refer to in other areas as “performance anxiety.” I do not have the talent or the skills of a pro, or even good amateur, golfer. I will never have them and I come to accept that. The paradox is that once I accepted that, I began to improve. I believe this is because acceptance relieves that stress of performance anxiety and allows me to swing easier and more freely. I agree with your advice for Allenby, it is good advice for anyone.

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Cam Strax - October 19, 2008

Hey Douglas,

Thanks for your message. Stress, anxiety and trying too hard on a big stage rarely leads to a successful outcome. Obviously Allenby and Garcia are great players with loads of talent – but something has stopped them from winning a big one.

I agree about the paradoxical nature of the improvement process. I have long since given up on a pro career. I don’t practice and only play once a week. My game now is more consistent than it was in my heyday. My game has a free flowing nature to it now – something that I couldn’t do when I was “trying so hard”.

Cheers,
Cameron

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