I have received quite a bit of correspondence over the last few months from golfers struggling with their game. Their stories are always quite similar:
1. They implement Automatic Golf principles into their game.
2. They get results most notably, more enjoyment, a moment of inspiration, a spark.
3. They hit a roadblock. They lose the plot and fall off the wagon.
Sanj got off to a flying start, but then struggled. We have been going back and forwards via email and this post came about because of it. But I still need to go deeper and this morning I recorded this golf podcast (see below).
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(link: Golfing perspective)
On the way back home I called Scott Barrow. Scott is my coach and the man always has something interesting and insightful to say. We were discussing performance slumps and how to avoid those horrible blow up holes. Then we spoke about the need for the pupils to go deeper, to become aware of their own thoughts/feelings/emotions and not to become too relient on the coach. Self-awareness is important and many of us are playing blind. Almost like we’re asleep at the wheel.
Finally, we talked about the need to stick with the process and appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly.
Then Scott introduced some magic:
Golf is a bit like The Tour De France. A rider who is trying to win can’t ride flat out each day. He needs to rest and recover some days and stay back in the pack (peleton). As much as he’d like to win every stage, it’s not possible. Some days are not going to be overly exciting, it’s just a matter of finishing the stage.
I loved this analogy and told him right away that I was going to pinch it. He then added:
Golf is also like Barcellona Football. They have been the dominant team for the last 7 or so years but it doesn’t mean that every pass or kick is a match winner. There’s going to be general play and some basic stuff in there. They don’t play on the edge all of the time. They can’t but they’re definitely playing the game.
The best tennis players don’t try and hit winners on every shot. They are playing close to the edge, but they’re rarely flat out for more than a point or two. They are waiting for their chance to hit the clear winner and the in between stuff is the process to get there.
Johnathon Thurston threw a great pass to help Queensland score a try. But not every pass is magic. There’s plenty of “easy” stuff along the way – and the “boring” things like tackles and running.
And so it is with golf. To truly play the game is to realise that you’ve gotta go with the flow and sometimes take the easy option and move on. Not every shot is the match winner (nor can it be) and it’s often best to get the ball in play and keep going.
The foolish golfer plays too hard, is on the edge and invariably self destructs. The smart (and truly Automatic Golfer) is aware of the situation and prepares and plays accordingly. Here’s some examples.
Tight opening shot: If the first shot of the day is a tough one then maybe it’s best to layup, get the ball into play and move on. The poor strategy is blasting driver and hitting it into serious trouble.
Fast putt: You’ve hit a great approach and are now faced with a slick 10 footer for birdie. Your best option is probably to trickle it down near the hole and settle for par. The ball still may go in but your not ruining all the hard work by three-putting.
Tricky hole location: The green-keeper has woken up with a bad mood and has decided to place the pin on the 15th hole in a stupid location. It’s back left with trouble all around. You can try and hit it close, but you’ve been suckered in. Play away to trouble, the fat part of the green and get to the next hole with the minimum of fuss.
Not feeling good: It can happen at anytime. For some reason a particular hole or shot doesn’t sit right with you. What are your options? You can swing hard and crazy and attack the hole or you can take a deep breath, relax and choose a club and shot you are most comfortable with. To me the decision is easy, but many get sidetracked with all sorts of other mental rubbish.
We can’t birdie every hole and it’s unlikely it will ever happen. So forget about a round full of “hero” shots. You’ve gotta play smart and you’ve got to be aware of the situation and plan accordingly. Yes, every shot is important, but some are more important than others. If in doubt, hit the simplest/easiest/safest shot you can think of and then take off. The fun and exciting stuff happens when you approach the less important shots well.
Take away lesson(s): There are some important points in all of this and you may have missed the most important one.
Ask questions. If Sanj, Steady, David, Lukey, Roger, Adam, Mike, Peter, Steve and others didn’t ask questions then we’d all miss out. I would (wrongly) assume my coaching was 100% effective the first time (it’s not) and that would be that. But the brave ones ask questions and we all improve as a result. So ask questions, lots of them.
Coaching is awesome. We all need coaching. Scott Barrow challenges me and I always get something useful when we speak. Our 30 minute call this morning left me buzzing and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.