Stories – the road to golfing failure
I received a call from a client of mine the other day. This guy is a good golfer and dedicated to improving his play. I like him because he keeps me up to date on his progress, both good scores and bad.
Our last conversation was interesting. He has been struggling with his game. He went on to tell me about his last few rounds blow by blow. He told me about what he was doing wrong and why he was playing badly. He had a technical answer for every poor swing that he made – believing that this would help him on the road to recovery.
My answer probably shocked him. I told him that he was making stories up in his head. That these stories were not true and they would not help him get out of his golfing rut. He was a little confused.
I explained to him that he really didn’t know what he was doing incorrectly. That his diagnosis was a representation of what he “thought” he was doing – not actually what he was doing.
So every time a golfer hits a poor shot and says, ” I swung too quickly…I always swing too quickly and I hit a slice!” This is not reality. The chances are that he didn’t swing quickly at all. Yes he hit a poor shot but it might not be from swinging quickly. This self diagnosis is done to try and justify the poor shot. The thinking seems to be, “OK…I hit a poor shot but if I know what I did wrong all will be right”. But this doesn’t work.
What happens if you didn’t swing too quickly (or lifted your head or spun out)? Any effort at to correct something that wasn’t wrong can have no positive effect on your game. Even if you are correct, making adjustments during play is fraught with many dangers.
My friend understood what I was talking about. He realised that he was thinking too much about his technique and over analysing. His attempts at diagnosing the problem were made up to make him feel better.
A Better Way
A more positive approach is to not analyse your technique when you play. Hit the ball until you get it into the hole. Forget about the how and the why and just play. Remove the straight jacket that comes from thinking too much and let yourself go and see if you can have more fun and be more free. Try it. You may surprise yourself.
I spent one month with an amazing individual from Scotland in 2002. Kendal McWade was once a regular PGA golf pro that knew swing technique back to front. He woke up one day and realised that what he was doing was incorrect. He was teaching people to play golf the same way he tried to play the game. A method that never allowed him freedom, fun or consistent scores. He was too technical and never actually ‘played’ golf.
McWade spent some time traveling and looking into different approaches. Eventually he settled on a new business called Instinctive Golf. I spent four weeks with him at his base outside of Glasgow. That time was spent exploring possibilities, having fun and actually playing golf.
It was like being a young kid again – having the freedom to try new things and step out of comfort zones. To swing the club without a worry is liberating. You relax and let go – and what you get in return is better than any traditional golf lesson can offer you. Your own golf swing.
Kendal spoke to me about making up stories and this has had a profound impact on me. I spent one day with him at the British Open, watching the players, taking and observing the practice fairway. He helped me to see golf and golf coaching in a different light. He helped me realise that just because many people follow a certain path, it doesn’t make it correct. That often a better system is hiding right in front of you and that Mother Nature knows best.
If you’d like to learn more about playing golf to your full potential then please contact me.