The Timbo Letter
This lesson was originally a reply to an email. It turned out to be much more than that. A Cameron rant that is a useful lesson for all Tribe members. To get the full story please join The Golf Tribe.
I can hear your pain. Golf can be frustrating at times and sometimes all the hard work seems to be wasted. But you’ve got to hang in there. Why?
Because you’re a pioneer. And you’re not a pioneer for the automatic golf movement, for me or anyone else. You’re a pioneer for your own golf game. Because only YOU know how to play Timbo’s way. Only you know what you really want to get out of the game.
And this is the first step. Why are you playing? What do you want to achieve? This might seem a little deep and meaningful but let me use my story to illustrate.
I used to be obsessed with my golf swing. It was all I ever thought about. I used to worry what others would think and I would tweak it from the first tee to the last. I could play some good golf at times but never could I play with any consistency. I can appreciate your pain and frustration because I used to be the Captain of that ship. But not anymore.
I have changed.
Realising that the golf swing obsession is a lie and a waste of time made me a better player. I woke up (I wish I could remember the exact day) and decided I was going to play the way I wanted to.
Hit the shots that I wanted
Swing the way that felt good to me
Play the course in a way that suits me
Approached the game my way
No golf coach or mentor can give you this Timbo. It has to come from you. And here’s the thing…
For the most part life is not about promoting this mindset. School, University and employment is about conforming. The golf industry and its coaches want you to conform to a set of rules that are unlikely to suit you. When you realise this you can become a pioneer of your game.
My goal now is to play my way. I don’t care about my swing (there’s not much I can do about it on the golf course anyway – it’s too late) and I certainly don’t care what others think of my game or the way I play.
You might have heard of some trouble in the golf team this year. Most of it came about because I would not conform to rules that said I had to do things a certain way. I refused – unwilling to change my approach for individuals who refuse to walk their own path and think for themselves. The cookie cutter approach is for lazy educators – those not willing to explore and strive for remarkable.
My attitude caused some unrest in what is a super conservative club in a conservative sport. But they get over it – especially when your golf clubs do the talking 🙂
I’m not saying jump up and down and make a fuss. But be clever. Use your practice time to develop your game further. Learn a new chip shot. Then own it. And don’t stuff about – your practice time is golden so don’t waste it! You’ll look back at those times as the best fun you’ve had.
And ignore what others are doing. Most will bash balls for hours on end. No goal or objective in mind. What a waste! You need to be smarter Timbo. Treat every shot as your last. Pretend you’re out on the golf course and each shot is important.
You’ll then be training your system for actual play. I’ve been saying for a long time that you’ve gotta practice like you play – not play like you practice. Read that sentence again. It’s also important.
Eventually, no shot will be a mystery. You’ll be in control and be able to handle everything the game can throw at you.
A pioneer has to play the game. Not only the game of golf but he needs to understand how to play the conforming game. So my advice is don’t upset the apple cart too much – but don’t be afraid to stick up for what you believe in. It’s a fine line but you’ll work out how to sort any issues.
Here’s a story you might not know:
A few years ago I quit golf. I was sort of still playing but mentally I was finished. I had had enough and playing good golf seemed like an impossibility.
My problem was putting. I seriously couldn’t get the ball into the hole from a foot. The yips were so bad that I would feel sick each time I walked onto the green. And it was embarrassing! The club hackers could beat me and nobody could help me. Talk about being lost at sea!
I had a decision to make. Would I quit or would I do something about it?
For the next two-years (yes, it took two years) I hit every putt automatically. I stopped trying to analyse and I did my very best to relax and not worry. There were some horrendous times – like when I four-putted from one-metre or when in front of the entire golf team I dropped kicked a short putt and left it short of the hole.
But I kept trucking. Determined to break free from the years of BS and conscious control. And I never hit a putt without going through my routine or letting fear get the better of me. I made up my mind that I would NEVER let fear influence my game again.
It wasn’t magic but things started happening. I would walk onto the green and feel no nerves. I would be thinking about the weather or talking shop. I was relaxed and the three-footers starting finding the hole. I sunk tricky putts to win golf matches. People started telling me I was a good putter. It wasn’t long that putting became a strong part of my game.
Why am I telling you this?
Because to be a pioneer takes commitment. It takes a burning desire to be the best that you can be. Automatic golf is not a miracle cure (I get annoyed when people expect it to work instantly). The conformists are all searching for the quick fix. Each practice session or game is about looking for the one thing that will work today. A pioneer doesn’t do that.
A pioneer plays their way no matter what. They’re not looking for magic because they know it doesn’t exist. A pioneer puts their faith and trust in themselves and then stands backs and plays golf. There’s no rushing or panicking. They play golf and move on. Comfortable in the fact that each time they play they’re getting a little bit better.
So Timbo. You have to hang in there. Don’t be in a rush. And be prepared to walk your own path. You don’t get a second go at this. Will you be able to look back in 50 years and say you played the game exactly how YOU wanted? I encourage you to take a stroll (or a hundred) and really work out how you want to play.
And it’s not about winning or your handicap or breaking par. At least I don’t think it is. It’s also not about how many fairways or greens you hit. Statistics are a distraction. The real beauty in golf happens when you can walk off the course saying you’ve played the game your way. There is nothing more rewarding.
And the fun part?
Winning and success will take care of themselves.
I’ll talk to you soon.