Timbo Letter #4 – Playing Golf

Dear Timbo,

I watched you play today. You may not have noticed but I was watching every move you made. I saw some things I liked and there were some things I didn’t like too much. I don’t want you to think I’m bashing you because I’m not.

You have all the skill and talent to be a great player. But you’re making some common mistakes that are holding you back and unless you become aware of them you’ll always struggle with your game.

At this point you’re in that nasty place where lots of players are – you have a nice swing, you can hit some good shots and you have potential oozing from your pores.

But you’re not really playing golf.

And you can’t play the golf of your dreams because you’re falling for the trap of trying to be “perfect” at all parts of your game.

Let me explain.

Western life drums into us that we need to practice hard and become good at everything. The thought of a well-rounded game makes most golfers get excited.

  • Strong mental game
  • Good lag putter
  • Fantastic bunker player
  • Crisp iron player
  • Long and straight driver

You get the idea.

But I think trying to be all these things is not a good thing. Because you’re always thinking (and being distracted) on how to improve each area of your game.

“How do I hit a draw with my driver?”, “If I could only hit a lob shot like James”, “Why do I struggle with bunker shots?”

These thoughts take you away from the joy of playing golf. In fact, continual thoughts of improvement will consistently hold you back.

So what’s the solution?

You’ve got to break through the self-doubt and have the guts to play your way.

You need to find your mojo. Discover a way of playing that suits you perfectly. You must master your way first – then and only then should you start looking at doing something a little differently.

Stand up on the tee, get comfortable and make the best swing you can. You’re completely comfortable in the fact that your fade (or draw, hook or slice) is your shot and that’s the way it’s gunna be.

You aim your iron shot at the front of the green because the big bunker at the back right is protecting the pin. And you know deep down that your bunker play is no good so there’s no point in trying to hit a shot that gets close to the pin. There’s no point in risking exposing your weakness.

You feel good on the green so you hit your putts with confidence. You knock the shorts putts into the back of the cup and you’re not scared to give the long putts a go.

It doesn’t matter what your situation, you keep coming back to the shots that feel good to you. Nothing changes the way you approach the game. You keep doing the same things over and over. Boring? A little. Effective? Absolutely!

You can’t play remarkable golf unless you first master your own game. As much as it would be great to be an expert at all levels, it’s not realistic. Even the great players continually go on about how they have to keep working at their game and fixing their faults. Their continual effort doesn’t not seem to be helping – they’re never happy and always searching.

But the true masters? They’re unbeatable because they know what works for them and they wouldn’t change for anyone. They have the courage to play their shot each time they play, despite Pesky and tradition yelling at them to do something differently.

Timbo, find the shots you like and you know you can perform successfully. Then go to these shots each time you play. At all costs avoid hitting the shots you know deep down are not you.

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Grayden Provis - July 13, 2010

Gold.

“You need to find YOUR mojo….”

and

“Discover a way of playing that suits YOU…”

and

“You must master YOUR way….”

and

“Keep coming back to the shots that feel good to YOU…..”

and

“Find the shots YOU like……..”

Anyone see a pattern here?

Read and re-read this post and savour it piece by piece, slowly. Its all in there. You just gotta THINK about it.

The punch line? “HAVE THE GUTS TO PLAY YOUR WAY”. Why not? Its a free world. Those who go against their instincts and play “the right way” have given up their freedom and enslaved themselves to others.

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Gregor McCulloch - July 13, 2010

I’m reading a fantastic book just now by Raymond Floyd on how to score and he says quite simply that you need to learn to ‘play comfortable’. If it means taking an extra club for distance or playing a simple shot – do it.

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Tim Hardham - July 17, 2010

Amazing post yet again! I continue to learn new things every day and have slowly realized that I can play well within my comfort zone! I still have a long way to go but am thoroughly enjoying learning all these new concepts and ideas. I am eagerly awaiting another game and remain very excited about the prospects of still being able to unleash my true potential. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

I will continue to work on playing “MY WAY”

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Gregor McCulloch - July 19, 2010

‘You need to find your mojo’ ‘avoid hitting the shots you know deep down are not you’

I experimented at the weekend and found that a lot of the shots I hit are probably not me. I tried to adjust my perception of me as a golfer and decided to play shots which I knew I could hit. Instead of trying to play like a scatch player( which I am obviously not ) I tried to play almost like I had lost confidence in my ability (In fact at the end the result was exactly the opposite )

First off, I took my 3 and 4 irons out of the bag. No way I was playing them.
Next I decided that I would not try to force my shots and would take plenty of club. No shot was hit full out. Smooth swings only (this took me about 4 holes to get used to ) Long par 4’s and par 5’s are not reachable in two – no point trying.
Lob wedges – for bunkers only.
Chip shots – use a putter if I can.
Long putts – they’re not going to go in. Lag it up there
3 foot putts – they’re going in. I can do that

At end my distance control was better. My 7 iron does not go 150yds. Not even close. So I was getting nearer to greens. More chance of up and downs. My ball striking was way better. Not trying so much

By readjusting my expectations I felt more relaxed. Where was the pressure. I didn’t have a difficult shot all day.

I didn’t shoot my best score ever, but I played a good round with few mistakes. Progress

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Grayden Provis - July 19, 2010

Congratulations Gregor on having the guts to do something positive, bold and against the flow in search of a better golf experience. What a great outcome.

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