Why golf science and playing the game don't mix
Andrew sent me the video below. It’s titled, Golf Biodynamics Explains Bubba’s Swing Science At Live on Masters 2013. It’s an awful title and what generally happens when humans try and write for search engines rather than for humans. That aside, there’s some useful lessons here and I think we have a similar conclusion but come about them from a different way. Watch the video and then see my comments underneath…
The true genius of Bubba Watson is revealed at the 20 second mark.
Bubba used to practice shaping shots around his house as a kid …
This is how he learned to hit that fantastic hook shot that helped him win the playoff hole against Louis Oosthuizen. Bubba explored, created and worked out what he could do and what he couldn’t by playing in his backyard. These practice sessions helped shape the golfer he is today. The last thing Bubba would have been thinking about would have been biomechanics (or biodynamics) or any sort of science. His objective would have been as simple as this – “how do I hit this ball around (or over or under or through) that obstacle and still get it to the target?”. From there his learning system went to work and figured it out.
This quote from Bubba sums up his style of play perfectly. I wish more golfers could approach the game this way. It’s so refreshing….
If I have a swing I have a shot. I’d rather be in the fairway. I’d rather be on the green every time like most people. But I hit it in the woods – I miss the greens, so, I just play from feel. Have fun and create shots… and somehow pull them off
If you want to play golf with more freedom, less stress then take a leaf out of Bubba’s book. Play shots, accept some misses and have fun getting out of trouble. You might not be able to hit the kind of shots Bubba can (who can?) but you can create your own version of “Bubba Golf”.
The scientific explanation is irrelevant to a guy like Bubba. There’s absolutely no need for him to care about any of the technical details of how to hit the shot. It would be like an artist worrying about the mechanics of how to hold the paint brush, it’s just going to stop the flow and disrupt the process. I just love his explanation of the “country way”. He said:
– hood the club a little bit
– close your stance
– swing hard
– swing inside out
– roll wrists over
I don’t mind this because it’s relatively simple advice to follow. It’s not a bad starting point but I’m convinced Bubba is a step ahead of this (and to me is the real meaning of “country way”). And this is how many of us would try and hit a big hook shot. We’d mentally attempt to process all this information while we swing – but most of us would stuff it up. We’d overload our system to the point of breaking point and we’d NOT be able to learn the shot. So what’s Bubba really doing? I think the answer follows …
I don’t think of it, I react to it
This is automatic golf. When he gets into a situation like he was in The Masters, he analyses the shot, works out if it’s possible, chooses a club and then goes for it. Once he gets the green light there’s NO technical thought or analysis – Bubba plays the game. Not sure if Bubba is some sort of quasi-scientist or not. I think he did all his learning on the golf course and he’s not complicating matters too much. Like most great athletes, he plays first and thinks later. Most struggling golfers have that the other way around.
Using a gap wedge to hit a 40 yard hook and get the ball to travel 155 yards seems impossible to average golfers. Mostly because we don’t have the swing speed to pull a shot like that off. The other issue is we’ve never pushed our boundaries to see what’s really possible. Just maybe you have some miracle shots in your game waiting to be let out.
And here’s something else for you to consider: Bubba has a hard time explaining what he does because the part of his brain that hits the shot doesn’t use language – it is feel based and explaining our feelings is really hard (just ask any male). The scientist doesn’t have Bubba’s “feel” so he attempts to use his logic to explain the shot. Logic (technical instruction etc) and feel don’t mix and is why most of traditional instruction doesn’t work that well for us, even when we logically understand it. If playing good golf is important to you then must learn to think less and play more – when you’re playing you’re going to instinctively rely more on your feelings.
Leave your thoughts below.