Are you a bad golfer? Do you find yourself wishing golf could be more enjoyable? Let's face it. Hitting one bad shot after another feeling confused, frustrated, sometimes even embarrassed. That's not exactly having a good time. It's more like having a stressful time.
Guess what? The problem isn't you. It's how you're trying to learn. It's widely assumed that, "Golf is hard." This implies a certain attitude. Somewhat condescending. Golf isn't really for everyone. Some people with a special talent can do it. But for most of us? Well, just don't expect too much - And make sure you let the good players "Play through."
Not long ago I thought this same way. That was until I heard a well known celebrity talking about his recent experience. He had just completed a series of lessons. And, he had the advantage of learning from one of the best known teaching pros in the country.
This intrigued me because this celebrity is a Baby-boomer. So am I. I wanted to know how his lessons turned out. This is what he said. "If you don't start learning golf by your early teen years, you might as well forget about it - it's just too hard to do."
I found this fascinating. I struggled for decades to learn golf. I took golf lessons, too, from a pro at a local driving range. About a month after my lessons ended I found I was worse than before I started!
So as I listened to this celebrity, I thought, "Well, at least I'm not alone". I guess golf IS hard to learn. And my time to learn has probably passed me by. I'm too old. And the ability required to do it? I either don't have it anymore or maybe I've never had it. Who knows? In any case, I guess it's too late for me now.
But I didn't want to give up. I bought a mat and a net and hit balls out in my yard every single day. And took notes - lots of notes. I found myself one day doing really badly. As bad as I've ever been. I was swinging way too hard. And I couldn't keep my head down to save my life. There was a lamp post about twelve yards away from where I was standing. It occurred to me I should model the tempo of my swing the same as if I was just tossing the ball underhanded at the lamp post. Nice and easy - a smooth fluid motion - maybe even graceful. At least that way, when people watched me play they'd say, "That guy plays like crap - but he looks good doing it".
This was a dramatic turning point for me. "Looking good doing it", translated instantly into hitting good shots. I found making a smooth, fluid motion. A motion I could repeat with the same rhythm. And that allowed me to stay in balance. That was huge. It showed me I had the physical ability to become good. And it wasn't based at all on my age, athleticism, hand/eye coordination, or any of that technical stuff. It was just a motion patterned on tossing a ball at a lamp post. Anyone can do that!
But here's the secret. It is the absolute key that leads to finding success. IT'S WHAT YOU'RE THINKING AS YOU ARE IN MOTION. I realized as I tossed a ball at the lamp post I wasn't thinking, "How to toss a ball." There was no need to - the motion is so easy to do. I simply saw the lamp post, my target, and made the tossing motion. And I could do it over and over again, as often as I wanted.
It turned out I ALREADY had the ability to make a smooth, fluid motion, in rhythm and balance, moving out to my target - the only thought being the image of my target.
But golf isn't taught this way. Golf is "Humpty-Dumpty," but with a ball and a club. All of the pieces, the "Mechanics," of a golf swing are lying in a big pile on the ground. Your job is to pick them up one by one, analyze them, then fit them all together. The end result is you will know how to move so you can hit the ball.
This has nothing to do with making a motion out to a target. The BALL, and HOW-TO-HIT-IT, dominate your every thought. And there are many, many thoughts.
As you swing, this puts your brain in the mode of analyzing and evaluating your individual movements. It's way too much information to process in the time it takes to make a swing. The resulting brain confusion causes a hesitation in your muscles. A moment of indecision your brain senses as, "Something is wrong!"
So you jerk your head up, destroying your posture, your brain demanding to know the result of your effort - before the club even impacts the ball. Your ever-analyzing brain has no "Off-switch." So this pattern not only continues but gets worse. You lose confidence. You think, "I can't do this".
When people think "Golf is hard," this is why. Learning this way totally hid my NATURAL ABILITY to make repetitive smooth, fluid motions out to my target. I thought the problem was me. I was wrong.
All it took was allowing my brain to work the way it already works best. There's an old saying about golf - that 90% of it is played in your head. But the way golf is taught completely ignores this. My pro never once talked to me about what was going on in my head. 90% of anything is MOST of that thing. Shouldn't that be the point where learning begins?
Any problems I encountered were met with one solution. "Practice more." But how many thousands of repetitions can the average person make? Especially when your head is filled with an ever-changing jumble of thoughts.
Essentially, my pro was teaching me to "Swing like a pro." But I'm not a pro. Pros have talent. Plus thousands of hours of practice, playing time, and instruction. How many of us can match up to that background?
If "golf swing" is taught as a highly technical, precise, athletic endeavor, then that's what it becomes. Doing it well is out of reach for an awful lot of people. Go to any busy driving range and just watch for a while. See how many people don't have a clue how to make a smooth motion out to their target. They are obsessed with, "How to hit a ball." Constantly changing, based on the result of their last shot. Good golf requires consistency.
The way I play golf now is to view the ball as something in the path of my motion out to the target. It's in the way. So it gets hit. Over and over again. Confusion, frustration, and the negative emotions that come with failure are a thing of the past. My brain, free from the complexities of a swing, is open to the unlimited possibilities of my imagination.
Exactly the way it's supposed to be.
James Sloan finally perfected his golf swing at age 59. See the video of James in action at his http://www.TheUnlikelyGolfer.com
. Get his Unlikely Golfer DVD that shows YOU how to play well effortlessly, no matter your talent level.