3 ways to unlock your hidden golfing potential

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Golf can be a shit of a sport.

We can get bogged down with how poorly we are playing. We get worried about what we’re doing wrong. There’s also panic about what others are thinking and the feeling of embarrassment can hit hard.

This is not a good time and golf can feel like the worst sport in the world. Working seems like a better option when you’re game is down in the dumps. Never a good thing.

I received an email today from a Golf Tribe Member who is thinking about switching sides. He has become frustrated enough with his golf that he is considering upsetting his natural game in the hope of finding something better.

I know how he feels. I’ve been there. About 10 years ago I contemplated switching to playing right handed. I became so frustrated with my coach that I seriously started hitting balls from the other side of the ball. But luckily commonsense prevailed and not long after I found a true path to golfing happiness.

Here’s the process I used to get my confidence back and find a game I’m now NOT going to change in a hurry.

Sack my golf coach. I really did become fed up with all the changes and inflexibility. He was trying to get me to do things that I simply couldn’t do. I spent hours trying to conform but I wasn’t able to. Each lesson was a drain and boring. It became a stalemate. I couldn’t do what he wanted and he didn’t (or couldn’t) change his teaching model.

When I stopped bogging myself down with inflexible rules I was able to reignite my natural game. It didn’t happen straight away but slowly and surely it came back. What a relief this was!

Controversial Sidebar: When I told my coach that I had had enough from his coaching ideas, that I hadn’t improved and I was struggling to do what he wanted he made a startling admission. He told me that what he was teaching me was unlikely to have a major impact on my game. That at the very most I would improve only a fraction of a stroke a round. What a waste of 18 months!

Played for fun. This was an important step. For the first time in a long time I realised that trying so hard and attempting to be perfect was not the right thing to do. This was a time when I let go and played golf like I was a young kid.

I stopped playing competition rounds and I left the practice fairway alone. The golf course became my friend. I played golf and attempted to hit the shots that most interested me. If I wanted to smash a 3 wood from the tee that is what I did. If I decided to swing super smoothly that was fine too. I removed the straitjacket and unlocked my inner flair and enjoyment.

And the following step was the most important. Because not long after implementing the above two steps something amazing happened.

I started playing better. Golf became easier and much more enjoyable. So what was the third step?

I played all rounds with this care free attitude. It didn’t matter if I was playing a social round or a competition game – I played with freedom and flair. I didn’t allow myself to get bogged down with technique, rules and self-doubt.

This was the first time I realised that to play great golf I needed a carefree attitude. In the past important rounds meant I would tighten up, try too hard and get in my own way. The realisation that remarkable golf was possible by trying less and mimicking less important rounds was a big one. At this point golf became a totally new sport for me.

It became fun. Gave me greater enjoyment and I started learning and growing with each game I played.

This might sound a bit airy fairy. This mindset is a departure from traditional golf instruction but for me it was profound. By learning to get out of my own way and swing the club naturally and instinctively reignited my passion for the game.

The other good news is that the above steps require little skill or talent. The most important ingredient is an open mind and a level of discipline. Mixed with commitment I believe you can transform your game – no matter how much of a rut you think you’re in. Go for it – what have you got to lose?

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9 Comments

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply March 11, 2010

    Now you’re talkin’! You can’t hit a good shot until you don’t care if you hit a bad shot. Period.

  • Ray Crick

    Reply Reply March 11, 2010

    Hello Cameron,
    Thank you for the quick reply and good advice. I think this was just a moment of madness and frustration out on the golf course when this thought entered my mind, hence the email to you asking the question. I’ve now refocussed and am back on track.
    I do feel my game will have some improvement once I’ve updated my kit. I do know this will help some but the rest is up to me to take on board the information and make small steps in my goal to improving my game?

    Cheers
    Ray Crick

  • Steady

    Reply Reply March 11, 2010

    Hi Tribers,
    played 9 holes this afternoon. Haven’t played in 11 days. Stuck to my routine, hit the ball woefully but scored like a pro. 7 two pointers, 1 one pointer and a par to finish with a 3 pointer 17.
    This is the third round I’ve played were as Cameron calls it with a carefree attitude. In saying that I couldn’t get over how badly I struck the ball yet could get up and down out of a ball washer.
    It’s not that I didn’t care or was concerned about what my playing partner thought i just relexed and enjoyed the scenery while playing REAL golf.
    I hope this helps those who are struggling. The question you have to ask your self is WHY do I play golf?
    If it is to be the best you can, then relax, go through your routine and PLAY. Remember That word PLAY.
    The reason being is that when you play bad you don’t gain any enjoyment from the experience because the focus is on yourself. Take it off yourself and place it onto your routine. While walking around the course take in the sound smell scenery noise what ever, but don’t what ever you do focus on yourself because you will then start listening to pesky and your enjoyment factor goes down.
    I hope this helps.
    Steady

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply March 11, 2010

    “I hope this helps”

    It does. A lot. Great post..

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply March 12, 2010

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m going to be testing the audio format. If you like it let me know. I have found already that it gives some perspective to the blog post and maybe I can add emphasis to the important parts. Something worth trying to get the most out of automatic golf and enhancing the learning experience.

    @Ray – your kit needs some work 🙂 You know I’m not a big fan of wasting money on clubs but in your case I think it will be money well spent.

    @Steady – think we need to do some work on your swing. You shouldn’t be hitting the ball “woefully”. At least not very often. Something that needs consideration is that once you learn a golf swing you OWN it. Despite limited practice it still should present you with good results. Really bad shots are a sign you’re doing something you shouldn’t.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply March 12, 2010

    Cameron: a big thumbs up from me for adding the audio format. Even though it obviously follows the transcript fairly closely there’s subtle emphasis and expression that don’t always come across in the written version. On the other hand audio alone doesn’t give the recipient the opportunity to ponder certain things as easily either. I like the idea of both together.

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply March 14, 2010

    Just played 9……..couldn’t believe what a difference it makes when putting to not look up until WELL after the ball is on its way………seems to take all the anxiety out of the putt………anyone else find that?

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply March 15, 2010

    Yes, yes and YES. You’re starting to lose yourself in the shot – you’re not forcing yourself (or at least shouldn’t be) to keep still but you’re distracted and in the moment. You can look up when you’re ready. This is when automatic works best.

    We all often are so concerned about the shot – when we are relaxed and confident we know we’re going to hit a good one – so there’s no need to get overly anxious and take an early peek.

    Further. Simply telling someone NOT to look up or keep their head down will not work. They need to be trained on how to play automatically and reduce anxiety. A very important lesson that rarely gets taught.

    Good insight Grayden.

    Cam

  • Steady

    Reply Reply March 15, 2010

    Hi Tribers,
    take notice of the above quote
    “when we are relaxed and confident we know we’re going to hit a good one – so there’s no need to get overly anxious and take an early peek.”
    “You’re starting to lose yourself in the shot – you’re not forcing yourself ”
    How true.
    Cheers Steady

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