A Case Study: Adam's Story

I like stories. They provide inspiration and are a useful learning tool.

Adam’s golf story is a good one and highlights the pitfalls of the golf improvement cycle.

Adam has been a friend of mine for nine years. I didn’t realise he was a golfer until recently, he preferred social outings, jet skiing and ballroom dancing over golf.

But Adam had a secret past.

He used to be a trainee golf professional at a top Melbourne golf course. This surprised me because he avoided golf like the plague. Although he hung out with a golf crowd he never participated in golf discussions or golf days. It was obvious he didn’t like the game – it would be fair to say he despised it!

When I discovered he was once a golf professional I couldn’t help but to dig deeper. It turns out that golf got the better of him. He had put his heart and soul into playing better golf. He became obsessed with it.

He became a technocrat. His days were spent hitting balls and working on his technique. He analysed his game in detail and spent many hours attempting to improve his golf swing.

But he didn’t improve. He got worse.

Working hard at something but getting little in return can be difficult to take. Adam persevered for a while, but ultimately gave up. Two years of busting his gut and getting worse, not better, took its toll. He sold his clubs and pursued a different career.

Adam didn’t touch a golf club for thirteen years. He came out of his golf hibernation when he hit some balls at my golf studio while waiting for me to finish work. I could see that he had some game – I could also see that his swing was tight and controlled. I spoke about the automatic process and my thinking on playing golf;

  • Less technique and more playing
  • Play your natural game
  • Hit the ball and have fun

These ideas resonated with Adam. It reminded him of when he first starting playing, a time when he wasn’t bogged down with all of the garbage and technical thought.

It took some time but he slowly became interested in golf again. He bought some clubs last year and started to hit some balls at the local driving range. Instead of thinking “technique” he played for fun, didn’t analyse all parts of his game and kept things simple. He played golf for enjoyment, not perfection.

We had a hit last week. It was our first ever game and the first time I’d seen him strike a ball since that impromptu lesson.

On the first tee he danced his way to the ball. He didn’t fluff about or get tight or nervous. He glided in to the ball and made a graceful and flowing swing. The strike was pure and the result a good one. The first six holes were impressive. He didn’t miss a shot and was making the game look easy.

His only mistakes came from hitting the approach shots too well (I’ve always said that an automatic game allows you to hit the ball further). Most impressive was a few bogeys didn’t change his plan or mindset. He kept hitting the ball in a natural and instinctive manner.

On the ninth he played another flush iron shot. Again the ball sailed through the green (by this stage I was joking with him that he had “over club syndrome”). Adam was left with an impossible shot. From a tight lie he had to get the ball up quickly, carry a bunker and then stop the ball on a hard and fast green. On a scale of 1 to 10 this shot was an 11!

I was keen to watch how he played it. I believed he would stuff it up, get tight and flub it into the bunker. This didn’t happen – he hit the most amazing lob shot I’ve seen in a while. Adam’s little dance caused the ball to sail high and soft, land on the edge of the green and finish less than a metre from the hole. He replaced his divot and without a fuss in the world tapped the ball into the hole for a par.

This gracefulness and confidence continued on the back nine. He made some mistakes but they had little effect on his attitude or how he played.

Adam is a player. He enjoys golf and has left the ugly and tight game behind him. He is living up to his potential and getting the most from his game. He is also good fun to play with. He plays quickly, doesn’t mess about and can hit shots that gets the entire group talking. He’s good value – something he probably never thought he’d be thirteen years ago.

Well done Adam! You’re an automatic golf pin up boy and an inspiration to those that believe they’ve lost their game.

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  • Michael M

    Reply Reply January 20, 2009

    Sounds like a mate i play with on Saturdays.Stopped playing and took up bowls for 8 years.One day some bowling mates mentioned that they played 9 holes at a nearby course before the friday arvo roll up.He turned up and shot 2 under with no expectations.Needless to say the bowls are in mothballs and he`s back better than ever.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply January 20, 2009

    Hi Michael,

    Yeah – great story. Some people are dangerous when they let go and just play.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Leonard

    Reply Reply January 26, 2009

    Hi Cameron
    I am and 49 and just started playing golf 9 months ago. I have never played a competitive sport (any sport actually) before. Therefore I have no natural ability. My wife bought me 3 lessons for my birthday and this got me going. I love it and have become a little obsessed and tetchy if I can’t get a social game in each weekend. However, 7 private lessons latter and a handicap of 36 I am starting to get frustrated with myself for not getting much better. Which of your products would you recommend I start with? HELP!!!

  • Leonard

    Reply Reply January 28, 2009

    Thanks for responding Cameron,
    I will head to the course this week-end and let go of all of my internal chatter (read rules) and let fly. Thanks also for the vote of confidence in my ‘natural’ ability. I will have a look at PGYW and give the formal lessons a miss for a while.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply January 28, 2009

    Hi Leonard,

    Thanks for your message.

    Firstly I don’t believe you when you say you have NO natural talent. We all have it – just a matter of unlocking it.

    It seems you are over thinking and complicating an already difficult game. Learn to let go of the rules and regulations of the swing and you’ll start playing better immediately. Do this for an extended period of time and you’ll find your remarkable game.

    My best product is this golf blog or this website. You can always visit the product page above and have a look at Play Golf Your Way.

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