[Case Study] I nearly put this golfer in a headlock!

Steady - he was lucky (so was I) that I didn't put him in a headlock...

Steady – he was lucky (so was I) that I didn’t put him in a headlock…

Steady loves golf. He’s keen and disciplined and wants to do well. He has been a longtime client and friend and it has been interesting to see his journey.

Some of the key points about his journey have been the ups and downs. Sometimes learning is messy. It’s not straightforward and we can find things difficult. And Steady, because you’d classify him as a very good student, (because he does everything that you ask) takes things too far. He’s keen and sometimes over enthusiastic.

This is not a criticism, but with Steady (and lots of golfers like him) he forgot what his main objective was. He had gotten away from playing golf and was sort of going through the motions. As a result his game had stagnated and it was hard for him to see where he was going wrong.

And it was hard because he thought he was doing stuff correctly. He was sure he was practicing hard and following the principles of Automatic Golf. But he was slightly off course.

Steady called me up last month to vent. He was frustrated and looking for some advice. Here’s a snapshot of our conversation.

Steady: Cameron, I’m not playing that well. I’m struggling to play decently and haven’t had a good round in a while. My handicap has blown out and I really want to get it down.

Me: What do you think the issue is?

Steady: mmm. I’m not sure. I’m really playing my irons poorly. Missing a lot of greens that I would normally hit. I’ve actually been spending a bit of time at the range to try and fix the issue.

Me: So what’s the problem. What’s happening?

Steady: Well, when I get to the course I can’t seem to replicate my practice form. I’m tight and don’t feel that confident. I’m hitting the ball fat, really fat. My ball striking is killing me…

Me: Do you mind if I offer some suggestions?

Steady: Go for it. Smack me between the eyes…

Me: First off, I reckon trying to lower your handicap is going about things the wrong way. Your handicap is a stupid number and is ONLY a representation of your ability. It’s NOT you. It’s not your golf game or even an accurate reflection of your game. But so many golfers become a victim of this number. They let it control their game and they head to the course thinking about their handicap instead of letting themselves play the game.

The bottom line is this: Your handicap takes care of itself and I personally wouldn’t worry about it.

Steady: Yes. I can see what you’re saying. I have definitely been worried too much about my handicap and score. I’ve forgotten to play golf. What else do you think?

Me: The next thing is your practice. I don’t want you to go to the practice fairway anymore. The fairway is not helping you. You’re getting exercise and little improvement.

Steady: What do you mean?

Me: How often do you hit fat shots when you’re on the practice fairway?

Steady: Never. I hardly ever hit a poor shot there.

Me: Exactly. That is why I don’t want you to got there. Instead, I want you to practice out on the course. Take a few golf balls and play as many “real” shots as you can. Hit the Rescue, or 7 iron or pitching wedge to the green. Go to the places that are giving you grief. Hit shots into the greens. Hit a lot of shots.

Steady: But golf course practice is hard. It’s easier to go to the fairway.

Me: Steady! I’ll come down there and put you in a headlock and then punch holes in you. I never said learning and improvement was easy. It takes some work. It takes commitment. It takes discipline. You can keep going to the practice fairway but I don’t think that will work for you – it hasn’t really been working that well has it?

Steady: You’re right. I suppose I can play 2 or 3 holes with three or four balls and that will give me lots of practice.

Me: Correct! And it will be some of the best golf practice you’ll ever do. I’ll go as far as saying if you can do these on-course sessions for a month (maybe once or twice per week) you’ll have a breakthrough. I can almost guarantee it!

Steady: OK. I’m in.

Me: One more thing: I want you to report back with your findings. Tell me what you’re learning and how it’s going. Do we have a deal?

Steady: Yes boss.

Our conversation happened last month. And true to his word, Steady has been sending regular updates and I’ve enjoyed reading them. Here are some of the more profound things he has told me:

“I was trying too hard to swing correctly. In attempting to swing through the ball I was dropping the club into the ground. I need to swing more freely without fear”.
“I have been getting too tense. I must remain calm and relaxed”
“I need to play like a gambler at the Casino. I’ve been hitting too many shots that are “all in”. I need to choose a more conservative strategy”
“I need to accept the result and move on! JUST ACCEPT IT”
“I want to improve but I’ve been distracted by my handicap”
“Leave my ego in the car”
“Work out what I want to do (behind ball) and then walk in and hit it. Easy!”
“Sometimes I should hit away from the flag because this offers the best chance to make par”

Coaching is a two-way street. It’s not just about just telling the student what to do. To be fair, I hardly told Steady to do anything. It’s hardly rocket science to tell someone to go practice on the golf course. But I challenged Steady in two ways:

1. He was resisting the golf course practice so he needed a shove in the right direction.

2. And most importantly, asking for some feedback was going to challenge him further. He’d needed to be aware of his thoughts and feelings. He knew he couldn’t email me rubbish (because I’d put him in a headlock) so he went a little deeper.

All this helped him leap. To gain greater insight. To push himself. To try new things. To explore. To start playing the game and get away from all the crappy thinking. This is where the magic was and this is why I knew he’d have a breakthrough with his game. Steady did the heavy lifting because he got outside and learned. And he’s now getting the rewards…

I wasn’t surprised one bit when he called (and emailed) me Saturday night to tell me he won the Monthly Medal. I was very pleased and happy for him, but I wasn’t surprised. When we pratice and play golf the right way, learning, success and enjoyment are the natural byproduct.

Here’s Steady’s email:

Today was the best competition round I’ve played for a long time. Shot 76 off the stick.

All day all I did was look at what I had to aim at as in my goal posts. Put the golf ball between the posts.

Over the last weeks I’ve taken Cam’s advice and played more golf by hitting my shots through the posts. Not practicing per se on the putting green or bashing balls on a range – good exercise but doesn’t achieve much.

I’ve figured out that if you consciously visualise the shot you want to make your subconscious will produce it. Ie put the ball between the imaginary posts. Even if my shot didn’t go through my imaginary posts they weren’t far from one of the posts. This can be done with any shot on any hole. Thats the beauty of this concept. Drives, irons, pitches, chips and putts.

Today I played with a 3 guys whose handicap totalled 7 and I beat them all off the stick. One was off scratch beat him by 3 shots, another guy off 3 beat him by 8 and the other guy off 4 who I beat by 9. That’s off the stick not net.

Yes it might be a day out, however, that shows you what potential can do if you allow yourself to play like this.

 

Best of all, Steady has saved me a trip down south to inflict punishment on him. Lucky, because Steady is a ball of muscle and would beat the living daylights out of me anyway. Great work Steadman!

Another update: As I write this it’s December 28, 2016. I just got off the phone from Steady with another update.

Steady: You’re a fucking genius. I love your new training material. It’s spot on and there’s so much good stuff in it. You’ve hit the nail on the head and absolutely highlighted why us golfers lose the plot and get distracted.

Me: Hi Steady. What’s been happening?

Steady: I’m pumped. I’ve just played two amazing games (I think he said he shot a 2 and a 3 over) and I’ve reduced the handicap down further. And I can’t wait to play Thursday because I’m going to take things further. I’m all over it and no longer a victim to all the garbage instruction out there. Thanks mate.

Steady has been a long time subscriber of mine and has read everything I’ve put into print. But he loved my new work. It took me four years to compile and you can find out more over here.

 

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4 Comments

  • Steady

    Reply Reply May 27, 2015

    Great post Cam
    not because its about me but its about every golfer who struggles with hi/her game.
    Adults like to make the simple complicated. As you said its not rocket science.
    I think the big word that swims around a golfers head is trying. Im trying to
    do this or that. or I should have done this or that.
    Instead of allowing it to happen and accepting what happened then
    moving on.
    From all the studies on learning and human movement that Ive done is that what we
    visualise happening usually comes true. I hope I don’t hit it into the water/bunker or OB.
    What happens its self for filling prophecy.
    Practice should be just that but on the course, explore, build pressure put pressure on
    yourself to make a shot. Why because when the real deal occurs you will know how to play that shot
    know what its like to experience it but most of all rely on your subconscious to play the shot.
    Care Mumford and Cam have reported on this before about pre-setting.
    It allows you to experience the event before it happens, so you have the tools to combat those nervous
    feelings/pesky or any other distractions that occur while playing/practicing.
    This is where the rubber meets the road. Your routine/number counting singing is the key to
    playing at your best.
    Remember visualise what you want, go through your routine, execute your shot/pitch/chip/putt.
    Accept move on repeat.
    Thats it in a nut shell. Do this while practicing on the course. It reaps massive results.
    Ta John Stead

  • Tony Lucas

    Reply Reply May 27, 2015

    I’m glad it’s you Cam want’s to put in a headlock and not me John Ha!!Ha!!!
    Cheers Lukey

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply May 29, 2015

      Lukey, you’ll be in trouble next time you visit…

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply May 29, 2015

    Very cool Steady. “Just put it between the posts” is a great concept and applicable to many things. As Woody Allen said, “90% of success is just turning up”. Or some artist whose name I can’t remember now: “Our job is simply to be prolific – ‘good’ will take care of itself”.

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