Courage under fire

G’day there,

I’m back after a short break.

A question that I keep getting asked is, “I’ve tried automating my swing but I’m still hitting poor shots”.

The first thing is that golf really is a difficult game and no matter how much you practise, how good your technique and whether you learn to automate your game or not, you will still hit poor shots. Sometimes they will come at the worst time. The goal of learning automation is to maximise your chances of playing your best golf.

The second point is automatic golf gives you a process to deal with poor shots. I sometimes think that playing good golf is not about hitting great shots – it’s about dealing with indifferent play and learning to minimise the damage.

Let me explain more …

One of the hardest things about playing automatic and instinctive golf is to keep the process going after a bad shot or two.

The temptation to make changes to your technique is strong when things go awry. But you must resist this change if you’re going to be the best you can be.

Yesterday, playing in a big club event, I hit one the worst tee shots in a long time. Using a three wood, I skied the ball off the toe of the club. The ball went straight left (I’m left handed) and into big trouble. Luckily for me the event was foursomes and my partner played two miraculous shots and got us out of big trouble.

The temptation was there to analyse what I did wrong and play safe. I did neither. Standing on the third tee I recommitted myself to letting go and trusting my subconscious to get the job done. Using my three-wood I pulled the trigger and nailed the shot down the middle of the fairway.

Instantly my confidence returned and I was able to perform well for the rest of the day. This is the magic of trusting the natural learning process and not getting bogged down on technical thoughts. I’m sure if I’d tried to work out what I did wrong with the first shot, I would have spent the rest of the day fidgeting and worrying about my swing.

This appears to be the right thing to do. Unfortunately I don’t think it works. For me, the most courageous and beneficial thing you can do after a bad shot or two is to think less and play more. Yes it can feel uneasy but you’ll maximise your chances of playing better and getting your round back on track. And it sure beats a long and boring round of working on your golf swing and chipping out of the trees.

Good golfing,


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  • Terry

    Reply Reply June 3, 2008

    Cameron – you are spot on with what you say here! Something very similar happened to me on Saturday. After 3 pars, I hit the worst shot off the par-3 4th, completely chunking it and it travelled about 90 metres. I actually laughed, it was so bad. Not to worry. A wedge to the green, 2 putts ending with a 4 for 2 points, and moved on.
    Accepting that you are not a professional golfer and not worrying about the odd bad shot is the key, I believe.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply June 3, 2008

    It can be a hard lesson to learn. Not getting too concerned about your swing etc definitely helps.

    It can be quite funny how badly we can play sometimes. The game can throw the good and the bad at us – sometimes on the same hole.

    Thanks for your comments.


  • Terry

    Reply Reply June 17, 2008


    A major turnaround in my golf has occurred after my rehab from surgery and trying to automate my game. Scores of 41, 40, 33, 39, and 39 points, as well as nett 75 in the Monthly Medal (3rd) has seen the handicap come back down again. Now 10, and looking to get to 8!
    Oh, and the thick grips have definitely helped.
    Many Thanks!

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply June 18, 2008

    Hi Terry,

    Congratulations on the turnaround. I’m pleased for you and I’m sure you will only get better.

    Keep up the good work and let me know of your progress.

    Good golfing,


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