[Part 2] Path to golf mastery

When I first started playing golf there was no special talent. My first score was 156 for 18 holes. It was a debacle and I didn’t really enjoy the game.

My Grandmother made me count each shot, including all the penalties, so it was a long day. I scored 17 on the first hole, hitting three shots over the fence and copping the added shots on the chin.

It wasn’t until I got away from my Grandparents that my game took off. At home, with a bag of unloved balls and a horse paddock I went to work. I was free and nobody getting in my ear and telling me what to do.

I could experiment. Hit all sorts of shots and play a variety of games. I even set up my own mini course, with obstacles and my own par. I loved it and to this day is probably the best practice I’ve ever done.

Golf was becoming an addiction. I was still playing soccer but my heart wasn’t it in, but I relished the challenge and individuality of golf. Golf was now my sport.

My scores were coming down. I broke 100 quickly and then 90 and not long after 80. My golfing mate and his dad thought I was a freak – they couldn’t believe a short-term golfer could improve so quickly. But I knew there was no secret….
…. my mate loved his computer and TV. After school he’d race home to play games and watch TV. I had none of this. My playground was the horse paddock and I couldn’t think of anywhere else I wanted to be.

Within 12 months I had broken par. Golf was easy. And I’m not saying this to be a smart arse – it’s just I played in such an uncomplicated way.

I’d look at the hole, chose a club and then walk up to the ball and hit it. Can it get any easier than this?

It helped that I’d be able to hit most of the shots I could conjure up in my mind (If I couldn’t hit them I’d find a way over at the horse paddock). So golf really was easy and I used to laugh at all the older golfers who made it so hard. I was good at taking their money too.


At the height of my powers (I was 16 years old) I applied and was accepted for a golf scholarship. Acceptance meant regular coaching and a year’s supply of range balls and green fees. This was better than Christmas.

I put everything into getting that scholarship. I took multiple application forms and made sure my handwriting was legible (it’s terrible) and every question was answered fully. I must have rewritten that form 15 times – but it was worth it. When I opened the letter from the sponsoring business I saw the word “Congratulations” and that was that. I let out a cry and a fist pump – it looked like my dream of becoming a professional golfer was coming true.

My success also led to my biggest disappointment. I wasn’t to know it at the time, but my approach so far to golf was close to perfect. I was playing/learning in a natural way, just like we’re supposed to. It was the reason I had improved so quickly and could beat almost all at my club.

Things were to change.

The golf lessons were full on and definitely not all they were cracked up to be.

For starters, it was hard. It wasn’t like you could work on one thing and then start hitting the ball well. It wasn’t so simple. The pro would give me some swing changes and I’d try and implement.

“Not like that”
“It’s not right yet”
“Keep practising”

I thought changing my swing would be easy. It wasn’t.

Then, my game and scores started falling apart. (I know the reason now)

I started hitting the ball all over the shop. I stopped focusing on the golf course and my game and was obsessed with my swing. I started losing the plot.

Although well meaning and really only doing what he was taught to do, the golf pro destroyed my game. Golf became an unhealthy obsession and I started to hate it. The only thing that kept me going was a strong discipline and the thought there must be a way to recapture the old form.

Golf was a battle and it took years of fighting things to escape.

To be continued …

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