Playing Golf

I played yesterday (I’ve been playing quite a bit lately 🙂 ) in extremely windy conditions. I quite enjoy playing under extreme conditions because it allows me to explore my shot making and put my automatic game to the test.

I was joined by a friend and low handicapper. We have a bit of a rivalry thing going so I was keen to play my best golf. Not wanting to “play safe”, I was determined to let go and not worry about my score, my swing or the conditions. I was also wary not to make the same mistakes again, so was focussed to play my game.

The tough conditions made playing normal kind of golf difficult. Into the wind, any shot that wasn’t struck perfectly ended up in the trees or finished miles short. Downwind holes weren’t much easier, it was nearly impossible to stop the ball on the greens. There was no respite on the putting greens either, with the ball getting blown about, it wasn’t easy judging distance or holing those short putts.

Still, I was up for the challenge. It’s rounds like this that take a bit of cunning, playing shots that you wouldn’t normally play and using your imagination to best deal with the conditions.

For example, on the holes into the wind I was teeing the ball very low. My goal was to virtually hit the ball along the ground and let in run up the fairway. On the downwind holes I hit the ball high from the tee, and low into the green. This strategy gave me good distance from the tee while allowing me to control distance with the approach.

My mind wasn’t cluttered with thoughts about how to do this. I simply worked out the best shot for the situation and let my subconscious hit the ball. This is playing naturally and is perfectly situated for tough conditions. Best of all this form of golf is more fun and less tiring.

After the round my mate was complimentary of my play. He was impressed with the array of different shots I played and how I coped with the conditions. His comments were flattering and made me realise that automatic golf gives me a huge advantage, something I wouldn’t change for all of the tea in China.

Speaking to him about my golf and ideas for playing better I also realised that golfers can have a problem with adopting this natural approach. The problem is this;

If you consider to play automatic golf you’re faced with a difficult choice. It’s difficult because it represents giving up a method of play you’re comfortable with, and it’s difficult because it requires an all-or-nothing commitment.

The opportunities for you to improve your play, have more fun and realise your full potential are right in front of you. Some golfers stumble because they can’t make the commitment – they want the best of both worlds, a better game without making a change. The opportunity is significant, perhaps the biggest of your golf career. The choice becomes easier when you can note the difference between what you’re doing now and a powerful new way to play.

But you have to commit. The choice is yours.

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5 Comments

  • Dave

    Reply Reply February 24, 2009

    Hi

    i fully agree with your comments. My friends and i sometimes curse about the conditions on our always windy seaside course, but playing in these conditions toughens you as a golfer, and forces you to expand your shot selection.

    regards

    Dave

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply March 6, 2009

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cameron

  • LukeG

    Reply Reply April 11, 2012

    Hi Cameron,

    New reader of your blog here from the UK. Let me give you a little bit of my golfing history. I’m 27 years old and have been playing since I was around ten years old. As a junior I was pretty average and hit around mid 80’s at best and mostly 90’s. Then from around 2003-2008 I really hit my stride and started to play some good stuff. I won several single medals at my club shooting in the 70’s and got my handicap down to around 11-12 consistently and would think nothing of shooting 80 pretty regularly. I never took a lesson – I swung naturally with a very strong grip and gave it a lash. Now and again I would have a car crash round but it didn’t bother me because I knew I had a bit of talent and I would always hit the odd shot like a tour pro and it would blow my playing partners away. It was a lot of fun. I remember one particular medal where I hit it absolutely all over hell, shot a gross 78 nett 65 and beat the field by 5 shots. I was known as being a bit of a Seve. Then around 3 or 4 years ago I hit the wall and started to struggle with a hook off the tee and I lost all confidence in my game. I started to wonder why all the guys I had played junior golf with were close to scratch players and I was starting to go backwards towards the 90’s. I started to listen to players that were worse than me telling me that I needed to change parts of my swing and saying I would never be a single figure player swinging like that. Around two years ago I finally caved and changed my ultra strong grip to something approaching neutral and ever since I have felt I’ve had no feel or control of my swing at all. Since the grip change, I have been fanning all the long shots out right and trying to find compensations elsewhere to fight it. More recently I’ve developed an over the top casting kind of move that I swear wasn’t there back when I was playing well (though I can’t be sure), which again is no doubt the result of playing with an alien grip and trying to twist the rest of my swing to fit with it. Recently I even took a lesson – my ‘pro’ watched me hit 5 or 10 shots and sent me off to practice with some drill that had me swinging like an octopus falling out of a tree. I’ve read countless instruction books, internet forums etc and have tried so many ‘techniques’ and now it’s just horrible. I don’t feel like I’ve hit a solid shot in 2 years. I’m hitting everything so short and crooked. Even when I’ve played reasonably well I’ve felt it’s been down to luck and just hitting safe little half shots to kind of get me round. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have a crisp shot rip off the face and take off like a bullet like I used to do. I’ve practiced like crazy all winter, the first single medal is 2 weeks away and I am nowhere. I’ve even stopped practicing now because I dread going to the driving range. All the joy has gone.

    A week or so ago I decided I’d had enough of this. Then I watched Bubba win the masters and thought if he can win a major swinging like that, then I can easily get back to being something like a half decent club golfer swinging the way I did. I started to really think about all my old friends who are now extremely good golfers and came to the realisation that none of them have taken a lesson in their life and most of them have no working knowledge of the golf swing. Truth is, they are maybe just a little more talented than me, fell in to good technique when they were young, played a lot of golf growing up and always had confidence and belief in their way. I picked up a club in the house yesterday and put my ugly old strong grip on it and it felt so good. Back at work this morning and I’m messing around on the net and I find your blog. And now my mind is made up and I’m going to make a commitment. I’m going to the golf course tonight and I’m going back to my old method of grip it and rip it, I’m going to accept bad shots and bad rounds and the consequences be damned. I’m going to bin everything I’ve ‘learned’ in the last two years. I’m never going to listen to idiots going on about technique again. I’m never going to doubt my method again. I’m going to blow everyone away next time I hit a 70 yard hook around a line of trees and stick it on the green. I’m going to laugh when I rip a drive 290 yards in to the wrong fairway. Most importantly I’m never going to listen to the naysayers and life’s losers again, the ones that’ll happily tell you you’ll never be any good doing it like that. I see it now – it’s all about perception. If you think you’re rubbish, you probably will be. If you think you can become one of the best golfers in your club with what you have, you might well just do it. If Bubba keeps ignoring the idiots drawing lines on the slow motion vids, he’ll probably win more majors. If Pete Kostis gets to him however, it’s probably all over for him.

    I’m looking forward to my 9 holes tonight more than I’ve looked forward to playing golf for years. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

    (sorry about the length of this – but I think there are some major lessons in here).

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply April 13, 2012

      Hey Luke! Thanks so much for your email. Your story in many ways is very close to mine. I can hear your frustration and know how it feels to be lead down the wrong path. There’s a lot of noise out in golf instruction land and eventually some of it gets through.

      It’s sad that you lost your game for a while but the really good news is that you’re now on the path to getting back into the game. When we realise that the talent is already inside us and we don’t need swing gurus or any of the other crap the game becomes so much easier. When you start playing golf how you want (and by the way, 70 yard hooks and long drives up the wrong fairway sound pretty good to me) you’ll get so much more satisfaction and enjoyment you’ll kick yourself for not doing it sooner. So welcome back to the real golf world and I can’t wait to hear how you get on.

      Bubba is a great role model. I really think he gets it and will be a very good player for many years to come. I agree 100% about Pete Kostis.

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