The secret of golf

I don’t believe in golfing secrets, quick fixes or miracles cures. But what I’m about to share with you could be the next best thing.

If you learn to master the following lesson (it takes practice, discipline and never ending commitment) you will experience the best golf of your life;

  • A consistent golf game
  • The ability to play under pressure
  • A strategy to deal with first tee nerves
  • How to pull off the great shot when you need it most
  • An uncanny skill to make those tricky and pressure filled short putts time after time
  • Ensure that you keep improving and getting better over time
  • How to cure the yips and swing (or putt) with confidence
  • Play to your full potential

Sound good?

Let me share with you the strategy that has transformed my game. I play more consistently and have reached a level of play that I didn’t think possible. Better still, I have done this with virtually no practice. This technique will help you find your own inner game, the game you know you posses, but can’t find on a consistent basis.

The best golf lesson

If you’ve been playing for any length of time you’ll know the frustration of trying to play good golf. One day you can have ‘it’, the next day the game can seem almost impossible. It’s frustrating, confusing and isn’t much fun.

But there is a way to maximise your chances of playing good golf.

The secret to doing so is understanding how we should perform motor skills. A motor skill can be any such task like riding a bike, brushing your teeth or playing golf.

Most skills we perform on a daily basis have reached a level of unconscious competence. This means that you can perform the skill without giving it too much thought. The skill has become second nature and requires little concentration.

It’s incredibly important that we reach the level of unconscious competence with motor skills. Doing so ensures that we use a minimal amount of effort throughout the day. Imagine having to consciously control every action? It would be hard work and we’d be left exhausted.

Better still, the unconscious competence level of learning ensures the skill is performed to the highest level. If you want to disrupt a skill that has become automatic just think too much about it. Try and consciously control your signature, tying shoelaces or throwing a ball – and you’ll see what I mean.

This is where much of modern golf instruction has got it wrong.

It’s all about fixing your technique and thinking about what you’re doing. This can be alright some of the time, but continually analysing your swing is a recipe for disaster. You don’t give yourself a chance to learn a golf game to the unconscious competence level.

And this is not a good thing.

Spending all of your time in fixing mode will never allow you to become the best golfer you can be. This means if you’re always using swing thoughts, analysing your swing and trying to control each shot you’re in big trouble. Chances are your game lets you down, you play erratically and you’re never too sure what kind of game you’re going to get. Sound familiar?

If you want to play your best golf you have to think less and play more.

But there is a problem

Your brain is not that easy to control. It likes to think, analyse and evaluate. So ‘not thinking’ isn’t that easy to do. Try thinking of nothing and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

This is where golfers get themselves into trouble. They step up to the ball and they’re thinking about their grip, stance, back swing and down swing all at the same time. Throw in some first tee nerves, sand, water and a difficult golf course and the game becomes almost impossible to play.

If you want to play better golf the secret isn’t about perfecting your technique. You’ve probably been playing for a year or two, and believe it or not your skill level is probably good enough to play better golf. In other words, your technique will be ok. Maybe not perfect, but I guarantee it will be good enough.

The trick is to learn to control your mind so you have a chance of reaching the level of unconscious competence.

I’m sure you’ve heard this type of thinking before. That golf is all mental and you need to have a strong mind to play golf. Nothing new here.

But. And this is a big but….

…I want to show you the strategy (read method, skill or process) for actually controlling your mind so you can play golf like you drive a car, ride a bike or throw a ball.

The secret of playing your best golf

If you’re still with me and you understand the importance of playing golf automatically then here’s how to do it.

You have to consciously control your mind for the duration of every shot.

Let me repeat that.

You have to consciously control your mind for the duration of every shot.

Let me explain this in more detail.

Because it’s not possible to ‘stop thinking’ you need to occupy your conscious mind for the duration of each shot you play. This doesn’t mean you can think about your swing. That’s cheating and not going to work. You have to think about something that’s not related to playing golf. You need something that’s neutral.

I know this is probably sounding a bit weird and mystical but bear with me. If you can fill your mind with a neutral thought while you play, your subconscious is free to perform the swing. And this is exactly how you do most other skills. Think about it for a second. When you brush your teeth are you thinking about brushing your teeth or about something else? What about when you drive a car, are you focused on turning the wheel, hitting the brake or are you listening to the radio and driving subconsciously?

I think the answer is clear – you’re not thinking!

How to take your golf to the next level

What can you think about and what is the process?

The easiest method is to count in your head while you’re taking your shot.

One, two, three, four … you get the idea.

Does this sound easy?

It is easy to do but it’s also easy not to do. The pressure of the golf course, playing partners and wanting to shoot a good score is enough for many golfers to go into their shell and go back to trying to consciously control the motion.

This is the hard part. Are you prepared to change your approach even if it will initially feel uncomfortable?

Only the brave and patient will see any improvement. This is not a quick fix. It will take some time to get used to this approach. If you’ve been over thinking and trying too hard for a long time you can’t expect miracles in the first five minutes. Give it a chance to work.

Learning to count while you swing can transform your game. It’s one thing to read about it. If you want to experience the benefits of unconscious competence you have to get your hands dirty and give it a go.

I have spoken about the magic of automatic learning throughout this blog. It’s something that I believe to be a critical aspect of successful golf. Occupying your conscious mind while your swinging is the secret to better play. Counting in your head allows you to play instinctively, automatically and reach that magical stage of unconscious competence.

For more information on playing golf automatically please visit this website that is devoted to helping you master your golf game.

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12 Comments

  • John

    Reply Reply August 6, 2008

    HI Cam,
    great post. There is one factor that you briefly touched on and that is fear. Using the tools ( counting or singing a song in your head) of playing automatic you will get rid of most fear that is associated with any golf shot. The worst two words my dad use to say to me when being challenged by anything in life is What if? or If only?These 2 words are a precursor to fear. Don’t let be a part of you while golf.
    I suggest any one reading this blog, take up Camerons advice and take the 3 round challenge and play with no fear or emotional judgement next 3 rounds just go out and play. Play smart by all means but don’t let fear interfear with your shots.
    I can attest to Cameron’s thininking and understanding. When I met him 4 years agao I was playing off 14 pumping the ball a mile and not playing to my fulll potential. Since using his preshot techniques and letting go so to speak, I know play off 6. Don’t let fear or emberassment stop you from playing the best golf you can. In essence what do you have to lose. Hopefully the only thing you will lose is strokes off your handicap.
    Cheers John

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply August 6, 2008

    Hi John,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You should be the automatic pin up boy! I remember when I first saw you four years ago. You had plenty of talent and could hit the ball well but you were a bit all over the shop 🙂 No consistency and no real ability to shoot a good score.

    It’s a different story today. You’ve shot under par, are playing more consistently and still improving. Well done and congratulations on becoming an automatic golfer!

    Cameron

    P.S. Fear and self-doubt. I could write a whole website about that. I’m planning a post or two about those subjects in the next few days.

  • Jon

    Reply Reply August 11, 2008

    Thanks for the great post Cameron. Today in a tournament I tried counting numbers. I actually shot a few strokes better. Mechanical swing thoughts still came to my mind, even while I was counting numbers. That’s how ingrained mechanical thinking is. It should be, I’ve been thinking this way on golf courses for 15 years. One day is not going to change it. I even counted numbers in two different languages which helped focus more on counting. Just need Keep at it, commit to doing it for months.

  • John Kirwan-Ward

    Reply Reply February 12, 2009

    hi Cameron,
    Just downloaded your e book on putting and found it very very interesting.
    I must admit to trying all ways of putting and for the past few months have
    had my left hand on the bottom with a fairly stiff left wrist. Bit of a shock at
    the end of last year (Best putting averages for the year) . You have fired me up a bit and I want to improve my stats. Improvement in my game today playing off 14 and came in at 12. 76 years old and temperature was 41.
    Thanks for the ebook and look forward to reading your articles etc,
    I have a question for you. Is there any criteria for selecting a putter for oneself
    the length. weight, style or if it feels comfortable and you get results , Thats it?
    Regards
    John

  • Kiwijock

    Reply Reply March 19, 2009

    Hi Cameron
    Just discovered your very interesting site
    Hey with a name like that you should be from my home country.
    I was weaned on “The Inner Game of Golf” but it never really produced the good outcomes. I’m so looking forward to using your counting suggestion.
    Like the man said and I’ll paraphrase, “When you’ve been playing the game for 51 years (not a typo) your body knows how to properly hit a golf ball-so forget about all this thinking stuff

  • Kiwijock

    Reply Reply March 23, 2009

    Hi Cameron
    Tried counting this weekend.
    Some background – Folks tell me that I’m by nature a very laid back guy and I tend to agree-well except when the pressure is on at golf and I get tense with lots of thoughts racing through my mind
    Counting proved to be a great tool for the times in-between shots.
    However it was my experience that counting during the swing wasn’t nearly as effective.
    Counting made me too relaxed and consequently my swing got quite loose.
    I’ll keep trying but would be interested in your feedback and if what I wrote makes sense what’s the solution?

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply March 23, 2009

    Kiwijock,

    The automatic method is not a quick fix – it can take some time for it to feel normal. While it’s good to keep your mind relaxed between shots, it’s critical to ensure your mind is in the right place when you’re actually hitting the ball.

    Sounds like you’re not comfortable with the process at the moment. This is normal – but you have to keep at it – searching for quick fixes will only delay your improvement.

    Let me know how you go.

    Cameron

  • adam

    Reply Reply May 7, 2013

    This actually is quite easy for me because this is how ive played golf and learned other talents so quickly and so well. Ive done things automatically all my life. My secret to everything is “stop worrying about things. Get out there and live.”

  • adam

    Reply Reply May 11, 2013

    Hi cameron…..i emailed you saying id give up golf…..ive changed my mind because its a dream of mine and i dont want it to go to waste. Whats your suggestions on playing freely? Does it mean just enjoying myself or does it mean to play with an attitude of indifference?

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply May 11, 2013

      Adam: I received the email and was going to create a post about it. You really should read my latest e-book, contains lots of great stuff and goes into specific detail on how you can play automatically.

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