Some golf awareness exercises

My long awaited comeback has been postponed thanks to Melbourne’s wet weather. So instead of playing golf, the next best thing was to write another golf lesson.

There’s been a bit of discussion of late about golf awareness. This is something that had a huge impact on my golf development and formed a large part of my recent golf seminar.

The thing is, golf awareness is not your usual type of golf lesson. If you’re used to golf tips and regular instruction it may seem a bit airy fairy. But if you can open your mind and take some time to explore awareness exercises, I know you’ll get a positive experience.

Here are some awareness exercises that you can use immediately.

Noticing the golf swing

I like to swing in the backyard for a few minutes and feel what is happening with my swing and surroundings. I’m not trying to fix anything or judge my swing, I’m simply noticing what is happening. You can perform this exercise with all sorts of shots (putting, chipping etc). Some things that you can be aware of,

  • Any tightness in your swing
  • The noise your swing makes
  • How does it feel when the club strikes the ground?
  • The weight of the club head in your hands

There is no limit to what you may suddenly become aware of. You can take this a step further by closing your eyes.

Hitting Balls

The next step is to hit the ball with more awareness. I know some golfers struggled with this at my golf workshop and the reason is we’re so used to thinking and analysing about our swing. It’s rare for us to just hit the ball and notice what is going on. But when you can stop the analysing you will wake up and be ready for better learning experience. Some things you can notice when hitting balls,

  • The feel and speed of the swing
  • The whooshing noise of the club through the air
  • The sound of the impact
  • The ball flight – do you actually watch the ball as it sails through the sky?
  • Can you smell the grass?
  • Can you see the dimples on the ball?

More advanced step

Awareness doesn’t always need to be the physical stuff around us. It can be internal. So start paying attention to your thoughts and emotions when you’re out playing or practising. Again, don’t judge, just notice what is happening with your thoughts. This was a massive eye opener for me – I was amazed at how closed off I was and also how much chatter was going on. The funny thing is when you notice what’s happening the thoughts and bad stuff dissipate. This can also be confronting, we have so much garbage going through our minds that noticing it may be a bit scary. Some things to notice,

  • What thoughts are creeping in?
  • What are you saying to yourself?
  • What are you focusing on?

My secret awareness exercise for improved play

When all this awareness and learning material started making sense I took it a step further by incorporating it into my game on each shot I play. The following is almost automatic now and is a huge part of my success in learning how to play my best golf when I’m under the pump. It doesn’t take a lot of time and nobody will ever notice what you’re doing. Here’s the process,

  1. Before each shot I take a second or two to notice what is going on around me. I might look at a cloud formation, feel the wind in my face or notice my thoughts.
  2. Then hit the ball.

Why does this work?

Because it gets me into the present. If I’m looking at and noticing a tree, feeling the wind in my face or being aware of my thoughts, then I’m in the present. I’m now being distracted by the past or present. I’m in the now. It’s also a simple step. There’s nothing complicated to remember and it requires little skill. Give it a go next time you play and let me know how you get on. The hard part is staying in the moment for the duration of the shot but it does get easier with continual practice.

I know awareness exercises are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re ready to try something a little different then I urge you to give it a go. Please leave your comments below and share your experiences.

Resources:

My golf book explains awareness in more detail and will give you greater insight into my ideas

To see the process in action please go here or here.

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19 Comments

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply July 3, 2011

    Cam
    For the past couple of weeks I have really been struggling big time but have continued to persevere with auto golf but what you have talked about here was something my wife suggested I try.Her comment was why don’t you close your eyes prior to a shot and literally meditate for a few seconds and then get into it.I feel what you have mentioned here is not too dissimilar.
    Cheers lukey

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply July 3, 2011

    Becoming aware of your thoughts is a huge step forward. Most people have no idea how destructive their thought patterns are – not just on the golf course but all the time. Its often a deeply ingrained habit however so be prepared to do some work. Regarding awareness of our swing, Billy Casper said the thing he considered improved his putting more than anything else was putting in the dark for this reason.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 3, 2011

    Lukey: I think the awareness stuff will help you. It’s going to help you take your mind off all of the things that aren’t very important. Let me know how it goes for you.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 3, 2011

    definitely not just for golf – works for everything

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    One thing that has helped me recently while swinging in the garden is to stand in front of a window and actually see yourself. It showed me a few things that looked just wrong and I have tried to improve by referring back to my window as often as possible.
    I like the idea of swinging with your eyes shut. I need to try this with my full swing. I tried putting recently with eyes shut and realised that my putts were not very solid feeling. They felt much better struck slightly closer to the heel of the putter and it has helped out on the course. Wouldn’t have thought of this otherwise.
    Being aware of my thoughts before hitting is also something I like the idea of trying.

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Just by being aware of any tension in your body, subtle thoughts going through your mind etc changes can occur quite naturally and almost effortlessly.

    I had a great experience at the driving range the other day just playing some shots while being aware of tension in my body, by just being aware and not judging I noticed my grip pressure increased on my downswing (trying to hit the ball) causing a slice. By being aware of this it was quite easy to correct and I could see the immediate results in a better ball flight.
    I couldn’t help but think having had golf lessons before that an instructor might do video analysis and see that the club was coming from outside the line causing a slice and I would have gone down the path of using more effort (trying) to bring the club inside the line to correct the slice and trying harder to hit the ball straight. I would have been none the wiser as to what caused the slice and tried harder to correct it creating more tension.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Gregor: This is great. You certainly can swing while watching your swing in a reflection. The key here is to look and observe – not analyse and get in your way. Our system has an amazing way of making minor corrections, some of the time we might not even be aware of them.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Andrew: Everyone needs to read your comments. When we become aware of what’s going on improvement and learning will take place – it is easy and natural.

    The big drawback from conventional coaching is your are typically told what you’re doing wrong. While this seems correct, you’re missing out on so much – like learning for yourself.

    So we fumble around for years, waiting for people to tell us what we’re doing wrong. When you wake up, you realise the answers have been inside you all along. Most of the time, just being aware of an issue will cause an immediate change – you don’t need to over-think the situation or try that hard. This is the magic of natural learning.

    Thanks for posting,

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Hey tribers,
    Whenever I find myself attaching judgements to errant shots, I try and catch myself in the process and remind myself of what Tim Gallwey wrote…let go of judgements and analysing mistakes..the concious mind will probably misinterpret the feedback and misdiagnose the fault anyway. Watching the feedback with interest but without judgements or analysis has really helped my mental game big time.
    Sometimes I will just hum during the swing and listen to the hum, noticing any sudden changes. another of Mr gallwey’s tricks.
    but cam’s approach of counting/singing is still King for me! And the audio downloads are most helpful. Any plans for any more audios in the near future, Cam?
    Cheers, Mike.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    From a golf swing point of view, who do you guys reckon we can learn a lot from? which players have the most Bio-swing-like characteristics?
    We can certainly learn from just about any of them in regards to timing and rhythm. just curious for your thoughts, guys?
    Regards, Mike.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    Hi Mike, what audio’s have you been listening too? What sort of thing would you like to learn/hear about? I can do some new stuff for sure …

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply July 4, 2011

    “Watch the feedback with interest but without judgements or analysis ….the concious mind will probably misinterpret the feedback and misdiagnose the fault anyway”

    Spot on. Thanks Mike.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 5, 2011

    Cam, Your remarkable audio is great. Perhaps if you were to elaborate on the concept of walking into the ball without looking at the target or even an intermediate target, and how to gain more trust in aligning to the target without trying to align exactly…which has always been a source of tension and time-wasting trying to set up squarely with correct ball position and so forth. The whole idea of walking into the set up watching only the ball and not the target is a whole new concept to me. You also made mention of this approach on one or two of your putting vids. Perhaps if you could expand on that concept, cameron? Anyone else have any other ideas or advice on pre-shot routine and set-up?
    Cheers, Mike.
    Cheers, Mike.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 5, 2011

    Hi Mike, I can elaborate on the routine for you. Might be easier with a video though. Also, there’s some good stuff in the Ultimate Golfer membership.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 7, 2011

    Cam, I went to http://www.ultimategolfer.com today, and it seems to be a different owner/holder. I perhaps got the website incorrect. Could you please advise me of the exact website?
    Love your work, Cam.

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 7, 2011

    Its The Ultimate Golfer. Have I got the link wrong somewhere? There’s some more good posts coming – just need to find the time to finish them.

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 9, 2011

    Thanks Cameron. Accidentally left out the the. Took thee to an undesirable golf website.
    i find Tim gallwey’s concept of ‘programming for form’ to be a good way to learn, also. Just show yourself one particular aspect of your swing you want to focus on, perhaps a few times, then just hit a ball without trying to do that particular move(for example, either the hold, fire, or release phase of your Bioswing) and just watch to see if your body actually did it. If not, just repeat this process until you find yourself incorporating that particular move/aspect in your swing without trying to do it. That’s my interpretation of the concept of programming for form. what do you guys reckon?
    Carry on bantering!
    Regards, Mike.
    PS it’s the weekend, yay. Going to walk the dog now, then a kettlebell workout(awesome!), then off to work on my new trainers.
    swing em freely, comrades!

  • Cameron

    Reply Reply July 9, 2011

    Mike: I know all about kettlebells. I’m the marketing manager for a company that specialises in them. They’re a great tool, I need to use them more however.

    If you’re ever looking to get some more or some educational material swing on by to kettlebells.com.au (mention me and you’ll get a better deal)

  • Mike

    Reply Reply July 9, 2011

    cool, Cam. i’ll check out the site. a friend of mine out here in Dubvegas is setting up a personal training business specialising in KBs. I’m just learning a few basic exercises at the moment for variation to my exercises.

    Had a go at the Shuggy and swing trainer today. fantastic visual aids.
    I started off on weekend warrior, then graduated to inbetween WW and club champion. Will commit work on these a short while each day to reinforce my learning. The swing trainer really highlights the clubhead swingpath. great stuff.
    regards, Mike.

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