The Secrets of a Desperate Golfer

Dear Golfer,

Do you receive my emails and read my blog posts? Good, because there’s some good stuff in there. If you implement the concepts then you should see some positive improvements in your game – most notably, better performance with less stress and worry.

Some people think I’m crazy for giving away such great content. Perhaps I am, but each post is all about helping you ignite your passion and enthusiasm for your game. Each word is there to condition your mind to think better and unlock that golfer genius waiting to be let out. Hopefully, you’ll start to ooze confidence, so much so that you’ll drive to the course knowing you’re going to play well. This is when golf becomes really fun.

“I think the secret is to let it envelop your game bit by bit, don’t rush to try everything Cameron teaches in one hit. PS. I can’t believe you don’t charge for this. Thanks, I’m off for a relaxing walk round the golf course”, Marcus Jones

Don’t think this sounds like magic. It’s not. I’ve been playing this way for years now.

And my goal is to help you do the same.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that you MUST start playing golf with less thought. This doesn’t mean you can’t think, but rather, you’ve got to know when you can think and when you should be hitting the ball. This is such a profound concept that’s lost on most people.

Take this example.

Do you know what most golfers do after they hit a poor shot? Usually they go through something like this,

– try and work out what they did wrong
– think about a solution
– make some practice swings to correct the issue
– worry a bit more about it
– think about it some more
– then stuff up the next shot
– repeat over and over (sometimes for years)
– then wonder why their best golfing years slipped by.

This is crazy!

Here’s what you should be doing…

Nothing.

Well it’s not quite nothing, but you’re definitely not going to be going into what I call panic mode and try and figure out what you did wrong. This is just plain stupid.

It takes up too much energy.
You’ll get tired.
You’ll lose your focus.
You’ll get distracted.
You won’t play any better.
Frustration and confusion will kick in.

But the biggest reason that you don’t want to enter panic mode is because you really don’t know what you did wrong. You might think you know, but you don’t.

The reasons you make up to justify your poor shot are just stories. They’re almost little lies that make you feel better. Golfers have been doing this for years, but your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to ignore these stories.

What you should be doing is staying in the moment. Keeping your attention on the here and now is what it’s all about. If you don’t learn to do this you’ll never play in a way that’s truly satisfying. Never.

But if you can get over the hump and really “get” the automatic process you’ll start to play golf like you’ve always known possible.

Lets get to the title of this blog post…

The Secrets of a Desperate Golfer

I played my first game of golf in 1988. It was at a small 18 hole course just outside Albury/Wodonga called Howlong. My Grandparents were members and they were keen for me to try golf, thinking I had a special talent for the game.

My very first try proved everyone wrong. I had no special talent. I was hopeless, shooting 156 and taking a 17 on the very first hole. I’ll have to dig around because I do have that scorecard lying around somewhere.

The challenge of golf fascinated me and I wanted more. Over the next week of school holidays I played everyday. I drove my grandparents mad, chipping in the backyard (with the occasional full swipe going over the back fence and into the neighboring property), putting in the living room with Gon Gon (my Grandfather) trying to watch the news and pestering him to take me to the golf course.

By the end of the school holidays I was completely hooked. My score had come down to 127 and I thought I was ready for the PGA Tour.

My adventure into golf coincided with my 14th birthday. The best ever present was a new set of Kmart clubs. They were little beauties, a half set, they gave me hundreds of hours of enjoyment. I’d rustle up some old balls and head for a local horse paddock. If it was a weekend and no sport on then I could venture to the private school grounds. But most days it would be the paddock.

Looking back I had the perfect environment to learn. The paddock allowed me to hit all the clubs in peace and quiet. There was nobody else around and I could get lost in my own thoughts and goals. There was a little creek (overgrown with long grass) that meandered through the field. It was the perfect hazard as any stray shot was lost for good. My focus was perfect – each shot got my full attention as a lost ball was the worse thing that could happen.

I devised all sorts of holes in that paddock. Long holes, short ones and even doglegs around the many trees and small dam. There’s wasn’t a patch of grass that hadn’t seen a golf ball or the bottom of my club.

My favourite part was hitting from an elevated section, across the creek to a small area smoothed out by the dozen or so horses. Armed with a miss match of balls I would climb the small hill, plonk down the balls on the grass and fire away. Each shot had to be cleanly struck. Anything miss-hit would come up short and find the water or long grass. This was no time for stuffing about, with a very limited supply of balls I had to protect my stash. Either the shot (about 150 metres) cleared the creek, or it didn’t. Not getting over the water was an option that didn’t please me.

And I would walk backwards and forwards for hours on end. Each shot was my US or British Open. I’d place a bucket on the ground for a flagstick and be as happy as Larry. When collecting the balls I’d chip and pitch the strays to the bucket.

And then repeat.

Cameron whacking the ball – March 2012

It was hours of fun and I pretty much honed all the shots necessary for better play. My parents thought I had a girlfriend nearby as they couldn’t fathom a young man spending so much time by himself. But I loved it. And this is perhaps the greatest practice I have ever done.

Every second weekend I’d be able to play. The local course was easy, wide open with generous greens – it was no match for my paddock course. Way less horseshit too.

All my practice was paying off – I was getting better. It didn’t take me long to break 100 and then 90. A memorable round was playing with my mate and his dad. They were long-time golfers and way better than me. My mate had shot an 81 and his dad not far behind.

On the seventh I hit a 7 iron that had eyes for the flag. The ball came down with a thump! It actually landed on the edge of the hole, taking a huge chunk. The ball finished a few centimetres from the hole for an easy birdie.

I made three birdies this day, the last coming on the 16th when my nine iron hit the flagstick. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was playing golf and hitting these incredible shots. It was so much fun and I was addicted the the feeling.

I finished that day with a 76. Not only had a beaten my mate, I destroyed the 80 barrier. This wasn’t too bad for someone who had only been playing a few months.

My improvement curve continued. Within 8 months I scored my first par round and then at the 12 month mark I shot a round of 64. On that special day I scored 9 birdies and an eagle – something I’ve never bettered to this day.

You’re probably wondering why this has anything to do with a desperate golfer…

Up to this point my golf success was flying. I couldn’t put a foot wrong. But success didn’t last too long.

My early form attracted the attention of the local golf coaches and I was awarded a junior scholarship (maybe they thought I had some special talent). Anyway, this is where things got interesting.

Golf coaching gone wrong

My first lessons didn’t go too well – nothing seemed to sit right with me and I felt hopeless.

“your grip is no good”
“your swing is too quick”
“stand further from the ball”
“take the club back like this”
“slow down”
blah blah blah

I made a commitment to be the best golfer I could be.

I practised hard, really hard. And each week I’d turn up for my lesson and the pro was ready to dish out more things for me to work on. No matter how much I practised, there was always something new to do.

This approach seems like the right thing to do. Nobody could say I wasn’t trying or doing the right thing.

But…

I wasn’t playing that well. My scores weren’t improving. I was starting to dislike the game. It was awful.

And the worse I played the more lessons and instructions I had. I worked harder. School became an afterthought and I went into overdrive, hitting balls and doing drills at every opportunity.

I’d even replaced the horse paddock with the driving range (I was getting free range balls). I’d stop hitting balls to a target because I was so preoccupied with my swing technique. Nobody stopped me. In fact the teacher was feeding my desire to improve.

This went on for years. And it got worse before it got any better. At the peak of all this I was ready to walk away from the game. I was fed up, hadn’t played a good round in years. I was desperate.

A path to better golf.

Somewhere along the way I realised that this golf thing had gotten out of hand. My father is a straight shooter and often sees things with different eyes.

“This is crap! It’s making no sense. Why don’t you go back and play your way? These coaches don’t know what they’re talking about, you’ve been playing poorly for years”.

At around the same time, an older member of my club gave me a copy of Tim Gallway’s Inner Game of Golf. This book was a revelation to me and highlighted all my issues. For the first time in years I had the courage to walk my own path and stopped relying on others to tell me what to do.

The results were almost immediate. I say almost because I don’t want you to think this is some sort of magic cure. It’s not. The stuff that Gallway teaches in his book really hits at the heart of natural learning. It’s how we do everything else in life and this is far from a quick fix. Let’s be honest – do you think it’s a miracle that you can drive across town in peak hour traffic without giving it much of a thought? Probably not – we’re so busy in our day to day life that we hardly ever stop and think how.

But put a golf club in our hand and all of our inbuilt systems for learning get thrown out the window. We hatch. We over think. We stuff things up.

So the path to better golf is to stop listening to everyone else and start trusting yourself. The more desperate you are the more likely you are to listen.

To be continued….

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7 Comments

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply October 9, 2012

    G’day, is this auto or not?. say when you throw a ball you see the target and throw whilst looking at the target.. When you play golf you look at the ball and see the target in your mind and trust your lines to your target. When I set up i’m focusing on lines that I can see in my mind not so much an arc, just lines on the ground. Sometimes I see the swing plane, these angles are like pathways for me to follow but what i’m getting at is; say you see a target follow the pathway back to your ball, which would be the start of the path, now once my mind sees the start of that path its my trigger to send the ball down that path, im not thinking how im going to send it there i just trust it will go down the chute or pathway. Is that auto pilot because when I just count i don’t swing any time soon unless I say on the count of three or two or four. Maybe there is different auto triggers, I do sing now and again but I dont remember the words of songs to well. I feel I play best when I start my swing once I have SEEN the START of the pathway and my thoughts including pesky are focused on the path. It’s like I have to see it to believe it!. But I guess the bottom line is, why am I asking for someone else’s opinion, that just might get me in all sorts of trouble?.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply October 9, 2012

      Cam: here’s my take. If you’ve gotta ask then you’re probably over doing it. I reckon it’s time to simplify your approach and see what happens.

  • Steady

    Reply Reply October 9, 2012

    Hi Cam,
    some absolute gold nuggets of info in this post.
    I too recently had a light bulb change just this week.
    I went out last Thursday after a horror round on Tuesday
    at Howlong.
    I took my driver, 3 wood and hybrids out of the bag.
    I used 6 iron off the tee were I would have used
    driver/3 wood.
    I hit every fairway hit 7/14 gir and enjoyed the round.
    Getting away from the stats I played so well with in my
    self that there was no expecation just FUN.
    Rained really bad on Saturday so didn,t get to play.
    What golfers must realise is that you don’t have to play
    golf like Rory or Tiger. But what suits them.
    Ta Steady.
    PS Get ready for wake up at all hours of the night/feeding
    changing nappies and best yet teething.
    Hope you and Clare are well. Ta
    Will ring soon.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply October 9, 2012

      Good stuff Steady. Chat soon.

  • Troy Vayanos

    Reply Reply October 20, 2012

    It’s interesting because I started to play much better golf once I began to stop thinking so much about the backswing.

    I also stopped beating myself up about poor shots and focused on moving forward and playing the next shot as best I can.

    It’s funny how the mind can do more harm than good.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply October 20, 2012

      I also stopped beating myself up about poor shots and focused on moving forward and playing the next shot as best I can.

      This is probably the hardest lesson to learn – at least for me. I still struggle and can get down on myself a little too much. But it’s a work in progress. Also think it helps by playing the correct shot more of the time. Another fault: Being too aggressive and not playing the percentages.

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