What 10 years of Automatic Golf has taught me…

2015 is my unofficial 10th year of playing what I call Automatic Golf. I definitely stumbled onto it during the early 90’s but I was too dumb (and brainwashed) to realise. The light certainly went on in the early naughties but I was too busy galavanting around the world and doing a bunch of other stuff to take notice.

I got my shit together in 2005. At least that’s the story I’m sticking with and here’s a list of things that I’ve learned in that time…

1. If you want to play better golf it’s totally up to you: I find that many want to sit back and wait for things to come their way. Fine, but you’ll be waiting a very long time.

If you think that some golf coach, or new club or swing tip is going to be the difference from playing how you are now to where you want to be, then think again. One of my favourite sayings is, “you’ve gotta get off the couch”.

For many years I was bitter and twisted about what traditional coaching had done to me. I thought I was owed something and I was whinging and whining. A lot. But one day I decided to do something about it. I decided I was going to play better golf and nobody was going to get in my way. I stopped waiting. I ignored most and got off the couch and started playing HOW I really wanted.

2. It’s not magic: It’s frustrating when someone pops in here and says something like,

“Hi Cameron, I read your book and a bunch of your articles … I really enjoyed them and a lot of what you say resonated with me. It was almost like you were talking to me…

… but I played yesterday and had an awful day. Just couldn’t get things working so I don’t think this is for me”

I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve received that are like this. And each time I respond nicely with something like how Automatic Golf isn’t a quick fix and how it will take some time for your system to settle down. Maybe I should respond with something like this,

Are you fucking serious? You’ve tried this once mate. Of course it’s not going to work first time out. You’ve been stuffing around, trying a bunch of things and totally disrespecting your learning system for 10 years and you think you can overcome that instantly? You’re off your brain.

Listen to me. It took me over two years to master this approach to playing golf. I’ve had some success (limited, but for my ability, dedication and time playing I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to achieve) but it was no way instantaneous. It was hard. I battled through fear, nerves and so much self-doubt that I thought I’d just walk away.

But I hung in there. Learnt a bunch of stuff along the way and bit by bit figured this golf thing out. So don’t come here with all your bullshit and insult me and say it doesn’t work first go out. There’s no fucking magic or secret sauce with playing your best golf.

3. We’re all learning machines: You’re not born with a golf club in your hand. But we’re all naturally good at learning. And we should be able to learn anything if we have the time and patience. Those that struggle tend to think too much and try too hard to control each millimetre of their swing. Maybe my biggest breakthrough with golf was making the connection it’s a skill like all others. It’s not special. It’s not different. It’s a skill and we can learn it.

The accountant, teacher and scientist types have the most trouble with Automatic Golf. They just can’t let go long enough for their learning system to kick into gear. So they stumble and wobble and never get the most from their game.

Sidenote: these types are very good at telling you what they did wrong (or what you did wrong) but they rarely seem to play that well. And being able to “tell” what you did wrong isn’t even close to being able to actually do it.

4. Less is definitely more: Simple really is better. And the more I play, write and think about golf the more this is true. I was told once that sculpture is about taking all the stuff away that you don’t want, then you’re left with something amazing. It’s similar with playing better golf …

… get rid of all the bullshit and you’ll be left with something better than you’d ever expect.

Case in point: The ideal mindset for playing great golf is to have a very clear intention of what you want to do. Then, you have to learn to accept the outcome. This is very simple and somewhat easy to do (I say “somewhat” because Pesky and the golf world rarely like things to be that simple) but it’s all you need from the 1st tee to the 18th green.

Most will completely underestimate how much rubbish they can leave in the car. And this includes swing stuff!

5. Golfers don’t listen: Doesn’t matter how many times I tell people to stop messing with their swing and to “play” golf the message doesn’t get through. One of my last blog posts highlights this perfectly – I wasn’t surprised to see so many stuck on the conventional wisdom approach and still obsessed with quick-fixes and tips.

Maybe Automatic Golf seems too easy and too good to be true?

6. The golf industry as a general rule cannot help you: This is not a dig at the local pro who is busting his hump to make a buck, but the system. I reckon the system is broken and it starts with how these young pros are taught to teach. It’s a mess.

The worse you play the more information you’re fed. And this compounds the problem big time. Golf improvement can seem like one big and ugly and frustrating merry-go-round.

And, you don’t need new putter, a new driver or a new set of clubs. I’m also certain that you don’t need to rebuild your swing or keep looking for the “new” thing in golf instruction. Please read above for a refresher.

7. Play more: The quickest and easiest way to improve your golf level is to play more. And I’m talking about the golf course – the driving range and putting on the carpet doesn’t count.

8. Score is the wrong indicator: We’re obsessed with what score we shoot (or what our handicap is) or even how far we hit the ball. But thinking and worrying about these things isn’t helping.

The paradox of golf is that the less you worry about your score the better you’ll play. And you’ll do way better and have much more fun if you strive to play in a way that suits you. Stuff the scorecard and stuff the golf instruction marketplace is trying to get you to play with one arm behind your back!

My challenge to all my clients is to play golf in a way that THEY find satisfying. Hit the shots that they want. The hard part is learning to let go of score – to accept the outcome, no matter what. And this challenge doesn’t change if you’re a weekend warrior or a tour player.

I appreciate that golf is important to you and playing your best golf means a lot. But you’ll never play anywhere near your potential when you’re scared of making a mistake or worried you’ll hit a shot into the trees.

9. Golf shouldn’t be this hard: If you’ve been playing golf for many years and still get overly frustrated and annoyed with how you play, then maybe it’s time to take a step back. Golf shouldn’t be this hard. Time to try something different. To tackle golf from an alternative angle. What have you got to lose?

Automatic Golf is about taking the straitjacket off and learning to play your way. This will feel like you’re bucking the system and playing radically. But you’re not. You’re simply playing golf the way you’re meant and it’s a whole lot more fun and rewarding than the alternative.

It’s now up to you. Get off the couch and go play. Have some fun with it and please remember that it’s just a silly game and results don’t matter too much. They really don’t.

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1 Comment

  • Adam

    Reply Reply August 1, 2015

    Indeed. Id say that, since ive had less time to golf recently, when i do go out and play its regarded as my last time golfing, since basically its on rare occasion that I see the grass of the nice wide fairway.

    I agree with alot of this. There are miniscule ideas i disagree with. Examples could be:

    Ball position. Its obvious that the further back the ball is the more the face comes in open, which can cause shanks, tops, blades, slices. Basically, though you still need to swing without too much conscious thought, place the ball more forward and stand closer to the ball. Its not difficult to fix.

    Grip. First off, if you grip the club strong, it is fine, as long as it is not unnatural or forced. It must be somewhat neutral, because naturally if it is too strong, a hook is on its way. Same thing vice versa.

    Score. Though I explain these fixes, I do not advocate doing more than one at a time. ON THE RANGE. On the course, it is indeed about score. Shoot the lowest score. If you wish to improve your score, focus on improving it. In this sense the golf swing technique only matters if theres a consistent problem. If you mishit one shot its not necessary to fret over it. If it happens consistently, i may fix it. Only with ONE thought though. Once you fix it, repeat it until it becomes second nature. Them, take an auto swing to the course, and shoot the lowest score you can.

    I find this to be my truth. Any disagreements are welcome, i am open minded.

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