Thursday, 25 June 2015

Patty-Caking It

With my predilection for tinkering, I find myself sometimes being consumed with my golf swing, as opposed to my golf game. I know I shouldn't worry so much about mechanics, but I seem to just be wired that way. I see this same problem with many of the guys I play with. Despite all the balls we've hit, we still can't seem to just stand up and hit it without thinking about mechanics.

Lately, I seem to have finally discovered what feels more like my old swing. I am suddenly hitting the ball farther; not as far as I once hit it; but farther. I am also hitting it higher. I have been able to stand up on the tee and not fear the hook. I've been feeling really positive about my swing, but it hasn't been translating into better scores. In fact, I've been regularly having lousy front nines, and finding myself struggling to break eighty the last few times out. Old Man Par has been still consistently kicking my butt. 

It's strange how we need to learn the same lessons over and over again in this game. It isn't about the swing. At least the swing isn't what it's all about. I had a couple of days off, and in the wee hours of the morning, as it often does, it came to me. I started to think about the times, few and far between, when the game felt easy. I realized that during those times I was swinging easily, I was focussed on where I wanted the ball to go, not how I wanted to hit it, and I wasn't worried about results. I had a sense of just letting it happen, without trying to force anything.

Some people play better hitting the ball hard, and grinding it out. In fact, I've ground out some pretty good rounds, bashing the cover off it, and trying to will every putt into the hole. But my best, and easiest rounds have all felt the same way. They've felt almost effortless. I just picked my target, took plenty of club and just patty-caked it around the course. On those days the ball flew just as far with considerably less effort and my scores were good. As my old father used to say, I was swinging easy and accepting the extra distance.

Yesterday, after thinking of those good rounds and how I felt while playing them, I arrived at the course and decided to try just patty-caking it around, not thinking about my swing, not worrying about my score, and just see what happened. I also decided to eliminate any thought of mechanics in my putting stroke by looking at the hole while I putted. The end result was the easiest even par round of 72 I've shot in ages. 

Now, the good round yesterday may have just been due. I'd not been getting anything from my game for awhile, and perhaps I'd finally just found some form. Form is fleeting in golf, with it's endless ups and downs, often the downs being more frequent than the ups. But, at least for me, swinging easy and not trying so hard seems to open the door to those rosy patches where the game is almost easy.

I guess the lesson learned is that you need to remember and think about those times when you've played your best. How did your swing feel? How were you feeling mentally? Was your approach different? You hopefully learn by your mistakes in golf. But, you should also learn from your successes. This game will never be mastered, and, just when you think you've finally figured it out, is when the wheels are most likely to come off. There is no magic system, guaranteed to work for everyone all the time. But, if you're like me, a little less effort, a little more club, and a little less concern about your score, can really help.

We'll see today whether I can do it again. In this game, it's one day at a time, like the drunks.