Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Uncomplicated Way to Play

Thinking about your golf swing instead of focussing on how you want to strike the ball is a problem for many players, regardless of their skill level.  Many players, myself included, are inclined to play golf swing, instead of golf. Golf is simply that kind of game.  We don't have to react to a moving ball, like in tennis.  We have all the time we need to hit the ball. In fact, part of the problem may be that we have too much time to think.  And, too often, that time is wasted on thoughts that aren't particularly helpful.

Bobby Jones wrote about how we should approach every shot we play in his book, Golf is my Game.  He said:

    "It is in this way that a player should approach every shot he hits on the golf course, or even on the practice tee.  Let him always decide first upon the result he wants to produce; second, upon the precise manner in which he desires to strike the ball; and then let him place himself before the ball in such a position that he knows he will be able to deliver the blow in this manner.
     This is the obvious, direct, and uncomplicated way of going about the playing of a golf shot.  It will always be many times more effective than any attempt to follow a prescription for placing the feet and adjusting the rest of the body posture.  It will result in an easy fluidity because it is natural.
     One may very easily and with great advantage carry this thing one step further.  Indeed, for the best in performance, the player must keep in the forefront of his mind throughout the entire stroke this very clear picture of the precise manner in which he intends to strike the ball.
     Years ago I described the mental attitude I tried to attain in a tournament round as a concentration upon producing a desired result so intense as to preclude any possibility of concern with the manner of swinging."

As Bobby wrote, this approach is the most obvious, simple, and uncomplicated way to approach a golf shot.  Strange that so few people seem able to do it.  It can be almost painful to watch some people prepare to hit a shot; the fiddling and fussing, trying to stand as they've been told they should, freezing over the ball, mentally going through a checklist of all the things they want to do with their swing; the manner in which they must strike the ball an afterthought, if a thought at all.  

The more we can get away from thinking about the mechanics of the golf swing and learn to think only of producing the proper strike, the better we will play.  With focus and concentration on the strike, we are liberated from prescribed routine.  We are able to be ourselves.  Golf is an individual sport.  And every golfer needs to find his own individual method of striking the ball.  There are lots of tips out there than can prove helpful.  But in the end the golf ball only cares about how it is struck.  How you looked, whether your tempo was fast or slow, or your left arm remained straight, or your right knee stayed flexed, has no affect on the ball.  There are no points for style in this old game. It's all about the strike.