I moved recently to a gated community with a free par 3 golf course for residents. That’s not the kind of “free golf” I mean. I mean a free and flowing golf swing for full shots, pitches, and putts. There’s no fear of an errant shot, no steering the ball, and it just feels like good solid contact.
Somehow, a little conscious glitch has snuck into my golf game at some point in the last few years. In putting, it’s known as the “yips”. I recently figured out how to detect this in a swing by playing a few holes when I wasn’t scoring and wasn’t really worrying or thinking about my swing. I was playing without any conscious thought, just as is recommended in numerous books. A few examples include Rocking the Fairways (part 1, first page) Golf’s Three Noble Truths (Section “Centipede and the Fox”, swing thoughts don’t work) The Unstoppable Golfer (Forward, page 2, “You pick targets and react to them without conscious thought.”)
There is hardly anyone ever out on the course, and so I can play any number of holes in several different sequences based upon how long I have to play. The first few days, I was just figuring out how to get from one hole to another, because you have to follow paths between houses and cross streets between certain holes. I actually had to go to google maps to figure out where hole #4 was after playing hole #3. Something interesting happened that first few days playing golf on this course. I was hitting almost every green and golf was easy. Sure, a par 3 course, but there was no struggle, and more importantly, there were no swing glitches, steering the ball, nor conscious swing thoughts. After a few days, I started keeping score and playing all 9 holes. Every few swings, I’d hit the big hook, not finish a swing, or skull the ball. The first few days, I took a pitching wedge and putter and one golf ball. Now I was losing golf balls and entering some big numbers into my scorecard.
I realized I could tell after each swing if it was “glitched” or not, and started focusing on a free-flowing non-conscious swing. Sounds odd though, focusing on not focusing, or thinking about not thinking.
This is another way I use the Game Improvement feature of the 80BREAKR golf app on the course. Instead of characterizing each shot as Good, Ok, or Bad, I would simply call a Good Shot one with no conscious glitch, and a bad shot as one where I felt I was steering or flinching during the swing. It looked like this:
I also realized another important point. A lot of articles or books talk about the “one thing” you need to fix your golf game, your swing, or your putting. It’s really not often one thing, and it certainly wasn’t for me and conscious thoughts at Palacio. Sometimes after a swing, I’d know there was no “yip”, but it was still a poor shot. I realized sometimes I’d stop watching the ball, or I’d rush my back swing, or have terrible tempo with no swing finish. Now my goal is to be able to replicate those first few days at Palacio playing “Free” golf while scoring, and see if I can take this practice to other courses. Now that I can feel the problem swings and measure them, I’m excited to track my improvement because good golf is a lot more fun than bad golf!