However, I have a week’s coaching and watching golf ahead of me, with the Open Championship proving to have been a great hit with the crowds and the players alike, it really should be back on the roster with a shorter wait for the next hosting opportunity.
Carrying on from the theme of last week’s article which was probing the question about how much do you trust your swing - what I would like to explore with you this week is whether you are able to go out on the course and play without any swing thoughts at all? The only swing thoughts which are allowed is target, balance and rhythm. Nothing else.
It’s a lot tougher than you might think, especially for the technical golfer who believes that a perfect swing will result in a perfect shot. A common misconception, a perfect swing has never been and will never be, there have been swings close and then there have been swings which are far from perfect. Yet the common denominator is always that magical feeling when you get the centre of the ball in the centre of the club with the club face square to the target. That really is all you should be thinking about on the course, centre of the ball on the centre of the face, club face delivered squarely with great rhythm and balance.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Yet that is all that should fill your head on the course. All of the training should be done. The callouses should be in the correct place on the hands, every technical thought placed in the subconscious and ready to be tapped into. If this isn’t the case, then you are not as prepared as you could be.
The best way I have ever found of getting a player to clear their head is to scare them half to death, by asking them to swing a club with their eyes closed. I have found this is by far the quickest way to capture the attention of a player, it challenges them to trust their swing and they have to tap into their natural balance and rhythm.
I normally get a really scared look from my players when they are asked to do this, yet when they make contact and the ball goes in the air, they are amazed. How is that possible is normally the reaction. It is a truly great way of tapping into your natural golfing state.
Now I’m not suggesting that you go out on the course and play with your eyes closed, what I will strongly urge you to try is to make a practice swing with your eyes closed, before you actually hit the shot. That way you can clear your mind, focus on rhythm, balance and target. Breathe deeply and then step to the ball with exactly nothing but those thoughts.
Have fun with it - next time you go to the range to hit balls, try a couple with your eyes closed. I would find a quiet spot just in case a couple go astray! Nobody will notice, and you will tap into the world of hitting the ball without any expectations; this is another valuable side effect of the drill. Because the mind is clear and unobstructed, it doesn’t have expectations. You are playing golf in the present, no thought of the past and no expectations of the future.
If you can visualise the shot when you close your eyes before you hit the shot, you are then training at a very advanced level. If you also say to yourself that you are a great player before you hit the ball that helps too.
If you feel that is a stretch too far, remember that your subconscious hears everything and it is always better to say something generous about yourself than something negative. It’s difficult but if you don’t do it, who else will when you are over the ball?