Golf Haiku…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game, Uncategorized

During the weeks since my injury, the Sherpa has spent time musing about things to keep my ADD mind busy.

During this period I have discovered a fascination with Haiku. 

Haiku…a centuries old form of Japanese poetry is addictive to write and beautiful in its form.

To compose you need only remember a few simple rules:

1: Three verses.

2: First verse = five syllables

3: Second verse = seven syllables.

4: Third verse = five syllables.

That’s it…

Golf impressions that swirl around the Sherpa’s labrynth of a mind sometimes end up in posts…today they will make their debut as poetry…

Enjoy dear reader…

 

“Weekend Money Match”

Putted ball rolls in

Pandemonium ensues

Old friends exchange skins

“Peril at the PGA”

Watching from fairway

Tiger yells “fore left”!…UH, OH

Nike dents my head

“Golf’s Sweet Agony”

Golf is sweet agony

Each round like a candy bar

Each hole one less bite

“Ode to Tom Watson (’09  British Open)”

The old man contends

His brilliance transcends eras

My heart is broken

“Driving Range Wisdom”

Practice makes perfect

Only if you prepare well

Else misery reigns

“Marriage Counseling”

Try to play each week

Your spouse needs the time alone

And you need practice

“Golf and the Everlasting Soul”

My best friends play golf

Each is going to heaven

Where everyone pars

“Golf Perspective”

I see my bad lie

I know it could be much worse

I could be at work

“The Golf Cult Zealot”

Surlyn is my god

I worship it on the green

Putters are holy

“Anxious Putter”

Roll ball at the cup

Hope I catch more than the lip

Putts can make me cry

“Golf and Haiku”

Golf is like Haiku

Requires more fives than sevens

Both are poetry

 

Bottom line:  Sometimes in sharing ideas (as with swing thoughts), less is more. 

Fascinating…

Take a moment and write me your favorite Haiku thought. 

Play on…

The Sherpa

Random golf Thoughts…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Uncategorized

The Sherpa as you well know by now, is recovering from a nasty, nasty break in my left wrist.  As such, the painkillers required to achieve even a modicum of rest have a tendency to tire the mind.

To combat the fatigue but still make this posting entertaining, I will go off the beaten path of my typical style and just riff tonight…just share some  random golf thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head.

Golfers are great people:

I have lost count of the wonderful souls I have met playing this wonderful game.  My best friends are golfers.  Not because they can hit a ball well or putt lights out…

Simply, they embrace the character, manners and generosity that good golf demands.  Don’t think golfers are generous? 

Last year the PGA gave more money to charities than the NFL did in two, and last night my buddies all volunteered to cut my steak for me because I could not…solid guys.

Not everyone should play golf:

Sorry…but I can’t un-ring that bell now.  I really think that golf is an aquired taste and I know several people whom I would not recommend the game to. 

At the same time I would say that everyone should commit to at least one hobby, sport or past-time that engrosses the senses and releases their minds completely from the mundane nature of life…

Freeing them to live …”in the moment”.

Speaking of the moment…all golfers should understand Zen :

Afraid the Sherpa is flaking out on some new wave jibberish?  Consider these well worn comments from the world’s best players…

“play one shot at a time”

“let the round unfold”

“don’t press”

“don’t get ahead of yourself”

“play within yourself”

This is Zen 101…trust me…it matters.

Anger is irrelevant in golf:

Too many golfers get angry when they hit a bad shot…throw clubs…say bad things…ruin things for other golfers.

To be blunt…unless you make a million dollars a year doing it…

In the immortal words of Claude Harmon Sr. (to his now famous son Butch after cussing in a tournament)…

“You aren’t good enough to get angry”.

Don’t get too happy to see Tiger fail:

While the Sherpa’s integrity and basic curiosity about the human condition require that I call out when #1 stumbles…it is never with a sense of pleasure.

Quite the contrary, it is with a sense of foreboding.  I recognize, as do all pro players that Tiger is the reason that my new driver is made of titatnium, my golf shirts are moisture wicking and my golf ball sits in a field of over 20 competitors….

Just ask anybody what was in their golf bag in 1985 and you will realize that even Jack did not create the level of wealth and therefore equipment innovation.

Please Tiger…break par often, but not anything else…ever.

Daddy wants this golf “cash cow” to live forever.

Alas dear readers…the Sherpa is out of gas for the night.

Have any random thoughts to share? 

Leave a comment.

No charge…anytime.

Play on…

The Sherpa

The Sherpa golfs no More…at least not for a while…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness, Uncategorized

Normally the inspiration for my blogs emanates from the environment around the Sherpa. Sometimes they occur subliminally then sometimes they appear with the suddenness and ferocity of a train wreck…guess which kind this inspiration was?

The day began quite innocently with the Sherpa clan spending a leisurely weekend at the seashore with in-laws. We were celebrating my brother in law’s birthday and the weather was idyllic. It was Sunday afternoon, I was 90% through the posting for my take on the Byron Nelson and my beloved father in law invited me to take a ride in his amazing new 28 foot Boston Whaler…awesome.

We head out into the inter coastal water and this boat is earning its reputation for stability and speed.  The Sherpa is amazed by the Whaler’s technical capability and is soaking up the zen of the waves.  I am thoroughly enjoying the wind as it crisply and sharply blows over the bow and past my face.

It was then,  I now realize,  an old Mexican proverb (my father taught me) governed events.

Dad is fond of saying, “en cada vida hay quince minutos de pura pendejada, lo que importa es que estas haciendo, dentro esos quince minutos”.

Roughly translated, “in every life, there are 15 minutes of pure stupidity, what is important is what you are doing during those 15 minutes”.

If you rare lucky, you are sleeping, locked in a padded cell or tied to a gurney…..the Sherpa was riding in a $100K boat at 35 miles a hour. 

Crap.

As I became more and more comfortable with the ride and the incredible stability, the Sherpa decided to ride on the front of the boat. 

Now I am really feeling it.  The wind in my hair, the sun shining, I am free and riding high…lovin it baby.

Off on the horizon I see a typical scene…a large barge headed perpendicular to our path.   As we near the path of the barge the wake looms much larger than I anticipate.  I have just enough time to brace myself with my left hand on the railing before we do our Dukes of Hazard jump over this tremendous wake.

Two things happen…

  1. I keep from being thrown from the boat
  2. I help make the down-payment on my wrist surgeon’s new Porsche while ending my golf career until 2010.

When we recovered from the turbulence, the 90 degree displacement of the bones in my left wrist and the freakishly searing pain told me this was more than a “sprain”

This was old school, mideavil, “kick your dog in the teeth” kind of pain….so complete in its envelopment of your senses that you wonder if it really just happened.

Pain gave way to nausea, then fear for the damage I had most assuredly done to half of my golf swing, work capability, typing..you name it.

When my brother in law came forward to check on me, his reaction was nearly as frightful as the break…poor guy’s face turned green when he saw the fracture, so I sent him to get me a magazine to fashion a splint…knowing he would not want to watch what I was about to do…

I could not bear the pain of such a crooked wrist, so I gently grabbed the finger tips and pulled my hand outward until my left wrist looked more like my right wrist…the wrist was at least straight now, and I felt like I was taking control…an important feeling when every tiny movement of the ocean reminds you about the real meaning of pain.

When things hurt this much already, the pain of setting your own bones is just incremental, so I figured the trade off would be worth the relief I would feel when my bones were more in line with “the creators”  blueprint.  

My gamble paid off and I was energized that I had taken back the situation and felt somewhat in charge again.  We radioed Mrs. Sherpa who showed up at the dock with Tylenol and a map to the local hospital.

The Xrays confirmed what I already knew.  I had a severe break of the radius just above the left wrist and even though I had straightened it, the fracture was severe and would need a significant repair once the swelling subsided.

Back home, three days later, I went to get an Orthopedic consult and had surgery the following day.  

Like my new driver, I now have a titanium plate, that should allow my wrist to heal.  With rehab, I expect to get back at least 90% of my old range of motion, but the time to do so will not see me swinging a club until late 2009 or early 2010.

I apologize for not posting sooner, but pain killers have a way of making you sleepy and my doctor said no driving or blogging, while on the hard stuff.

I am typing right handed, so these posts take a bit longer, but fear not dear reader, I will use my rehab time to improve this site and share any rehab tips I learn along the way.

Bottom line:  Every day is a gift.  Do not take your health for granted.  The Sherpa is lucky the injury was not worse.  Keep healthy, and never..ever ride on the front of a boat…even if it is a whaler.

Play on…

The Sherpa

The real lesson of the Byron Nelson has nothing to do with Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Golf Fitness, Uncategorized

First a bit of heresy…

Not all that the Sherpa learns from watching golf ends up being about golf…

GASP!!

Please dear reader…do not judge me for my apparent oversight, and (may I add) potentially self incriminating thoughts that would have you think that I have lost my mind.

Fear not…there is a point…there is always a point.

The day started quite innocently.  The Sherpa was browsing lovingly through a wonderful vintage copy of one of my favorite golf instruction tomes.

I was just getting ready to spoon a mouthful of my standard Saturday treat…a  ”Jethro Bowl” of soy ice cream with about nine different toppings.

Note: Each weekend my middle Sherpette carefully and devotedly makes this sugary delight and I am certain that heaven has swimming pools of this elixer…diving boards included…

I digress…

To round out the experience, I was laying on what has to be one of the top three most comfortable couches on the planet, being gently serenaded by the voices of Golf Channel TV commentators  as they did God’s work (narrating the Byron Nelson golf tournament ) in HD…Oh baby!

Immersed in the syrupy goodness of the “Sherpa zone”, I thought myself impenetrable to all things “non golf ” when I looked up to notice the final pairing…namely Rory Sabbattini.

Rory, you may or may not know, has a quite outspoken countenance.

He has what the Sherpa would tactfully call a chronic deficiency of ”good cheer” …most notably calling out “you know who” (initials…TW) at the players some years back, resulting in a sound whuppin from the world’s number one and further solidification of his ill temperment.

So why did Rory catch my attention?

He wore a silly pink ribbon on his cap…

My first impression was that he was “dissing” the field somehow..perhaps making a not so subtle commentary about his contemporaries.

No one else was wearing one, so what else was the Sherpa to believe?

I turned up the volume and rewound the DVR (another blessed creation) to see if I could somehow divine the purpose of said ribbon.

Over the next few moments it became apparent that Rory was wearing a ribbon of support for Phil’s wife Amy…she has breast cancer.

For all of the right reasons, my caramel layered comfort was completely disrupted.

My mind filled with my own personal experience with the disease.

My best friend, you see, lost his wife to breast cancer.

Janice (as I am sure Mrs. Mickleson is) was a terrific person.  She loved my best friend and was a top ten mother.

She was articulate, humble, brilliant, loving, kind, generous, subtle, unpretentious and now…

Terribly missed.

She left behind a litany of friends and family that cherish her memory.

In her wake of goodness she also left a stark reminder of how deadly this disease is.  In my personal life, I have since made it my mission to hound Mrs. Sherpa to be checked each year, as I will the Sherpettes when they are old enough.

It is in her wonderful memory that I dedicate today’s bottom line:

Bottom line: If you are like the Sherpa (when he turned forty) you may have already experienced the rare pleasure of submitting to a digital prostate exam…as my dear mother would exclaim here… “good lord Miss Agnes!”  If you can overcome that small indignity you can certainly cajole, shame, coerce or love all of the important women in your life into be screened for breast cancer…Janice would certainly approve.

God bless you Janice, we love and miss you.

Love on…

The Sherpa

The Quail Hollow Clinic…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game, Uncategorized

As any golfer on the planet would agree…the Sherpa would watch Tiger play golf with a rake and a tennis ball. Normally he is exciting, intense and a wealth of knowledge for the committed observer.

Today scared me a little…

Normally, the field is pressing and when Tiger makes a run, his competitors have to be perfect…Tiger is perfect down the stretch…normally.

Today, at Quail Hollow this was not the case.  As he did on Saturday, some sloppy bogies were made Sunday with short clubs in hand.  This the Sherpa was totally understanding of…given some of the pin placements and wind conditions.

What really spooked me was his abysmal putting down the stretch….wow.  Today his game looked a lot more like mine.

“Context please Sherpa”, I can hear you asking, “before you get busy with all the mental mumbo jumbo”.

Anyone who has read a popular golf putting poll has invariably seen the one that asks, “if you had one putt to make a million dollars… win a tournament…cure cancer…save your cat, who would you want to make it?”

Simple and clear everytime….Tiger by wide margins.

Many of these same polls are given to his colleagues yet the answer never changes….Tiger is a “putting machine”.

Until today…

What did the Sherpa see? 

Doubt…damed, dirty putting doubt.

The Sherpa has long believed that Tiger has a special organ that actually secretes a hormone that inhibits doubt, or so I have read (on the interweb). 

What else could explain his otherworldy capacity to avoid it for so many seasons?  Did his special doubt killing hormone dry up or has he just temporarily lost his mojo?

More troubling is the fact that he worked on this part of his game (putting) even while he was rehabbing, and has made some humdingers just this year to win…or did you miss the Memorial?

Technically Tiger is a better, more sound golfer than ever before.  His knee is taking a full swing now..he is not nursing it at all.

Something, however, is getting in his way.

First there was the futile duel that his mind allowed him to be tricked into with Phil at the Masters (see my post about it).  He got so wrapped around the axle trying to skin Mickleson that he made some crazy decisions and bruised a tree pretty well (a la 18 handicapper).

Now during this tournament as I watched him putt, I saw him actually yip a putt.

For a moment the Sherpa felt like Neo when he discovers the Matrix.

The Sherpa believes that the fountain of doubt springs from Tiger’s realization that he has not been able to see things as mentally clearly as he would like to. 

He has got to know that his strategy at the Masters was poor and the realization that he got sucked out of his gameplan has got to make him feel vulnerable. 

In the final analysis, it appears to my curious eye that doubt and vulnerability are insidioulsy creeping into many of the shots he’s hitting and into his most sacred realm…his cold, calculating, titanium-hard “putting mind”.

The saddest fact for me personally, is that while Tiger’s swing coach selection has been strategically to suit changing needs…..

His only puttting muse was is beloved (and irreplaceable) father.

More than mechanics, practice or swing thoughts, Tiger knows he has to get his mind back…and he has to do it alone.

Or as the Sherpa would say, he needs to “Play Golf”…confidently. 

Bottom Line:  No lesson tonight just this thought…

More likely than not, Tiger has already had the putting “doubt” lesson from his dad…and will work it out.  I am fascinated by watching Tiger struggle,  not as a sadist, but as an awestruck fan who knows that world beaters obtain that title by overcoming things that normal creatures cannot.  The Sherpa learns the most by observing those moments…you can too.  Keep looking for it.

Go Tiger…

Play on…

The Sherpa

 

Practice doesn’t always make perfect in Golf…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Uncategorized

Sometimes the Sherpa needs no inspiration to write about things I think plague the beginning golfer. Sadly, one need only visit the driving range to see one of the major impediments to golf development for beginners…practice.

“Sherpa”, I can hear you saying, “now you are just be provocative”.

Let me lay some context on you.

Perhaps the Sherpa should have said “poor practice”. Feel better?..I do.

Think back at the characters you have seen at the range almost every time you’ve been on the holy practice ground…

Each have the same thing in common..see if you can guess what it is.

  • Quick shot McGraw – This person typically is more concerned with getting practice over with. You have seen this character…tees up and hits a ball and before the first one has even hit the ground, rakes over another one and hits it “lickety split”. Doesn’t look at ball flight, direction or even where it came down. Rake, hit, rake,hit….
  • The Mechanic – This person is looking at their hands, their feet, the clubhead… Obsession with swing positions clouds their mind to the exclusion of what is happening to the ball. Grip, waggle, look at hands, swing…repeat.
  • The Beater – This person is obsessed with the amount of balls they hit, as if a quota were in place that will improve swing capability if only 300 balls get hit in one practice. If a little is good…then a lot is great. Not true in medicine or golf.

Have you seen the connection yet? Sure you have…none of them are practicing….they are just hitting balls, hoping that things will get better.

None of them are measuring success as it is measured in golf.

Broken record alert…for those of you who dutifully read my blog…the Sherpa is at it again…you’ll see.

Said a different way, the only thing that matters is whether they are getting better at sending the ball to a targetnothing else is “golf”.

It saddens the Sherpa to see this happening day after day at golf ranges around the country.

It honestly breaks the Sherpa’s heart to see good people with good intentions taking the time to get better at this wonderful game, only to be rewarded with worse swings and less accuracy,

How do you keep from falling into this trap?

  • The most basic and simple rule is from the “Godfather”..Harvey Penick.  Be quick, mechanical or beat a million balls…if you must, just don’t do so without picking out a target EVERY TIME YOU SWING. How will you know if you are getting better? Never break this rule.
  • On EVERY swing evaluate the flight of the ball and do not come out of your stance until the ball has hit the ground. Volumes have been written on how vital it is for your brain’s learning capacity to stay in your stance until you SEE THE BALL HIT THE GROUND. To connect your mind to your swing, the absolutely most effective way is to keep the feel of your swing fresh as you see the ball react. When you step out of your stance, you lose the connection..instead you witness the ball fly, as opposed to connecting it to your swing feel.
  • If you get tired, quit. You are not going to hit the perfect 6 iron every time and chasing it will only make things worse. Jack Nicklaus was very careful with this rule. He was certain that you could turn good feel into bad feel if you practiced tired. Better to finish when you are still relatively fresh and haven’t allowed fatigue to put you in poor posture (or some other swing killing move)  that could masquerade as something you need to “fix” (when in reality you are just tired..and nothing is really broken).
  • Have a plan…work on one maybe two drills “tops”. This is marathon, not a sprint Tiger. Learning one thing well is much more valuable than working at 5 things poorly.

Bottom line: This issue causes the Sherpa to lose more sleep than any other in amateur golf. The driving range, if used wisely, can derive real improvement, but left to chance can create havoc and misery. I want you to be wildly successful..or at least steadily improve. Practice with good habits and you improve your odds impressively.

Play on…

The Sherpa

How scoring an “eagle” can wreck your golf Round…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: Uncategorized

The Sherpa was not always aware of the affect that adrenaline has on sports performance.  Most assume that a little adrenaline would improve physical abilities.  This was certainly true of our ancestors who were avoiding becoming a meal for the neighborhood Saber Toothed Tiger.  The same dear reader is definitely not true in golf.

Alas my adrenaline lesson came several years ago, on the same day that I achieved a golf milestone.

Yes dear reader…on the same day I made my first eagle…it taught me a very difficult insight about myself.

The day was beautiful, by any standard.  The Sherpa was playing golf with his best friend in Vegas.  For years we made the annual trip to play golf, bet on the superbowl and ate way too much red meat. 

By this point, I had never beaten my buddy in a heads up round, and with too much pride on the line, the Sherpa had never asked for strokes.  Instead, I just gave my buddy about 18 bucks every time we played.

Today was gonna be different…

Let me give you some world-famous Sherpa context. 

This is my best friend I am playing with.  If he needs a place to stay or money to pay a bill, I am the “go to Sherpa”.  But I want to crush his skull after he has beaten me out of so much cash.  Odd isn’t it? How you can feel so much kindness for someone, but want to rip their heart out for a $2 carryover skin?  Anyway…I digress.

What my buddy doesn’t know is that the Sherpa has been practicing quite a bit and is looking for some payback.

Terrible golf mind…indeed.  But you get it don’t you?

We agree to play our standard bet:  1$ skins, ties carryover and ties on the 18th hole are settled on the nearby putting green.

I start off strong and am playing “lights out” (for my handicap at the time) and my buddy is having to really lean on his short game to keep up.  He is not long off the tee but can really make the ball “go in the hole”  from anywhere..even from the junk.  He is kind of like Chi Chi Rodriguez without the accent or cool hat.

We are now even for the day and currently on a three hole carrover going into number 14…a long par 5.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the bet, this means simply that we are tied on money so far and have tied the last three holes.  The competitor who wins this hole (#14)  could win 4 holes total. 

The Sherpa with better length off the tee is licking his chops.  “Oh baby”, I think to myself, ” if I can just make my normal swing, I could really have an advantage here.”

In a very proud moment, I was able to pick out a target, swing smoothly and (just as I made impact) a swirl of warm desert air, as if sent by the beating of a thousand angel wings, carries my ball into the next county….crazy long.

My buddy who was unfazed, because my length had provided little advantage over his uncanny short game, stepped up and hit his stock lazy banana slice into the middle of the fairway.

Special note:  Walking the mile past his ball to get to mine, I admit dear readers…was still pretty darned satisfying.

His next shot is a pretty good layup to his magic number of 100 yards.  To add insult to injury he is deadly from the “hundo” because of the 54 degree wedge that… I GAVE HIM (clearly in a moment of pure insanity).

Again, I gathered my nerves, looked at exactly where I wanted the shot to go and put it 14 feet below the hole. 

Now my nerves are jangling like tin cans in the back of my grandfather’s beat up old Chevy pickup truck.  I cannot believe that I am grabbing my putter after two shots…this is the most amazing feeling.  Even my buddy is now looking at me and obviously wondering to himself…”does he have the stones to hit this putt?”

Every tip…every article I have ever read about putting starts to fill my head like a chorus of violins being played with rusty saw blades.  It is a mess between the Sherpa’s ears and I can’t turn it off. 

My buddy stripes one about 8 feet and..it..is..on.

Now he thinks his birdie putt is going to rattle me and…well..of course it does.

No matter.  The Sherpa uses the time wisely as we approach the green.  Feverishly I try to get myself under control and manage to remember, thankfully, that a two putt is a push and the easy par three is coming up.

With that thought, I get into my routine, set up my ball and prepare to make the stroke.

Some things you never forget…your first bike…your first kiss…your first grade teacher.  I will never forget how that ball looked as it left the putter.

I hit it dead solid in the middle of the putter and it tracked like a frozen rope right at the hole.  Time is now standing still and after what seemed like an hour…

It goes in!

Some celebrations are as memorable as the achievements themselves… I would probably classify this one as the “mother of all celebrations”.  Obnoxious, loud, overly proud and downright comical is how I would detail it.  Adrenaline was running out of every pore and I felt like I could eat steel and spit out nails.

Then I had to play again…Uh Oh!

The Sherpa’s buddy was much more clever than I had given him credit for.  He had already learned the adrenaline lesson and in retrospect, I believe his knowledge drove him to fuel my frenzied celebration, knowing that I would be too hopped up to hit shots for the rest of the round.

He was right…the Sherpa couldn’t steer the cart much less control his swing.

Unaware of the trap that had been set, I strutted up to the tee on number 15 (a cute little par 3 with a water carry about 150 yards out).

Now he is calling the Sherpa, “the Lone Eagle, Eagle Man, Mr. Eagle”, anything to keep my blood coursing.  The Sherpa is eating this up and loving it…

Now comes the shot. 

Warning for those of you with weak constitutions, please skip this next part.

I am over the ball, have no idea where the flag is, thinking about how cool that last putt was and how this must be killing my buddy. I crushed him and I am so much more clever than he is. 

In short…I stopped playing golf.

The adrenaline soaked swing I made that day would blind onlookers, make children cry and force some people to avoid direct eye contact with forever, had they witnessed it.

The outcome was so bad that I still have no idea where that poor ball went, but I am sure it was hiding to avoid being seen with the Sherpa…ever again.

When one is in this state of mind, the badness tends to take on a life of its own.  When the carnage was over and I began to come out of the fog, I became aware that it had taken 8 strokes to finish that par 3.

The subsequent shell shock made it easy for my buddy to win the remaining holes and break even after the Sherpa’s glorious eagle and subsequet spastic rain dance.

I still care deeply about my buddy and admit that I am very glad that he was with me when I traversed this critical crucible of golf awareness.

Bottom line:  In golf, adrenaline kills.  If you hit a great shot, celebrate.  Just don’t  lead a Mardi Gras parade..unless it is the last shot of the day.  If you stop playing golf…you lose.

 

Play on…

The Sherpa

The day Dr. Jimmy scored his hole in one he gave me a Gift…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game, Uncategorized

The Sherpa has made many friends through the game of golf.  Some have taken more than they have given, some balance out and sometimes, even without knowing it, they give you a gift eternal.

Dr. Jimmy is one of those special people.

The story begins with Dr. Jimmy.  A patriot, who has served our country for over 20 years as a doctor, soldier and dispenser of laughter (ad nauseum).  He is a crazy cajun who will just as easily regale you with a quick joke as go into “Doctor mode” and advise you when he thinks you are being unwise about your health.  Both actions emanate from the same geniune heart and decency.

The Sherpa, as a rule, likes to surround himself with people like this because you never know…if I get hurt on the golf course, I will want to make it to the hospital with a pulse intact, but I want to hear a good joke in the ambulance.  Aside from these obvious benefits, Dr. Jimmy has learned to have fun no matter what happens on the golf course.

As reformed angry golfers, we typically theme our golf around how much fun we can possibly squeeze into 18 holes and score well if we happen to be playing well.  If he is on a roll, I will try to fuel his confidence and vice versa.

We have used this concept to win about 60% of the scrambles we enter and we don’t intend to change strategy ever. 

So what was this great gift that Dr. Jimmy gave me?  I will give you a hint…he did it while making the coolest eagle I have ever witnessed.

It was a chilly morning and we were the first group off on a very long and challenging course.  Known for its formidable difficulty, the day’s test would also include very undulating and speedy greens.

We both started off well enough, but Dr. Jimmy started to struggle a bit.  He is too tough to admit it, but his back was giving him trouble.  It was affecting his swing and so we talked about everything but his swing (as good golf buddies do).

Soldiering on, Dr. Jimmy announced he was going to have a great day anyway to which I replied, “if it’s not fun, it’s work that just cost us 60 bucks a piece”.  We both laughed, and he told me a funny joke about getting old that went something like..”you know you are getting old when you get a compliment on your alligator shoes…and you are barefoot at the time”.

When the laughter died down, Dr. Jimmy said. “You know, this is a great morning, we are playing golf, nothing else to do except hit shots”.  To which I replied, “you couldn’t be more right”.  As we neared the next hole (a long and difficult Par 3) I said, “get up there and hit a good one Jimmy”.

In typical fashion, Dr. Jimmy, with a sore back and ailing scorecard, bounds out of the cart, and with a fresh perspective, trots right up to the tee box.  Now I’m thinking, “how cool is that?  He is hurting, his score sucks and he is like a 2 year old at Christmas”.  “Go man!  This is why I want to play golf with you!”, I yell inside my head.

Little did I know what was going to happen next…except that my buddy was going to give it his level best.

As I got out of the cart, I could no longer see Jimmy because he was on an elevated tee box above my eyeline.  The Sherpa knows his swing and the sound his swing makes when he hits it flush.  The sound I heard next was like a rocket followed by the familiar sweet song of a ball making a turbulent whoosh as it breaks though uniform air on its way to the flag.

“Sounded really solid Jimmy”, I said as I looked up to track the ball in flight.  As it gently moved toward the flag I remember saying “man that is a good shot”.  Then, “man Jimmy, that is really good”. Finally yelling, “GET IN THERE” a millisecond before it disappeard from site into the holiest of golf grails.  “HOLE IN ONE”, I yelled and nearly fainted from joy and surprise.

Even now, in the telling of this story, I can relive the goosebumps and joy I felt for my dear friend on such a momentus achievement.

Later as I reflected on the day (literally hundreds of times) I began to realize that the event turned out to signify more than just a cool shot that my buddy made that morning.

Dr. Jimmy had indeed given the Sherpa a gift…..

He reminded me that no matter what has happened in the past, no matter your current condition, you always have another swing.  If you approach each shot with energy, curiosity and a belief that anything is possible…you MAKE anything possible.

Thanks Jimmy…

Play on…

The Sherpa

Why golf is hard and how you can take Advantage…

Author: The Golf Sherpa  |  Category: The Mental Golf Game, Uncategorized

Golf’s proper mental state (the zone when you are instintive and reacting.. instead of having a gazillion swing thoughts) is tougher to achieve than in any other sport. It is the Sherpa’s sincere opinion that once you know why, the knowledge will give you a distinct advantage.

Trust for now and read on…

Argument #1:  We have lost our childlike approach to new things:

From the time you were a kid and threw a ball you were able to do so without much thought.  As you grew older and learned to shoot at a basket or throw a football, you did so with the same ease and instinctive approach. Then somehow one day the world got complicated when someone handed you a golf club and said “hit that ball”.

You thought (as the Sherpa did) “no problem”.  You took a swing and thought…”hmm, crap this is kind of hard”.  What is interesting to note, is that when you first tried to throw something, you sucked then too (you were just too young to notice or care..you just liked to throw).  The Sherpa doesn’t like to speak so plainly to his devoted readers, but in making my point I want to lay the issue out in the open (feelings aside for a moment).

The difference now is that your ego has had years to develop and learning something now can be very frustrating, whereas when we were kids without this baggage,  everything was possible and learning curve was irrelevant because the payoff was fun. 

2: Golf is different from most traditional sports (in a very distinct way):

A strong, yet subtle connection exists in most traditional sports that puts golf in a totally different category of difficulty.  When this distinction hit me, it was like a lightning bolt through my cranium.  “Sherpa” I thought, “this would be a great thing to write about someday”!  That day has arrived.

My premise..When you play golf, unlike most sports, you don’t see your “target” as you are reacting to it.  

When you shoot a basket or throw a ball..where are your eyes..ON THE TARGET.  When you look at a target, as you have already surmised, your body and mind are already agree on the objective.  Without any noise in your head, you just throw.  Then what happens?  The ball goes right where you are looking.  All this without a “throwing coach” or hours of practice on the “throwing range”.

In golf, by strong contrast, you can’t see the flag pin so you look at the ball  (which is not the target) and “Ranger Rick” (your noisy conscious mind) starts worrying about your 30 point swing checklist.  Why? Because “Ranger Rick” is not being overwhelmed with your visual perception of the target.  In all other sports the visual target connection aligns your mind effortlessly with your body.

How to take advantage of your knowledge:

By now you are probably thinking, “Sherpa, I have been reading patiently for a couple of minutes.  In that time you have called me egotistical and a distracted worrier.  This better have a heck of a good point”.

The good news is that you can take immediate advantage of this knowledge to put your game on a course for improvement.  Also it is free (the Sherpa’s favorite price) and requires no swing practice. 

1: Approach every shot with the idea of having fun no matter what the outcome.  The Sherpa has helped more golf buddies score well after poor starts by reminding them of the truth about good golf.  “Buddy” I am famous for saying,  ”if you will just remember for a moment how much fun golf is, and how lucky you are to play this wonderful game, I guarantee you will start hitting good shots”.  Works like a charm.

The most memorable turnaround I can recall, was when my friend Dr. Jimmy and I were in a tournament together, and we were stinking the place up.  Halfway through our first match it was obvious we were going to lose.  “Dr. Jimmy”, I said “I did not pay the entry fee to win, I entered to have fun, and fun is what I intend to get”.  With that pronouncement we both immediately stopped trying to play “serious golf” and almost won the first match (which was very fun).  Long story short.. we took second place after going on a winning streak, beating even the team that went on to win the whole enchilada.  If we had just decided to have fun on the first tee of the first match, Dr. Jimmy and the Sherpa would have been snacking on that same enchilada.

2: Connect the ball to the target, then connect your eyes to the ball.  Now you may say, “Sherpa, I already look at the ball you lunatic”.  I would humbly suggest that you may be looking at the ball, but if you do not mentally connect that ball to the target, Ranger Rick will have lots to talk about in your backswing (because that ball is not connected to any information about the target).

Reconcile this mind-body disconnection by picking a spot or “pretend target”  just in front of the ball that is perfectly aligned with your real target.  This will put the “pretend” target squarely in your mind visually and that visualization will help crowd your mind (shutting Range Rick up).  When you swing,  think simply about sending the ball to your “pretend target”.  Intellectually, you will know the real target, but your mind/body connection will be stronger,  allowing you to swing more freely and with a purposeful target orientation…just like throwing a ball.

Bottom line:  On each and every shot, commit to have fun and sending the ball to a target.

Have a safe weekend!

Play on..

The Sherpa.