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.