There have been many great searches in history. The search for the Holy Grail. The search for sunken treasure. The search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But perhaps the most futile search in history is the search for golf’s “secret.” You know what I mean – the “it” that will unlock the inner golfer that hits every iron pure, hunting down every flagstick like a cruise missile, and sending drives long and straight down the fairway as if launched from a cannon. But here’s the thing…
It doesn’t exist.
This endless search and thirst for perfection is what is wrecking so many of you from getting better at golf. It’s not to say that you can’t be better than you are, but the problem with so many players is that they believe that there are short cuts…and that simply isn’t true.
Many people I have taught come into a lesson wanting a quick fix, or believe they should be hitting the ball so much further than they actually do. In most cases, they know that a one hour lesson isn’t going to cure all of their ills, but put them on the right track to better golf. Many times I can get them hitting it a lot further and much better in one lesson. I often see big changes and know that the potential is there, but the key is to practice with a purpose and not allow the “search” to start to eat away at your progress.
Too many golfers look to You Tube, Golf Digest, and Golf Channel for the next best tip that will unlock their games. There’s a ton of great information on those outlets, but it may not be right for YOU. As a result, many golfers end up with swings that are slower, less athletic, too technically oriented, and lacking in any freedom at all. If you think back to your youth, what other sports did you play? So many of us remember spending all day at the golf course, hockey rink, basketball court, or baseball field just doing one thing: PLAYING. Sure, we worked on drills and technique in our practices with our teammates and coaches, but at the end of the day the most improving you ever did was when you played the game with freedom. And let’s be clear: you played A LOT of whatever sport it was; all day sometimes just having fun and getting better at it without ever really thinking about the process of improvement.
Here is where the bridge between your youth and your golf has burned down. I see so many players that don’t view their golf the same way. They think about positions, nearly obsessing about a certain “look” that they think will make them efficient and better. Practice becomes about technique and less about the target, which in the end is ALL that matters. The freedom of their youth is all but locked away as the search for the elusive “secret” continues. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s important to have some technical proficiency to swing a golf club. But that technical proficiency only has to be at a certain level that matches your athletic ability and allows you to access that athleticism to swing freely.
The point here isn’t to tell you that all hope is lost. Quite the contrary. But in order to really improve at golf you need to stick to a few things. First, and you have heard my say this before, find someone you trust to teach you and then turn off all of the other distractions. No friends telling you their swing theories at the range, no You Tube searches at 2:00 am, no infomercial purchases that have 42 straps on them. Just you and a coach who has your best interests at heart and a good idea of your athletic potential and background. Once that is in place you need to stick with the program and free up your brain to let it happen.
Most golfers don’t like to hear some of this advice because they believe that it’s a “cop out” and that golf isn’t like other games. You can’t have freedom in golf or just look at the target and swing without some thought in your head. But that is the root problem with most golfers: they think golf is a different sport than any other they have played and it isn’t. Most basketball players would never dream of thinking about where their elbow is when shooting a free throw, nor would a baseball player think about the positioning of his hips as he swings at a 95 mph fastball. Yet most golfers don’t want to equate golf to those “reactionary” sports and thus create too much tension, too many thoughts, and as a result, too many bad shots. Golf is very much like those sports, only harder. But it can be incredibly fun and rewarding.
So here is your challenge. Find someone you trust and tell them you want YOUR swing, not the swing of someone on TV that has a body totally different than yours. Then get to work practicing correctly and creating an environment where you can swing freely and engage the target. Will you need to work on some technique at times? Probably. But then switch that off and do what you did when you were a kid running around with all of your friends.
Swing without a care in the world and just play.