Goal Setting

Back to Basics

After several months working to get back to a low single digit handicapper and eventually to scratch, I seem to be moving backwards. I took some time to process the journey I have been travelling. Looking backwards I can see that the trip has not been a straight one.

Like most of my students I allowed the desire for short term gains to influence the overall journey. In other words, I kept changing paths. For a while I was strictly conventional, then a bit of stack and tilt crept in, followed by a relapse into "natural golf". I ended up with a swing focusing on style rather than substance. Somehow, I forgot the purpose of the journey was to prove that the simple "Turn - Turn" swing could get a golfer to the best golf of their life.

I spent a little time on the range the other day going back to the beginning. Neutral set-up, “Turn – Turn” swing, rhythm and tempo. Results were great. On the flag with my wedge and in flip flops too! 

I think it is important to examine what caused me to alter my path. DISTANCE!!!

Like everyone else I started looking for more distance instead of lower scores, disaster. I reread the early part of my book and remembered that distance was the last of the key outcomes. 

1.   Smooth full turn around a fixed axis, creating powerful weight shift with the proper sequence of movement.
2.   Consistent rhythm and tempo
3.   Controlling the bottom of the swing arc. . .hitting the ground exactly where I want.
4.   Predicting and controlling the ball’s flight.
5.   Distance. Be long enough and just long enough.

When the focus moves from the first four outcomes to the fifth outcome (distance) too early in the journey, those first four skills are not automated and habituated so they must begin to fail. That is what happened to me over a very frustrating and discouraging few months. Each outcome-skill must be developed and habituated in the correct sequence. This is a very valuable lesson for me as both a golfer and an instructor, I must be patient with myself and help my students be patient with themselves.

My Grandfather would always tell me, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly!" Of course, he didn't mean that one should keep doing it poorly, or even get better at doing it poorly, but to understand that greatness is always preceded by failure. He would also say that one of the most powerful impediments to greatness, is to be "pretty good".  The time, effort and money it takes to get from "pretty good" to great, can be overwhelming.

Those truths are really hitting home on this quest to scratch. I am seeing glimmers of greatness but mostly is see myself getting better at doing it poorly. I can score better, but not actually play better. However, I do believe now that it is possible for the casual golfer to become a 0 handicap, and I believe I can be there before the end of summer.

Following the direction of my own book, I have begun the mastery process on me, a pretty poor student. To get to the mythical place of the '0' handicap index I have some tough obstacles to overcome.

1. Time
2. Effort
3. Money

Those are the key ingredients to any and every endeavor. I can commit plenty of #1 and #2 not so much #3 so my plan must fit that constraint.
  • I am over 60 years old, not an obstacle, at least not one anyone can do anything about.
  • I am overweight, that is an obstacle that effects performance a little, but since I ride it's not too big of a factor, still I want to lose 40 pounds.
  • Physically fit???  Not bad, but I have limited flexibility in the lower back, that is an obstacle. Doing a lot of stretches, using my Pro-relax electrical stimulator. I have the strength for golf but not the flexibility.
  • Ability. I have eagled every hole on my home course except 3 of the par 3's. Only one hole in one in my life. That means I have the ability to score low.
  • Skill. I believe skill is the automatic habituated high-quality application of ability.  That only comes with repetitions, hitting lots of balls on purpose and with a purpose.  Lots of time in my hitting area in the garage.  Probably will still only play once a week, maybe twice on occasion. 
The question is, "Can a casual golfer be a scratch golfer?"

The answer is, "Why not?"