The blog is coming from San Diego, and its been a busy trip with the grandkids and Halloween. Today I thought I would go through the things I tried this year to find an answer to the mental game. There were many things I did on a short term basis with little success but there were two things that I did for about three weeks each that made me think that I might be on to something.
The first thing was what I called the “philosophy of golf”. This philosophy was to never feel that you are hitting the ball. You should think of putting the ball in motion with a smooth controlled swing. This should be applied to all parts of the game including the short game, and putting. In the beginning this seemed to work very well. However, all I really proved was that Bob Jones was right, that you could swing too easy at the ball which causes as much problem as swinging too hard at the ball. It was a case of over control.
Next I abandoned my shoulder swing. What triggered this was my play in the South Park Senior Championship. I made a comment in the blog about fighting my swing during the round. You will hear players at every level talk about fighting their swings. So I thought why would you want to fight your swing. I called this mental madness in the blog. What I tried to do was to swing as naturally as I could. This resulted in a swing that had a less than a 90 degree shoulder turn, somewhat flat, and very handsy, with a pretty big wrist cock. Well, the results very good, bordering on great. I did this for about 2 rounds with some pretty decent scores. Then I had an unbelievable ball striking day at Indian Run for about 15 holes. On about 12 holes not only did I hit the green but I was never more than 15 feet from the hole. I did not make many putts and I was one over par after 15 holes. Then on the last 3 holes I just started hitting it badly but managed to scramble for pars. For the next 2 rounds the ball striking was just horrible. Back to the shoulder swing I went.
Other short term failures: Not reacting to the results of the shot. Trying to play all shots the same, ie hitting every shot from right to left. Trying to stay relaxed.
On another subject matter, I think I can explain the phenomenon of the good round at the beginning of the season or after a long lay off. We have all had this experience where early in the season or after a long lay off we shoot a really good round of one or two over par. One of the explanations for such a good round is we go into the round with very little expectations, so we are better mentally prepared for bad shots so they don’t have a negative affect on our game. I agree with this as far as it goes. On the physical side of the game our golf muscles are not quite up to peak performance at the start of the season or after a lay off. On the backswing our left side is stretched as we get to the top of the swing. In the beginning of the season this is going to be naturally shorter. So some of our short backswings from anxiety are really not that short and the resulting shots turn out to be pretty well. But as the season progresses those muscles become more stretched so our backswings become longer and that short quick backswing now results in some wayward shots. So as I said before I think the game is 50/50, mental and physical. Back in Pittsburgh next week and the weather is looking more than playable, so see you on the links.