PGAtour.com had a good article on Stuart Appleby.
“I’m trying to be a little more relaxed about things,” Appleby said. “I felt like I probably shut down my natural abilities, talents, whatever it is to play golf. I’m trying to play more natural golf and (use) the feel that I have.”
If we can, as many sports psychologists say, “Get out of our own way”, then we have a chance to tap into our natural abilities.
I read a book that has had a big impact on my life outside of golf recently. It’s called “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future” by Daniel Pink. The central theme of the book is that our culture has been dominated by left brained activities that require analysis, and a rigid process, but that the future will be ruled by those who take more creative approaches and use the whole brain. It makes sense in golf too.
If you look at the way instruction has changed over the past 20 years it has become more and more technical and analytical. But what you are starting to see now is a move away from that. More and more players seem to be returning to feel golf. Jim Furyk is a prime example. I recently wrote about how he was interviewed by Michael Breed on the golf fix and how he couldn’t really describe his approach to the game other than to say that he is a feel player and let’s his dad worry about his swing.
Another good example of a feel player is Rickie Fowler. You might expect that because he’s young he might have been trained technically. But his teacher, who is the only teacher he has ever had, was a strictly feel based teacher. And Rickie Fowler has proven himself to be a phenom. Super talented, plays fast, and is very exciting to watch.
I often hear recreational players talk about how they get overwhelmed with all the technical bits of the swing. They get confused and they try to do everything with their left brain. The thing is, golf is more of a creative sport than that. I like to picture myself as an artist, my canvas is the golf course and my brush is the golf ball. I want visualize and feel shots, then make them happen.
When I successfully do that, I play my best golf. When I’m working on technical details, I don’t play nearly as well.
For example, yesterday I had my first round with a new set of iron shafts. Same club head different shafts. For the first 9 holes I was trying to get used to them and I wasn’t being creative with it. I wasn’t seeing my shots clearly, and I struggled. On the back nine I changed my approach and decided to visualize every shots carefully and feel it. My second nine was 7 shots better and only 3 over par. Not bad for being out on the course with a new set of shafts. BTW the shaft change was significant. I went from Project X 5.0 to Dynamic Gold X100. Once I changed my perspective the feel came back and the shots improved and my scoring really improved. Like Stuart Appleby by focusing on the shaft change I “shut down my natural abilities”, but by focusing on creativity and feel, I engaged my natural ability and let it play.