Sometimes in golf we need to unlearn before we can learn

The Golf Brain

The last couple of weeks have been up and down in terms of my scores, but I have learned some very valuable lessons along the way.

In my last five rounds I have two of my best scores for the season, two of my worst, and an average round.  What does that tell you?  It tells me that golf is a game of patience.  You can’t control the outcome.  You can only control your process.

Golf is interesting because you can’t force a good shot, you can only let it happen, but you can definitely do a lot of things to create bad shots.  The opposite of that is what I think sports psychologists call “getting out of your own way”.

Over the last few weeks I’ve kept plugging away and practicing what I learned from my coach Eben Dennis.  What’s interesting is that little by little the pieces are coming together, but only because I’m still working on them.  Most golfers, when they take a lesson, or try to make a swing change, take a short term approach.  I don’t think they do it on purpose, but I think they get frustrated when they are not getting results.  So they start to think that what they were learning doesn’t work.  It might be because they tried to take it to the golf course and when it failed there, they assumed the idea or concept is broken.  They dump it and start working on another idea, trying a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.  But what if it wasn’t the idea or concept that was broken?  What if they just didn’t take the time they needed to really get it?

You can’t become a better player if you’re constantly trying and throwing out ideas.  Some things take a while to learn.  And sometimes, we need to unlearn before we can learn.  Drop bad habits so that you can make room for good habits.

One of these bad habits I had, which I didn’t even realize was that I was re gripping my club during the swing. I’m not sure if it was on the back swing or on the downswing, but at impact, the club was in a very different position from where it started in my hands.  Here’s the thing though, I didn’t figure this out until a few weeks after seeing Eben.  And once I figured it out, I needed to unlearn this habit, before I could pick up the habit of maintaining my grip in the same position throughout the swing.

Now that I’ve worked on it, there is one less compensation to make and this has made a world of difference.  It has taught me to use the club as it was designed to be used.  Sounds like a simple and common sense statement doesn’t it?  Use the club as it was intended to be used.  But the truth is that few very few golfers actually do that.  They use it as they think it’s supposed to be used, not as it was actually intended to be used and there’s a big difference.  If you go to the driving range you will see golfer after golfer, chopping away at the ball.  You’ll see them get into all kinds of contortions as they make compensations to get the club on the ball.

But the truth is that the club was not designed to require all these compensations and extra effort at the ball.  It was designed for ease of use to let the ball get in the way, and to use the loft and the club head to do the work as the ball simply bounces of the club face.  Think about that for a few minutes.  Marinade your mind in that thought.  The ball bounces off the face of the club, no extra effort needed and no need to chop at it.

This morning’s round is a sign that I’m working on the right things.  I shot a 76, that could easily have been a 70 if only a few more putts had gone in.  This round simply ramps up my determination to continue to work with the concepts I’ve been learning.  Control, Vision and Dynamic balance.  Get Power Feel Golf to understand what these mean in the golf swing.

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