tom watson at turnberry

“Time for Change?”


“Time for Change?”

It is hard to believe that over 9000 books have been written on how
to play golf. 9000 books dedicated to trying to unlock the secrets of this elusive game. And yet despite all this advice and knowledge golf remains the most frustratingly difficult game in the world.
irish open county down
Why is that?

Are you ready to challenge some of your long held beliefs?
During my fifteen years as a Tournament Professional, I like many others, fell into the trap of believing that someone else held the secret to my success. I failed to realise that success could not be found in finding the perfect swing that would not break down under pressure. That road lead to total frustration and feelings of wanting to do something better with my time. Does this sound familiar to you?
Lessons and information taken in, hours spent practicing, yet
still no improvement in performance. Well read on and change your golfing life forever!

The first step on the road to mastery is to trust yourself and understand what it is you are doing when you attempt to
hit the ball. Where is your attention and awareness focused?

Are you thinking too much about what is a simple task?

You need to move your game away from thinking, and move it towards feeling. You see FEEL is what we use to perform all the amazing motion skills we possess. You don’t think how to walk, you FEEL how to walk. You don’t think how hard to throw the piece of paper into the bin, you FEEL how hard to throw it. And if golf is to change then it must align itself accordingly, because more information is not the answer.

Any sport that sees naturally gifted people unintentionally slice for their entire golfing lives, or that has professionals with golf games that seem to regress in direct proportion with the more they learn about its mechanics, is definitely in need of change!

So how do we move away from thinking and towards feeling?
Well, all feel begins with an objective or task.
“Throw the ball to daddy” is all that needs said to evoke an appropriate technique and start the learning process in a child, and as the skill develops so does the feel.

The issue with golf “coaching” is that it tends to be technique rather than task led.
To help explain that a little more clearly lets look at how I was introduced to two sports. Squash and golf. See if you can spot the difference.
not an easy one
GOLF – This is pretty good representation of the type of instruction that I received when I came to golf for the first time. How does it compare to yours?
1. I was told how to grip the club.
2. I was told how to stand, aim and position the ball.
3. I was told how to swing. This included lots of things such as, keeping your eye on the ball and your head down.
Your left arm straight and your swing slow. Then as I progressed it become a bit more complicated and included stuff like turning my left shoulder under my chin properly on the backswing, and that my hips had to start the downswing etc. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there, and ultimately I moved on to swing planes, wrist cock, wrist lag, width and weight transference, and it went on, and on, and on. It was real fun. NOT!
4. Then every time I got coached I was told that I would get worse before I got better.

GREAT! Just what a young man wants to hear.

SQUASH – I was given the following help with squash from one of my friends.
1. I was handed a racket and a ball.
2. I was then told the rules and objective of the game. Which was basically that ball was only allowed to bounce once before you had to hit it, and my job was to try and direct it where my opponent couldn’t get it. The serve was explained, as were the lines and tin on the walls and floor.
3. I was then asked if I fancied a game!
Darren Clarke the Ryder Cup Captain warming up
Did you spot the difference?

You see golf was full of “how to” instructions, whereas squash was all about the game or objective. In fact in squash there is no technical information whatsoever, and amazingly in golf there was no mention of the objective. The contrast is startling, and that just shouldn’t be. People constantly told me that golf was different (but it isn’t), but I accepted this belief and all the baggage that comes with it.
Now it’s time to hand it back.
My introduction to golf encouraged me to think, whereas my introduction to squash encouraged me to feel and once
you learn the appropriate feel for golf you can never lose it.
Fact, the golf ball always does what it is told. We tell the golf ball what to do via the clubface and how it’s applied to the ball.
So what are you telling the clubface?
Is your attention where it should be, that is on the clubface?
If not it needs to be.
All golfers need to be aware of the reality of what happens at impact. The golf ball will tell you this.

Let me give you an example of this.
While I was giving a golf clinic one lady hit a shot heavy, taking a big divot and the ball barely moved. I asked her “What happened there?”
She replied that she had swung too fast and lifted her head up. A nice story but unfortunately it was just a story and not reality. What did happen was she miss applied the club and caught the ground before the ball.
After bringing this to her attention I then challenged her to hit the ball without hitting the ground. After a couple of practice swings feeling a different movement to her previous attempt, she hit a shot toward her target without taking a big divot. She had changed her technique due to the task I had given her, without any information of “How To” from me.

You will find that the task will always lead to your technique and NOT the other way around.
Logos on tour
Exploring different ways of applying the club will lead to you discovering what is right for you. Golf is fun once you rid yourself of all thoughts of rights and wrongs. Taking ownership of your own game will be a massive step on the road to having more FUN while playing.
Every great player in the world plays with feel as his major sense, now it’s time for you to do the same.

Good luck and happy INSTINCTIVE golfing.

By Paul Eales
European Tour Winner & Instinctive Golf Coach

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