Take Your Swing and Game to the NEXT LEVEL!Take Your Swing and Game to the NEXT LEVEL!

Are You Playing Golf or Golf Swing?

July 3, 2019

Many of us say we are going to play golf. Many of us think that “playing golf” simply entails traveling to the course, paying for our round, hitting some balls on the range, hitting shots and adding up the score after. But most of us aren’t actually playing golf, instead, we’re playing “golf swing”.

One of the biggest challenges I find with my clients is that they are playing Golf Swing when they come to me. They come to me often because they are not playing well or as well as they think they should.

Thousands of times I have been told “I hit it great on the range. I think I have a great swing. But I am not scoring on the course.” Or they say “I play great in practice rounds and unimportant rounds but when it matters something is wrong and I score much higher.” Or some version of these comments.

One thing I know for sure. There is a golf swing if learned correctly that holds up under pressure and repeats.

This swing is highly efficient and extremely fluid. Another thing I know that very few players know how to make this extremely efficient and fluid move. Many less know how to coach it. I was lucky I was taught it from the start of my golfing career. To tell you how lucky I was. I estimate that probably only 1 out of 100 golf instructors know how to teach this swing. I went from around a 20 handicap to scratch in 18 months. 

You practice a lot. You hit lots of balls working on Swing Keys and Drills. On video your swing is looking better to you and maybe an instructor who can’t or never could break 75 in a tournament. On the range your ball striking is really pretty good. Then you go to the course and it is not so good, or good for a while and then not. It varies.

The problem is, it is not supposed to vary. Your shots are supposed to be Fairly consistent. You work so hard in practice to hit the same shot over and over. Your muscle memory is supposed to get really strong with all the balls you hit in practice. Problem is it's a timing based move.

You are religious about doing your routines just so. You are emphatic about making sure your swing keys are remembered. You monitor your swing to make sure your club and your body are what you think are in the right positions. Every routine is a carbon copy of the one before. Yet your swings and outcomes are not consistent through the round.

Why aren't your swings and outcomes consistent through the round?

  • First of all this game is diabolically difficult
  • Second, you have been practicing your swing probably not a fundamentally correct or efficient swing and not playing golf. How often do you get to hit the same shot over-and-over on the course?
  • Third, you are not a machine. Most teachers teach like you are a machine with the videos and precise attention to alignment and body or club positions. Ok what about feel visualization and tempo ?
  • Fourth, you work on the range with perfect lies and hit the same shot over and over with no worries about scoring.

That does not necessarily prepare you to play golf well.

Wait, Don’t throw it all away. Don’t stop practicing, that is not my point.

Practice playing golf shots on the range. One shot at a time with full routine and specific target and keep score. Put the club back in the bag. If you miss, you do not get to hit it again. That is not golf. The more real you make it the better. This is not all the time every time but you should probably do this at least once every practice session 

The Fundamental Problems with Playing Golf Swing on the Course and Most Pre-Shot Routines.

If you are focused on your alignment and swing keys over the ball you are operating in Left Brain mode. Left Brain is not athletic and so the swing will not be as good as you could do. Especially if your swing is all timing based.

Focusing on your swing means you are not focusing on the shot. Monitoring and trying to control your swing while swinging means you are disconnected from the shot. Your nervous system is not fast enough to actually adjust the swing effectively while it’s happening.

This monitoring and trying to control the swing in Left Brain mode results in in-consistent swings and outcomes! This hurts your confidence and raises your arousal level.

Higher arousal will change your golf swing. I know from long experience that if you care about scoring well, you go up the arousal scale when you play. Your arousal level on the course is probably higher than it ever is on the range or in a lesson. No amount of practice shots or muscle memory can fix this. Higher arousal changes your swing. Often old swing flaws come back.

So between operating in Left Brain mode and higher arousal your swing is different on the course than it was in practice or that practice round. When your outcome is not what you wanted the natural response is to try to fix your swing. This only makes you more Left Brained and less confident, and therefore more golf swing focused. Arousal is not coming down, and frustration is going up.

The Solution is to develop your Athletic Shot Process and Control of your Level of Arousal

The first step of every pre-shot routine is Calculations. This is a very Left Brained activity. That is fine. Our Left Brains are good at analyzing and doing the math, making decisions. But the Left Brain needs to stop when the choices are made.

From there on, you need to be operating in Right Brained athletic mode, PLAY GOLF WITH YOUR EYES. See your target then imagining the ball flying and imagining how it will feel to strike the ball and send it out there. No checking your feet and alignment. No thoughts about your swing keys. No monitoring of your swing and whether it feels right or not. No trying to control it perfectly.

Awareness of and the ability to lower your level of arousal will give you back all of your athletic abilities and your great swing.

Amazingly, you can actually hit the ball well and more consistently when you let yourself swing freely and athletically. We do it in the other sports. You need to do it in golf.

 Every one is different. Your Athletic Shot Process will be unique to you.
Stop Playing “Golf Swing”! This wonderful game is so much better when you play Golf!

Note: There are times when you already Play Golf. They mostly happen by accident and because you missed a shot. I am talking about those trouble shots. A Trouble Shot is one where your shot did not end on the fairway or on the green. You could be behind a tree, in deep rough or otherwise in a bad spot.

You have not practiced these recovery shots. There is nothing like them on the range. So your mental approach to them is different. That careful and deliberate pre-shot routine you use on the tees and fairways is not useable here. You have to create a shot. The lie may be awkward. There may be a branch in your normal backswing. You may not have a clear path to the ball or clear sight of your target.

So what are you thinking about to play this shot? Your thoughts are on the shape of the shot you need. Your thoughts are on the way the club head needs to impact the ball to get that shape. You imagine how the ball will come out. You imagine how you will swing through the ball. You imagine a lot. And you play it. Often well. Sometimes amazing. And yes, sometimes poorly but that is why we call it a trouble shot.

In this instance, you were Playing Golf, Not Golf Swing!