saw a cartoon recently of a duffer stuck in a sand trap
with sand flying all around him from his considerable
efforts. His wild swinging at an apparently unresponsive
ball was resulting in digging him into an ever larger
hole. The caption of this cartoon was, "Farnsworth
takes a much needed day off."
wondered if this cartoon was funny because Farnsworth
was obviously not having a relaxing day off. Or perhaps
it derived its humor from the fact that the probability
of hitting a golf ball with any degree of accuracy under
any circumstances decreases as frustration, tension and
anxiety increase. Or maybe more to the point is the disturbing
truth that there's a Farnsworth living inside each of
all the leisure time activities invented by humans none
rival golf for having to deal with potential performance
frustration. Unlike any other leisure activity, frustration
is actually an inherent quality of golf. And it's fairly
simple to measure decreasing performance accuracy as our
feelings of frustration increase. As one goes up, the
other goes down.
of the problem lies in that fact that golf relies more
on a practical application of chaos theory than any other
sport I've studied. Chaos Theory essentially tells us
that for a very small initial change we get a disproportionately
large and variable result. This means that if you are
going to move your golf game into high gear, you're going
to need to create a means of minimizing the variables
that influence those initial changes. If you observe the
great golfers, there's almost a sense of nonchalance about
them. It can seem as if they didn't really care that much.
You can be certain that they do care since their image
and their livelihood depends on it.
I observed many of these great golfers, they seemed to
have a second sense that allowed them to feel wind drift
and to eyeball the lay of the fairway with uncanny accuracy
that guided their strokes. The truth is that anyone should
be able to maximize their golf game with a simple appreciation
of their ability to become self-aware. Once you develop
an elevated self-awareness all those factors, both internal
and external, that will influence your swing become part
of you automatically. Certainly, a good basic skill is
required. But enhancing that skill with this type of self-awareness
invariably leads to improved efficiency in virtually anything
you do. The question is not whether this works. It's whether
you can let yourself use it. In my practice I use sensitive
electronic devices and special exercises to bring people
to this self-aware place in their minds. To a place where
your focus is calm and selectively absorbing only that
input which is relevant.
performance golf is as much a function of your ability
to relax as it is of your skill. The first step is to
learn to relax on a single breath. This requires considerable
practice and should be done dozens of times throughout
your day. When you think of it, take a single deep breath,
hold it for a second as you let your shoulders droop and
your jaw relax. The exhale slowly while imagining that
all tension and stress is draining out of your body.
you have gotten competent at generating that feeling,
apply it to your game. Each and every time you address
the ball, perform that simple exercise until it becomes
second nature. Do this before lining up your swing. Then
look at the ball with relaxed eyes. Now look at where
you want the ball to go, also with relaxed eyes. In your
mind gently bring the two images together so that the
ball and your target are blended. Take one more relaxed
breath and make your most important thoughts as follows:
last thought, that whatever happens is fine, can be tricky.
But it's essential. In order to create outstanding performance
you must signal your mind and body that there are no stresses.
The more stress you feel, the more your mind must pay
attention to those problems. That's just the way our bodies
less stress you feel, even to the point of telling yourself
that whatever happens on each swing is fine, the greater
is your ability to gather all the elements of your mind
and body as well as the sensory data about each shot.
that simple. Practice this a lot. You have nothing to
lose. The least that should happen is that your game will
become more enjoyable. But if you manage to succeed in
creating even a slightly relaxed focus, your performance
on the links will be significantly more accurate. And
then Farnsworth's day off will be just a joke.