It goes without saying that, while Golf is my favorite sport, it is also the source of some of my deepest frustrations. This is true for just about any student of the game. How many times have we seen the frustration manifested in the actions of professionals, our partners, or ourselves?
You nail the perfect drive or wedge shot and seek to repeat the same stroke on the following hole. You THINK you are performing the exact movements and actions that produced the previous flight and trajectory, but you hit it fat and the ball travels only a few feet. What happened?! Well, to be honest, a multitude of things may have occurred – perhaps the face is more closed/open, maybe the ball isn’t exactly in the same location in your stance, your shoulder dropped too much, you didn’t keep your head still, etc. This list could go on and on…
I have this picture printed out that depicts Tiger Woods at the top of his backswing. The surrounding background of the picture are words that represent the thoughts going through his head in the seconds before impact. (If you would like to see the picture, just Google “Tiger Woods Swing Thoughts” in Images). The trick is (at least for me) to just empty my mind and swing the club – it’s just that I get caught up in all of the thoughts, the articles I’ve read, the tips I’ve heard, and what happened on previous holes.
Which brings me to my current predicament…
Any little tweak can affect the golf swing in significant ways. Recently, I started to add some weight training into my exercise regimen (if you can call it a regimen). The added muscle and changed body composition has changed my movements. Now, I’m not going for a bodybuilder’s physique – in fact, I just wanted to “tone up” a little, but that little added muscle really messed with my swing. Gone was my previous flexibility, and my swing that I thought I’d finally figured out was flat. I mistakenly thought my increased strength would translate to more power behind the ball, but I found myself trying to kill it (a big mistake) or just barely clearing the ground when approaching uphill greens.
As if I just couldn’t learn, I went to the range one day following an intense triceps workout. Needless to say, I wasted the money I spent on the basket of range balls.
I had to relearn my swing. Granted, my physique didn’t undergo any enormous changes, but the slight changes in muscle tone created slight changes in my swing. Those changes affected every aspect of my game. I struggled with approach shots and even putts. The resulting drives were dismal. I wasn’t seeing power – I was seeing a regression.
These little changes make us constantly change and adapt in order to play golf with any expectation of what we personally see as a successful progression of skills. Age is a huge factor in terms of changing our game. As we age, we lose flexibility and muscle mass. These physical changes affect how we previously played our game. There’s a reason why golf shafts have senior flex. Our bodies change, and as a result, our game changes.
I know better than to ever think I’ve got this game figured out. Yes, I still get frustrated when I’m SURE my putt was “on line” and I read the green properly, but that’s again the allure and the heartache of this beautiful game.
It looks like more backyard practice and trips to the driving range are in my future.
Hit ‘em long and straight…