Why is golf so hard?
In this article I will answer a question that golfers around the globe ask themselves every day. I hope by the time you finish reading, you will understand some of the myths of golf, but most importantly you will instantly become a better golfer, because you will have learnt one of the most important principles in Golf. So lets get started…
The ball is still
This is where the problems begin. First of all lets think about other sports. For example almost every sport is what I call a reaction sport, so if we look at football, the ball is passed to a player and the player has to react to everything that happened, with very little time to think. This puts them at an instant advantage, as they do not have time to over analyze what they are about to do. A rugby player reacts instantly as the game constantly moves, cutting out a lot of time for over analysis. Now lets think about a footballer taking a penalty. This is as near as he will ever get to experiencing what it is like to hit a golf shot whilst still being on a football pitch! Taking a penalty is not something every player on the pitch is going to want to do, and the reason why? It all comes down to the fact that the ball is still, which gives them all the time in the world to think about what’s about to happen, which can have disastrous consequences.
So what does this cause?
This causes one of the most misunderstood principles in golf – the ability to move naturally. Now take a moment to learn this point, as most of you have probably never even thought about it – natural movement comes from the ground up. To appreciate what I am talking about, stand up and imagine your friend has just walked up to you, said “hello” and stuck his hand out to shake your hand. Now when you go to shake his hand, you are going to do it in a completely natural way, with no interference from your inner voice. Notice how when you move your hand out you are creating the movement from your feet, the movement gets transferred up through your body and your arm moves out to shake your friends hand. If you are now thinking “hang on a minute, this can’t be right! Surely you just move your arm out?!” Stand up again, now consciously keep your feet rigid so they can not move on the ground or in your shoes at all, now move your arm out on a handshake fashion, you will notice your arm moving completely independently from your body in a way no person would naturally move. Ever wondered why a great dancer moves so effortlessly and fluently across the dance floor, yet some people get on a dance floor and freeze and look rigid as if the whole world is looking at them?!
How does this translate to golf?
When someone starts playing golf, they have no misconceptions, pre conceived ideas or bad golfing experiences, so they can often begin with some success. But as time goes by, they hit the odd topped shot, then they keep hitting it in the water on a particular hole, or they keep hitting the ground first, or the ball seems to swerve in a big arc. The next thing that happens is they ask themselves “I wonder why I keep doing that?” Then if they are really unlucky one of their playing partners will say something like “you lifted your head!” Or “you bent your left arm!” Two of the single biggest swing wrecking bits of advice a golfer can have. As each experience happens their mind becomes more cluttered. On one shot they try keeping their head down, that seems to have some effect, but a few shots later that clearly isn’t working so they try something else they read in a book, or watched on you tube.
So now you are on the golf course standing over a shot and you are very still, everything is quiet around you as your playing partners wait for you to take your shot, but your body isn’t moving and you are having a whole conversation with yourself in your head, not sure which swing thought is going to work. Eventually your swing starts and in a snatchy, uncoordinated movement, the shot is struck. Instantly you know the strike was poor as you watch the ball shooting off in the wrong direction. The next thing that comes into your head is “I knew I was going to do that!!”
Why does a good player look so natural and fluent?
The most simple explanation is that they are completely clear on what they are doing, therefore they can “get on with it” which in turn means there mind is uncluttered, which then means they are not standing frozen over the ball, which all results in a natural coordinated movement.
There are amateur golfers who will advise their friends “you don’t need to have a lesson, it will ruin you!” or “you don’t need a lesson, I’ve never had a lesson in my life!” (which explains why they are a 15 handicap and never get any better)
This attitude is ridiculous, and anyone taking that advice on board has just committed themselves to a lifetime of frustrating golf where they will never even get close to their realistic potential.
If you are reading this, and thinking that you would like to have years of simple, fun golf ahead of you, then my advice is to stop reading books, stop looking for the miracle cure on the internet, stop listening to your friends who will give you the same cliché advice we have all heard before, and commit to learning a simple method of how to hit a golf ball that is YOUR method. If you do this, you will become so clear on what you are supposed to be doing, and your method is so simple, guess what happens……………You begin to move naturally.