I went golfing last week. It was the first time in about a year (maybe eighteen months) since I had last been.
We just went out on a short course… there were four of us, on a gorgeous L.A. day. It was my friend, G, her bf and his bff. G has been at the golf game hardcore since she started dating the bf because he is so hardcore. They watch and quote golf lingo like I do after a week of the Food Network… “the flavor profiles are remarkable…. “
As a result, I was with some people who had golf on the brain and a keen eye for helping out a rusty old-timer like me.
But let us step this back for a quick sec… I started hitting at a driving range when I was in the age of single digits. My pops used to take my brother and I out on a crisp Seattle eve. Bro and I would just whack balls with a driver and go through a bucket each in ten minutes. It was in high school I had asked for my own clubs, and college, when I would actually learn how to use them.
Like many many other people out there, I took lesson after lesson and NEVER went to a course. Not once. I stuck to the safety of the range and putting green and figured I was getting all my energy out in the right place. I was afraid of the unknown. Of people behind me having to wait. Of the pressure, of messing up. Of using my own balls. I was fearful.
When you hit a golf ball two things happen (well, no, a billion things happen, but two outcomes happen). You either completely (or semi-completely) botch it, or you hit the ball perfectly. And when you hit it perfectly, with the right club, in the right spot, and it travels in the right direction, at the right speed, and the right velocity… it’s like butter. The only other feeling I’ve ever had close to that- is surfing. A light, effortless, weightless feel.
The problem is this- that perfect strike-on-the-ball opportunity doesn’t come often (if you’re not a regular golfer) and it is so addicting, you keep torturing yourself and doing all the mess up shots just to get that taste of joy again.
When you step up to hit a ball- you are thinking about a million things. My legs, my stance, my arms, is the arm straight, is my grip ok, is it loose enough, is my head down, am I rotating, following through… you think of all these things.
Tennis, baseball/softball, soccer- is the same, but there’s something about golf, that it just seems like there’s fourteen extra things in there. My biggest problem out of the fourteen (I’ve had it since the very beginning)… is my lack of patience. I.e. I want to see what happens to the ball. I.e. I take my eye off the ball.
G, bf, and bf’s bff all reminded me of this last week. As had the guys I played with last year, and the friends before that, the golf coach before that, the golf teacher and dates and my Dad and every single other person in life I’ve ever played golf with.
I lift my head. I take my eye off the ball.
When you lift your head- take your eye off the ball- you are making everything shorter, physically. Your head is connected to your neck which is connected to your shoulder, etc. which is connected to the club and is NOT connecting now to the ball, all because you lifted your head one inch.
Keep your head down, and stare at the ball, even after you’ve hit it. Stare at the spot where it was, look up later. Focus on the now. Focus on the ball.
How many things can we substitute for “ball”? Work promotion. Love. Goals. Life.
If we get bogged down by all the little corrections, it makes a mental block for ourselves- we prevent ourselves from hitting the ball naturally. If we take our eye off the ball, we lose sight of the purpose of our swing.
Ultimately, the best hit always seems the one with the least effort. I’m keeping my eye on the ball, and just naturally swinging. That is when I hit it exactly right… even outside of golf.
Keep your eye on the ball, don’t be afraid, don’t stress, and have fun. That’s the whole point! 🙂