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What has isolation taught us? Owt or nowt?

The end of another Covid affected month although it’s great to be back out on the Links. I think lockdown finally got to me and this month included shaving and dying my hair blond for a local cancer charity. I was hoping for the look of Michaela Strachan blond but got Gordon Strachan ginger instead. Not the best look but a few quid raised.

It’s been a frustrating time as the season would really have been kicking in with the Lytham Trophy at the start of May and coaching booked in but not to be. At least golf has restarted albeit in a restricted form and although I think caddying will be a casualty of this for a while at least coaching is getting started.

So have I learned anything from this unusual period?

1) Not all dogs are easily trained. I am still trying to gain the upper hand but currently Wilma still has the upper paw.

2) I really am no good at DIY.

3) Eating and drinking puts on weight.

4) Zoom quizzes have a shelf life.

What about golf-related thoughts? Most golfers are looking for the golden tip that fixes all their ills. This satisfies their need for immediate results. Not many are prepared to work on something for a longer period of time before they see results. But we all know that doesn’t exist and when you have time on your hands it makes you see things differently.

Maybe moving at a slower pace allows you to see the wider picture. I have seen lots of posts about people saying they are going to address work-life balance issues going forward. Let’s hope they do. When life returns to whatever the new normal looks like let’s hope the pace of it doesn’t overtake intentions again.

I have definitely noticed my practice change to fewer shots or puts, but with more time spent over each one creating different scenarios rather than firing off shot after shot in rapid time expecting that to yield a return next time out.

This craving for immediate results is one of the reasons I believe golf psychology is still in its infancy with amateurs. They don’t believe it’s a good investment of their limited time. I ‘m biased obviously but for me, it’s better than hopping from one tip to another with most not lasting past the 3rd hole. To try and bridge the gap between technical instruction and more psychological help when coaching amateurs I endeavour to find exercises and examples that while they may feel technical have their foundations in psychology.

One which I found really did work to help clients understand our body's natural intelligence is one used by coach Fred Shoemaker. It is based around the connection to the target. Shoemaker's belief is professionals remain connected to the target throughout whereas amateurs cling on to the connection to the ball as that’s the point of impact. The result becomes much more of a hit for amateurs rather than a pick up during the flow of a professional swing and the ability to trust what we described earlier as natural intelligence. He demonstrates this by getting golfers to just throw a golf club at a target down the fairway from the address position. The brain immediately sees a down the line throw to the target and students lose the over the top move as why would that ever help? As soon as you put the ball back the dreaded move returns. His point being become target driven and the body knows what to do. Why would you then choose to create a glancing blow across another object to move it in a straight line? Golfers can see this move and it starts to give some belief that the body and brain has the ability to work things out for itself and helps them on the path of beginning to trust the brain without the need for overloading it with information.

Once you get this it does allow you to become less controlling and free the swing up. Resulting in higher swing speeds and much more natural rotation of the clubface rather than manipulation with the hands which brings high higher risk as it is difficult to consistently repeat. This is just one example of where a more psychological solution can be used within the sphere of technical instruction. They overlap much more than we think and once we start to get the interrelationship we can simplify golf instruction to the point where we let our innate abilities have a greater influence than we allow them today.

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