posted on March 20, 2009 14:54
In an very amusing passage in Golf in the Kingdom, Shivas Irons, counsels us on the seemingly hopeless quest for self improvement. “Tae enjoy yersel’, tha’s the thing,” he said, “and beware the quicksands o’ perfection.” In this commentary Dave Korba reminds us that these “quicksands” can be particularly permeable in our pursuit of the perfect golf swing.
The Perfect Swing
Every golfer has a distinct and sometimes highly recognizable swing. Consider Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Lee Trevino and Arnold Palmer to name a few. Who among them has the “perfect” swing? Which one has the “best” mechanics? Does it really matter?
What we know is that better players are consistently able to get the club head through the ball in the desired position, at impact. The biggest difference between professional golfers and amateur golfers is the players’ awareness of the clubface throughout the swing.
In my experience, I see many players and coaches studying and analyzing the mechanics of “the perfect swing” and then beating themselves up and facing extreme frustration and disappointment in attempting to force their body and their movements into these perfect parameters. It doesn’t add up to a lot of fun and often results in higher scoring.
Other coaches adopt a more resilient teaching model, which fits the player to a swing that works best for the player and provides maximum enjoyment from the game. In other words, there is no one ‘perfect’ swing that everyone should conform to.
If the main objective is to return the clubface consistently through the ball to impart the desired result, then it seems to me that it really doesn’t matter how the clubface arrives at the ball. The awareness to this notion has helped my game tremendously. Rather than focusing on the distance my elbow is from my hip or the angles of my wrist and swing plane, by becoming aware of the position of the clubface at impact and throughout the swing, my clubface gets into the desired position at impact more consistently.
I watch many teaching pros concentrate solely on the swing mechanics of angles, turns, weight shifts, etc. I do not disavow the importance of solid fundamentals and proper mechanics. They are vitally important and require constant attention. I have found, however, that my game has improved quicker by focusing more attention on my awareness of the clubface throughout the swing. That factor alone has allowed my body to get itself into the best position to perform and achieve the desired results, without becoming consumed with mechanical thoughts.
My awareness to the clubface strikes a deeper meaning for me as I reflect upon how the same principle can be applied to my life. Allow me to consider the clubface synonymous with the Inner Self. It is my awareness to my own true Self that allows me to gain the results I truly intend in my life.
By having a greater awareness of my true Self throughout my daily life, I am better able to get myself in a position to achieve the results that I desire.
I believe self-awareness is essential in maximizing performance in golf and in living life. All good golfers are not necessarily self-aware, nor are all self-aware individuals necessarily good golfers…yet. Shivas Irons talks about True Gravity. Bagger Vance encourages us to seek our authentic swing. Both are attempts to have us find our True Selves in and through our golf games.
Whenever I give a golf lesson, usually to a friend who is just starting to play, they are often surprised at the instructions they hear from me. Prepared to receive mechanical pointers, what they receive is the same instructions I offer for enjoying life.
1. Have an intended result in mind.
2. Give up the need to control the result.
4. Observe the result while staying unattached.
6. Stay true to your inner self.
7. Have fun.
8. Repeat the process.
Of course, like the golf swing, there is no perfect formula for everyone. Give it a try and see if it works for you. You may be surprised.