Posted Jul 29 2009, 12:37 PM by Cathy Erickson
It's been a weird couple of weeks for me. Lots going on at work and a few unexpected hiccups in my world have sort of got me off kilter (a lot off kilter actually). I don't know about you, but if too much stress or worry creeps into my life, my brain goes into overdrive...and not in a good way. One of the most difficult things for me to accomplish is to just find focus - I try "to do lists" or even just picking some small task to get done just so I can get a sense of accomplishment, but when my world is off balance I sometimes can't even focus enough to figure out what to put on a list!
I have been finding this same predicament on the golf course. It is never a good thing when my happy place is invaded by stress! The first thing that happens is I can't remember what a solid swing feels like. About a month ago I had worked hard to put a couple of swing thoughts into action and I was feeling pretty darn good about my driver. My occasional cut swing is still around, but for the most part I was keeping the ball "in the garden"...I love it when you don't even have to think about your swing!
But now I feel like the things I want to do aren't working. I know the components of my swing, but my timing is off...I'm either coming down too fast, or I'm too slow because I'm purposefully trying to avoid the speedy swing. The worst part is that I'll get it to click after a few holes, and then just like that I can't repeat it. It's maddening!
In just about every other part of my game I'm pretty sure I'm just looking up - irons, wedges, even putting! I can't seem to get focused on the ball and I seem to be thinking about the result, the next shot, or something completely different before I've even finished my stroke.
Sometimes, if I remember to, taking a deep breath just before starting my backswing helps me stay grounded on my shot and I can focus on coming through the ball instead of swinging up at it. But when my brain is scattered I lose all sense of calm and that deep breath doesn't happen. I don't feel like I'm in a hurry, but my game just gets too fast and I am not in the moment at all.
This all leads to marginal (or terrible) shots...and that really doesn't help the focus level either! I commented on Sunday that after I carded a nice triple bogey I really didn't care about my score anymore (I never not care on the golf course!). Not a good attitude, and clearly my focus was out the window. I think all golfers have those moments, but I've been hanging on to this for almost 2 weeks now. I need my happy place back!
I did go out by myself on Monday evening and hit 3 balls around the front 9 - I started out hitting my driver thin, topping my irons, and pushing or pulling putts. The frustration level I was feeling was almost like panic - so much going wrong and no handle on how to fix it.
On the 6th hole I just stopped and stood on the tee for about a minute (which felt like an hour). My normal pre-shot routine consists of teeing up my ball, gripping with my left hand at my side, putting my right hand on, set-up, one waggle and hit...I think it takes about 10 seconds! I knew I needed to slow everything down (especially my brain), so this time I teed up the ball, stepped behind it and found a target. I gripped while still standing there and remained focused on my target. Then I stepped around and set up - I had been feeling like my ball was getting too far up in my stance so I aligned the ball a little farther back. Then I relaxed my hands just a tad (I never realized what a death grip I acquire sometimes!), and then I focused on the hitting the back of the ball.
My last swing thought was concentrating on my right hand coming through the ball... and low and behold I hit it decent! I wanted to hurry up and hit again, but I forced myself to go through the same pre-shot routine I had just done. Another decent drive...and then a third. Could I have found my focus again?
Since my irons were in dire straits as well, I need to pull in some good swing thoughts there, too. My issue seems to be swaying instead of turning and I was only able to hit one crisp approach shot. And by the third ball I completely forgot my new pre-shot routine! So much for focus.
My driver was okay on the 7th hole, but I could tell I wasn't hitting them as solid as I should be. The irons came around a little, but by the 8th hole, a par-3, I was back to swinging too fast. Then on the 9th hole, a par-4, I hit 2 awful drives, slicing both of them right, and then yanked a third into the trees left. I thought for a moment of grabbing some more balls out of my bag, but the sun was setting and I knew I probably wasn't going to solve anything that night. I finished the hole with my 2 playable balls and just felt dejected.
But then I stood on the green for a moment longer and just looked around the course...the ponds were like glass, the blue heron was standing in the weeds, and the green grass looked like a welcome mat in front of me...it was then that I realized...no matter how bad I feel, I love being at the golf course. I'm hoping that stepping back and taking in the bigger picture is just what I need to get my focus back.
I purposefully took a day off from golf yesterday - I wanted give my game time to forget those bad swings and for my brain to process and discard all that has been swimming in there lately (easier said than done it seems). I'm planning on heading over to the course tonight and it would be great if the good feelings of peace and escape were waiting for me on the first tee. And I wouldn't feel bad if there was a decent swing waiting there, too!
Happy place, take me away!
Filed under: routine, frustration, happy place, focus, slice
When I found Tees2Greens website and forum I found a happy place. There were great people there and in 2009 they asked me if I wanted my own blog space. It was a dream come true!! The site is down now, but I was able to get all of my posts to be able to post here. I will always be grateful for all of the Tees2Greens folks!!