Potatoes were on sale this week at the grocery store. Five pounds for a dollar...and if you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for a sale! What does this have to do with golf, you ask? I'll get there in a minute...
So tonight after I got home from work and watched the wet, sticky snow plummeting from the sky I thought since I'm not going to be golfing today, it would be a great night for some mashed potatoes. I grabbed a few russets and found this neat-o peeler my friend and I bought a few years ago. Then I pulled out the garbage can and got ready to let some potato skins go flying!
The first thing I thought was, "How can I not know how to use a potato peeler? I've been doing this my whole life!" And if you know my past job history, I can bet you that I have peeled more potatoes than everyone reading this blog combined! I soon realized that I took off a small chunk of my finger along with the top half of my fingernail...with a potato peeler.
After bandaging myself up, I tried to figure out what I did wrong with my technique that led me to a self-inflicted peeler wound (which hurts A LOT by the way!). And this is when I started thinking about golf...doesn't the same thing happen to us on the golf course? We've been golfing for ages, feeling pretty good about our game and then one day, out of the blue, we can't get off the tee....or we can't make a 3 ft. putt....or every iron is chunky. We try a few different things and nothing works. It's like we've forgotten how to golf. How does this happen?
I've had the pleasure of golfing with a few of my curling teammates this past week - I'm so thankful they are as nutty as I am and are willing to golf even when it's cold and windy. On Monday we played nine after work and Tom was struggling off the tee. On Sunday when we played, he hit his driver great! It was just perplexing. He even knew his swing felt funny, but nothing he tried to focus on was helping.
This same thing happened to me several times this summer. One day I'd hit my driver great, and then for the next week I'd have an awful slice. I tried to visualize my set up, my backswing, my release, and my timing...it all "seemed" okay, but clearly something was wrong.
Working on my irons this summer, I knew I'd have days where I was going to struggle, but I can think back to a few days where hitting my irons felt like I was swinging into a brick wall.
The only thing I can figure is that it's all our brain's fault. Either we're distracted, or our mind has wandered back to some old bad habits...whatever it is, we're not letting our best swing thoughts come out.
Just this past Sunday we were playing and one of my curling pals mentioned something that has been causing me too much mental strife lately. And even though I've said I'm not going to let it bother me, right after he mentioned it on the 17th tee, I promptly duck hooked my drive into the pond. Everything about it was ugly...and the worst thing was I was having a decent round until then!
I have often said that I play my best golf when I'm not thinking about my swing - but I think what I really mean is that I'm letting my mind be open to picking out those positive swing memories and recapturing them - on that 17th tee I certainly wasn't thinking about my golf swing, but my distracting thoughts never left room for a good swing to come out either.
Lately I've been channeling a few thoughts if I find myself in the middle of a golf swing nervous breakdown. I know they don't work for everyone, but they seem to help me. One is, as I'm starting my downswing, I visualize coming through with my right arm...being a lefty, but a right-handed golfer, sometimes my left arm pulls and my right arm is just along for the ride...I cringe as I think of some of the shots I've created with that swing. So for me, as I pull down, shift my weight back to the left, and try desperately not to sway, concentrating on my right arm coming through really helps.
The other swing thought I've been using lately with my irons is making sure I feel lined up properly - I have a habit of standing too far away, so I consciously grip down a bit on my irons, which forces me to stand closer...then it's just remembering to visualize my club head coming down at the back of the ball - still descending, not picking...and my club head dragging on the ground for just a second after my ball has already left.
I'm sure every golfer has their own action plan when their game goes MIA...sometimes it's tapping into some swing thoughts, maybe a few days on the range, a visit to the local pro, or maybe it's just taking a few days off. Whatever the plan is, there's always the relief in knowing that your golf swing is still there just waiting to be given the OK to come out...hopefully it won't take to long to open that door!
Here was the great lesson in my potato story...after having to re-bandage my finger due to excessive blood flow, I pulled out an old peeler, slowed down, concentrated, and before I knew it my potatoes were boiling nicely on the stove. Huh, finding something familiar, slowing down, and concentrating - some wise words of advice on the golf course, too.
My finger still hurts, but I just enjoyed the best cheddar garlic mashed potatoes ever! And now that I've got some really great swing thoughts in my head, I'm really hoping that I'll get one more chance to get out on the course!
Filed under: practice, slice, mental game, visualize, golf swing, potatoes, concentrate