When I was 14 and just starting learning golf, I used to practice, during Philadelphia winters, with a Whiffle ball in our living room. Sort of half swings with a Bobby Jones blade 9 iron. I got pretty good knocking that Whiffle over the living room couch and against the curtains…until…one day…when I got a bit too rambunctious and put a divot in our carpet. So I found some heavy sewing thread and sewed that chunk of shaggy carpet right back in place. Nobody ever noticed it. Forty years later, my Mom and I had a good laugh about it after I told her about my secret. I’m still experimenting and practicing my swing mechanics but today I try out new ideas and recipes at the range and leave our carpets in peace. But I do have competing emotions when I hit the range, for it’s both an exciting place of creation and an intimidating place of failure.
Not too long ago, as I’ve written in these pages, I struggled with a pervasive and horrendous shank, and almost gave up the game after some 60 years of play. I dreaded trips to the range, but I persevered. It’s what I sort of imagine being tortured feels like. I’ve cured the shanks with the help of the able pro at the range, but I continue to confront changes in my swing brought on by changes in my body as I age and as cancer, a heart condition, neuropathy in my feet, and vertigo evolve and devolve over time.
The range for me is like a laboratory is to a research scientist or an experimental kitchen is to a top chef or even a marriage is to a couple. It’s a place to try new ideas, to experiment via trial and error to apply the Scientific Method of taking a hypothesis and, through experiment, seeing if it’s valid or not. With golf, more often than not, it might work initially but doesn’t hold up at the course, where many conditions challenge one’s consistency and perseverance. And believe me, the tour pros go through this as well, sometimes leading to giving up the game altogether. It’s a hard game…maybe the hardest of them all.
What makes matter worse, the teaching pros often emphasize their own priorities as to what constitute a proper, efficient swing, often using a cookie cutter approach to a game that needs to take into account each player and his or her capacities and limitations. Add to that the fact is also a mental game that tests your limits of patience, frustration, and expectation. We set goals and, let’s face it, we rarely meet those goals, even after years of trial and error.
But golfers are those rare birds that are never fully satisfied with their games. Even Tiger Woods who achieved the near pinnacle of accomplishment was not, and still is not, content with his game. And certainly, nor am I.
But I must tell you, after all these many years of experimentation with this daunting game, I have discovered an element of the swing which no teacher of mine ever covered. My disabilities, though seemingly a disadvantage, have forced me to search for aspects of the swing that will bring me consistency, accuracy and distance in my advancing years. All of which I will be revealing in my next post, in particular.
There is a catch though. Substack allows me to charge a fee to subscribe to selected posts, which I haven’t done since I first started this blog, when it was still called The Mindful Golfer, in 2010. So in order to continue receiving all posts, there will be a subscription fee. I will try to write at least one post per week, though at times it may be none and at other times it may be more than one. No guarantees. What I do guarantee is that I will continue to put my all into the writing, instructing, informing, and entertaining. Your subscription fee will also allow you access to my archive.
Now, all that being said, I will be publishing a mix of free and paid content. Each time I publish a post, I’ll decide whether to make it free for everyone, or only for paying subscribers. So I welcome you to join the Golf 360 community as per my next post–a post that can, and I think will, change your golf game dramatically for the better (including your slice, if you have one!).
Thanks, and for those who choose not to subscribe for a monthly fee of $5 or a yearly fee of $50, good luck and all the best with your game. You’ll still be able to read my posts if I labeled as free and will also be publishing any free posts on my website, mindfulgolfer.com, where you can find equipment reviews as well. And for those who do subscribe, a deep thanks. (Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.)
Congrats to Scottie Scheffler for his great win at the Masters! This young man–now number One in the World–has all the golf skills to gather more majors, including a mental attitude is seems unflappable. And congrats to my brother Hank who shrewdly picked Scottie to win where I had picked Cam Smith, who made a game try at it. I owe my big brother a Philly water ice the next time I come visit.
And… where the heck is Phil? Will he or won’t he defend his PGA crown or vie for his first U.S. Open? Amazingy, he was AWOL at the Masters.
Wishing Bryson and Nellie speedy healing from their surgeries; as well as continued healing for Tiger, Morgan Hoffmann, and Jin Young Ko. For those who think golf is not a physically demanding sport, they’re quite wrong.
If interested in a full subscription, go to golf360.substack.com. Thanks.