The Day I Changed My Swing Thought

They told me it would happen. If I practiced and took some lessons and kept at the game, I’d get better. They just didn’t tell me how long it would take, or how many oaths would be uttered, or how many  balls would be lost along the way. (The answers: years; countless and thousands.) Progress came in seemingly microscopic increments –  a long drive here, the solid shot there. And I was thrilled, especially when my tee shot landed out there in the middle of the fairway. I savored every second of that long walk and I loved how the ball sat – it seemed so happy – surrounded by all that soft comfortable grass.

And on that long, triumphant walk, I’m thinking wow! Here’s where I could really make something happen. Gosh, I hope I don’t screw this up. Then I’d arrive at my happy ball. Select club. Line up shot. I can make this happen. Don’t screw this up. Cross line. Address ball. Make happen. Don’t screw up. Swing. Screw! (or, more accurately, a synonym for screw that starts with “f”) Consistently.

Why did this keep happening?

‘Twas a dark and gloomy night,

dark and stormy

whilst sipping a wee dram and reflecting on this phenomenon, I realized that the last two words my brain heard before firing up the neurons needed to swing the club were “screw up.” I was programming my brain to deliver a screw up and that’s what it did.

In my off-season reading I came across the lesson of the bridge in Joseph Parent’s Zen Golf and as advice offered by Annette Thompson in Different Strokes: The Lives and Teachings of the Game’s Wisest Women, by Mona Vold.

A bridge isn’t built to carry it’s entry load in one day. It carries each load one at a time, here and now.

So now, on that long walk, I’m thinking about the bridge, and the single load that the next shot carries. “Here and now” is a much better message. And it seems to be working. For now, anyway:)

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