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The golfer stands alone on the tee. No one else can swing that club for him or her. Only this golfer can get the job done and send the ball correctly down the fairway. This is the challenge facing golfers of all abilities. Standing above a little dimpled ball perched on a tee and brandishing a tool on the end of a long pole. I remember the first few times I had to take that club back behind my head. There I was, hoping that when I swung back down I would make appropriate contact with that ball on the ground. Bad feelings flashed through my head and body. Fears and anxieties mounted in anticipation of the outcome. Golf is like that a mix of excitement and gut wrenching horror. The truth about golf can be hard to fathom for the uninitiated. #truthaboutgolf #golf #golfers

Things do Go Wrong with Golf Swings

Things do go wrong with swings. Golf balls head off at right angles far from the intended target. Shanks are acutely embarrassing. Topped shots provide humorous fodder for your four ball. Massive slices are entertaining like watching a car crash in slow motion. Embarrassing moments abound on the course during a round. Sometimes you feel really small in reaction to what you assume your playing partners are thinking about you and your golf game or lack of it.

That’s the thing about golf it takes you from highs to bottomed out lows. On occasion you would like to be able to instantly disappear and make an unseen exit from the course. I was never here, and nobody knows me.

The truth about golf a man playing gold on the field
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Golf’s Beautiful Truth in Flight

Then, suddenly you strike a beautiful shot and watch the ball soar toward where you were aiming, and it is a very satisfying feeling. There is real beauty in the game of golf. The aesthetics can be pleasing to the soul. The coiling process of the backswing gracefully unleashed through body, club, and into ball. The majestic launch of a small sphere over vast distances. The spinning ball through time and space. Time can seem to slow down over the golf ball during your swing. The intense focus creates a meditative moment imbued with intention.

Sometimes I feel slightly unhinged in that moment before pulling the trigger on my swing. Madness beckons just over the edge of my field of awareness. I can understand why some golfers are prone to what is called ‘the yips’. Imparting so much energy to a stationary object creates a lot of dynamic tension.

The Golf Ball Sits Below You on the Ground

The golfer stands alone on the tee. Nobody can help her or him, it is far too late for that now. All the instructional thoughts running through your head are like a procession of useless information tumbling off a cliff. The sweaty palms and rapid breathing threaten to overwhelm. The golf ball stubbornly sits on the ground at your feet. The intended target, fairway or green, remains off in the distance. You must gather yourself into some formation of cogent beast. The internal scrutiny of physical self and planned sequenced moves has you listening to your pounding heartbeat.  Your address of the stationary ball is queried again and again. Shuffling feet long to find the right groove in your stance. A waggle or two, three, or thirteen releases some tension from your hands and arms. It is time to begin the backswing.

“Golf is a game for adults, a game full of disappointment.”

The Truth About Golf

A lot rides on the result of this swing. The score may be precariously balanced on a knife’s edge. Things may be heading south, and you need to arrest the negative momentum. Your competing playing partner may have moved ahead of you. You might be trying to close out a great round over the last few holes. Golf seems to the casual observer to be a calm game. Nothing much appears to be happening on the surface. Inside each golfer, however, it is a very different kettle of fish. More like a bathtub full of piranha, in fact. Golf is all about internalised pressure, which is why it is not, generally, a game for children. It is an adult game of grinding out scores. A few bad swings can crush your score like an aluminium can run over by a steam roller. It is a game full of disappointments  and unfulfilled expectations – a bit like life.

The truth about golf - teeing up the golf ball.
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You are standing over that little golf ball. Your wishes are paramount in your mind. To despatch that bugger toward the intended target. You can feel the breeze upon your body, and you are factoring in wind speed and direction. You have selected a club for the very purpose at hand. You hope that it is a good choice based on sound information. Data processing flickers away inside your head like hungry mice inside a grain silo. There is a time for planning and a time for action. The time for planning is over. Now, you must begin your swing. The truth about golf is upon you and you must let go. Let go to your body and hope that it knows what it is doing. You cannot swing the club with your mind. Take the club back and then, follow through. How easy is that? Easier said than done, sometimes.

“A repeating swing that works is the defining solution to most of golf’s questions.”

Scotty X

Time ticks away like the second hand on an old watch. The illusive sense of time makes everything appear to happen in slow motion during the golf swing. How do I swing thee? Let me count the ways. In the beginning, it was like every time I swung the club it was with a different type of swing. I would try new things mid-round, which those in the know would understand is a very bad idea. The game of golf loves consistency. Golf adores diligent and repetitive behaviour. A repeating swing that works is the defining solution to most of golf’s questions. Without such weaponry one is rendered useless. Your golfing arsenal must be replete with 14 clubs that you can use to the best of their ability.

Most important is the putter. Although I don’t, generally, like to begin at the end. If you count all your strokes during a round and note down which clubs used on every one, you will find the putter wins hands down. Around 25 to 33 putts are recorded in most rounds. If you use a driver on most par 5s and 4s you may find that you employ that club around 12 to 14 times. My favourite wedge appears around 9 times. I do carry 5 wedges though, so there are a smattering of shots played with these scoring clubs in addition. Sinking putts is the single most important activity in golf. Practice making putts above all else if you want to enjoy your golf. There is nothing as frustrating as missing makeable putts throughout your round.

“There are two distinct swings in the game of golf.”

Golf Truth

Getting off the tee well is the next most important element in the game of golf. Learn to master the driver or a 3 fairway metal to maximise distance and hitting fairways. If you bugger up your tee shot it sends you off in a poor frame of mind and puts you behind immediately. Playing catch up means you will struggle with your golf and the ability to score. It is clear that there are two distinct swings in golf. One swing for the driver/fairway woods and another for irons. You are hitting up and through the ball with the driver and down on the ball with your irons. This is recognised by ball position at address, with the ball teed up off the lead heel for the driver. Iron shots are played more in the middle of your stance and teed low or not at all. Some players struggle with one or other of these swings and changing from one to the other during a round. Hitting down on the ball with your driver imparts the wrong kind of spin and results in a loss of distance generally. Conversely hitting up on the ball with an iron promotes flipping and topping shots.

the truth about about golf - golf ball on the edge of the cup.
The Truth About Golf

You are standing over that golf ball on the tee. You have crafted a swing for this opening shot. You understand the importance of getting off to a good start. A round of golf is like a marriage or relationship, you want to hit it off from the outset. Have you prepared yourself mentally and physically for this game of golf? Do you warm up on the practice range or in the nets? Do you do some chipping and roll a few practice putts? Do you make any commitment or resolution to yourself about your upcoming performance? Competitive golf is an examination of prowess and character. You are standing on that first tee with that dimpled sphere at your feet. Ahead of you is the open fairway with rough and hazards on either side. Can you square the face and make solid contact with ball? What’s it to be sunshine? Have you got the game son? Can you put a solid swing on this shot?

“Fine motor skills are demanded around the green.”

The mental game of golf is mentioned fairly often by those who regularly partake. They understand that hitting a stationary ball off the ground can mess with your head, especially over four plus hours. Expectations mount in response to what has gone before and what you aspire to on every shot. It is not easy to achieve ‘tabula rasa’ or the clean slate upstairs in the control room. The required sequence of movements must be timed to perfection or as near as you can manage. Taking the club back and then, bringing it back down and through the ball is a fairly basic move. Swinging the golf club is something you might do 40 or 50 times during a round, excluding the putter, if you are a pretty good golfer. However, the minutiae exponentially increases the better you become. Your awareness of the finer details involved in striking the ball the desired distance and with the type of flight dramatically rises. Golf is a feel game. You must feel out what shot is required in every situation. Fine motor skills are demanded around the green with chipping and putting. Explosion shots from greenside sand traps require a flexible and agile skill set with a wedge. These touch shots must be played under the pressure of expectation. We fail and we must deal with the disappointments, which is why golf is a game for adults, rather than children.

“A good putt hides a multitude of sins.”

Scotty X
red neon light signage sinner in the truth about golf
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The truth about golf is sometimes hard to bear. I have walked off the course in low spirits and held on to my disappointment in myself all week. It is important to put things in perspective and to remind yourself it’s just a game. We begin each round with high hopes in our hearts. Optimism may be flooding the view ahead like sunshine after dark. It is easy to be blinded by unrealistic expectations. Performance under pressure comes with experience. Remember that even the best players in the world practice all the time. Practice all aspects of your game. Focus on your weaknesses. If you are a poor bunker player get in the bunkers and practice getting out. Spend twice as much time practicing your short game. Getting up and down is how you put in a good score. You will not always hit greens or hit it close. Scrambling separates the A graders from the rest of the field. Making putts is a must. Chipping it close for a tap in saves strokes. Learning not to compound your mistakes keeps you in the game. A good putt hides a multitude of sins.

The golfer stands alone on the tee. Only you can get the job done, there is no one else. Golf is character building for this reason. It is not a game for children or those who act like children. It will test your coping mechanisms like no other sport or activity. The truth about golf is that it is a searingly stiff examination of your mettle. You are alone on the tee with club in hand and ball at your feet. Everything else disappears in that moment before you strike the ball. You are the golfer, go and get the job done! #sinner #golfmettle #golftestofcharacter