Why hasn’t the average golfer improved in 23 years ?
There aren't many things in life that if you make time to do 2-3 times per week, research, read and emurse yourself into by even practice at home, you get worse at... Unfortunately golf can be one of these things.
The average handicap has only reduced by two shots in the last 23 years, whilst golf ball and golf club advancements have improved exponentially in this time. Trackman technology is also showing us that it is now easier than ever to hit the ball straighter and further.
You could easily mount an argument that as the handicapping system now rates you against the conditions on the day and how the players on that day have played as opposed to the par of the course as it did in my junior golf life that golfers on average have got worse in the last 2 decades.
Why is this?
Because it is hard? Yes there are few other sports so participated that have 14 different tools that you have to use, played over 5 hours with every shot being a different one.
Because players are getting older and enough new people aren’t getting into the game? Yes possibly but I teach many people that are playing their best golf in their 50's and 60's.
Because people don't practice enough - possibly but I would suggest that people don't know how to practice and when they do focus way too much on the outcome of each shot.
The answer is - Golfers chase feels and don't build awareness’s.
To understand this we need to separate practice and play.
You can play with a feel on the day but you need to practice to build awareness of what you are trying to do.
Most people I ask "what are you trying to do when you hit the ball" look back blankly and respond with...trying to hit the ball, keep my head down, not to swing too fast, don't come up, hit a good shot or even better, think nothing!
If this is you, you are on the goflers rollercoaster !!! and you are about to undergo a transformation in thinking that can change your golf forever. Are you ready?
Step 1: is understanding that your golf swing is a basic sequence of body movement (that doesnt happen automatically because you are not reacting to a moving ball) just like every other motor skill you have ever learned. You need to work with your coach to develop an understanding of your sequence and I would suggest that your base should be a three step sequence. If you don't take lessons then I would encourage you to think about this three step sequence the follwoing way. Once set up and ready to swing 1. Turn of the right side into the backswing (right handed player) 2. Visualisation trigger from the top to get the club moving from the inside of the ball 3. A balanced finish position that achieves an eyes level to the horizon pose.
Step 2: you need to build awareness that you are doing these things in practice.
Hence that means when you practice you need to be able to hit a ball being clear what your swing sequence is, move through that sequence in rehearsal, and repeat that sequence when you hit. The feel of the shot is instant and often overpowering but you need to move past the feel and ask yourself did I move the way i tried to.
If your answer is i don't know, there's not enough to time, or I didn't hit it well, then hit another ball going through the same process and ask yourself the question again.
To build awareness you have to have intent and that intent is not impact, target or shot focussed. That intent is movement focused and once you start to build this awareness you are a step closer to making your swing more automatic and in turn more consistent.
What is the difference between feel and awareness?
Feel is a reaction response to the shot you have hit, awareness is a thought about process that reflects back on intention.
If you practice to develop awareness then you can start to develop better feel.
Step 3:Take a single thought that you have become aware of in practice onto the course as your over the ball focus. Take the time to connect visually to the target and swing making sure you are applying this single thought
We often look at the best players and try and learn from them. The reality of the situation is that they are at a level so far in front of 99.5% of golfers that what they can explain is important to them is mostly irrelevant to you.
As kids they have moved their swings into the automatic zone through building awareness through hours of practice as kids with a kids brain absorbability. As adults learning the game you need to take a different approach and this is what I am encouraging.
Improve your consistency, smash your frustration, break through your score barriers and play more calmly through understanding your swing sequence.