Playing at golf instead of working at golf

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to improve, and I enjoy practicing. But the constant state of trying to fix something in my swing is exhausting to me. I would love to reach a state where I can just play good golf and enjoy it without thinking so much about it. That seems like it would be so much more relaxing and enjoyable. I think this is partly my mental approach and partly my approach to the physical parts of the swing.

I was a self-taught golfer and was probably about a 13 handicap. A few years ago I started taking lessons at GolfTec. It really helped improve my mechanics, and I was able to get down to a 7. It was very technical with the video review and trying to hit certain body positions at certain points in the swing. I kind of hit a plateau, so this year I started dabbling with Tom Saguto’s stack-and-tilt method. I have hit my irons as good as I ever have, but the driver has been inconsistent.

Very recently, inspired by some Shawn Clement videos, I’ve just been taking a more relaxed, natural, free-flowing swing, and I’ve been hitting it pretty well. Trying not to have too many technical thoughts other than just a nice smooth tempo. More importantly, it’s just been a lot more enjoyable. I think this has been a change both mentally and physically, but if it can continue, seems like just a much more low-maintenance approach.

But will it last, or will it inevitably wear off, and then start a new cycle of trying to fix something in my swing?

Can anyone relate to this? Maybe it’s just a change in my mental approach of not being a perfectionist and playing with the swing I have? Thinking more in line with Adam Young’s ‘skill development’ model as opposed to having a technically perfect swing?

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I know exactly what you mean. I’m also thinking (the curse of the overly analytical) that if I can just fix this OTT early release swing fault, I can play golf instead of golf swing. Right now, it’s like I’m playing with some horrible mash up between old and new.

My goal this off-season is to drill in the new swing pattern and make that swing my own and call it good. I’m sure that will be equally hard to do since no one is ever satisfied.

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Here’s a take. When I started swinging a club some 39 years ago I got bit. It’s like a virus. OBSESSION! I wanted to play and gamble with the best players. I had the opportunity to play with some of the best players. It’s been an incredible journey. My game had to be good or I’d go broke. Then I thought I could get my game good enough to play on the senior tour. Then reality sets in. What those people play and what we play is chess to checkers, monopoly to candyland. I invested the time but getting to a legit 2 handicap, was not good enough. I could play a summer and not shoot over a 75. That’s not good enough, not for my aspiration. So, when family came into play, making a real living with health benefits, any semblance of good game gets shelved. One of the biggest things I learned from Mr Bishop was the comradarie of the game, grabbing a drink with the guys, playing gin in the locker room. My Saturday group, we have been playing together for 18 years, with a few different players and we have become pretty close friends, we break bread together and definitely stick needles in each other OFTEN! At over 60, I work on my game to improve aspects, because bad habits creep in whether it’s a poor grip, or not staying behind the ball, so fixing mistakes makes you hit it straighter or pick up those extra yards. We don’t get overly obsessive on rules just playing on a Saturday, YEA, we roll the ball in a fairway! We play from different tees, Blues and Whites. So what! We just don’t do it in an event or gambling, That’s a different game to me/us. The point is to have fun. People that want to be purists. Good on you! Any of you ready for the tour yet, or to contend and compete in your state am? Here’s some advice, try and have fun. Our group plays to have fun. It’s like 6 hours away from real problems and the group shares the same problem of hitting that stupid little white ball over 150 acres and putting it into a 4 inch hole 18 times. Think about that! I’m not on the tour, I’m not on TV, we don’t exactly measure where the ball goes into the hazard. It’s close, we play in the SPIRIT of the rules, OB is OB, we don’t complain because someone dropped a ball not exactly from the knees, we pull the next ball out of the bag and throw it kinda PO’d on the ground trying to save a 5 or 6. We practice to have fun, get a little better in the moment. We root for each other when one of us is -2 after 6 holes. I guess when you realize it’s ok to be obsessed about a game, but no longer to the point of a nervous breakdown because my dispersion is not what I want. The game will become frustratingly fun! Even more so if you can share that with close friends! I used to go bowling with my kids when they were little, I carried a 187avg…I was ok! One of the most fun, best times and memories (and best scores) I ever shot was playing with my kids when we had bumper guards set up! HAVE FUN!

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From my perspective, I’d KILL to be able to focus on playing golf. From this forum, Jon and Adam’s work, and multiple outlets I feel like I have the mental fortitude and strategy but my golf skill is lacking. So right now my focus is to try and get my swing/game to a point where I can let go of that swing focus and put more attention into playing golf.

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I struggle with beating myself up over bad rounds and then realizing I’m not good enough to beat myself up over some bad golf. Probably partly because I did put some effort in years ago and saw a big improvement, but then many of those gains were wiped out over the last 6-7 years without the practice and play.

Winter in New England is far too long, but a part of me does enjoy just playing some golf without worrying about practicing for a club tournament. I also like the shutdown of not playing for a bit. I think it helps me reboot my attitude towards golf.

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I’m thinking my off-season plan at this point is to skip the formal lessons. I think my fundamentals are reasonably good enough and I know my problem tendencies that tend to surface occasionally.
Got to get a copy of Adam Young’s Practice Manual and start focusing on low point control and center face contact instead of body positions.
Had a TPI evaluation and will work on the problem areas that uncovered and will get back to my speed stick training.

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I know this feeling! I’ll hit 10 good drives and maybe 2 bad ones, but I’ll spend hours working to correct whatever I think caused the 2 bad ones. I need to work on my mental game.

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Not to rain on your parade here…I should keep to myself, but here’s reality. I don’t care if you’re DJ…you are going to hit poor drives no matter what or who you are. Now if it was 10 bad ones and 2 good ones…somethings probably not right…needs a fix! Other than that, don’t obsess…have fun right?

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Believe me, I know I’m not DJ! Managing expectations is something I need to work on.

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I wasn’t insinuating you’re DJ, so I apologize if I said that wrong … About 10 years ago we had a young kid that got hooked up into our group once and he was a blast. Couldn’t play golf to our level worth a lick…compared to us. Basically, us means like 50-55 full swings and 30 something putts in the round. The kid probably shot like 115…He didn’t care he was having fun. He was having more fun driving his cart! In the middle of the round, he says…are you guys really getting your money’s worth. I’m hitting the ball almost 2x more than you guys! When we backed off, and our group was having a beer and eating burgers…we had a conversation, maybe he had a point? I mean we are just at a point now, we’ll try out each others clubs, we’ll play more than one ball on a hole, one that we declare and one that we are “trying something out” on. I guess my expectation is to have fun! 2 weeks ago I posted about our annual trip to “THE DUNE” I was +7 over after 3 holes. I shot 4 over the rest of the way in…all legit too. All of a sudden everything got grooved…So I thought it was great! I had fun, my partners and I had fun, except for the crappy meatball sandwich after the round and they are a BYOB so no beers! Why beat myself over the first 3 holes, I played a fantastic final 15 holes! I guess I’m trying to say…sure I want to improve where and when I can. At 60+ you come to the realization you won’t be on tour…LOLOL…So unless you are trying to honestly compete at a level way above your pay-grade (which you can do if you are willing to put in massive amounts of work) the expectation should be HAVE FUN! It’s hard to do when you skull one over the green into a creek, the expectation is don’t compound if you are trying to achieve a score…we should be happy about dialing in a few great shots, making several solid swings and managing whatever game your body allows you to have on any given Saturday!

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This. Adam Young’s blog (as usual) had an interesting post on this, by a guest speaker and professional psychologist, Dr. Karl Morris. Basically, on playing golf unconsciously, and cultivating pressure in your practice sessions. I thought it interesting.

I want to play golf—as far as the mechanics of it—like I drive my car. I get in it and I go where i want. Now, if I’m trying to improve a given corner—increase exit velocity, take a more efficient approach to the apec, whatever—then I’ll concentrate on what gear I’m in, where my braking points are, etc… Until that desired approach becomes unconscious too.

Similarly with golf, I just want to see the ball, know the yardage/lie/target/environment, and thereby select the club and shot. Decide on that, go through the rest of my routine, start my shot ritual, and just hit it. My body knows how to do this. I’ve seen it. I just need to get out of the way.

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I definitely need some help in this area. If I get some practice time in each week, not even a lot, I will play decently, but I do tend to lose focus for at least 4 holes/round. I know I’m not going to execute at 100%, but for some reason I will make some really poor decisions that lead to doubles or worse. There are also too many times where I just don’t commit to the shot.

That will happen to anyone, but I’m guilty of it too often and I tend to do it on the same holes at my club. The stats I kept showed that I improved on that this year, but only marginally on my “nemesis” holes.

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It’s tough to concentrate when one of the group is yakking or slurping the end of a beverage or farting or laughing or … enter distraction here. _________________
Slow play, faster players behind, nature, the golf gods. More concentration breakers.
Know my distance, target location, “NO-NO zones” & swing.
Yeah I like to win the week as much as the other guys, but I don’t want the WORK of it either. I ain’t gonna win a trophy, so I just settle for what the round hands me. I’ve had plenty of friends quit the game cuz it’s too hard, stupid, waste of $$ and so on. They thought they should be better was the real reason.
2021 handed me a 24 hdcp. (2020 - 20ish, 2019 18ish), but most rounds were fun.

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Wise man! Have Fun!

How many subscribers here are on tour or gettin ready for the tour? Improvement is often fleeting! What worked this week may not work next week! 2 weeks ago I solved the puzzle. Last week I might as well have been playing a flugelhorn! The swing and execution certainly didn’t feel different, BUT, the results certainly were. So since we are probably talking something is probably off about 1/8 of an inch going at 95+ MPH, I’m sure I can fix that… :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

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I’ve seen that happen in the same round. Front 9 looked like I had figured something out and back 9 like I was new to the game.

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A TL;DR reply…
I understand your position, I reached the “rather play than practice” point over a decade ago. It was brought on by tendinitis in my wrists; if I’m going to go through discomfort, let it be through play, not practice. This Summer was the most I’ve practiced in several years; I believe it was a total of four 35-ball baskets.

I’ve golfed for 48 years, so I know what needs work and what doesn’t. For example, I may want to work on 50 yard wedges. If I accomplish what I want to in 20 balls, I’m out.

To veer off and be a bit contrarian here, there are several training approaches that I honestly have no time for. The first is launch monitoring. I have no need for speed, angles, etc. The golf ball gives me plenty of feedback. The other non-starter are ‘opposite’ drills. If I’m trending with heel strikes, I don’t want to waste time getting the hit off toe feel. I want the sonabitch to come off sweet spot. I’ll work on that. Finally, strokes gained is pretty much useless to me. Stokes gained against whom? PGA? Scratch? Both are irrelevant.

I know my game and it is what it is at age 70. My friends and I play several times a week from forward tees, no less. We know each other’s games and we know our own games. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to spend 4 hours per day several times per week with my friends, septuagenarians all. Two years ago, my Index was 8.5. Now it’s up to 10.5. Obladi, oblida, life goes on, brah…

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Had a nice sunny day here in PA, so I got out for nine holes with my wife. I just intended this to be a practice round, not even keeping score, the only thing I was going to think about was keeping a nice smooth tempo, no technical thoughts. And I told myself beforehand, no judgment or getting down on myself, and no complaining about the pace of play, which I knew was going to be slow. Well, I went out and shot my best 9 ever, a 31 (par 34). Again, I didn’t even plan on keeping score, but it was kind of hard not to mentally know how you’re doing when you’re parring every hole. So I think I am definitely on to something here. And when I think back to earlier in the year when I shot my lowest 18-hole score ever, I was doing the same thing then, just focusing on a smooth tempo and not any body position stuff.

I am pretty encouraged heading into the off-season now. Got my exercise plan from TPI and got a copy of @Adamyounggolf The Practice Manual this week.

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I feel the same way about my game - it’s like “whack-a-mole”; fix one problem and another pops up. I have changed my approach the last couple of years. I only do big fixes in the winter (off season) with my coach on the simulator. During the playing season, I will work on grooving those fixes in, or correcting really major mistakes, but I don’t try to “improve” my basic swing. And when I am on the course, no more than one swing thought on my practice swing, then no swing thoughts on my real swing. I get better results and have more fun.

Good luck finding a happy medium!

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Me too. I’m nowhere near done with it yet, and it is a bit duplicative of his blog content. The great thing I’m finding in it though, is that it’s more a book about how we learn and how we perform what we’ve learned, than it is a book about golf. The insight on emotionally-significant events accelerating unconscious learning—often for the worst—was really eye opening.

There’s a bit about simply aiming away, if the rest of the ball flight is good, rather than initially trying to fix the swing path, that made me almost smack myself on the forehead. It’s reading like a book with much broader applications than merely improving my golf game.

Recommended.

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Strokes gained is useful to objectively track your own progress. You will be very negative against tour players (and maybe scratch) but you can see how you compare to past you which, if you consistently track, is very powerful information.

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