It is that time of year again when I am sure you have been given lots of advice.
Probably a lot of the advice you will be getting will concern your health and how you eat. You need to become a vegetarian. No, in fact you need to become a vegan. No, the ketosis diet is the best one where you eat lots of fat… and on and on it goes.
It would seem that we have an ever increasing number of ‘experts’ telling us exactly how to run our lives. Many of these experts deal in absolutism. It is my way or the highway with no in between. The internet feeds this as never before with information being such a readily available source.
At one time of the day you would have needed to visit a library to find some of these experts, or go to visit them personally, yet now it is coming constantly at you with the latest tweet or Facebook message. I do like the phrase uttered by Chuck Hogan many years ago that we are “drowning in information yet searching for knowledge”.
It is no coincidence we can suffer in the same way with the game of golf. The latest ‘guru’ will tell you that you need an external focus of attention to improve your swing or someone else will tell you that you are better working on the motion of your body and so an internal focus of attention is better.
Another expert will tell you that when you are on the golf course you are not allowed to have swing thoughts and you must only think of the target. Again it has to be my way or the highway! Some people spend their life arguing and debating their point on social media that their way is better than your way and then they get very upset if someone has the temerity to disagree with them. Whatever happened to finding your way?
In my weekly podcast, The Brain Booster, I have been fortunate enough to get a tremendous cross section of world-class coaches sharing their ideas of how to get better. I always start each session with the caveat that the show is about sharing information with a view to seeing if you, as a unique individual, finds it useful or not. The premise is that it is not about being told the way to do something, rather it is about you discovering your way to get better.
I am not for one minute saying that you shouldn’t take coaching I recommend – the single most important investment you can make is in good coaching. But you need to play a part in that coaching. You need to help your coach by letting him or her know what you have discovered for yourself is the best way for you to learn and, more importantly, what you really want from the game.
I tell all of the players I work with that you need to become an ‘attention detective’. You need to be keenly aware of what it is that works for you in terms of where you put your attention to free you up to release the best part of your golfing self.
Success leaves clues but we very rarely look for them. Most people go to a golf lesson and ask the pro to “tell me what I am doing wrong”. This has its place but perhaps the most valuable information is what do I do when I am playing great. Time and time again top players are surprised to find I am actually not telling them anything but I am simply creating the conditions to allow them to remember what they do when they play well. When I ask a player to tell me about their best golf you can see a lightbulb go on as they recall the great play and they realise they have moved away from their blueprint.
Look back at the true greats of the game, players like Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino, they had very individual styles of play, but what they had they owned for themselves. They knew their game. Jack didn’t try to be Lee nor Lee like Jack.
Have a think back to the three or four best rounds you have played in the last couple of years. Go back in your mind and review what you did before you played, think back to what you were focused on whilst you were playing, how you were focused, recall how you behaved in between shots. Write down some of the common themes that spring up and I promise there will be some. You will not find a formula to suit the whole golfing world, you will not uncover the secret to playing great golf but you just might discover your secret to get the best out of you and, for me, that is more than enough.