Gary 'Smiler' Turner's Blog

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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Calm Golf or Emotional Golf – what do you play?

I had a fantastic morning yesterday. My Sports Performance colleague Trix and I were accompanied by golf professional Matt Collis on a few holes of golf. We did this to benefit ourselves, give some assistance to Matt on his game, and also to give him some of our expertise so he can coach his golf clients even better.

I’m always trying to improve myself and learn, and so is Trix. So on our personal levels we were observing Matt in his golf game first hand, and also observing the other golfers as they ‘played through’, literally carrying out market research in the field. Well, not so much a field, the grass on a golf course is a little more refined!

So with me and Trix looking to learn and develop it was a pleasure to find Matt looking to do the same. Our morning was spent bouncing all of our experience of each other, and I know that we all are better as a result. And this made our field research and observations all the more telling.

As we studied the other golfers, whether they were driving, chipping or putting, we spotted so many simple corrections that could improve their game instantly, and be able to maintain that increase in performance consistently. And that’s on the mental aspects as well as the technical. We’ll be covering these (and much more!) in our ‘Golfing Performance’ seminar at Camberley Heath Golf Club on 18th May 2010.

However one element of the golfer’s game stood clear. If you play golf you really need to remove the emotions from your game – and just ‘allow’ your play to happen. Sure, you’ll feel the pressure during a game, maybe tension, maybe elation, and maybe disappointment – but if you want to be good at golf every shot you play MUST be without emotion.

Golf Professionals like Matt practice their game, and help their client’s practice their game, so that technique is as perfect and consistent as possible. In this way it should become possible to get every swing, chip or putt the same consistently. Once your game is technically consistent, you can place the ball in exactly the same spot each time. And then you can work on making each shot better – consistently.

So what stops you from being able to do this? From our observations (and experience) it appears to be quite clearly your emotions. Golfer’s who were playing good shots, and consistently good shots, followed the same process every time. They had no emotions during their play. Sure they were showing emotions before and after each shot, but during the shot? They were icy cool – just allowing the technique to put the ball where they wanted.

The golfers who were not achieving good play were almost comical for Trix and I, who are trained and highly experienced in reading body language and emotions. We watched time and again as players allowed their emotions to come through DURING each shot. And every time we saw emotions come through during play – we saw a bad shot. Every time, without fail, no exceptions. Yips, hooks, slices, mis-hits – every which way. The emotions were controlling the shot, not them.

It is clear that there is a direct correlation between emotional control and the ability to play each shot properly. If you can’t ‘shut out’ your emotions, you are leaving it to chance as to where you will hit the ball. So if you play with emotions – STOP, take a breath, and just allow yourself to play that perfect shot.

So the next time you are on the golf course, ask yourself, am I playing with emotions? Or am I actually allowing myself to play the best golf?