Archived Newsletters - Sensory Golf:
Dear Golf Enthusiast,
PMI is pleased to provide this free electronic newsletter, Mental Coaching for Golf to give you information for balancing your mind-body-spirit so you can play golf effortlessly, free from distractions, trusting your swing, confident, focused, and enjoying the game more!
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This weekend the much awaited golf movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance" opened at movie theaters across the country. Metaphysical people might see this as a spiritual movie, religious people might see it as a movie of redemption, athletes might see it as a story of winning vs. losing, golfers might see it as triumph over despair, psychologists might see it as a study in personalities, and many people will view it as a story of one man's life's challenges. I would like to explore the implications of this story from the standpoint of what we can learn about ourselves as well as how we can move closer to our peak performances on the golf course.
Each one of us has been given a spiritual gift to better understand each other and the world around us. As babies we began to process information by using our senses. We learned from the beginning to make "sense" of the world by "seeing" how things are, how things "feel", what we "hear", how they "taste" and "smell".
In the same way, your golf swing will make more "sense" to you if you access it by using your primary sense. It used to be thought that heredity was the major factor in determining athletic ability. We now know that athletes are made more than being born. Athleticism is now considered to be influenced more by the environment and sensory development. Just like Ben Hogan and Tom Kite, you too, can learn to become a good golfer.
When you learn or change your golf swing, it is important to know how you process the information given to you. Each one of us is unique. Each one of us learns quicker and easier when we process the information through our primary sensory system. And, the more we use our primary sensory system, the better developed it becomes.
When you take a lesson, do you understand the instruction best by seeing the swing performed (visual), or by finding your own rhythm and tempo (auditory), or by feeling the motion of the club and swing (kinesthetic)? Being visual has to do with using your sight. Auditory has to do with hearing which also means rhythm, tempo, and balance. Kinesthetic is using the sense of touch. We use all of our senses all of the time, but can focus consciously on only one at a time. So that your brain doesn't become confused with processing information, it is very important to know what your dominant sensory system for learning is, and how to use it.
In the story of Bagger Vance (page 110-112), the author describes the distinctly different swing styles of the legendary players Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. While Bobby Jones was considered the greatest amateur golfer of all time, his swing possessed some serious flaws. When he strained for extra distance, he invariably over-rotated his hips, and at the top of his backswing, his grip came loose and he had to regrip the club on the downswing.
In his words, Jones described his game as, "Rhythm and confidence are twin names for the same quicksilver element. They are two sides of the same coin: rhythm the physical manifestation, confidence the mental. You may start with either it will irresistibly produce the other."
Gentleman Bobby Jones's gift was his auditory sense. He was able to overcome his flaws with his spiritual gift; his rhythm and tempo. For Jones, his rhythm and tempo were the means to access his swing and hold on to his confidence.
Walter Hagen on the other hand did not use rhythm and tempo, and had instead a slashing swing where he used his arms, hands and wrists to feel the clubhead. His spiritual gift was the gift of feel. He could feel where the club and clubhead were in the swing at all times, enabling him to make midswing corrections. Even though he was off balance at times, he could recover by bringing the club squarely back to the ball.
Showman Walter Hagen's gift was his kinesthetic sense. Unlike Jones, Hagen did not try to explain how he accomplished his miraculous shots. He just trusted that he could access the part of his mind that controlled his clubhead sense.
These two great champion golfers were able to accomplish what we now call "peak performance" in spite of their flawed golf swings. They were able to tap into their very essence of being by using their primary sensory system. This enabled them to center within themselves, experiencing fully what it was they were doing at that very moment. This is the elevated sense of being golfers experience called "the zone" or "being in the flow" or "being in the moment".
On the other hand, Junah, the hero of the story, once the best golfer in the South, is forced into the golf match, bringing him in touch with his mental and emotional demons. To find his Authentic Self and Authentic Swing, he is helped by his mysterious caddie, Bagger Vance. The author leaves it up to you to decide whether he is God, his Guardian Angel, or just a positive force for good.
How do you make "sense" of your swing and your golf game? What is your dominant sensory system? Do you need to "see" your swing in your mind? Are you auditory and "sense the rhythm" and tempo of your swing? Or, is it kinesthetic where you play your best when you "feel" the swing in different parts of your body?
Visually gifted golfers are people who enjoy what they see. They can be spotted on the golf course because they dress neatly and in bright colors and talk about the visual surroundings. Visual golfers will says things such as, "I can see the line on the green." They can visualize easily.
Auditory gifted golfers can be recognized on the golf course because they walk and talk in rhythm, more slowly than visual people. They like to listen to music and are often heard humming, singing or whistling (Fuzzy Zoeller) to anchor their sense of balance and rhythm. An auditory person might respond with, "I hear what you are saying."
Kinesthetically gifted golfers, such as Fred Couples are aware of comfort and dress for comfort rather than style. They talk and move carefully and take practice swings to access their feel for the swing. A kinesthetic person might say, "That feels good to me."
Improve your golf game by determining what your primary sensory gift is. Instead of "trying" to make a shot happen by a sequence of moves, put yourself into your natural, relaxed state of being by using your sight, sound and feel so your brain can send the proper messages to your muscles.
Think of a meaningful song that puts you into a specific rhythm that will trigger the tempo of your swing. Visualize your ball flying through two trees on either side of the fairway as if you are kicking a field goal. Before you chip, feel the grass under your feet, and feel the blade of the club clipping the grass.
"Live out of your imagination, not your history." --Stephen Covey
"Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular
preparation." --Robert Schuller