Life is complex, isn’t it?
Everywhere we go, we have people giving us intricate explanations on everything.
You know what I mean.
Whether it be dietary “experts” explaining how to lose weight by eating newly discovered and overpriced berries or the “sages” of the golf swing breaking the motion into its constituent parts, we never have to look far for the elaborate answer.
And the best part is that not all these gurus agree with each other. Quite the opposite; in almost every field you can find these self-styled experts giving contradicting advice.
Is it any wonder we’re confused?
I certainly am; as a result I’m looking for any assistance cutting through the fog of complexity surrounding many issues.
Sometimes that help comes from the most unexpected places.
Here is a very entertaining video I came across on YouTube:
The above video is from Australia’s premier “Comedy Rock Band” the Axis of Awesome.
And although it’s undoubtedly amusing, there’s a significant message for golf and life in there too.
As someone who knows as much about music as learning Chinese, I’d never have guessed they were all based on just 4 chords.
Whatever your views on pop music are – whether they’re formulaic and repetitive or not- I think the simplicity of these songs is elegantly beautiful.
These songs are meticulously crafted and performed, which is why we don’t realise how straightforward their underlying structure is.
That’s because simplicity, when well executed, can lead to something far in excess of the mere sum of the constituent parts.
And it’s not just limited to the world of music, either.
Ask any chef what they’d do if you were to give them the very best of produce.
There’s no way any chef worthy of the name would smother a perfectly-conditioned steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce.
In general, the poorer the condition of the meat, the more elaborate the sauce. Give them a piece of prime beef and they would instead concentrate on cooking it to perfection.
An illustration of the KISS principle in action.
In other words:
Keep It Simple, Stupid
(Or in this case, Keep Golf Simple, Stupid!)
We often overlook simplicity, seeing it as elementary or unadorned, when in reality it’s anything but.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
Simplicity, with excellent planning and execution, can lead to greatness.
As golfers we have a tendency to over-complicate.
And we can’t blame it all on the golf industry, either. We’re perfectly capable of putting stunning and elaborate ahead of simple and unexciting all by ourselves.
We’re often so amazed by the complex things we become a victim of them, much to our disadvantage.
We’d never teach a child to run before they could walk, and yet often we attempt to do just that.
We get a basic level of proficiency in the everyday tools of golf – the long shot, the chip and the putt - but we’re not really interested in those.
It’s the flashy shots - the ones we see the pro’s do on TV - we want.
Magazines reinforce this by dangling tantalising “Chip like a Pro” or "Make more Birdies" headlines on their cover.
Instead of taking the time to master the basics, we just want to show off.
It’s like the old story of the great player who was asked how to get back-spin on approach shots by a fan.
The pro looks quizzically at the amateur and asks if he’s most often long or short with his approaches.
When the amateur admits he’s short nearly every time, the pro asks incredulously, “Then why on Earth would you want backspin on it?”
Eavesdrop on almost any conversation between club golfers on the range and you’d assume the ability to hit a draw was a non-negotiable prerequisite for success – despite a certain Mr Nicklaus doing rather well playing a fade.
Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not saying we should abandon learning to play a draw or mastering the flop shot.
We’re doing this for the love of the game after all. Having fun is a necessity.
What I am suggesting is we spend some time honestly evaluating where we’re really going to improve our scores and allocate our practice time accordingly.
I’d argue that this would mean spending substantially more time hitting balls to challenging targets than trying to change our natural ball flight.
We undoubtedly need to spend more time on the putting green and more time getting “up & down” on the chipping green than trying to hit the flop shot.
Think of your golf skills like a tool box; the long shot, pitch, chip and putt could be considered the equivalent of the hammer, pliers, screwdriver and wrench.
Although there’s a large variety of tools available, these ones will suffice for the majority of household tasks.
Few people would consider adding an angle-grinder to their toolkit before buying a screwdriver, and yet that’s exactly what most golfers are trying to do.
Get the work done before rewarding yourself with a wee bit of fun – and save the flashy stuff for the last 5 (or at most 10) balls in the bucket.
Don't be in such a hurry. That little white ball isn't going to run away from you."
Focus on simplicity, well executed and you will see a significant improvement in both your style of play and your scores.
Might it be every bit as useful off the course too?
What do you do to keep golf simple for yourself?