Golf can be frustrating.
You know how the story goes:
The season started off with a bang.
You got the perfect rhythm. Your swings were consistent. The scores were promising.
Then, something changed.
Maybe you tried a tip from a golf mag.
Or you followed a new pro with completely different teaching methods.
You’re just trying to get a few extra yards, right?
Or an injury perhaps?
Maybe Life got in the way.
Either way, your game’s gone south.
You’ve discovered there is indeed something worse than an unpredictable ball flight:
A predictable one. Where every shot is a duck hook.
In your desperation to improve, you try everything you can think of.
You scour golf blogs for more tips and listen to anyone who cares to offer advice.
(Golfers being golfers, you know there is no shortage of advisors)
Jim says your swing is too flat.
Bob says it’s too steep.
Matt says you should try stack and tilt.
Before you know it, you’re so wrapped up in technical thoughts you’re in danger of hitting yourself in the back of your head as you swing.
But that’s golf, isn’t it?
All you can do is wait till it passes, and hope that it is not too late for the season.
You feel helpless.
There’s nothing you can do.
Or is there?
I might just have the solution. An unorthodox one, but still a solution:
Start throwing golf clubs.
Yes, you read that right.
I want you to react to your frustrations and feelings of helplessness by throwing golf clubs.
You might be thinking, what?
Now, before you go around the course and throw your clubs like a baby throwing toys from the pram, I want you to know that throwing clubs is not an act of frustration.
Expressing frustration is counter-productive.
Throwing golf clubs is really one of the most useful drills.
Now before you hit ‘Back’, let me explain.
In golf, all we’re trying to do is to hit a ball with a stick towards our target. That’s it.
Yet we like to complicate things.
We spend so much time and money looking for the perfect method.
We spend so much time and energy trying to “deconstruct” the swing.
It’s not uncommon for golfers to get so wrapped up in the backswing they pay little attention to the most important component:
It’s easy to complicate golf.
Make the target your main consideration to improve at golf.
Wait, what has it got to do with throwing golf clubs?
We have Fred Shoemaker to thank for this method.
In his book, Extraordinary Golf, he shows the stop-motion swing sequences of high handicappers as they make a mid-iron shot.
The results are as you’d expect:
Reverse pivots, flipped wrists and chicken wings galore.
So far, so predictable.
It’s what he did next which was remarkable.
He then took the ball away, and asked them to make a swing with one crucial difference:
Instead of making a complete swing and follow-through, he asked the golfers to throw the club, end-over-end, down the target line.
And he recorded these swings in the same way.
The results were astonishing.
The golfers reached an impact position so perfect it’s worth buying the book just for the side-by-side comparison of these sequences.
Shoemaker was quick to point out that you shouldn’t simply swing as if you’re throwing the club as that would be just another quick fix that wouldn’t last.
Instead, he suggests a more fundamental change in our approach:
By focusing on transmitting “energy” to the target.
Doing this takes your attention away from the backswing and places it where you want the ball to go.
It’s simple, but effective.
You swing your best when you have the fewest things to think about.
By taking your conscious mind’s focus away from the back swing, it allows our unconscious mind to get on with the task in hand.
And when it comes to complex movements, that’s what you want to happen.
Our conscious mind is more suited to navigation than driving. We greatly increase our chances of success if we allow each part of our mind to do what it’s designed to do.
So the next time your swing is out-of-sync, or you find yourself over-thinking and going south, take an old mid-iron and head out to a quiet and private spot to indulge in a little club throwing.
It might just save your season.
Golf is meant to be fun, not a chore or a test.
If you love the game but find yourself always disappointed and frustrated, I'd suggest getting a copy of Extraordinary Golf.
Shoemaker reminds us that golf is an experience, not a result. It’s only by being aware and present in the moment that we can truly enjoy the experience and play our best.