Sunday, August 5, 2012

Belief in My Method

I have had a busy week. After coming up short in last week's Monday Qualifier for the Tour event in Omaha, Nebraska, I returned to Columbia, Missouri, for a week of good practice. On Tuesday afternoon, I consulted a former teammate of mine in hopes that he could offer me a bit of help on my chipping. I trust his opinions and knowledge of golf mechanics, but I wasn't exactly ready for the overhaul that he was going to suggest to me. The basic gist of what he said was this: "Peter, you pick the club up to the outside with you arms which causes your shoulders to tilt instead of turning... then in order to get back to impact you have to slide your hips forward and dip your right shoulder." And here was the real kicker: "You do the same thing in your full swing," he added. For a golfer who tries very hard to avoid thinking about mechanics or technique, it was an intimidating diagnosis. I took what he said seriously, however, and spent the entirety of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning trying to make my backswing a simple body and shoulder turn while keeping my hands and arms inactive. Trying to incorporate the change made for some long and frustrating days of practice and forced me to do some serious searching in my golf soul.

Sometimes it takes a little adversity to create or reinforce our convictions, and the tough days of practice that I have had in the past week have done just that for me. As my struggles during practice forced me to think more and more, I had a couple epiphanies. First of all, I re-identified the greatest strength of my golf game. It's not my driving, my iron play, my short game, or my putting. My greatest strength is my attitude and the thought process with which I approach tournament golf. Secondly, I remembered the greatest golf lesson that I have ever learned, which is that there is no such thing as a perfect golf swing. The reason that Bobbo (Bobby Bray, my long-time coach) works so well for me is that his advice always attempts to build on things that I already do. In essence, he is a an extremely knowledgeable golf pro who knows what my golf swing looks like when it is working well and can help me keep it there more consistently. Confirming these two notions (my mind is my greatest strength and my golf swing can only ever be perfect for me) set me free to finally truly believe something that I have said for quite some time.

There is no such thing as right or wrong method, but belief in one's own method is essential for success. My method is simple, but after a week of mental, physical, and emotional struggle, I believe in it more strongly than ever right now. My method is a simple three-step phrase coined by Dr. David Cook: "See it, Feel it, Trust it." I need to formulate an intelligent plan before each shot and then visualize what I want that shot to look like. I then need to let my body feel the action that will create that shot I have pictured. Finally, I need to let go of all mechanical thoughts and trust myself to execute the feeling. My mind is my greatest strength on the golf course. Why would I let anything else be the most powerful part of my method? See it, Feel it, Trust it. That is my method. I believe in it thoroughly.

I do think that is very important to have sound fundamental mechanics in order to play golf, and I do believe that the suggestion that I got last week was certainly good advice. In fact, I will try to incorporate a bit more body turn into the first couple feet of my backswing, but it is important for me to know that my method of playing golf will never be based on specific swing thoughts or even on more generic swing philosophies. I will always be striving for ways to become better and more consistent, and I know that improving my mechanics is a part of that process, but when it comes to hitting golf shots in meaningful situations, I need to be able to clear my mind and trust my body.

In hindsight, what a great week it has been! I have learned so much, and I feel great right now.

I am in Springfield, Missouri, and am ready to play in the Monday Qualifier for this week's Tour event here. My game is a little bit of a mess right now because of the clutter in my brain this past week, but I feel like that problem is on the way out. I have low expectations from an execution standpoint heading into the Monday qualifier, but I expect that the mental clarity with which I approach every shot will be superb. I am going to give myself a chance to execute well over each and every shot, so maybe I'll get a pleasant surprise from my golf game. No matter what happens, I am thankful for the week of struggles that I have just completed and am pumped for the plethora of exciting opportunities that await in the near future. I play at 10:45 at Rivercut Golf Course in the Monday Qualifier, so come back for some good news in the evening.

Also, as a side note and a challenge to myself, I was fairly thorough with my process goals this past week, and did have a great week of putting practice, but I missed a sprint workout and also did not do the required distance-control work with my wedges defined in my non-tournament week process goals. I am pleased with everything about last week, but from today through the end of the final stage of Q-school this winter, I vow to complete my process goals each and every week. My process goals will get me to my outcome goals, and I am going to keep up with them.

Thank you so much for following me and supporting me and believing in me. I really appreciate all of you!

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