Golf as a Right-Brain Work of Art

As my own golf education has progressed, I have been making the case that the less a player thinks about his swing and the more he things about his target, the better the outcome will be.

But this is counterintuitive to the left-brain logic: “Once I get my swing, I’ll just aim it wherever I want to ball to go.” It makes so much sense.

The only problem is that once you acquire the basic competencies of the game, at its best, golf becomes a right-brain work of art. Painting a swath across a canvas is not much different than imagining a golf shot across the canvas of a golf course. “See the target, see the shot, hit the shot at the target.” You know that you are starting to come of age as a golfer when you are more obsessed with your targets than you are with your swing.

So I came across this fine little article at GOLF.com by teacher and CBS golf analyst, Peter Kostis, “Bubba is proof that the essence of golf is making shots, not swings.” And lest we think this is some sort of newfangled idea, what’s the old saying, “Everything old is new again?”

The ideal remains the one outlined by John Duncan Dunn in his 1931 book, Natural Golf: “All cures are 95 percent natural and 5 percent golf instructor, but in most cases the 95 percent will not function without the 5 percent.”

And the quintessential example of this is Bubba Watson or even, Kostis suggests, Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey.

It’s a short post that nicely expands on these ideas, ideas that were reinforced for me once again on Saturday. Completely invested in the lines, I managed to compile eleven one-putt greens. It became so ridiculous, the three of us started laughing every time another one went in. On the other hand, I was trying to integrate a couple of old ideas into my swing and I couldn’t hit a fairway or a green (not completely accurate, but certainly representative of the day).

I was doing this because, I just realized, of some old coaching that says that you have to stay committed to anything new you put into your swing because a neurotic, hunt-and-peck approach doesn’t provide enough reps to see if what you’re doing is working.

So I was dispassionately staying committed to the new emphasis. I was doggedly staying committed to the new emphasis. I was maniacally staying committed to the new emphasis.

And then a bolt of sunshine broke through my foggy determination on the 18th tee. What’s the other old saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?” So sidling up to my tee shot I had this perfect vision of a nice tight draw right down the center of the fairway and ending up left-center. And what was different this time was that as I came back to the ball from my last look down the fairway, my mind was on that shot and not jumping to the false safety of the swing thought.

It was perfect and led to a 21-foot birdie putt that was one of the few I missed that day.

And since that tee shot was the only one I made that day, it was also the only one I could remember on the eight-minute drive home, and later, into the night.

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