Golfers, more than athletes of any sport need to be reminded of the old adage that says, “If you keep doing what you’ve done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.” This takes the same form as “practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent,” and today I relearned that lesson the hard way.
For some reason I periodically feel compelled to practice mechanics during my pre-round warm-up and I know you should never do this. My guess is that today, I felt compelled to catch up from yesterday because I didn’t practice and subconsciously felt unprepared to play. Or maybe it was the fact that I forgot to bring my golf shoes to the course and was going brain dead in general, but I know that your warm-up is designed to get your body and mind ready to play and you should avoid all mechanical preparation. Last week, I had practiced the day before and felt prepared to play on game day. During my pre-round warm-up, I was off kilter and searched successfully for a minor swing key to get me through the round. This type of adjustment is okay but going out and deliberately working on mechanics is not. Why do golfers do this? I know I’m not alone here.
So, today, I hit the range for warm-ups determined to keep my arms and chest connected, and I put a head cover under my left armpit for a dozen swings or so to work that good solid feeling. On or about the 8th hole, I started to pull the ball. Struggling to recover as the pull became a pull hook, I managed to make the turn in 1-over 37, but was clearly starting to rearrange mental deck chairs. Smothering nearly every shot, I bogeyed #10, lost two balls on #11 on my way to a snowman, and continued to fight the hook through the 16th hole. Having already hit the proverbial iceberg, I finally realized standing on #17 tee that the head cover drill had pulled my hands too low on the back swing and I was attacking the ball from a swing path that was much too shallow and from the inside. I made the adjustment but the damage had been done and 47 strokes later, I had my 84 and made my way to the parking lot humbled and exhausted. The only thing worse than having a knock down drag out with your golf swing is doing it when you’re walking and it’s over 90 degrees and humid.
So I take some solace in the fact that I figured out what was going on with my swing, but was left to wonder why I periodically have to relearn the same hard lesson. Has this ever happened to you and if so, same lesson or a different one?