Learning The Same Lesson Over and Over

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?

7 thoughts on “Learning The Same Lesson Over and Over”

  1. Brian

    Wow, did you hit the nail on the head. Relearning lessons is something that most of us do regularly. A couple rounds ago, I was changing things on the course I had never tried thinking that my putting would improve….well that was a mistake…. so, I went back to my pre-putting routine that has been successful for years. Why I changed, I will never know! I t is okay to try new things, but not while you are playing….it is impossible to do it consistently and to establish muscle memory. Thanks for the post…..I needed the reminder.


  2. Jim, I think the more you play, the more you accumulate those little tweaks and adjustments you can call on mid-round to get you through trouble with your game. But you are right, mid-round is no time for experimentation with something new. It takes a large measure of mental discipline to not mess with your game when warming up or playing. Thanks!

  3. Yes we all go through it. Here is one little thing that I do if I am having a problem shot. Aim where your problem is taking you. In the game of opposites if your duck hooking aim to the left or if your hitting that awful slice aim to the right. For whatever reason this seems to help correct the swing flaw. I know this goes against the grain of trying to play for it. For me at least the more I try to “play it” more I hook or slice.

      1. No Just aim left and swing. Don’t try to do anything. Your body will make the adjustment and the ball will go a little left to right naturally. I know this sounds a little strange but try it. Remember this is golf. Just the opposite if your fighting a slice that day.

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