Have you ever wondered how great golfers acquire feel? I’ve always tried to increase my feel but yesterday after reading an article in the June 2018 Golf Digest called “The battle of dumb versus smart,” I think I figured out how. As you know, golf is an inherently mental game. Most players are either artists or scientists in their approach. The gist of the article was that unless you are extremely bright and have an analytical mind, like Phil Mickelson or Bryson DeChambeau, you shouldn’t try to play with analytics.
A few years back, I made a decision to go with more art and not think about my score as I played. I wanted to get more process oriented and stay in the moment. This worked for a brief period but I still couldn’t get the extra feel. I realized that I was playing with too many statistics even if I was just counting greens in regulation and total putts. Sometimes I’d start to worry about my stats during the round. I was beating myself up instead of thinking about getting the ball in the hole. Not good!
In yesterday’s round, I decided to play without stats, and noticed I was very relaxed. I simply thought to get the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible. Method didn’t matter. I recalled my shots after the round and noted that I had hit eight of nine greens on the front, which had not gone unnoticed by one of my playing partners. After I chipped in on #10, for the next two holes, this fellow had the questions coming hard and fast. He wanted to know about club selection, handicap, equipment choices, set makeup, and fitting recommendations. Finally on #13, he whipped out his phone and asked me if I tracked my ball speed like he did, as he had been introduced to TrackMan recently. He wanted to show me this program but I wouldn’t have any of it. I think he was a little disappointed when I told him I was playing old school and writing my scores down on a card with no analytics, and that my phone would remain in my golf bag for the round.
Seve Ballesteros was the greatest feel player I ever saw. His imagination and touch on and around the greens was incredible. In 1990 he four putted #16 at the Masters and when asked to describe what happened he replied, “I miss, I miss, I miss, I make.” No stats, no analysis, no paralysis. Love the mindset.