Recently, a friend forwarded an article at The Atlantic by Jean Twenge. The title; Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? It’s a long, disturbing eye-opening read that I highly recommend. The gist is that screen addiction with our youngest generation is worsening their mental health. I have seen first hand some of these effects with loved ones, and to a certain extent myself. I suspect heavy users of devices and social media, such as myself, all are affected by the phenomena of F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out) to some degree. This is a disorder where you feel the constant need to check your sites, and the distractions associated with the pull of your screens and devices. Folks handle it differently, and I think I manage it reasonably well but have suspected that it’s hurting my powers of concentration. This is not just on the golf course, but at work, at home, in the car; essentially everywhere. I suspect it’s been the case for years and it’s getting worse. So I’m going to run an experiment.
To reduce the effects of device induced FOMO, I will make three changes:
- No more checking work email during non-working hours
- No more daily use of social media sites (including this one)
- Complete elimination of any contact with Facebook for the month of August
So what am I going to do with all my spare time? Play and practice more golf, increase my levels of physical activity, read a book. Doesn’t sound so bad does it?
So if you don’t hear from me in a while, I’m not ignoring you. Just in the lab experimenting with improved concentration!
I think I am safe in saying that as serious players most of us think we don’t play as well as we should. When I’ve played rounds with friends who aren’t as serious, they often ask how to get better and I’ll offer the usual comments about taking lessons, getting fitted, working short game, but the conversation usually concludes with, “you get out of this game what you put into it.” Tonight I was reminded about the advice I usually dispense.
On occasion if I don’t have enough time to engage in a normal practice session, I’ll grab a wedge and my bag shag and head out to the adjacent school field for a few swings. This evening was one of those times and after hitting a couple dozen flip wedges (the first four flew straight right), I left frustrated and mad at myself for the lack of commitment on my part to enough play and practice to remain effective.
I have played this game seriously for nearly 40 years and am still searching for the right golf-life balance. Back in my 20s, I worked a couple of years as an assistant club professional and along with the 6-day 60-hour work weeks came an inordinate amount of play and practice. You worked your 10-hour day and then played or practiced after work until dark – I was totally hooked. On your one day off, you played golf. We were open every day of the year except for Christmas and New Years, and my unhealthy addiction was constantly fed. The sport was a true bus driver’s holiday and was well in excess of what a normal human could enjoy from a game, and was the only time in my life that I was burned out on golf.
So what is the optimal amount of play and practice you need to get to the point of satisfaction? Can you ever get comfortable or are we like nomads constantly wondering in the desert? I’ve long since given up getting to scratch from a 5-handicap, as the workload would be enormous for a desk jockey with a day job. Right now I’d be happy to maintain the 5, but feel it starting to slip. In essence, I’m still searching for my optimal amount of play and practice but I know 30-40 rounds per year and one day of practice per week is not cutting it. Golf has always been a game of adjustments, and the key is to get enough frequency to mitigate the big momentum swings. Lately every time out I’m fighting a new fundamental fire with the problem being exacerbated when I take additional time off.
Anyone out there have any suggestions for a balanced approach?
I’ve been chewing on some advice that Vet4Golfing51 passed on in response to my 2012 improvement plan. His premise was that I didn’t play enough and that play improves performance more than practice. I just looked at my 2011 records and holy cow! In addition to my 35 rounds, I spent 70 days practicing, which is a ton of effort for essentially very little improvement. Not only was I surprised that I dedicated as much time as I did but that my approach clearly didn’t pay dividends. Thanks Vet 🙂
Now the weather in the DC area has been quite mild this winter with no measurable snow and I actually have practiced twice in January while trying to learn the new short game and putting techniques of Stan Utley. This is clearly required work since I’m trying to train my muscles for a new motion, however it’s clear from my stats last year that I’m addicted to practice and am wondering what my performance might have been with only half the practice time dedicated, if I had used the balance on play (9-hole rounds, for instance.) Range rats like Tom Kite and Vijay Singh benefited from their time spent on prolonged practice but they got enough play in to validate.
So going forward my goal in 2012 is again, 35 full rounds, only 35 practice days and 20 9-hole rounds between the full rounds which should provide enough play to avoid that foreign feeling I often get on the first tee, and still keep me fresh. 10 of the full rounds will again be compressed into six straight days of play at Myrtle Beach which would leave a good interval of 18 hole and nine hole play for the balance of the year.
A couple notes on the Stan Utley techniques. I’ve been rug putting all winter and am very comfortable with the new fundamentals. The change has appeared to take hold and I putted very well on my practice green last weekend. The chipping is going well too, as I’ve been working that on the rug, but the pitch shot is still a work in progress. When properly executed, the direction and distance control are great, yet without the opportunity to pitch inside, it’s still quite foreign. Looking forward to temps in the 60s this week and feeding the addiction a little more.