The hardest thing in golf is…

I was listening to Phil Mickelson yesterday at the Bridgestone talk about his up and down day (or should I say down and up day) and what he said really hit home personally.

I got out to a shaky start,” said Phil. “I didn’t commit to a lot of shots – I didn’t play aggressive – I didn’t make aggressive swings and I was three over at the turn.

Then Steve Sands asked what turned it around for him.

Phil said, “I think when you get into playing a little bit you realize that you can’t play swinging afraid or swinging tentative. I started to trust my swing and I started to make more aggressive shots and ended up giving myself a few birdie chances and made those.”

Swinging afraid. Phil talked about fear? Hard to believe that a pro of his stature and experience would use the “F” word when describing his swing. I was impressed he admitted that.

I live in fear over my golf ball these days. In my efforts to get better, my coach has made some pretty significant changes to my swing. Perhaps significant isn’t the right word – more like a complete overhaul from the ground up would be a better way to describe it. The only thing he hasn’t changed is my grip (because he did that the last time ;)). In fact, the only thing he could have done to make my swing any different would be to get me to play left handed – haha!

I am not unhappy about the new changes – they are all good (and desperately needed) – stand up taller and closer to the ball. Cock early, then rotate my left shoulder. Start my swing with my feet/legs using my weight shift (without swaying) and then finally let my arms follow through what my weight shift has started. Finish standing tall, and balanced, w/o leaning forward (I used to look like I was about to come out of my Footjoys to follow my ball down the fairway. :))

Sounds sooo simple doesn’t it? NOT! It’s hard – really really hard. But I know it’s the right thing to do so I’m working hard to make it “my new swing”. Every second day, I’m on the range with my video camera working working working to get it right. And on the range I’m doing pretty well – I almost look like a real golfer out there (Almost is the operative word ;)).

But then there’s me on the course. I used to feel naked on the first tee – now I feel naked over every shot. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m afraid – very very afraid.

So I start with the deep breathing, self-talk routine as I walk up to my ball, saying “You can do this – think range game.” Of course, that never helps me – I’m still terrified. And when people are watching, I have this incredible urge to revert back to my old trusted baseball swing that looks awful, usually results in a pull, but works waaay better than the wiff I’m about to make (or dare I say the “S” word? – Yup, those are pretty standard when I screw up my new swing).

Trust your swing. Those 3 little words are harder for me to do than saying “I was wrong.”

How do you trust something that is as fickle as the wind at Turnberry? My golfguy always says to me, “Life is easy – Golf is hard.” Yup, he’s got that right!

I was watching the Senior Men’s US Open last weekend and saw Joey Sindelar shank a chip shot. The commentator said Joey’d recently changed his chipping stroke and when he stood over his ball, he really didn’t know what was going to happen. So I guess this isn’t a problem for us duffers, but one that faces even the best players in the world (okay, maybe not Tiger – he’s never afraid of anything, but then again, is he human?). Oh to have that confidence!

Anyway, I’m heading to the range again this AM. I figure if I just keep at it, at some point my new swing will become my only swing and then I’ll have to start working on my putting.

Hey! All it takes is patience, hard work, hours of therapy and a few good stiff drinks after every round, right? Well, I’ve got the drinks down patt – hard work I can probably handle – therapy I can buy – and patience??? Oh oh…Patience is NOT one of my virtues. And according to The King James Bible, “tribulation worketh patience“. Yikes! I can already see a lot of tribution in my future and I expect to be asking God for FORE-giveness for a few choice words I expect to share on the golf course over the next few months. Sigh…

Oh well…I’ll just take it one step/shot at a time. Trust my swing – Be patient – Forgive myself and start all over.

I’ll call it my 3 step never-ending program to a better golf swing. Think it will work? I guess I’ll never know until I try. Wish me luck!


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  1. Gayle, you summed up what almost every amateur golfer and honest professional goes thru with the game of golf. I,too,am going thru some ‘revamping’ of my swing and mechanics. It seems to all slip away before one day ‘miraculously’ it starts to gel.

    That day is when you allow yourself to focus on only one or two SIMPLE thoughts. The more you think the worse it gets. We have all heard that right?? Well duh!! It is exactly how it works.

    So for those of us going ‘one step forward and 2 steps back’…hang in there. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is NOT a freight train.

    Wish you were closer. We could play a lot of ‘hit and giggle’ golf!

  2. Thanks Sherry – nice not being alone 😉

    Would love to play with you sometime. Let’s put that on our bucket list!

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