Just like last year, I was inspired to play golf more frequently after watching The Masters this April. While I haven’t frequently gotten to the course or the range, I know I have a lot of work to do in order to become a competent player. I haven’t established any sort of S.M.A.R.T. goal to my game – I don’t have a realistic end goal of where my game should be – so I keep golf as a leisure activity.
That being said, I readily acknowledge that I’m dreadful at golf. My swings are inconsistent (and not standardized) and my results reflect that. I purchased a lesson on driving that dramatically improved that facet of my game, but everything else remains wildly inconsistent.
Perhaps the worst part of my game is chipping. I had no swing. Clueless on proper form for holding the club, ball placement, stance setup, elbow/wrist bending or locking, everything.
A couple weeks ago I went to the putting/chipping green at the golf club near the house. I knew I had to find a consistent swing for chipping – something, anything consistent – so I had a baseline technique and result. There was a pretty important golf outing I was playing the following weekend, so the urgency for my efforts was high.
I did a lot of experimenting with grips, stances, leans, swing paths, anything that was variable. I was not properly experimenting (not using DOE – design of experiments) like I should have, but instead going with the “throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks” experimenting technique.
Apparently I was doing so poorly that a gentleman in the adjacent parking lot – a former club pro, no less – saw my frustrations and came over to provide some tips.
With all due respect to his generosity, I was in no mood to listen to an unsolicited outside source. Yes, I was struggling but I wasn’t ready to get help. I thought I could figure this out myself. I’m a smart guy – listening to someone tell me what I’m doing wrong is a blow to my ego.
Because I’m not overly pushy or arrogant I let him talk. However I also pushed back on some of the things he said – open stance, wrist placement, simple easy swing paths – and balked at some of his terminology by explaining my reasonings for NOT doing what he suggested because I’m different.
And then I remembered that I’m a change agent – I should put my ego aside, accept the differences, welcome the free assistance from an expert, and ask questions as necessary.
This gentleman wanted to teach, and it showed. We aligned our terminologies, I asked questions, we worked on the proper stance and technique that worked for me, and with some work my results were starting to turn around.
By being open to outside help from someone who knew more about the process than me even though I owned the swing, I dramatically reduced the learning curve on chipping. Now my chipping, which used to be the worst part of my game, is now probably the best part of my game. It’s still not great, but I’m doing things essentially the same way every time – proper stance, grip, ball placement relative to my stance, and reduced the variables.
Don’t be afraid to bring in outside expert advice…especially if it’s free.