Developing Trust in your Golf Swing

I went golfing today with my son. As usual, I hadn’t done any practicing this winter. I played once last month in 3 layers of clothes and today, in 45 degree (7 Celsius) weather that was a bit warmer. Not exactly the peak of the season form for my game.

I ended up shooting 3-over par for 9 holes at Everett Country Club here in Washington. Like you, I finished the round thinking “If only I’d have executed that ONE shot better….

You know the one shot I’m talking about. The one shot that would have saved you 2 or 3 strokes if it would have gone well.

I was this close (holding my thumb and index finger barely apart) from hitting par.

Varsity golf

Anyway, my son was struggling hard with his driver blocking everything out to the right and this course is tree lined on every fairway.  I told him that he looked really stiff and robotic and to loosen up. It didn’t work.

I finally told him to dedicate this practice round to one concept….Trust.

“How do you do that” he asked, “when I have no confidence in my driver right now?”

I said: “Well, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying something different right?..why don’t you pretend that you can speak or communicate to the driver head and tell it to square up at the moment of impact and then travel down the target line?  Stop trying to guide the club and TRUST that it is going to happen. Let go of control.”

That’s unconscious golf.

I told him to go up the tee with the idea that you want the ball to go down the middle of the fairway but that you don’t care if it doesn’t.   He was completely lost with that one 🙂

“He said I don’t know if I can do that” and I said, “I know…just go ahead and PRETEND that you can” and see what happens.

Narrow fairway helps you focus

He ended up parring out for the last 3 holes after that. It was fun watching him. He surprised himself.

You see, every round shouldn’t be a round where you are trying to beat your best score. Some rounds are a buildup to that day. How many rounds have you played poorly and then left the course in disgust or disappointment.

The goal is to have fun and learn and improve in the long run.  With that kind of attitude and a certain TRUST that your body knows what to do, has done it before, and will do it again, you can stop trying to force every shot and let them happen to your natural ability.

Dedicate each round to focusing in on one thing that if you were to incorporate into your game without having to think about it, you would drop scores.

It’s too late to do much about your swing when you are out there playing.  That should be done off the course or with your instructor.

Oh, and by the way. Did you know that some pros actually purposefully go with a block shot sometimes when they really need to hit a fairway because it is really reliable and easy to replicate.

Ray Floyd wrote about this in his book. I told my son about this and I’m thinking that just maybe, that’s what freed him up to start trusting and letting go of trying to “fix” his swing.

There’s many ways to get a low score on any given day.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Tom Rizzo - February 23, 2011

Most of the things I communicate to my driver shouldn’t be repeated in polite company. So I won’t. But I found your idea of “trust ” curious and worth attempting. I think the ultimate self-con job is convincing ourselves we don’t care where the ball goes!

    Craig - February 24, 2011

    Hi Tom, Haha. That’s hilarious. I know what you mean. You don’t have to go as far as “convincing” yourself that you
    don’t care where the ball goes. Instead, make it easier and “pretend” that you don’t care. If you can’t do that, then
    “pretend” that you can “pretend” 😉
    Greens and fairways,
    Craig

Delmar Yennie - February 24, 2011

Craig; Thanks for this one. it’s spot on, but just try and talk you self into it when trouble is sitting in front of you, like a big pond of water. When you can do that then and only then can you really trust your swing. I found one simple thing I took off the internet last winter and past it on to about 7 others. one said he always pulled his pitching wedge and after trying what I told him he said he hit them straight. I had them place thier thumb of their right hand on the top of the shaft and then just swing the club with that right thumb all the way through the ball. One had called to say he had shot in the 70’s. I don’t know what the other number was because my wife took the call and couldn’t remember what it was. I told them all that it would feel like they were going to hit the ball with the heel of the club but not let that bother them that it would square up by the time it got to the ball. Now this is TRUST, but it is true. It is the easiest way to control the club all the way thought the ball.
Thanks, Del

    Mona - January 25, 2012

    I have the same problem all balls going to the right . Must try putting my right thumb down the shaft and see what’ happens .

John - February 24, 2011

Craig,

Good article. I view the same issue a little differently in that what is occurring is the golfer is trying to direct (or guide) the ball rather than “golfing” the ball. I find myself doing that when the results of my swing is not what I wanted. Sometimes I just have had to trust my swing and have had better results.

A good drill is set up as normal, close the eyes and trust your swing. The results will surprise you.

Your son is in the learning stage of the game. He has his own way of learning (don’t we all). Find out how he learns, and “guide” him via that path.

Am a little jealous you got out and was able to play, still wet in the state below yours, and golf balls still disappear in the middle of the fairway.

John

Bill - May 4, 2011

Great stuff, had the same experience this weekend. Started out thinking no head movement-then square right foot- loose arms-all the results the same first shot erratic mulligan straight. My son was doing about the same thing. Finally we both said the heck with it and let’s just pick and say the target and then rip it- we both finished with 3 pars!

    Craig - May 5, 2011

    Bill! This is exactly what I’ve been talking about for 6 years and you’ve got it!
    Run with it man! Enjoy playing with your son…I do.
    Greens and fairways,
    Craig

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