A while ago I read a piece about what professional athletes think about when they’re competing. They go through drills, plays, teamwork exercises, and all of that in practice. They learn everything they can about what might come up during a game and what they should do when it happens. That needs to be in their head. Actual play, though, is different.
John Stockton, the legendary point guard for the Utah Jazz, when asked about how he analyzes what’s going on during a game so he can take advantage of how he had prepared himself, said, “I never think about that stuff. I just play basketball.”
This is what everybody keeps telling us as golfers, and it’s what we find so hard to do. Stop thinking about your swing technique, and just hit the ball. Stop running through your repertoire of shots. Look at what’s facing you and hit the shot it calls for.
Just play golf. All of what you have practiced and learned is in there. Let it come out on its own.
For example, you’re on the tee and, of course, you want to put the ball in the fairway. Instead of thinking about your swing technique that you know makes you hit the ball straight, see where you want the ball to go and let your subconscious mind take over. That’s the mind you can’t have a conversation with, the one that doesn’t talk to you.
Look at the shot, get connected to the shot, and hit it. That’s all there is to it. That’s what happens when I play well. There’s no reason, if you discipline your mind, why that can’t happen every time you play, and on every shot.
The philosopher Krishnamurti said that life is complex, but it must be lived as if it were simple. Golf is the same way. Get the complexities worked out during practice. On the course, keep it simple. Just play golf.