This conversation occurred between me and my wife after I got back from hitting a golf ball around the big field near my house with a 6-iron.
Me: I learned something today, for the umpteenth time, and maybe this time I’ll remember it. But I’m never sure.
Wife: And what would that be?
Me: We, and by that I mean every golfer living, wants to hit the ball a long way.
Wife: What’s wrong with that? I would want to do that if I played golf. Which I don’t.
Me: But which you will someday, knock on wood. The thing is, we keep thinking to hit the ball far, we have to hit hard. That means swing hard. In reality, all we have to do is put a swing on the ball, with the distance the designer built into the club, and we get all the distance we need.
Wife: In other words, stop trying so hard to make it happen.
Wife: And you’re still learning this after having played golf for how long?
Me: Sixty years this coming June, but that’s beside the point. It just seems natural to want to hit hard, We try not to, but we can’t help ourselves. It’s like we don’t trust the swing and the club to get the job done. It’s so effortless when you do it right that we really can’t believe it.
Wife: So why don’t you just say to yourself you’re going to swing easier, then do that?
Me: I do. And I suppose other golfers do, too. I take the club back easy, but when I finish my backswing and am about to start the club forward, I think, “HIT THE BALL!” and all my self-restraint goes out the window.
Wife: Maybe you could tell yourself something at that point other than “Hit the ball.”
Me: That’s right, and that’s what I did. Right before I started the club forward, I said to myself, “Center of the clubface.” Or rather, I thought that, because it’s quicker to think that than to say it. But it worked out the same. In this shorthand way, I replaced one conscious thought with a different conscious thought. You have to be thinking about something, and it’s just as easy to think about the right thing as it is the wrong thing. What this did is prevent me from adding that little extra something that doesn’t add, but subtracts. Now my swing was slower, but it wasn’t deliberately slow. I let my unconscious mind take over and it made me swing only so fast that I would be able to get that center hit, which is slower than my “hit” instinct wants. But, boy, did it work. Straight, great ball flight, and all the distance I want out of my 6-iron. It turns a power swing into a finesse swing that has power.
Wife: So you finally have it figured out? This time for sure?
Me: Yes, at least until the next time I hit golf balls. When I’ll have to “discover” this all over again. And I’ll come home and tell you all about it like it’s the first time. Again.