I would like to present some questions for you to ponder for your golf game and your golf life. There are no “right or wrong” answers, just “food for thought.”
Are performance and enjoyment mutually exclusive, or mutually inclusive?
Does ‘good’ performance bring you joy, or does a joyful and relaxed attitude bring you good performance?
Does ‘bad’ performance obstruct joy?
Do you look at bad performance, ‘bad’ shots and ‘mistakes’ to be banished, or do you look at them as opportunities and feedback for learning?
What is the determining factor as to whether a golf shot is ‘good’ or ‘bad?’
Do you play golf and make your best golf swings when you are trying to do everything “right” in your golf swing….or do you make your best golf swings when you are experiencing a sense of freedom?
Do you feel pressure to perform and achieve results when you’re playing golf….or do you feel the freedom and joy of trusting your innate abilities, relaxing and allowing your best golf swings to express without effort?
Do you make your best golf swings when you are open to learning from both good and bad golf shots?
Do your best golf swings happen when thinking about the complexity of the mechanics in your golf swing and trying to control those mechanics….or do you perform your best golf swings when relying on the simplicity of allowing your instincts and innate ability to manifest?
Do you realize the depth of intelligence of your subconscious body/mind to manage your physical movements? Do you believe that you can trust your kinesthetic instincts to perform and meet your intentions without trying to control the movements in your golf swing?
Would appreciation and trust in your body/mind’s kinesthetic abilities be stimulated through awareness of some of the following abilities you have developed and perform without conscious thinking or control?
Walking up and down stairs; driving a car; walking on a raised curb; tieing the laces on your shoes; preparing a meal and handling utensils to eat food; handling a toothbrush to brush your teeth; holding packages and at the same time managing & manipulating your keys with your fingers to open a door; using a hammer or a screwdriver; the intricate process of printing, writing or drawing with a pen, pencil, crayon, etc.; typing on a computer keyboard; throwing or kicking a ball; swinging a bat; kicking a soccer ball; skipping rope; carrying a bowl of coffee or soup without spilling it…….and the list would go on and on if you became aware of the tasks you accomplish with your body on a daily basis without conscious control or instructions.
The simple act of awareness presents many opportunities for appreciation, learning and growth. How about awareness through observation of a waiter or waitress carrying a full tray of dishes and food? How do they do that?!? How do WE manage all these physical abilities we do every day without thinking or control? Is there intelligence within our body/mind that we underestimate, underappreciate and tend to take for granted?!?
Again, do you believe that you can trust your kinesthetic instincts to perform and meet your intentions without trying to control the movements in your golf swing?
(See the November 2022 Instinctive Golf Blog, Trusting Your Intention, on this site).
Do you understand the difference between trust and control? In life and in golf, trust must be earned. Just like the waiter or waitress who practices the feeling of carrying the tray efficiently before they learn to trust it, you can develop trust in your golf swing by practicing the development of your kinesthetic feel for the task at hand – swinging a golf club in order to achieve pure impact with the golf ball.
Just as the waiter or waitress performs their art effectively by letting go of control and allowing their kinesthetic instincts to flow and manage the task, you can allow your golf swing to flow by learning to trust your bodily instincts to fulfill your intention. Yes, this takes some physical practice, trial and error, exploration and discovery. As PGA Master Professional Michael Hebron states in his book, The Art and Zen of Learning Golf, “Trying to learn a motor skill with words coming from others can only slow down the progress we are capable of. We must stop trying to do it right, or have expectations and timetables. Just do, observe and adjust – in a safe learning/development environment.”
The sample of instinct-awakening golf exercises in Awaken Your Inner Golfer will help you develop trust in your innate adaptive ability. We learn physical motor skills through experience, including trial and error, mistakes and success. Experience is our best teacher. As Michael Hebron states, “The natural process of learning directly from experience has been undermined by “How To” instruction. The word “education” comes from the Latin word, meaning “to draw out.” This indicates that the intelligence already exists within us and needs to be drawn out. The true and primary function of instruction is to draw out what is already there.”
The golf exercises encourage self-awareness to discover the awesome intelligence of your subconscious body/mind. Hebron also states, “Nature designed mankind to learn by doing, observing outcomes and adjusting as we see fit…….What we are looking for is not outside; it is inside, awaiting discovery, awaiting awakening, awaiting the spark that reveals.”
As you refine your sense of feel while exploring the golf exercises, you’ll likely experience a sense of joy and satisfaction as you discover the extent of your innate abilities. So, in response to the questions presented at the beginning of the article, I would suggest that performance and joy are not mutually exclusive, but congruent. When you practice your golf game being open to the possibility of experiencing the joy of self-discovery, your golf game and performance will almost magically improve. The best way to experience both joy and excellent performance in your golf game is by practicing the development of your instinctive kinesthetic intelligence. Explore……experience…… and discover!