Changing Something or “Why You’ve Got to Hit Someone on the Head before You’ll Work on That Hook”

angry spectator at par 4 12th
Angry spectator at par 4 12th

It’s time to seriously think about change…

when you put your drive for the 10th on the motorway; when they refer to the sand trap on 14th as Byron’s Bunker; when your woods really are made of wood; when no-one dreams of giving you a 6 inch putt; when a 4 ball medal match plays through your friendly 2 player match play; when your putter carries the name of a long-dead, hardly-remembered golfer; when your 3 wood has the word spoon inscribed underneath; when your preferred ball is a Spalding Executive; when Titleist sponsor you….. to wear Nike

– it’s time to think about change.

What about your swing? Maybe it isn’t quite working. It’s reasonable most of the time, not quite bad enough for you to get a lesson and change , so you just carry on. Perhaps it’s developed a hook. So you start compensating and begin aiming further and further right, until you’re practically aiming at your playing partners on the tee – it’s time to think about change.

Psychologically people tend not to want to change. There are a hundred theories why this is so. Perhaps this stems from the time we were living in caves and any change was dangerous to our survival. In those times change was difficult. If you wanted to change your swing there were no driving ranges, no nets to practice in, very few indoor practice areas. So change was only made when the price of not changing was so drastic, or life-threatening that  you had to. Maybe you were slicing so much you were worrying velocoraptors. That would make you work on your grip.

It is now almost universally agreed that people don’t like change because we simply like the comfort of routine, custom, habit. This seems to be true for most aspects of our lives. All our daily life we tend to sit in the same seats in the clubhouse, park in the same place. We tend to read the newspaper from the back, even though the sports pages are rarely at the back anymore. We leave a half inch of tea even if we have never used tea leaves for 20 years. We take a driver off the 8th tee although 9 times out of 10 it ends up in the rough.

However, would you change if your life depended on it? As a betting man I would lay odds that you wouldn’t. This is based on a report by Dr. Edward Miller on the future of healthcare. The report showed that people who undergo heart surgery are often left with a choice; in stark terms the choice is ‘change or die’. If they lead a healthier lifestyle after surgery they could avoid pain, further surgery and stop the spread of a variety of diseases before one of them kills them. However, only 1 in 10 patients changed their lifestyle. It seems that they would prefer to die rather than change.

Although this is initially difficult to believe it seems that people get stuck in defence and denial and simply refuse to accept it. This sounds ridiculous but when you think of people like George Best, James Belushi you wonder. You look  at other people who get trapped in a potentially disastrous lifestyle that they simply can’t seem to change; Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson,  Bill Cllinton and you believe it a little more. Then you look at the swing of Jim Furyk, Jeev Milkha Singh and you definitely agree.

So it takes a fair amount of pain and effort to change – so why bother? You approach a bunker with the same enthusiasm you display approaching a rabid rhinoceros. Yet you rationalise it away by remembering the one great bunker shot you played on New Year’s Eve 1987. And, you add, how often are you in the bunker – once or twice a round if that – it’s not worth bothering. So you don’t and you carry on…

What would cause you to be sufficiently fed up with you game that you’d actually do something about it? Well, if you did actually hit your playing partners on the tee with that hook you keep compensating for, or you were making more and more bizarre excuses not to play in medal competitions then this would indicate you are getting dissatisfied enough to actually do something about it.

So, if you seriously think about feigning injury and walking in rather than play out of a bunker that should help raise your level of unhappiness and help you start thinking about change. Although you probably won’t feel like it at the time – this is a good thing. This is now making you face your demons and do something about it.

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