Since I resorted to social media looking for a PGA professional coach, I got a response from a coach willing to help which was quite exciting for me. The thought of being coached by a PGA professional made me feel like it was really something.
I signed up for coaching sessions almost every weekend and after I had been going for months now, I finally got the fundamentals under my belt, and it felt like it was time to kick it up a notch. In between the coaching sessions I was experimenting with techniques of my own, but little did I realise that deviating from what I was supposed to practise would have a negative effect on my progress as some of my experiments conflicted with my coach’s instructions.
As time passed, I started focusing more on my own thoughts and techniques than that of my coach’s not long after that, I didn’t want to go for lessons anymore because what I thought was the right technique for my swing started to clash with my coach’s. Each time my coach was working on my swing, it felt like I couldn’t hit a ball anymore and that my coach continuously broke my swing, we went back and forth like that many times until I felt that I wasn’t gaining anything by going for lessons anymore, so I stopped going.
Months had passed and I was still on my own trying to figure my own swing and I nearly got to the point where I was ready to give it all up as nothing was coming together, when I went to the range it felt like I was really consistent in hitting the ball but when I went to the course, it was like everything fell apart and I got so negative because I was putting in so much of my time practicing day after day, many days of the week, but it seemed like there was very little, if any improvement when I went out and played a round. Over time it really started to get to me until I eventually decided to go see a new coach.
This time I had a specific coach in mind since he had a good reputation in coaching some of the professional golfers in our local PGA tour. It just so happened that he was part of the coaching team at my home club which made it so much easier for me to go to and ask for some help. I am not one that like to ask others for help so to go to him to ask was the hardest thing I had done in a while.
I really felt hopeless and after just spending 30 minutes with my new coach I was very excited, motivated to play golf again. He managed to point out a small but significant flaw in my swing which had been haunting me for some time now, causing inconsistent strikes and terrible accuracy. The basic principle of “you don’t know what you don’t” was the case. Once you have felt what your perfect swing feels like for the first time, it is far easier to go back to what your body should be doing in your swing rather than you poking at everything and trying to figure out where the problem is.
I went on to practice for weeks after that, then over time the bad habits started to set back in. Slowly my ball striking got worse and I was still unable to hit a proper drive off the tee, not that I could hit one to begin with but it was just worse than before. I finally got the courage to go back to my coach to ask him for help again, I felt stupid because I thought he was going to tell me the same thing as before, but at least something else was the culprit this time which was quite a relieve, it turned out that I developed a bad habit after my swing changed, causing me to hit excessing slices which was something I hadn’t seen in a long time.
After going to my coach that day, I felt that I was equipped with enough knowledge to work on my golf swing and figure out some things on my own now, but also to incorporate what he had taught me into my swing. I spent several months after that, practicing. Not going to the golf course once because I wanted to improve a lot before I took on the course again. At some stage I finally felt that I had practiced enough, and I started going out and played a few rounds. The results were not what I expected. Again, while I was practicing everything felt great and consistent, but as soon as I am on the golf course, everything fell apart. I was really devastated and wanted to give up golf entirely.
Playing so poorly had such a negative impact on me and what I later realized was that it may have been because I took the game too seriously and I pushed myself so hard to get better but instead I started to get worse. I was really baffled by how my scores ended up going the opposite direction since I was practicing so much, and when it was game time, I practically sucked.
I have read countless times that golf teaches you humility and if you don’t play golf, you will not understand it until you do. Golf is probably one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding sport of all time, you can have a bad round and yet you can hit that birdie on 18 and all is forgiven.
I then decided to take a step back to try and figure out where I was going wrong, my range game and my course game wasn’t coming together so I was trying to find out what I was missing and rather focus on that to improve my game play. I took a few weeks off from practicing just to reset, but I had it stuck in the back of my mind, it often popped into my mind and I would ponder about swing mechanics and things a lot. There were times where I had been thinking about things and it just suddenly clicked out of nowhere. After finally understanding things I didn’t understand before, I felt that mentally I was ready to give it another shot and to try to get my body to do what I was feeling and seeing in my mind.
Meanwhile I had also been listening to an audio book “Golf is a game of perfect”, written by Bob Rotella for over a week now and how you can determine the outcome by thought. It really helped me to visualize not just where I want the ball to go, but I took it a bit further and tried to visualize what my golf swing would feel like and how my body would move, over time my perspective of golf changed and everything seemed so different. Seeing and thinking about things differently as I started practicing again, I incorporated some of Bob Rotella’s techniques into my pre-shot routine and mental space of my game. I would never have thought that golf was a mental game, knowing what I know now, it had changed a lot of my golf just by visualising it.
Being more equipped mentally and physically for my golf game started to show signs of improvement, I was able to hit more shots I never thought I could by trusting myself enough by means of positive reinforcement, I didn’t need to think so much on the golf course anymore and that I was only really “allowed” to be in my own mind during practice.
By then I was starting to hit low 90’s one round after the other. There were the exceptional rounds where I hit a rough patch but then something unexpected happened, I broke 90 for the first time. It had been 2 and a half years since I started my journey and after all that time of wanting to give up, I held on and pushed through which seemed to have finally paid off a little.