In our daily quest to help golfers lower their scores, our biggest obstacle at the United States Golf Academy is to get players to leave their comfort zone and make the changes that can help their game. A typical example would be the chronic slicer. The comment from this player will often sound something like, “My drives always slice. I just can’t seem to find a way to stop it.” We will then show them the technique to hit a draw. We then get the predictable comeback of, “This doesn’t feel right!”, even with the desired result of no slice. In thirty years of teaching I have never figured out how to get a swing that produces a right to left ball flight to feel like a swing that produces a left to right ball flight. The two swings are going to feel different. The most important aspect of learning to play better golf is to embrace change rather than fight it. Well struck golf shots are not a matter of luck. They are the result of proper movement when swinging the club. When you find a swing, tempo or balance or combination of all three that works stick with it no matter how “bad” it feels. You will find that with success the “feel” improves rapidly.
Another place where the comfort zone is a hindrance is when it pertains to how a player judges him or herself as a player. Once the label of bad or poor has been applied it is very easy for that player to limit their potential. In every first lesson I always ask, “What kind of scores do you shoot.” When they tell me, I always wonder why they aren’t better. It is a rare occurrence when a golfer is a better player than they look on the range. I am sure the reason is that once you put yourself in a category like 90’s shooter or 100 scorer, you play to that level. No matter what happens, you find a way to get to your comfortable score. I have seen a number of spectacular ways of golfers finding their way back to a level they can handle. Birdie, birdie, quad, triple is an example. I just don’t think there is a physical change from the birdie to the triple bogey. The problem is mental and not physical. When you play a golf hole well and have a good score, without a lucky shot, you have to tell yourself that this is the golf you are capable of playing and most important if you can do it once you can do it again. Never allow yourself to think you are playing over your head, because to be honest you are not. It isn’t luck or fairy dust or the proper alignment of the planets. It was you and you can do it again if you let yourself.