We all overthink! We try to control our swings and shots with our conscious mind, and you know what, it just doesn’t work quick enough to do it well. It is no fault of their own, they really want to help, but the most we can get out of them is a swing thought here or there or a negative thought right before we take the club back. To play really great golf, we just have to let it happen, just give everything we have practiced and all the experience we have earned a chance to shine through and get it done. If we try to control things with our conscious mind, we are just getting in the way of our best golf. Instead, let’s be like Justin Thomas in his final round of the WGC Mexico Championship. He came right out and tied his own course record because “he just didn’t care.” Oh sure he cared about his score and performance, but he stopped caring about the outcome, his value wasn’t attached to his performance, and like predictable magic, he went low, really low. He even had a makable birdie putt on 18 to break his own course record! So cool. So how can we play golf and keep our conscious mind out of it? Excellent Question! Let’s tee it up!

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In the final round of the WGC Open Mexico open last week, Justin Thomas shot a 62 and had a 14 footer for a 61. He tied the course record and at the end of the round, he said he played well because he just didn’t care. What does that mean? Let’s tee it up.

After I read the article on Sunday that Justin Thomas had a really great round, he shot a 62, he had a 14 foot or to shoot 61 and break his own course record with a 61. And when asked about it, and why he played so well, he said, “this may sound terrible, but I just didn’t care.” What did he mean by that? Well, I mean, there was no pressure on him. He didn’t think there was any way he could win the golf tournament. So that pressure is gone. And then he was just thinking to himself, “Hey, I’ll just go out there and freewheel it and see how I can do and then see how low I can go”. And it really didn’t matter. He didn’t care where the ball went, just kind of did the best he could to score as well as he could. But the results of whatever sort of set him free. He didn’t really care that much. So wanted to kind of get into that part of golf and why it’s so important for all of us to get to a point where we’re not caught up in the results and it goes back to our ability to get better at golf.


Golf Swing Comparison


So we’ve talked about this before, but there is a process to learn golf that’s really different from a lot of different things. Because golf happens so quickly, it’s very hard to play well, from a conscious place. We have to play well from a subconscious place. So that then brings in a few interesting conundrums or questions when it comes to learning. Like how can I get better if I’m not supposed to use my conscious mind and I’m only supposed to use my subconscious mind? And the process of doing that is one that we call comparison. It’s about comparison. And if we’re reacting to a golf shot negatively, it’s very hard for us to then to benefit from this the art of comparison. So the process then becomes this in a situation where we’re out there to learn how to play golf, better golf. The situation goes like this will be out on the range and we’ll be working on something and that’s a very conscious place to practice, right? You’re being very deliberate and we’re trying to work out different things. We’re using our technology, we’re trying to get better. And we developed and start to feel certain fields that we know based on the feedback that is real. And then we can feel the ones that kind of are fleeting from day to day. And we know that those aren’t the real ones. And so we’re focusing on the things that we know are going to make us better golfers.

But the challenge then becomes we will experience or feel these things and then we’ll try to get out on the golf course. And with a conscious mind, a conscious effort, try to make ourselves do those things that we felt back on the range and that’s not the way to do it. We can’t learn that way. Golf happens too quickly, in order to control it with the conscious mind. So don’t even try. That’s not where we need to be. We need to be in a place where we can compare.

So we step back and we take a number of practice swings and we try to experience something that’s similar to what we were working on on the range, right? And a particular feel or motion or whatever. And we do a number of practice swings. Hopefully not too many because everybody’s so wrapped up and slow play. But if you’re with me, you could take 30 practice swings. I’d be fine with that until you found one that felt like something that you would like to repeat. A swing that you would like to be your swing forever, that you know, is the most that are most closely related to who you are. And you’ve learned about that, whether it’s from throwing clubs or whatever. I mean, you’ve learned by looking at the data or experiencing that this is how you want your golf swing to feel. This feels great to you. So after that practice swing, you would step up to the golf ball, address it. Go through our pre-shot routine if you have one. Set it up and hit the golf ball and then we take a moment to compare. How was that swing when we hit the golf ball? How did that compare to the practice swing that we love so much and what are the differences can I pick out a few. So, if I hit a had a really good practice swing and then I settled in and I hit a golf ball and I thought to myself. Okay, so what are the differences there? Oh, you know I was a little faster the top with the one that I hit the golf ball with. Well, that’s it.  That’s where we’re done with the learning portion of that experience. We can write down a note, take a quick voice memo, whatever you want to do, but we’ll save that for working back on the range and trying to figure out that was all about trying to duplicate that feedback on the range. Whatever that was about. So something to remind us but we don’t go to the next shot and then think to ourselves. I need to slow down at the top of my swing. No! How we’ve gone back into the conscious mind and we’re trying to control things again, and we can’t. You can’t play good golf from there. It doesn’t work. Happens too quickly. The conscious mind is way too slow to control something that complex. It’s stupid. Okay, so we got to quit acquiescing or allowing the conscious mind to control our golf game we’re never going to get any better.


What Justin Thomas Taught Us?


But then that goes back to this lesson that Justin Thomas taught. He just really didn’t care. Well that’s a great place to be when you’re trying to get into this comparison opportunity, right? Because if you hit a shot, and I’m just going to go through it. Let’s just imagine, right? We’re setting up. We’ve got a really nice drive. We’ve got 120 yards out. The pins kind of tucked back right.  There’s little sand trap there. And we’re going to hit a nice little but just like a three-quarters wedge, maybe try to cut it in there a little bit because we don’t want to take the sand trap on. We’re going to be smart so let’s take it in on the left third of the green. Cut it in there. Have the ball. Takes a couple of hops. Move towards the pan and hopefully, stop this side of it somewhere in there give us you know a good chance of birdie. And then I set up the shot. I pitcher the shot. I take my practice swings. I get a swing that I love that I know is going to produce the shot that I want, right? It’s just a little over the top move. Give me a little cut. Work it in there. And then I get up and I execute. I make the shot and I shake the crap out of it. It goes dead right into the trees, whatever, and I freaked out or I hit it then it goes over the green or I pull hook it double cross. Go. I mean any one of those, right? If I do any one of those shots and I freak out. And I go nuts so the hypothalamus just go completely fight or flight. Well, I have been lost the ability to have experienced really felt that swing. And what went on there, what went wrong there or whatever it is and compare it to my practice when I’ve lost the opportunity to really learn from a bad swing or a swing that was that was off just a little bit to what I wanted it to be I have, I have lost the opportunity to get better because I freaked out at a bad shot.

And you see it all the time. As soon as somebody freaks out, I think to myself, jeez, that’s too bad. They really missed out on a good opportunity to get better, right? They just hit an atrocious shot and had they kept their composure and settled in and weren’t so tied to the result of the shot that could have settled in and really learned something. But no, they didn’t. And then you move on. That’s a golfer that’s never going to get any better. They’re going to do that all the time. Until you feel it, right? Until you feel it. How do you fix it? That’s it. That’s the same from Fred Shoemaker until you feel it. How do you fix it? You can’t and so we cannot let the rush to judgment. We cannot freak out after a bad shot. We cannot self-talk or make comments or whatever. We just have to sit there with the experience of that shot. Compare it to the swing that we so loved and fell in love with it. Compare the two, then we’ve learned something, we can take it back to the range, we can be aware of our tendencies.

There’s a lot of things that can come of that comparison that can’t come if we freak out. So that’s something I wanted to get out there really quickly. Not obviously not a long one, but a very important one. When we’re out trying to get better at golf rapidly improve. We have to be able to use this comparison model. We cannot consciously try to golf and get better that way it doesn’t work hopefully that’s helpful. Until next time, better data always means better golf.