Searching for it; working on it; dialing it in; figuring it out. I do it, you do it. It’s never-ending isn’t it? Looking for a way to make the magic continue is our quest. “I want to be more consistent” is what I’ve heard most from students when I ask them what they want to accomplish – except for maybe, “If I could hit my driver farther I know I’d have a lower score” (my tongue is in my cheek on that one.)
There are players who believe that mastering a certain thing – or group of things – will lead them to perfection. What a load of hooey! In its most severe scenarios, perfectionism and golf will create a downward spiral so vicious that a player becomes totally lost in the black abyss and can’t find their way back – ever. Some players even quit the game because they just can’t accept realistic success percentages. Depending on your outlook, playing golf is a nightmare waiting to happen or an immersive experience that brings together an exciting series of emotional and physical delights.
Only golfers who truly understand how the game works can be called players of the game. True players of the game enjoy everything about it – the ebb and flow of the game and the ups and downs of physical/mechanical performance. True players of the game exist at every skill level. I know some 15 handicaps who are players and I know some professional golfers who are not. The real difference is being able to accept how the game works and enjoy EVERYTHING the game offers – including going back to basics in order to sort out problems.
No player in history has understood this better than Jack Nicklaus. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of his book, “Play Better Golf” Jack Nicklaus with Ken Bowden, Pocket Books, New York, N.Y. 1983. Highlighted text is mine and for your consideration.
“One of the most frustrating – and fascinating – things about golf is its impermanence. One day you “have it” and the next you don’t. This is true of every element of the game from driving the ball to holing it out. The number one reason why no golfer can stay at his or her peak indefinitely is that human beings aren’t machines. Our ability to exactly repeat a certain set of actions is limited, and thus our abilities as shot-makers are bound to fluctuate, This is compounded by the tendency, present in all of us, to eventually overdo or exaggerate whatever we have found to be successful. In terms of the golf swing this tendency often creeps up on us subconsciously, but it is none the less destructive for that. And, when it has done its dirty work, reality has to be faced: if we want once more to play up to our maximum potential, the rebuilding or returning process must begin all over again.“
Jack Nicklaus was clearly a true player. He knew what was possible and fully accepted the terms and conditions of the game. He was humble in his approach and understanding. He truly enjoyed EVERYTHING the game had to offer.
Searching for it; working on it; dialing it in; figuring it out. We all do it and it’s OK to work on stuff. But, along the way we have to know that perfection is unattainable. We have to know when we’ve over-cooked something and lost our way. And we have to know how to get back home.