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The Road to Golf Glory

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Man sees an ocean and he seeks to collect oysters from it.

He sees a field and he seeks to extract glory from it.

Golf courses are no longer fields of play, but fields of battle. They have become fields upon which man fights for the full extent of his self-worth and the integrity of his own personal image.

The golf course is seen as a minefield. And thus the player treads hesitant and fearful with every step.

Man has become a discontented creature. His life is almost never sufficient just the way it is. He is never enough just the way he is.

Drama is his drug. He creates it. He swims in it. He drinks it. He suffers its every high and its every miserable low. This is the game he has created for himself.

Complexity has become a habit. For he feels that intellectualization is forever the road to truth. As a result, he feels he must create something where there is nothing. He must attach importance to something that inherently has no importance. He must create a story out of disconnected events.

The media is a master at this. But the media learned it from man. The media is, in fact, the public manifestation of man’s private musings.

If man initially looked upon golf as a game, it is a game no longer. Somewhere along the way everything became real. And this reality has caused more suffering than can possibly be imagined.

Reality is too mundane for man. And this new reality that he has created is simply insufferable. So much so, in fact, that it is not sustainable.

Man has a habit of turning backyard battles into world wars. He has a habit of turning play into conquest. As an athlete he has turned the field into a wishing well. And he comes with a decade-full of baggage in hand.

For him, the field is no longer a field, but an opportunity. An opportunity to replenish what he lost long ago. An opportunity to look into the mirror and see a reflection that is greater than the image that produced it.

He has certainly found his way to it. But how can he make his way through it?

Perhaps he could look at the field through innocent eyes. And a motiveless heart.

Perhaps he could look at the game as an expression of his joy. By looking at play as an expression of his freedom.

For if he cannot play with freedom, of what use is it to play at all?

In order, then, to play the game, one must commit himself to the playing. To play like a warrior, with full presence of mind. Losing himself in the rhythm. And allowing all of his skill to surface.

If the athlete comes to the game in search of something, he will not be able to PLAY it. If he comes to the game in hope of something, he will not be FREE within it.

The game is inherently empty. It is a skeletal structure. A scaffolding. The game itself does not contain joy. If it did, everyone who played it would always be joyful.

The game provides an arena. The athlete brings the joy. But the athlete who brings a demand will leave empty-handed. The athlete who arrives with hope will leave disappointed.

Why?

Because he is looking for an ocean without realizing that he is in a desert.

The game is a desert. Windswept and wild.

And as long as the athlete fails to realize this, he will forever suffer within it.

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Dr. Gupta is the founder of Siddha Performance, a company that teaches human beings to transcend their own mind in order to access the source of superhuman performance. Dr. Gupta has devoted close to 30 years of his life developing understandings and techniques that allow human beings to transcend the mind. Through his analysis and experimentation he has discovered that ultimate freedom and ultimate performance arise NOT from within the mind, but beyond it. Dr. Gupta can be contacted directly at [email protected] His work and his writings can be found at http://www.siddhaperformance.com/ He also appears weekly on PGA Tour's "On the Mark" radio show with Mark Immelman.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Michael Holmstrom

    Feb 21, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Good stuff!

  2. Ian

    Feb 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Excellent, thought provoking, the truth, damn all that hope and fear, hope and fear, it`s only a game go play it !!!

  3. Dan

    Feb 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I like the picture

  4. Chip

    Feb 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    SHANK!

  5. Awedge333

    Feb 17, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    “Hit the right club, you will….” Yoda

  6. Marc

    Feb 17, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Cripes what a load of tripe. Get over yourself – your writing style is so forced it bores me. This isn’t the New Yorker and you aren’t writing Moby Dick. LOL

  7. Hippocamp

    Feb 17, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    All roads lead eventually back to their source. To pursue a goal with rigid determination, to seek a destination, as if following a path, is to find oneself precisely where one started. Golf is not linear. It is omnidirectional: progress and retreat, the broad vista and a microscopic view. One must focus not on the grains of sand or the blades of grass nor on the bunker or the fairway, but embody all, simultaneously: the ball, the club, the body, the grass, the sand, the sky… as one. True golfing progress is expansion, not direction.

    Only this way will you cure that nasty slice 🙂

  8. Brad

    Feb 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Inner Desert-Warrior… That doesn’t wear shoes, and argues with an ex navy seal over frivolous survival techniques?

    • sgniwder99

      Feb 18, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Interesting. Somehow your response managed to make less sense than the post.

      That’s actually fairly impressive.

      • Brad

        Feb 18, 2015 at 11:31 am

        Check out Dual Survival on Discovery Channel. It will make sense.

  9. Golfraven

    Feb 17, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    very dramatic.

  10. Hippocamp

    Feb 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Ha ha ha ha ha. What a load of pseudo-spiritual rubbish!! And like a fool I just thought that golf was a fun and challenging game. I guess I need to get in touch with my inner Desert-Warrior to achieve GLORY and accept SUFFERING! LOL

  11. Brad

    Feb 17, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Wow. Whatever you are on right now…… I want some. I have no idea what i just read, but somehow enjoyed reading it?

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Instruction

Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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Instruction

Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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