Thoughtful Thursday: Are you working on your technique or working on your game?

First and foremost, I hope you have enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to get back out playing golf again. I know I have.
On each of the last three weeks, I have had the good fortune to get my week off to a good start with a game on a Monday morning at Archerfield. Playing great courses in first class condition has been an absolute pleasure. Walking off the course by 11.30am, having played 18 holes is an added bonus.
Thankfully, I have seen my play improve on each occasion but to be honest, playing my best ever golf hasn’t really been my main motivation. Yes it’s nice to play a bit better but the real advantage has quite simply been playing golf and appreciating the opportunity to experiment and learn.
My playing companion on each occasion has been European Tour Pro Grant Forrest, one of the longest hitters on Tour, so social distancing has not been too much of an issue!!
Grant is a very impressive player who loves to play golf, so would I if I played like he does! Like most professionals, he is somewhat of a perfectionist, always striving to improve. He works hard on his fitness and his technique as he does with every aspect of his game.
He is smart enough to identify weaknesses (relative term) and to do something about them. He has put in a lot of good work to integrate the swing changes he has made with his coach over the last 12 months, his short game is sharp and his putting is improving all the time.
He is also smart enough to be able to separate working on his technique from working on his game. Technical work is done away from the course, working on how he plays is done on the course. Something that a lot of amateur golfers might want to think about for a minute or two.
All too often, I see amateur golfers “working on their swings” (rolls eyeballs) on the golf course. Checking this position and that position. The more they do that, the more detached they become from the task at hand, which is creating the appropriate shot for that precise moment in time.
The golf course, regardless of how often you play it and how well you think you know it, is continually asking you questions. The main one being “what is the shot right here, right now?” It is NOT asking you where the club is at the top of your backswing or if you can keep your left arm straight. It never has asked those questions and never will.
Understand the question being asked and you will greatly increase your chances of coming up with good answers and better solutions.
The golf course is not the place to be working on your swing, keep that for the range or the net in your back garden. The golf course is for playing golf and learning how to play the game.
While there is little or no competitive golf available at the moment, this is the perfect opportunity to play golf to learn rather learn to play golf.
  • Learn how to shoot a score when you might not be playing your best.
  • Learn how to cope with the uncertainty and anxiety that we all face on the course from time to time.
  • Learn how to create different shots.
  • Learn how to get up and down for par.
  • Learn how to plot your way round the golf course.
  • Learn how to shoot lower scores and enjoy the process.
  • Learn the art, or perhaps the lost art of playing golf.
Basically, we have been presented with an opportunity in time where we don’t need to worry about our swing looks like, who cares anyway?! We don’t need to concern ourselves with “protecting handicaps” and our fragile egos. If nothing else, this time has given us the perfect chance to work on how we play golf on the golf course.
Time is precious. Time is limited. Use it wisely.
Until next time, keep playing, keep learning and keep enjoying everything this wonderful game offers.
All the best,
Gary Nicol.