It’s possibly the highest golfing mental attainment. That is the ability to detach yourself completely from your outcomes. It’s the Zen Of Golf.
A dream-state of mind that means you are simply tuned into the purity of striking the golf ball. Letting everything else take care of itself.
Some golfers may go through their whole career and experience this on -course nirvana only once. For young English golfer Charlie Hull this state appears to be the norm.
In a recent interview Charlie talked about a shot she hit at the Rancho Mirage ANA Inspiration, where she finished an impressive runner-up to Lydia Ko.
After striking her tee shot at the thirteenth, she asked her caddie where her ball had gone. Not that it was an errant drive lost in the out of bounds. But simply that she was in such a dreamy state when striking the ball that she failed to observe its flight path.
For not only was she not thinking about the shot, she was day dreaming about a yellow dress she wanted to purchase online, as she hit the perfect tee shot!
When Darren Clarke won the 2011 Open, he talked about his Unconscious Putting. In other words, he lined up the putt, then stroked the ball without thinking about it anymore. Simply trusting himself,ball to target and playing without fear.
Charlie Hull’s Unconscious Golf approach has a lot of merit in it. By not over-thinking, you are automativally reducing the side effects of worry and anxiety. Hitting the ball and walking after it. That’s it. By playing so simply, you are taking out the scorecard, scoreboard, consequences of winning, victory speech, and other competitive details that are simply consequences of how you are playing.
Some may think that it will make you un-competitive by surrendering your scorecard thinking. It all comes down to be able to trust yourself. To surrender to the part of you that knows how to play the golf shot that you need to play. Then getting out of the way.
When you witness a top player at their best, their is a stillness and quiet about their work. Once the pre-shot routine is complete, their is no more preparatory work to be done.
The resultant state of quiet is the settlement that comes from knowing everything is in place. Instead of finding a deep quiet, Charlie Hull ‘gets out of the way’, by focusing on something completely non golf related. It’s the same idea.
Some players may hear a piece of music as they play. It’s like creating a harmony. Music and the golf shot. Or a yellow dress and the golf shot. If you feel happy, it’s likely to result in a good shot.
One might ask philosophically, that if you get out of the way. who or what is playing the golf shot? Well this then becomes about how you get into the zone. The deep place where you sometimes don’t even feel as if it you playing the shot. As it was said in the legend of Bagger Vance, ‘let the shot play the player’.
For Charlie Hull it appears to come naturally. For most others it takes a great deal of time and patience to reach this state of subconscious action. Clearly imagining buying yourself a yellow dress will not free you up on your next tee shot. But it maybe worth considering how much conscious thought you need to have over the golf ball.
The less you impose yourself upon the shot, the more chance the golfing gods have of dancing with you! It begins with trust. For trust opens the door to playing freely without fear of the consequences. The more you trust yourself the less you need to think.
And the pay off is that the less you begin to focus on your outcomes, the better your outcomes will become! If day dreaming about a yellow dress allows Charlie Hull to finish second in a Major, then the possibilities are limitless!