There’s a question I ask first in all my golf seminars and lessons, because it’s so fundamental to even the fundamentals (posture, grip, alignment) of golf. It’s a question that may seem simple, rarely gets asked, and is neglected at great cost in golf. Here it is:
What makes your golf ball go?
Answers I’ve heard vary from ‘Because I hit it’ to ‘the swing,’ ‘momentum,’ ‘impact of the clubface on the golf ball,’ to things like ‘intention,’ ‘physics’ and ‘force.’ While these all have something to do with moving your golf ball from Point A to Point B, the most basic and important answer is: YOU! It’s the golfer – you and I, all dressed up in cool golf clothes – that makes the golf ball go.
So then the question becomes: Who are you? Who am I?
This isn’t an existential or philosophical inquiry. It’s a very practical matter to realize that who every one of us is, is vital ‘life-energy’ flowing through our faculties of body, mind, emotions and spirit. The Chinese call this life-energy Chi, the Japanese call it Ki, and learning to manage one’s own Ki really is key to being able to play better golf.
In a full swing, you coil your Ki in roughly 2 seconds into 70-100+ mph of clubhead speed to launch and guide the ball from tee to green. You deliver this life-energy from all your limbs and muscles, governed by a myriad of thoughts and feelings, into that tiny dimpled ball, to a small distant target on one of the largest playing fields in sports. You’re the only one inside of yourself, moving your body, swinging the club, thinking your thoughts, having your feelings, making decisions, and managing your responses to everything that happens out on the golf course.
So it stands to reason that gaining greater insight into yourself is fundamental to your golf game. As both a golf pro and martial artist, it’s what I view as developing greater self-mastery. I call it becoming a ‘black belt golfer’: a person in charge of yourself and your game, a player in control of your energy and not just bewildered or at the effects of this vexing game.
Here’s where imapGolf comes in, and what the founders Connie Charles and Dave Bisbee call ‘Me-Management.’ Before spending more money on the latest greatest equipment, or more time chasing down ‘what’s wrong’ with your golf swing or mental game, I suggest learning more about yourself in a golf-focused way. The imap My Golf online survey takes just 15 minutes to fill out, and yields a wealth of personal data to help golfers ‘me-manage’ their internal self-talk and stress reactions. You become more aware of what really motivates you in golf; your personal learning and playing styles; how playing partners, pressure and adversity may affect you; and what kind of practicing and coaching works best for you.
Annika Sorenstam perhaps said it best: “We are not golfers who happen to be human beings, we are human beings who happen to be golfers.” Which is to say that knowing and understanding who we are as human beings is what is essential. Annika went on to add: “Reaching my goal of #1 was about improving not only as a player, but as a total person.” To which I would add that personal growth can be a lot of fun, and truly pays off!
As an LPGA teaching pro and player, I’m having a great time utilizing the insights from imap’s personal assessment tools and coaching reports for myself and with my students. So my last question for now is: Why not enhance and speed up your self-awareness process, and get more ROI on all your golf improvement efforts?
By Jamie Leno Zimron, LPGA Pro / ‘The Golf Sensei
December 19, 2016