Oh To Quiet My Disordered Mind

What do you do when the weather is terrible and you can’t golf?

Well, stoke the fire, grab a blanket and curl up on the sofa with the words of one of golf’s great sages.

Right now, I’m switching back and forth between Bobby Jones and Harvey Penick.

Today, it is Penick.  God I love this guy.


You are worrying too much about your bad shots.  Forget them.  Put your best effort on the shot you are facing right now.  Stop berating yourself for something that happened in the past. 


Playing golf is much easier if you have a quiet mind.


Well, the above advice is of course simple in its brilliance and when heeded, the good shots can be plentiful.  However, sometimes that doesn’t happen and Penick has a great explanation for that too.


It happens to everyone.  You are playing along nicely enough, and then suddenly from out of nowhere a stranger appears – a duck hook or a chili dip or a bladed line drive or any number of other odd actions.


Where do these shots come from?


They come from your mind.


You don’t lose your swing between shots, but you can easily have your attention distracted.  Once trained, your muscles do what your mind tells them.  If your mind is wandering or lacks a definite goal, your muscles aren’t sure what is expected of them, and some very strange results can follow.


I have literally taken a shot, had it go very, very bad and wondered who the heck swung that club.  So completely absent was my brain during the shot.

One time in particular comes to mind.  I was playing with Liz, one of the best golfers in the club,  and this very thing happened during a fairway shot on the par-5 seventh hole.  I “came to” during the follow through, just in time to see my ball scud along the ground.  I very honestly had no recollection of initiating any movement.

I do have attention issues – legitimately.  I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) about 20 years ago.  When I am chatting with the lady club golfers or they’re right up close to me when I shoot, it does distract me.  This is one of the reasons, I believe, that I tend to play better with men.  They go off to their tee and I go off to mine.  We just don’t seem to meet up as much out there.  I benefit from this.

When I golf with women I often feel pressure to chat and be sociable.  It’s expected and I enjoy the company.  But I’d be much better off if I just detached myself from the chatter and focused on golf.  Unfortunately that is also difficult for me because the stories, anecdotes, gossip, whatever – grab my attention.   I want to know what’s going on as much as anyone!  I get caught up in conversations and then I’m not ready for my shot.  The other thing that happens is that I feign interest in a conversation so that I can be ready for my shot, but I’m still not ready and the person knows I wasn’t really listening.  I don’t know what the answer is here.

I recently read an article about ADD and pro-golfers.  It was an interesting premise stating that ADD and golf go well together and several male pros were named as either having or possibly having ADD, the biggest star among them being Bubba Watson.

I haven’t yet found this notion to be true – that ADD mixes well with golf.  Tour pros play tournaments in all but silent groupings – you don’t see them chatting each other up out there.  It is a whole different vibe and hyper focus wins the day – which is what ADD folks, myself included, can do to perfection.

One would think, then, that I would have a great benefit when playing solo, but that has proven to not yet be the case as I am still working on quieting my mind.  When I am alone my mind is all over the place.  There is constant chatter, out loud or in my head, directing me to do this, that, every last thing I’ve ever heard of, seen or read about.  My thoughts have dismantled a once pretty nice swing!

Then there is of course my evil twin that reminds me over and over again how I am a fool to think I can ever master this game.



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