So remind me why I should practice?

Played golf yesterday for the 1st time all year. Shot a very uneventful 3-over 38 for 9 holes. (For any non-golfers, that’s a pretty decent score - even on a relatively easy 9 hole course.)

I could play the rest of the summer and not get a better score - and I guarantee I’ll shoot several worse. Generally, I am pleased if I shoot 42 or better, dissatisfied if I shoot 45.

So what I’m getting at is - WTF? I haven’t touched a club since last October or so. I took maybe 5 practice swings and 10 practice putts before the round. So how do I manage to do that right out of the box?

Wondering if you had any similar stories about sports or anything else, where you achieved your best results starting off, and didn’t get better with experience/practice.

(BTW - despite playing well, I ended up losing $, to a guy who shot 36!) :rolleyes:

“If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”

– Ted Williams

That’s easier to do when you aren’t going over a lot of previous shots in your head, trying to recreate the exact same feel as that drive yesterday on 14 or the chip on 11.



In the case of the former, beginner’s luck that wowed others. Others that were asked ( by who I came with ) to be patient since I was new to the game. I was smoking hot, and said “others” thought the original request for patience was a put-on. After that followed a long slide to duffer-dom with ever worse results. When asked a year later if I wanted to play, I said I gave it up for good. Similar to that George Constanza line from Seinfeld.

( Golfer who introduced me to golf ) “Give it up? Just like that?

( Me, deadpan ) “Just…like…that

In the case of the latter, I liked and still like the fishing part, the “fly” part, not so much. Oh I got the concept of it and what the mechanics of it require, but I just couldn’t seem to put the pieces together. I don’t know if it’s lack of coordination or just bad luck. When I do go fly fishing with them, my method is just a standard cast ( from a position waded out into the river/stream ) and let the current take downstream with line I feed out. Since most catches occur shortly after, or in some cases beginning to reel in the line, I figured, what’s the difference. I still catch fish, and have a good time doing it. Much to the disapproval of the method purists.

Why should you practice?
To get to Carnegie Hall, of course.

Moderator Action

Moving thread from MPSIMS to the Game Room.

Hmm - hadn’t intended to limit it to sports/games, but that’s fine.

hell, I live on a golf course and have never played golf.

Unless you’re a pro, isn’t every time you play practice already?

I guy I know owns an indoor golf place, so he golfs a lot and done a fair bit of coaching. I talked to him about something like this one time. His response is for many people, playing more just reinforces bad habits. So after not playing for a while, your upper body can be in synch with your lower body. As you play more, the hips start to clear before the upper body and you slice everything. More playing makes that out of synch action into muscle memory, which is hard to get rid of. I’m only a casual player, so I probably got the terminology all wrong, but you get the idea.

First time I ever played golf, on a work golf day, I won, off a generous handicap, the handicap tournament. I had belted balls around a playing field before but never played a single hole. The real golfers that I played with insisted that I was a genius, a natural, and must take up the game. I did and played for another 20 odd years without much improvement.

I only ever played one game of baseball. A friend’s team was playing just up the road from my home and he came to get me to fill in as they had several players fail to arrive. In three at bats I got 3 singles, all just timid pokes into right field, but enough to secure my lifetime 1.000 average.

I’ve had the same experience with golf. I just play occasionally. When I play without thinking about it, I do much better. I attribute it to the conscious mind getting in the way of the subconscious. The subconscious allows the body to be relaxed and do the proper movements. The conscious gets in the way by trying to tweak things to perfect the shot and it messes up the timing. It’s the same with fitness classes based on dance moves (e.g. Zumba). If I don’t think about what I’m doing, it’s much easier to follow along with the instructor. But if I’m thinking about which arm to move and how to step, I get all messed up.

I’ve heard rock climbers use the term “in the flow”. It’s when they are climbing in a natural and almost automatic way without having to think about climbing.

It might be related to that.

To me, the golf mindset is a weird thing. I can’t focus TOO much, or else I’ll be thinking about a zillion different things, getting in the way of making a smooth swing. But the opposite can happen to. If you completely zone out, you feel as though you might miss the ball completely!

I find playing music similar. If I concentrate on the notes, the mechanics, etc., my fingers will trip over themselves. And if I zone out, I’ll get completely lost. But the best is when you are in a mindset where you are almost partly “outside” of the music, and your hands are moving without intention.

I read an interesting article once answering why it seems like you hit a new driver better at first, and then get back to where you were w/ your old club. It said you hit a couple of great shots, which you remember over the bad ones, which gives you more confidence, and you hit more good ones. But then, you start pressing, trying to intentionally improve, ad you lose your fluidity. (Poor paraphrasing.)

I used to play A LOT of golf, and I used to be pretty good (IMO). But now I’m just a hack. I play 9 holes at a local par-35 goat track every Sun with guys I’ve been playing w/ for 30 years (and NOW, some of their sons and GRANDSONS!) We play for a standard $5 bet - so the stakes are low. I really don’t think my mindset changes much over the year, because I know that the WORST I’ll shoot is 45 or so, the best I EVER shot was 34, and probably 90% of the time my score will be between 40-42. It is all about enjoying a couple of hours outdoors w/ my buddies. So whatever is going on in my mindset is awfully subtle. I agree w/ many of you, early success such as this largely reflects a complete lack of expectations. It is just so weird, tho, when a perfect day comes later in the year, and I’m feeling physically and mentally great, and I’m losing balls and shooting around 45. Just crazy!

Gary Player, a world-class golfer, used not only to practice regulation shots, but also with either hand dominant (in case he got stuck behind a tree!)
After a critic accused him of being ‘fortunate’, he remarked “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” :wink:

ask Alan Iverson

My dad used to say that - “The harder I work…”, and I have long adopted it.

I read something quite recently which claimed there was something wrong with that sentiment. I didn’t understand it.

BTW - game has been up and down since my OP. Haven’t shot anymore 38s, but my last 2 9s were 40 and 41. And I’ve been winning money from my friends - which is what REALLY matters! :smiley: