This month I am 55 and had set my target of reaching my 5.5 handicap. As I write this it is almost impossible that I am not going to achieve my original goal of getting my handicap to 5.5 by my birthday. So it would appear that I have “failed” in my challeng. Whilst I havent got to the actual handicap, I have achieved so much that the I do not feel it is a failure, and I will just change my target to be whilst I am 55 - so that gives me another 12 months.
Having the goal of the challenge has helped me in so many different ways, not just my golf game.
I love to have a goal and a plan , and over the last few years I struggled to find a goal I really wanted to achieve. Whilst outwardly it may appear it is solely something for the golf course, it has actually ended up being a goal that has touched on all aspects of my health.
From a golf point of view, I have been making big changes to my swing - and this has proved to be the hardest thing. Changing a swing that you have had for over 20 years takes a lot more time and practice than I ever thought it would along with changing my whole mindset about practice. My “old” swing still appears especially when under pressure, or when I dont think about the foundations enough. But I have got much better at accepting that I will never have the instagram perfect swing, it will always be my swing with its little quirks, the most important thing is delivering the clubface correctly at impact and getting the ball flight I want ! One of the best techniques I have found in the last couple of months has been to practise my swing super slow to really allow my body to “groove” the new feeling, even hitting a whole bucket of balls at a super slow pace, rather than just a few at the beginning of the practice.
I also had “proper” putting lessons for the first time and this has been quite game changing. It has also meant that the amount of time I set aside to practice has massively increased as my putting practice no longer is just 5 mins before teeing off. If you have never had a putting lesson it is one thing that I highly recommend you to do.
My short game needs me to spend more time on over the next 12 months, but trying to find the time to balance work, life, golf practice, training and playing is one of the hardest parts of this journey !
The mental side of golf has been an area, especially since I became a yoga teacher that has always fascinated me with golf, and it is something I have really delved into over the last year.
Mindset is so important, we can have all the technical parts of the game together but without the mindset it is useless. As a yoga teacher we teach about acceptance and in golf I believe this is the single most important part of the mindset that we need out on the course. Acceptance does not mean we accept “failure” but rather it is about accepting outcomes, not dwelling on those missed putts, bad shots or lost balls, and not taking the negativity with us onto the next shot. In the past I used to take bad shots with me for a few holes. But now the majority of the time I have learnt to let them go. I find breathing a real help to do this. Taking the time to focus on your breath as you walk between shots, being mindful and aware of your surroundings, can help to calm the mind and enable you to come back to focus for the next shot.
I love to journal and as part of the mental golf journey I have been journaling about my golfing journey, what it looks like, and before playing (especially important games) I will write about my commitment for the game and what this looks like, and after I will reflect on the positives of the game.
The challenge has also helped me to get back into a regular meditation routine, which is so beneficial for life not just golf. Keeping the mind calm, being able to bring your focus inwards, to bring stillness into a busy day is so important. It can help to bring a clearness and clarity to thoughts and a sense of calm and tranquility.
Training has also been a key factor not only to help me to hit the ball further but to ensure that even when I play 3 or 4 times a week, my body does not have any aches or pains after. Since I started the challenge I decided to get some help to keep my training consistent and give me some accountability. Having a trainer if great, I don’t have to plan my training sessions, he does it for me, and it really makes me stick to a plan and to get a consistency back to my training which I was struggling to do. The bonus being not only am I hitting the ball further and getting stronger and fitter, I have also dropped a dress size or 2 !
So even though I have not quite reached my 5.5 goal - having this target has given me a purpose and motivation to improve not only my golf, to train to improve my strength and health, to maintain a regular meditation practice and to continue to learn and grow so that it helps me with my own clients on their health and wellbeing. I have also started to work one to one with golfers on both their fitness and mobility for golf , but also looking at their nutrition , mindset and overall health and well-being.