The Golf Project: Overcoming Phobias

June 24, 2018- by Steven E. Greer, MD

For quite some time now, I have known exactly what the proper swing should do, and I have done it on the range. I am beyond the trial and error exploratory phase of The Golf Project.

However, I have rarely been able to hit a good shot on the real golf course even though I was smacking them well a few paces away on the practice range just minutes before. For the first six holes, I am usually terrible off the tee, having to rely on my wedges and putter (with success).

Yesterday was a breakthrough moment for me. I told myself, “Enough is enough”, and forced myself to take the club back twice as slowly as I normally do, get a full shoulder turn until the left shoulder touches my chin, twist the wrists to get the club shaft back and flat, then fire.

It worked. I hit six out of seven fairways with laser straight professional grade drives. On the Par-4 third hole at Ohio State Scarlet, for example, I smacked a perfect 3-wood, then perfect PW, then sank the putt for birdie. On the next hole, the hardest hole on the course, I hit a great drive over the bunkers, then a perfect 5-wood to the edge of the green, and could have birdied it easily (but had wedges issues because I was standing too close, which I resolved later).

I was playing so well that I continued on to the Gray course for some speed golf to beat sunset. I was playing par golf with some birdies thrown in.

Prior to yesterday, I rarely hit a fairway and was forced to scramble. Fortunately, I can scramble pretty well.

I was reflecting upon my performance yesterday, when I realized that playing good golf on a real course under stressful situations, as people watch, is really a matter of overcoming phobias. Just as fear of heights or snakes can be paralyzing, so too can be the fear of letting go of decades-old ingrained short, fast, and ugly swings.

I have known for almost two-years that getting a full shoulder turn with slow tempo was crucial, and could do it on the range, but I never was able to conquer my phobias on the course. However, once one does overcome the phobias, it is liberating, like smashing through a glass ceiling.

There is really no easy tip I can give to overcoming phobias. All that I can suggest is to play rounds on the course by yourself, and force yourself to make the proper swing. At some point, it will click. One good swing leads to another.

Looking back on it, this is how I scored well in high school. I played a lot of rounds by myself, building confidence.

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