Green misery, but a learning experience.
I’ve got the golf bag, the shoes, the balls and Ts, the hats for sun and rain, the ‘brelly for drizzle, and power snack food for noon. Lots of other gear in packback, including cold weather and wind protection. Did not bring the mittens. I had 2 hrs and 15 mins to get to the course and so I hopped onto the bus at 8 am. Then transfer all the gear and self onto the light rail line and finally into the mini-bus. Done in 90 minutes, which is good. I have no car and never seem to need one.
These past weeks I have practicing the advice, via book, of the late Mr. Percy Boomer in regards the putting stroke. The 2 principal voices I have heard are these: in putting ‘how much strength to roll the ball 4 yards? Practically none; therefore the tension in our muscular system should be practically nil’. And ‘Dead strength must be the objective. Putt so that if the hole were not there your ball would stop dead on the spot it occupies.’
So I dutifully practiced very soft hands and wrists and always striving to keep the forearms tension free. And I practice rolling the ball just a distance, never trying to hole it. I often set 2 yellow balls a grip width apart and from 4 to 20 feet putt the ball to stop exactly between the yellows. And I found that lingering and hovering over the putt did not help to keep the hands soft as even keeping the club head off the ground requires muscular effort. Thus on the green, firstly I find the line I want, then I set the club head very close behind the ball with the center mark of the head directly centered at mid-ball. I must contact the ball in its center for consistent result. Mr. Willie Park, former great putter, imagined a thumb-tack in the precise center of the ball and ‘drove the tack home’ every time.
That’s what I want too. Every time I want to putt the ball dead center and with dead strength. But damn, it ain’t so easy to get there. And the practice green is not the real thing any more than the insulated musical practice cubicle is Carnegie Hall.
How about the game on the green yesterday? Only fair in results and even 4 putted 2x, which is death. Here’s what happened. I was overly focused on my new-found technique which kept my mind overly active and ‘tense’. I could accept a line, and often way wrong, and set the putter but then the simple task of rolling the ball collapsed into a complex shifting vision of ‘correct or incorrect’. When I am faced with any kind of such questions in golf, such as ‘is this the right club’, ‘should I chip or pitch’, ‘can I drive over the lake’, does the line break this way or that’, I set in motion in myself a torrent of confidence robbing self doubt. If my overall golf goal is tension free through the hips and spine, tension free in the shoulders and arms, and tension free in the wrists and fingers, then all self doubt must be banished. My lifetime is probably too short to accomplish this task in total but it is my goal to do as well as possible.
Next time on the practice green I will work on the physical techniques and cultivate a ‘soft mental’ approach.