Yesterday I went out to the driving range and hit balls for a couple hours. As I was doing it–and listening to my ipod–I realized why I like it so much.
It gives you the ability to immediately correct your mistakes and institute improvement.
I’ve always been solid with the seven iron. It’s been my club since I started as a little kid. So I always start there, and work my way downwards. As I start regularly hitting with the 7, I move to the 6. Then after the 6 is mastered, I move to the 5. All the way down to the woods. This allows you to progressively implement improvement and ratchet up success. In track in high school, my favorite workout was pyramids. Normally, 200–>400–>600–>800–>1200–>1600 and then back down again. I see this as sort of an equivalent, only with one small change: When I start to lose that momentum, I immediately turn back to the seven and start over.
In this way it becomes a comfort club, or a chorus that you turn to for guidance. You can quickly regain form and composure instead of going further and further off track. Since golf is all about calmness and the fluidity that follows it, this works perfectly.
Within that cycle as well, I always like to set back after each mistake and run through practice swings. Always turn inwards, breathe and regather. Which is how you–or at least I–should look at life. When you start to lose control, when you feel is slip from your grasp, step back and envision what you need to do. Running through it once as practice, often makes all the difference. Got to stop the slide.
But on a bigger level, I like to progress and learn via the same pyramid-like system. First, begin with comfort and control. Then venture slightly outwards in unknown areas. Each time you feel the grip loosen, return once more and until it’s back. You’ll notice, as I do at the range, that your mean score is higher each time. Success is absorbed and becomes natural. Fingerspitzengefuhl.
Of course, there are always benefits to running fast and hard and loose. Chaos and speed can be an asset. But this is how I like to learn and explore. It instills self-discipline and prevents irreversible errors.