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The Day My Golf Game Died
Golf has been my whole life. My friends and family know how important the game has been to me. It took control of almost everything that I do. Trips had to be planned around golf. Birthdays had to do the same and often caused problems. Nobody truly understood the passion I had for this sport.
I started putting together a golf tournament for my high school classmates and did so every year up until this year. 2012 marks the 25th annual class tournament. I also put together golf trips for 10-12 couples from school and we would spend several days at a golf resort. The golfers played and the non-golfers shopped. We spent our mornings and evenings dining together. What great trips these have been.
I developed such a keen eye for the swing that I gave lessons to my friends and relatives and often times watched them improve dramatically in their scores. It became common knowledge among my friends that I could help them improve upon their game. Actually, several of them have dropped out of the 100's and into the upper 80's.
As for my own swing, I was always told that it was a thing of beauty and the proof was in the pudding. My scores reflected my swing. For the last twenty years I have been a decent golfer with scores in the low 70's and usually never higher than mid 80's.
My true accomplishments in golf are six hole-in-one's, breaking par and scoring a 70 as my best round. With age, I seemed to get better. Golf is probably the only sport where a person can actually perform better with time and do so late into their 80's. It is a game that gets into your blood and stays with you whether you are good or not at the game for most players. Some simply are not concerned about how they play, or what they score. They are on the course for the camaraderie and fresh air.
However, that is not a picture of me. I am in it for those things, but more so for the competition of the sport and the desire to improve. This is where my story comes to fruition. Suddenly, about four weeks ago, my game began to decline. When I say, decline I do not mean that my scores went up a few strokes. I am talking a complete reversal in everything that I do.
As early as six months ago I was still scoring occasionally in the 70's and mostly in the low 80's. I have always had a reputation for changing my swing and I do so just about every week. I watch slow motion swing analysis of a tour player and see something and just have to incorporate it into my swing.
As my scores started declining, I began to change more and more. Suddenly, about a month ago, my game did a 360. I could not hit a drive 200 yards and the hits I did make were pushes, or slices. I started trying every thing I could think of and it just got worse as time went on. Scores went into the 90's and I was scared. This was a whole new experience for me. The guys in my foursome that I usually beat by 10-20 strokes were better now and passing me by.
Then came the real disaster. I started having the yips. I am not referring to the yips in putting that the tour pros get that end their career. I am referring to the yips in my golf swing; something I never heard of until I personally experienced it about two weeks ago.
I would take a couple of practice swings and they felt great. They were smooth with good tempo and had a nice finish. Then, I would stand over the ball and take my backswing and here came the yips. It is hard to explain, but let me try. As soon as the club reached the top of the backswing, there was a sudden takeover by my brain to yank the club down and around my torso. In other words, the club would not follow a path to the target and then make an upward turn and finish high around my head. Instead, it would get to the ball and make a drastic inside swing around my waist like a person that is doing jump rope and starts showing off by swinging the ropes back and forth around his body.
If you were lucky enough to watch Hank Haney try to teach the golf swing to Charles Barkley, you saw a part of what I was going through. See how he starts down and suddenly, out of his control, something takes over and stops his forward motion. That is exactly what happened to me and then followed with the sudden loop around my waist. It was just awful!
Today, I went to the range to try for the last time to fix the problem. Instead, the problem got worse. Everything was to the left or right. Everything was short. My body had no control. It was as though some golf demon had climbed into my skull and was controlling my swing. I believe my golf life is now over. I just do not see any hope. With my knowledge of the swing and my feel for the swing, I should be able to correct the problem and I just can not. It is no longer a physical thing that I can change. It is a takeover by the psyche that I can not compete with. I am going to take time away from the game and see if absence makes the swing grow fonder.
Has this happened to you? Let me hear from you.