Golf is a funny game. Unlike other sports, we golfers are haunted on a regular basis with the “quitting demons.” Why is it that in just about every round of golf or in just about every championship quest a golfer pursues, there is the temptation to quit the game? The thought has never occurred to me in playing volleyball or tennis or in any other sport.
I think it is in the nature of the beast. Without question, golf is the hardest sport I have ever played. When I took up tennis, I could take long layoffs and pick the game back up right where I left off. The same is true for racquetball. But golf? Take some time off and off kiss your game good-bye if you want to play with any consistency.
Today was a real game changer for me because just when I decided to set the game aside for a season, some unsuspecting force came along to open up my mind, release my inner athlete, and get me excited about a whole new pursuit. Oh, gimme a break! Just when I was relishing in the thought of giving myself permission to walk away from the torture and frustration of pressing through to the next level, Frank Lewis had to enter into my life—and give me fresh hope—just went I didn’t want any!
I wanted to say, “Go home, Frank, and inspire some other champion wanna be! I just want to lie on the beach and soak up a tan that covers my white feet and shoulders! Pa-lease….release me and let me go from the drive to be my best! I just want to be a normal hacker. But no, Frank had to come along and speak to the champion within me at precisely the moment I decided to leave my clubs in the trunk of my car for the rest of the season….and maybe the rest of the year.
It all started when Jon Corliss, my longtime colleague, and coach called me. “Veronica, my mental game coach, Frank, is going to be in the area visiting some family. I want you to see him. I think he can really help you.” When Jon gives me a directive, I have learned to listen to it. Not even knowing why I was going to meet with Frank, now that I was not going to play golf, I decided to listen to Jon.
Part of Frank’s background is in competitive gun-shooting. He is an expert at aiming at a target and hitting it, in a much more focused way than we golfers are taught to do. He is also an expert at helping left-brained people move to their right-brain, which is what I help others do as a performance coach as well. Rarely, however, do I find someone to help me slide across to the other side of my brain.
He took a few minutes to watch my swing and said, “I want you to understand the reason behind your frustration. You have been working so hard on the mechanics of changing your backswing that you have forgotten the other half of your swing. Your backswing is all about creating energy, but the rest of your swing is about creating direction. It takes both—energy and direction. You are not creating any direction.” He spoke about focusing on forming the circle in my swing at a point beyond the ball, so my focus changed from my swing to my target. After talking through a few more details that awakened my brain and imagination, my mind opened up to new possibilities.
I sensed my mental routine rerouting. Instead of focusing on my swing, we focused on a very specific target and landing area, and worked backwards from there to my swing, and the simple images in my mind to create energy and direction. All of a sudden, I felt my athletic potential being released. Instead of feeling like an emotionally-frustrated slave to my swing, I felt like a true athlete releasing her potential as one ball after another sailed to my target with a consistent trajectory. It wasn’t about changing my swing path as much as it was about changing my brain path.
“What is the greatest fear people have?” Frank asked me. “The fear of not being loved and accepted,” I replied. “No,” he said. “It is the fear of not understanding. Today you received understanding you did not have of your golf swing which was the causal factor behind your frustration and block. Now you can decide if you want to pursue your potential and ability because you have a beautiful golf swing.”
Today, I learned that a beautiful swing begins with a beautiful mind. I also learned that behind frustration and the quitting demons are angels like Frank. They drop-ship into your life to help you break forth into new possibilities if you are just open to the power of coaching.
Now all I have to do is decide which direction I am going to head in: the beach or my next tournament.