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Change can do you good — if you want to change


On my first day working at a psychiatric hospital, the head doctor compulsively laid this cutie on me: “Do you know how many California shrinks it takes to change a light bulb?” “Why, no,” I said. “Only one. But the light bulb really has to want to change.” Clever, I thought, as I faked a smile out of obligation.

Perhaps you’ve been vaguely contemplating a golf swing change. If so, you really have to want to change. If you’re like most golfers, you feel a lot of trepidation about doing this, particularly as it strikes you that you’re probably going to play worse before you play better for some time after a major swing change. Plus, you’ll be looking at hitting 500 to 1,000 practice balls before the alteration becomes a fixed habit that you don’t have to think about. Any complicated change in your golf game, even new equipment, proves an arduous and troublesome task.

The very first thing I want you to ask yourself is: “What makes you think that you can do something about your present situation?” A typical response might be, “Well, my game has been slipping downhill for some time now and I’m feeling helpless. I’m a terrible golfer and I need to do something different.” In other words your game stinks, you’re unhappy and it worries you, I reflect.

Next, I might inquire: “In what ways do your unacceptable golf scores thwart you from becoming the golfer you want to be?” A bit taken back, you answer, “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good golfer and a tough competitor. Now I suck, and I hate losing all the time. I’ve got to do something, anything.” That anguish is called “cognitive dissonance,” where there is a big discrepancy between our perceived self-image and what reality tells us. It can be quite discouraging but also quite motivating.

Now I’d like you, my golf student, to tell me exactly how you see things being different with your new golf game, if you go ahead and make the major swing change you’re interested in. You will need to visualize yourself being successful – perhaps winning again – and feeling better about yourself as a result. This is a biggie. Change is hard, in golf and in life. But the rewards are most often worth the effort.

Continuing on, I’d like you to articulate the ways that you are encouraged and confident that you can, and actually will, transform your golf swing into a wonderful model of solid fundamental moves. That is, understanding you want to do this, like a knee replacement.

Lastly, I’d like you to share with me your real intentions about revamping your golf swing. “Well, I think I want to,” you hedge. I’ve heard that before. Folks want to do better at golf and in business and in life, but they are afraid to make a commitment that might involve great sacrifice, major effort and personal transformation. Our safe comfort zone – the status quo – may not be the best, but in our soul we fear leaving it for the frightful and complicated unknown.

If you truly desire to make a quantum leap in your performance level, in anything, you absolutely must commit to making extensive changes in how you do things.

Changing a golf swing is a big deal for one’s golf game, but it’s not the only thing. Sometimes we need to change the way we hit our irons, how we putt, how we manage our self around the golf course and maybe our attitude. We can do that best with the help of a coach and teacher.