Feel vs Real

Feel vs Real: My day job is that I’m a professional musician, and I’ve had the pleasure of doing that for the past 20+ years.  One thing I understand is muscle memory, and what it’s like to perform under pressure. And despite being from a very athletic family, I’ve never done anything like golf; where one day, or even for 9 holes, or even three holes for that matter, you’ll seem to have it, and then it seems to go away–  the feel… the ‘it’ that you can sense in your swing.  The ball is going the right distance, the right trajectory, and things seem pretty good, and then maybe you make a few rough swings and then you feel it slipping away, and in a few holes the good feelings are lost.

Today, I played a decent front 9 for me, and made some key up and downs when I missed the green.  I was feeling like I didn’t have my normal distance on my drives, but I was mostly hitting it where I was looking.  Somewhere as I turned to the back 9, I felt like I was starting to come across the ball, and I started losing distance. It only got worse as I tried harder to feel what was wrong and make changes.  After the bogies piled up and I couldn’t get it together except for a few decent swings, I went to the range to see if I could make any sense of the change from the front 9 to the back 9.

Something I try to look at every time I’m at the range is a few keys… grip, posture, setup, connection with my left arm laying on top of my chest.  Finally after hitting some decent shots, but still fighting an outside-in move, which is not normal for me, I checked a position in my takeaway where I’m halfway back.  I like the club to be parallel to the ground, and on my toe line when the club is just below waist high at that point.  And as turned my shoulders and I swung back to check that point, I realized that I had felt like I was in the right position, but in fact, I had been taking the club away outside, and missing where I wanted to be.  I knew from there, I was taking the club up and then swinging back down outside the downswing path I wanted, and then across the ball on my release.

So, I worked on hitting some shots where I made sure that I hit the position I wanted on the way back.  And it felt wrong at first… too inside and like maybe I was crowding myself.  But in working with the ‘wrong’ feeling, my ball flight straightened out, my distance returned with short and long irons, and I even it the exact post on the fence with my driver that I was aiming at around 250 yards out.

I went back out and played three more holes, and made very easy pars where the birdie putts just rolled across the edges.  Good drives, good approaches and straight ball flight back to my correct distance.  Does any of this sound familiar?  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and experiences on how your ‘feel’ vs. ‘real’ affects your game.


Written by Wade Baynham
Single-digit handicap, who learned golf in his early 20′s from my former father-in-law, a long time PGA tour and Champions tour player. I enjoy studying the golf swing and occasionally give golf lessons.