For every shot the golfer needs to evolve a Ritual for creating a personal teepee where the mind becomes clear and quiet [Shoemaker, F. (1996). Extraordinary Golf. NY, NY: Pedigree] and the programmed subconscious is given absolute trust to deliver a shot. In 1929 legendary Bobby Jones remarked,

 The golf swing is a most complicated combination of muscular actions, too complex to be controlled by objective conscious mental effort. Consequently, we must rely a good deal upon the instinctive reactions acquired by long practice. It has been my experience that the more completely we can depend upon this instinct—the more thoroughly we can divest the subjective mind of conscious control, the more exclusion of all thoughts as to method—is the secret of a good shot…After taking the stance, it is too late to worry. The only thing to do is to hit the ball. [Gallwey, W. (1998). The Inner Game of Golf. NY, NY: Random, 19-20]

It could be argued that pulling the trigger to make the shot is the most critical of all elements of the shot cycle; and it may be the simplest, and yet, possibly the most difficult because it must be done without thinking and with absolute trust of the subconscious to perform to expectations. As we settle to create the space bubble—the state of quiet presence—we are deliberately breathing. The Ritual is automatic and is the one distinct stimulus that will trigger and coordinate all the elements that facilitate potential emergence of the peak performance state. We are empty and the trigger is absently pulled.

This evolving master skill is individually unique and is the state of being present, tension-free, with that which is intended, for as long as intended. [Shoemaker, F. (2007). Extraordinary Putting, NY, NY: Penguin, 8-10] Summon the inner artist for a remarkable and often indescribable zone experience of spiritual oneness; and be witness to freedom and an intuitive unleashing of a unique, creative, synchronous flow of human physical activity. Simply relax and put your awareness where your deepest natural breathing originates—sensed image approximately 1½ inches below your navel. Let breathing be deep and full, shake loose any tension in the muscles, and trust that as center is experienced—seamless unity of body, mind and spirit setting the stage for “sweet impact” and zone performance—well-practiced actions will result naturally without effort. A “quick and dirty,” Ritual checklist might include:

  • Take a couple of deep, elevating breaths and visualize energy circulating between your feet and the earth below you. Feel static and dynamic balance and sense a balanced and solid foundation; and connect with the environment surrounding you.
  • Take three-five short, explosive breaths into the upper chest to activate the sympathetic nervous system, increase oxygen and intensify subtle energy currents. Charge the whole body, physically and emotionally, preparing for the exertion to come: make a final visual touch of the target.
  • On an out-breath, one-pointed concentration on the point of impact of club with ball—mindfulness—channeling all body energies into a laser beam of relaxed, focused concentration, letting go of everything—self-restraint—and sensing the synchronous, flowing swing to impact with a ball creatively floating to the target—awareness.

Squeeze Trigger: With passion burning, the captain of the ship squeezes the auto-pilot button and trusts the programmed subconscious to creatively deliver a ball to an intended target.

A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is the paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can’t tell the dancer from the dance. [Mitchell, S. (2006). tao te ching. NY, NY: Harper, viii.]

Don’t forget to check-in with Woody and Birdy Ball, Golf as Guru,





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