It was February 1973. The new boss and I were walking in the Coors Container Company aluminum can manufacturing plant. As this good Army soldier had been instructed when walking with a superior, I was walking one step to the left and one step to the rear. Above the noise in the can plant, the boss adamantly motioned with his left hand and arm and beckoned, “Come-up here and walk beside me; and next week start a program to manage your stress!” This relaxation journey, intended to quiet the busy, perfectionist mind, remains a work-in-progress! The purpose of this blog is to share a recent “ah-ha” moment of this golfer’s pursuit of tools to manage the distraction and interference of the “inner roommate” on and off the golf course.
As a self-proclaimed student of the genius of Fred Shoemaker’s work (Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible and Extraordinary Putting: Transforming the Whole Game), a cherished comment he makes, “If the point of golf is only about being good at golf, then much of the value that the game can provide gets missed.” (Extraordinary Putting, 37). Perhaps his “dose of therapy” will shed some light on why I forgot my pants.
Shoemaker offers a nice formula for distraction, or interference: SELF + INTERFERENCE = DIFFERENCE (Extraordinary Putting, 44). Having experienced that playing golf offers oodles of distraction, chaos and messages, recent efforts have been to “think” in the THINK BOX (Nilsson & Marriot, Every Shot Must Have a Purpose, 28-32) and “play” in the PLAY BOX (Ibid), with particular intent in the PLAY BOX to set up, go to the breath to quiet the mind, connect with the target, focus on the ball and on an out-breath “pull the trigger.” This has been a tough assignment because mental distraction-interference has consistently invaded my PLAY BOX; and seventy years of playing this fantastic game is offering that continued practice will reduce the distracting, “inner roommate,” swing thought chatter.
How does the “DIFFERENCE” show up? It manifests as thoughts, behavior and speech. The best witness when John’s “DIFFERENCE” is present is my wife. She comments, “Not a fun partner, judgmental, stressed, impatient, intolerant, Grumpy Old Cat…” And there is more! Shoemaker remarks, “Just two shots from insanity.”
Yes, I forgot my pants. It was a cold, 10 degree, December day in Colorado. My wife, our son, his wife and their kids were climbing into the car for a short ride to the bus stop for travel to the Christmas Parade of Lights in Denver. Before getting into the car, the temperature offered that long underwear would really feel warm and cozy during the Parade. I returned to the house, slipped the pants off, pulled-on the long underwear and returned to the car, discovering that my pants were missing. Interference had invaded and grandpa offered everyone a great big laugh…Ho, Ho, Ho. Yes, golf has a great deal more to offer than tips and the score: “A future where golfers experience that hitting a piece of rubber with a stick in a big park has added great richness to human life.” (Extraordinary Putting, 171) If allowed to invade, interference can certainly ruin an intended beautiful golf shot, lead to forgotten pants and provide good laughs for family. Life and golf are real gifts!