I’ve been struggling with the advice of “the harder you try, the worse the result” as in the majority of sports the advice would be “the harder you try, the better the result”.
As any golfer or physicist will tell you, it doesn’t take a lot of power to hit the ball far. A driver (the longest club in the bag) weighs around 250 grams and a golf ball about 46 grams, so it’s obvious that you don’t need big muscles to swing the club and achieve a great distance. The distance comes from club head speed - the faster you move the club head, the further the ball will go – assuming launch angle and other physical characteristics required are right too.
Without speed you get nowhere, but the harder you try the slower you get. And that brings us to the next paradox: “The harder you squeeze, the slower you swing”. Squeezing the grip with fingers creates tension in shoulders and that’s not good. In order to swing the club, instead of hitting, you have to have a light touch accompanied by a smooth swing. Light and smooth aren’t the words that come to mind if you see me on course! But at least I try by picturing Louis Oosthuizen’s effortless swing and do my best to mimic this. Golfers are hopeless dreamers (or is that just me?).
I’ve learned that golf paradoxes are to train you mentally rather than physically. For example, I know that I don’t have to squeeze the grip with white knuckles, the club will hold in my fingers. But the mental model of driving the ball 200 meters in the middle of the fairway creates counterproductive effects in my muscles. In my constant struggle against mental barriers, I’ve adopted a simple strategy.
Golf is a complicated game, so I try to make it as simple as possible. I play premium clubs and balls, but I don’t change them often. I hate slow play and therefore I carry my bag. I don’t use GPS or rangefinder, I trust my judgement. I want to have a sticky feeling in my grips, but I don’t wear a glove. For some reason, having bare hands is a sure way to start a discussion in a group of strangers. “Why don’t you… Did you lose your… Don’t you need a…? Etc. My answer is simply “not needed, better without”. I think wearing a glove is just a habit. I haven’t found a performance justification – the glove is just another wearing part, which needs to be maintained and replaced. Simpler the better, in my opinion.
The only benefit of using a glove is that it reduces the amount of grease, sweat and dust applied on grips. The materials used in grips are very advanced today though, gone are the days of hard and slippery grips. However, because of how tacky the grips are, they almost absorb the sweat and grease from your palms. I was aware of this, but when I tried grip cleaning wipes I was amazed to see how much dirt there actually was. Washing the grips certainly helps, but there’s never time to do that or you’d forget it as soon as you get home (or I’d be too lazy to clean them once I got home!). I have to admit that carrying wipes in my bag is against my “simple is better” strategy, but I’ve decided to allow myself one vice. The idea of disposable wipes to clean your grips is just so simple – you can use them whenever and wherever needed. They’re also efficient and affordable. Actually, I’m convinced that they will help me to lower my handicap this season. Or, perhaps it means that I don’t have an excuse for poor shots anymore? I’ll go for the lower handicap. Golfers are hopeless optimists, aren’t we?