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Thinking about the Body

April 28 2012 at 12:24 PM

Geoff Mangum  (Login aceputt)
from IP address

Response to Powering the stroke -- focus on "feel" during play?

Dear Brendan,

Thinking about the body is a matter of your habits of thinking, first, and that means you don't "like" thinking about the shoulder motion and the abdomen muscles and instead "prefer" to think about the hands. You "feel" what you choose to pay attention to, but you don't really prefer to pay attention to the shoulder motion. That is just a by-product of your habit of moving the hands and "feeling" the movement of the hands.

Okay, we need to discuss "feel". "Feel" is what happens in the MIND when a golfer pays attention to a certain part of the body and then monitors changes in the feeling during the motion. "Feel" is the elevation into conscious awareness of a sense of the body. That means "feel" is conscious mind, not non-conscious instinct. What's BAD about that is that the conscious mind is the ONLY place where "feel" happens and yet golfers seem to think that "feel" is instinctive when it's absolutely NOT, and is instead what happens when the centipede thinks how it walks. Feel is grossly mischaracterized by ignorant "golf psychs" and golf teachers as somehow NOT conscious awareness but some sort of "natural" or "instinctive" way to play golf. No, it's not, and no animal on the planet including the human species needs "feel" to move in the world, yet humans seem to think that "feel" is needed. It's not. No animal body needs or even wants to have subjective awareness of how a movement feels or should feel to make the movement successfully.

The confusion comes from the difference between LEARNING and PERFORMING. Humans are the only animal ever who tries to practice a movement to make a future movement work better than a past movement. That's because only humans have a sense of personal identity that persists over past, present and future. Animals may know something about the past (e.g., the postman carries dog spray), but no animal works on a future behavior except humans. That's LEARNING, for which the conscious mind does play a role and in the mind "feel" has a place. But PERFORMANCE just uses basic learned competence in relation to the objective reality of what the proposed movement requires for success. In that context, "feel" is the wrong way to go. Performance is not "notching perfects" but is handling this shot in particular. Performance is not practicing and is not testing the effectiveness of practice, and playing golf with "feel" is not really tapping the full, mature, animal response to this or that shot. For PERFORMANCE, the last thing the golfer wants is MIND and subjective awareness of body "feel"obeying technical rules, and instead the golfer wants to know how to plug basic in-hand movement competencies and skills into the reality of what this specific shot requires for success. The attention and intentionality of the golfer during PERFORMANCE is on what the world requires to happen in order for the shot or putt to work out successfully.

Another source of golfer confusion about "feel" is embedded in the phrase "feel the shot" while playing on course. This does not mean the same as "pay attention to the feel of the movement". The phrase "feel the shot" really is golfer vague talk that means immerse the nonconscious brain in the world situation to connect with what the world requires at an intuitional, instinctive basis, not in terms of conscious thinking about the shot. here the terms "feel" means "instead of conscious attention to". So if we could just punish all golfers for using stupid, vague language without comprehending what they actually intended to say, we could "okay" this use of the term "feel" in "feel the shot" as consistent with nonconscious brain-body operation according to the way these processes actually work. But, it is just much better to REFUSE TO ALLOW these old-dumb-baggage terms to be uttered at all, since they means several bad and confusing things all at once and no one is particularly apt at using the term artfully and precisely and golfers hearing the term have ZERO skill or habits to filter out the unintended meanings carried by the term in order to correctly hear what the speaker might have intended. Golf language really needs a complete burning down and replacing, as the existing vague jargon is extremely unhelpful to teaching and learning and understanding real golf.

So you have a belief in "feel" that is misplaced, and you have a habit that keeps you thinking about your hands and tends to preclude your paying attention to the "feel" of the shoulder stroke. The short prescription is forget "feel" and just make the shoulder motion by moving the gut muscles so that the shoulder frame powers the stroke, and not the hands. Eventually, your "feel" settles down to the piece of the body high on the chest, just below the base of the neck, between the two shoulder joints, as the main body center of the shoulder frame in motion, plus a sense of what muscle tugs this piece to move in plane in a rocking bak and up action. Perhaps it helps to imagine a stick growing out of your chest that aims straight to the back of the ball with a hefty putter head on the end, and you don't have any arms or hands (they've been amputated decades ago and you don't miss them). Now swing this projected stick and its putter head and putt a ball with this "limb off the chest". Then you will "feel" the shoulder stroke's moving pieces.

Once you can attend to this, add back in awareness of arms and hands simply set in shape with some muscle tone, and then repeat the shoulder stroke. Yes, you can "feel" the arms and hands get moved by the chest, but there is no USE of these arms and hands -- they are FIXED in shape off the chest, and only the chest motion matters.

This sort of "feel" is only for LEARNING and PERFORMANCE has entirely OTHER matters to focus upon, and that is "what the world actually requires to happen for ANY golfer facing this shot according to the plan for the shot / read of the putt." In putting, that is ONLY line and distance, and line is already decided once the putter quits wiggling. So at the end of reading and aiming, the LINE is required to be the same as the aim of the putter face, and the DISTANCE is set as whatever the space between ball and green over the green speed requires to make the putt work for that aim line. Nothing is "up to the golfer's personal choices" -- and that's a fantastically valuable thing for "me-me" golfers to learn and respect. It makes the PERFORMANCE much more successful and easy to perform to know this.

You can go in one of two directions: Just do what the putt requires by using your hands to start strokes on the same LINE you aimed the putter face according to your assessment of what the world requires for success and try to make that hand motion with good tempo and rhythm so the DISTANCE also comes out as required by the read and its start line and surface reality, OR you an learn how to perform a shoulder stroke that hits the LINE of putter face aim and does so with good tempo and rhythm so the LINE and DISTANCE get integrated in the same movement. What I teach is that the shoulder stroke is simpler and more consistent and a better base for good tempo and rhythm since involving a deeper part of the core of the body than the free-floating, truant hands.


Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist


This message has been edited by aceputt from IP address on May 21, 2012 7:38 PM

 Respond to this message   
Response TitleAuthorDate
 Thinking hard right nowBrendanApr 29, 2012, 3:11 AM
  What Reality Requires for the ShotGeoff MangumApr 29, 2012, 8:54 AM
   Re: What Reality Requires for the ShotBrendanApr 29, 2012, 4:14 PM
    Mind at Time of StrokeGeoff MangumApr 29, 2012, 10:28 PM
     Re: Mind at Time of StrokeBrendanApr 30, 2012, 8:20 AM
      Make a Gun that Shoots Straight the Right Distance First, then Read Putts with ThatGeoff MangumApr 30, 2012, 9:36 PM
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