Some believe genius is measured in numbers. I believe that is far too limiting.
What about golf genius? There is the innovative designing genius of course architect Pete Dye. If you watched the PGA professionals tackle Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin you likely wondered, ‘wow – how would I score if I played there?’ Or maybe, ‘how in the world did he come up with a design like this?’ Consider the shotmaking genius of Tiger Woods during his Tiger Slam or the old school players like Nicklaus and Watson who had to shape and fashion creative shots throughout their careers. And what about the late Moe Norman, an eccentric savant who was thought to be the best and straightest ball striker ever? Do you – or would you like to – share some of their best qualities?
You can if you simply make yourself aware of what similarities exist. In observing the persona of geniuses, successful and otherwise throughout the ages, you can take their best traits and apply them to many aspects of your golf game.
- Bend the Rules.
Remember the Pirate’s Code in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’? That they were really only ‘guidelines’? Pirates were geniuses at survival. With deference to the Rules of Golf, which you should follow, you should toss anything else you are traditionally bound to because someone says so. There’s an argument for fresh and novel thinking: when Michelle Wie was a 15-year-old golf phenom, what if she had thought that girls her age aren’t supposed to hit the ball so far or play in PGA Tour events? Or if Babe Zaharias considered competing on a Professional Women’s Tour would not be popular? And, in 1972, what if collegiate policy creators sloughed off the idea that girls without access to women’s college sports teams came under the guise of ‘too bad so sad’ and never enacted Title IX?
- Let your mind think in pictures.
Visualization is a psychological technique. But geniuses often view concepts as moving pictures. They can see effects, possibilities, and net results. Dr. Bob Rotella is still regarded as one of the top mental game teachers and certainly uses genius qualities in instructing his pupils not to hit a shot until they have seen it in their mind’s eye. Inventors often see a finished product and a process before they ever know how they’ll accomplish it. Don’t be discouraged if you can ‘see’ things others can’t.
- Respect the tried and true but don’t be afraid to attempt the new.
If we didn’t believe this we would still be using gutta percha golf balls, hickory shafted clubs while finishing our swings in the old reverse-C position that destroyed many backs. One can still play with outdated equipment and swing techniques, but why? Can you imagine the industry’s astonishment if Paula Creamer appeared on the first tee one day with equipment from 100 years ago? Envision the plight of the first inventors to come up with different materials for club shafts or dimple patterns on the golf ball or ‘metal’ woods in place of the familiar persimmons. They were likely ostracized. Fortunately, these folks pressed on and you should too. Try new equipment and swing techniques. Don’t be afraid to use technology for analysis purposes as well.
- Trust your gut feelings.
Sometimes you know something but don’t know why you know it. In the psychic world, that is termed ‘clairsentience’ and it’s OK. Everyday I turn on my computer, do not understand the mechanics, and all I know is it has something to do with zeroes and ones and it works (usually). No one knows everything about everything. You simply accept it. You use it. And if you’re smart, you’ll use the genius within to trust the mechanisms illustrating what you cannot see about your golf game. When you are on the course, remember those images and pair them with all the other information you’ve learned along the way to create a more confident you. Then, let Bill Gates worry about the zeroes and ones while you amass the 2’s, 3’s and 4’s on your scorecard.
- Be patient and never, ever quit.
One of my favorite Albert Einstein stories has to do with a needle in a haystack. Most people would quit when they found the proverbial needle. Einstein, on the other hand, would search the entire haystack until he was certain there were no more needles. There are always other ways to do things. The mediocre player quits when he or she finds an answer. The champion player doesn’t stop until he or she finds the answer………and then keeps looking for something which may have been overlooked.
- Repetition is a winning proposition.
Ben Hogan was a golf swing genius. He would try technique after technique and practice until his hands bled. No. 1 ranked Vijay Singh is also a swing genius and is renowned to be one of the most prolific players on the practice tee, even this late in his PGA Tour career. Beethoven consistently wrote tons of music even though he could not hear. As a starving author, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling kept writing Harry-type material until the large box it was in began to overflow. Even though she had no market for the Harry Potter series then, she just kept doing it, adventure after adventure. Imagine what a scant amount of practice could do for your game? Practice doesn’t train your muscles as much as it trains your mind to think confidently.
- Don’t underestimate the power of pondering.
In today’s busy world, people think if you aren’t constantly producing, you aren’t cutting it. This is ill-advised methodology. A genius knows that a good amount of thinking and imaging, properly placed, can alleviate many hours of useless toiling. The next time you are tempted to hit the practice dome and pay by the hour, don’t. Instead, choose to hit by the bucket and take the time to think things through, analyze what you did, visualize the shot and determine what you will do to the next shot. Genius of any kind cannot be rushed. The kid lying prone under a tree on a beautiful summer’s day with eyes closed may not be as lazy as you think. Every day I walk four to six miles and use that time to think about a lot of things, with golf and golf stories high on the list.
- Retention matters: work on your memory.
It is very easy to remember the bad experiences you have had in life and in golf. File those along with the good experiences but pay a bit more attention to the positive. It is important to remember what has worked – and not worked – in the past. Good swing thoughts should be written down in a notebook. Instructional genius Harvey Penick did exactly that with his dog-eared spiral notebooks, literally falling apart with anecdotes, comparisons, and words of wisdom. A friend suggested he compile them all into a book. Thus was born ‘The Little Red Book’ series.
- Don’t forget to have fun.
Remember when you were a kid and all you did was play? Did you know that many forms of play and recreation are vital elements in the development of motor skills and other brain functions as we are growing up? So, why do we assume anything changes as we age? Are we ever too old to stop playing? Geniuses know better.
- Connect the dots.
Sometimes in the quest for the perfect swing, you may be given many swing thoughts to achieve a certain move. None of them may work. If you are having a swing boo-boo and the first or second or third swing guru you visit does not help you solve the problem, keep going until you find the one who does. It took me over 30 years (and many bad shots) to finally learn the proper relationship between the lower body and the upper body in order to produce a more powerful, sound swing. One good visualization tip from professional swing genius Brad Dean at Crystal Mountain Resort in pastoral Thompsonville, Michigan, and the swing picture was Crystal clear. The dots were finally connected. And if you want to know what that tip was, you’ll have to sign my Blog and ask………..
Now, don’t you feel a little bit smarter already?