OK Dr. Rotella, I will give it a try!

Dr. Bob Rotella wrote a book entitled, Golf is not a game of perfect over 25 years ago. I recall a golfing friend suggest this book to me around the time of its publication. I ignored the recommendation at the time, eschewing any “psychobabble” that might interfere with my long-held beliefs of three swing thoughts per shot, excessive club waggling and, of course, abject fear of failure.

So, I continued on my not-so-merry way for another couple of decades of alternating between euphoria and misery on various golf tracks. Along the way, I brought my son Jack into the game as most golfing dads will do. I was astounded at how naturally he played, even as a six-year-old. I recall one shot in particular. He had only a handful of clubs at the time and he was faced with a short pitch shot to a green. He quickly surveyed the situation and – on his own – simply opened up the face of his nine-iron and played a deft little pitch to within a few feet of the cup. “He’s a natural,” I thought.

At some point afterward, I made the biggest mistake I could have made with a kid just learning the game – I explained to him how difficult the game was. I didn’t need to do that. He would have figured that out on his own. But that little conversation – as he told me later- changed his perception of the game. Up to then, it was just about hitting that little ball with one of these sticks and getting it into that hole. That’s really what all of us should be thinking.

Years later, Jack started to get increasingly hooked on the game. I started to notice him exhibiting some of my tendencies and in particular, my temperament. That was not a good thing since I have battled controlling my emotions on the golf course – and elsewhere – my entire life. That’s when my mind went back to that suggestion from many years ago. What was that book again?

So I bought Dr. Bob Rotella’s 1995 tome and read how he had transformed the minds and ultimately the performance of some of the game’s greatest players. I was so impressed with his thoughts on the game that I bought a copy for my son. He quickly consumed the content and became a devotee of Rotella’s theories. He was particularly drawn to the notion of no swing thoughts over the ball and becoming focused on only one thing: the target. Just like one would grab a ball and throw it to someone. Before tossing that ball, you wouldn’t consider where your back foot was relative to your front, how your elbow bent, or how tight your grip was – you just look and throw. That’s Rotella’s principle in a nutshell.

It started working for Jack and after listening to the agonizing tales of my latest round, he implored me to give it a try. I was resistant. I needed to have my swing thoughts to ensure my mechanics were in order. How could I trust my swing enough to simply glance at the target and hit? I decided to try a compromise. I would retain just a few – maximum three – swing thoughts, but would also focus on the target. I think you know the result. So, after two consecutive rounds of some of my worst golf in the past couple of years – I will surrender completely to Rotella’s advice. Today, I will take one practice swing, identify my target, get over the ball, and just swing at the damn thing.

I will be back tomorrow to detail the results.

3 thoughts on “OK Dr. Rotella, I will give it a try!

  1. I’m pulling for you Tony. I totally agree with the idea that the only swing thought should be the target. Rotella has a few other good books too.

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  2. We’ll??? Welllllll??? I’m on tenterhooks down here. Help me out, how did that complete surrender turn out? My entire golf future is on the line . . . no pressure though.

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