Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Easy Nine

Today we played at Colonial Acres in Glenmont, New York. A nine-hole, par three, town course that is also, interestingly, an Audubon Nature Sanctuary. I can measure my progress by today’s play. This is my third season, and nine par-three holes feels easy. And it felt wonderful to have an easy day.

There’s a lesson in this: Even though I am working to improve my game and my stamina, it really helped to play nine holes that made me feel like I can play golf, and to find the fun in the game. Often on harder courses—18 “real” holes—I’m stretching and straining—working hard but it’s work not fun.  Today was fun and I was capable enough that I could try new things like shifting my grip just to see the effect and working on my aim. Yeah, a simple thing like aim.

It was also a perfect late Sunday afternoon date with Dave. He’ll play 18 hard tomorrow so it was fun to do 9 easy together today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gyro for Good Golf

William James wrote, "We learn to swim in the winter and to skate in the summer." He was writing about our intellectual process and the value of a break concentration when we are  studying a new idea or concept. But turns out he was also absolutely right about how we learn new physical skills as well.

Something happens in the off-season--summer, winter, the downtimes. Our brains and bodies keep working to integrate the new. I learned this year that the process can be facilitated by teaching my body new ways to move. And I saw the pay-off for golf by giving my body some new motions and muscles to explore by doing Pilates and Gyro this past winter.

Here in the Capital Region we have great Pilates and Gyro at the Pilates Principle in Latham. Nuhar Jaleel is a physical therapist and a golfer and extraordinary with the human body. Click the link below to learn more about Gyro and give it a try to expand your body's golf intelligence.

And way beyond your golf game--your shorts and sleeveless tops will be very happy too.

http://lathampilates.com/gyrotonic/index.html

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Myers-Briggs and Learning to Play Golf

I love psychology and self-help and one of the best constructs I know for self-understanding is The Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory. You’ve probably done this in business or maybe in career counseling or maybe in some faith community group.

There’s a short and a long version of the test and a very reliable quick version in the book called, “Please Understand Me.” The outcome of the test is an overall view of how you operate in the world. You’ve heard these code words: introvert, extravert, intuitive, sensing, judging etc.

I have found the Myers-Briggs brilliantly helpful in romance and relationships. If you know that you are a “P” and the other person is a “J”, you can know that you’ll always have “be on time” issues, or someone—you—will always be a tad messy—according to that partner. Ditto in the Introvert/Extravert scale. Extraverts want to go out on Friday nights, Introverts (me again) want to come home, watch Netflix, retreat. It’s all about energy.

This week it occurred to me that you could choose your best way into golf based on your Myers Briggs type. Extravert?—join a league for sure. Lots of new people, lots to talk about. Introvert? Play with one good friend. Someone easy to be with so silences are OK. Or play alone. I was thrilled to discover that some people play golf alone—I had no idea. I stayed away from the game for years because I thought I’d have to chat with four strangers for four hours and that sounded like the lowest rung of Hell. Then I met my husband who is a solo player and I fell in love—by myself—with the game.

The other dimensions of Myers-Brigs can also apply to your golf game. If you are a “T”—a Thinker—then think yourself silly. Reason it out, study the pros; seek the logic and science and engineering of the game.  But if you are an “F”—a Feeler—again like me --then you’ll have a much better time just feeling your way along. You can watch other people, kind of gently imitating them, get the feeling in your body and relax into the game.

I suspect there’s a whole school of golf waiting to be invented based on Myers-Briggs. You could be first. Get a copy of “Please Understand Me” and check it out.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Best Advice from Women Golfers

One of the best things about learning to play golf is meeting new women. Part of the etiquette and fun of golf is the quick, friendly bond when you meet people on the course. There’s a bit of chatting and getting-to-know-you talk. That’s true for men and women on a golf course—but as in the rest of life—men and women chat differently. And so in those brief encounters on one or nine holes I have gotten some great advice from other women.

Here’s the good stuff:

*Both men and women will offer you golf advice. Smile politely and nod at the men. Listen carefully to the women.

*Take a lesson. When I was contemplating golf the women golfers I knew all said this unequivocally: Take a lesson. And they were right. Even before you buy shoes or shorts. Even before you contemplate whether you are a hat or visor kind of girl. Take a lesson. And critically even before you go to a golf course: Take a lesson. Thank you Midge and Elaine and Stephanie.

*Take more lessons. Play a little and keep taking lessons. The lessons will counteract all the stuff the men in your life will tell you. If you live in the Capital Region take a lesson with Peter Gerard at Mill Road in Latham. He’s the best. The best men take lessons from him but he is extraordinary with women. No condescension. No boy/girl chemistry. His teaching is about you learning not about him looking smart.

*Don’t be embarrassed if you need to hit the ball 12 times to get it into the cup. And don’t be embarrassed if you decide to pick it up and move it after 6 or 8 or 12 hits. You are learning. Ignore other people.

*BUT—always, always hit the ball into the cup on each hole. Always finish by knocking the ball into that little cup and hearing that satisfying clanking sound. Even if your ball is resting on the very edge of the cup after 20 strokes. Take one more and hear it go in. (Thank you to a woman named Marge who I have never seen again for this advice). You want to hear that sound 18 times. You are training your mind and ear and body to want that sound. Let other people roll their eyes or pick up their ball, but you always tap it into the cup.

*Sunblock. Every time. You don’t want to look like the men who have been playing all their lives. Retinol can’t fix everything.

*No silly golf clothes till you have played a full year. Yes to nice shoes and yes to good golf shorts or a skirt—golf shorts are different than regular shorts. But no Lily Pulitzer matchy-matchy outfits when you are new. Just don’t.

*Always step into your Spanx. Never pull them on over your head. You don’t want to get caught hopping around in a dressing room or worse at home alone trapped in a Spanx slip.

*Do your Kegels 3X week. Your life will be better in so many ways.

The last two have nothing to do with golf but everything to do with being a woman of a certain age. Take note.
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