I thoroughly enjoy the game of golf, its beautiful environment, the life lessons it constantly teaches me and the people I choose to be around on the course & range. It’s a game that really challenges and rewards consistency. Yet another often overlooked but powerful force it teaches and rewards is FOCUS.
Recently, I was on the range with a couple of members of our high school golf team. I decided to hit a few balls to try to work out some issues I was having with my game. I asked one of our sophomores to watch me hit a few shots and tell me what I was doing. I think it is good to be vulnerable in front of our players to show them I struggle with the same things they do. Also, a different perspective is always valuable, regardless of who is supposed to be the coach and who is supposed to be the player.
I hit the first shot, and it was thin. Just like a majority of the shots I had hit earlier in the day and even in rounds previous. I hit another one. Same thing. I turned to him and asked what he saw. I think he will be a great coach or leader one day because he affirmed me first “Your swing looks good” and then offered an observation “But you are coming up a little”. I appreciated and agreed with both but didn’t know how to fix it. He then offered me a tip that I will never forget… for many reasons I will elaborate on in a minute. He said, “When I start doing that, my dad tells me to just focus on 1 dimple on the ball.” I thought that was an interest tip. Not just be focused on the ball, which we all try to do, but go a step deeper and focus on a dimple. Eliminate the forest, and look at the tree. I decided to give it a try.
As I lined up, I picked out a dimple. It was very uncomfortable. I felt that I had lost sight of everything around the ball that was important to a quality golf shot. But I had nothing to lose except to further reinforce that my game was struggling. As I focused on that dimple, I took the club back and through which produced as pure a strike as I had made all day. I cut my eyes back to the young man as if to say, “you may be on to something bud” but really in my mind I thought “that was a fluke”. I corralled another ball onto the mat, found my dimple, felt uncomfortable again, took the club back, and CLICK! Another pured shot. All I had changed in those 2 shots was my focus. Nothing in my grip, in my address, nothing in my take away, nothing in my transition at the top, nothing in my follow through. NOTHING but my FOCUS.
I was so intrigued, I asked to hit the same club from his bag. He hits Titleist blades which are considerably tougher to hit than my Pings (or so I thought). As I addressed the ball, his club face looked so small. I’d never been able to hit blades. I took the club back and through. Just as I expected, THIN. I knew it was too good to be true! As the ball hit the ground, the thought hit me. I was focused on the club, how small it looked, my previous inabilities to produce solid strikes with such tiny faces, and what negative results I typically get when I try to hit other people’s clubs. I forgot to focus on my dimple. I was determined to either prove or disprove the power of the dimple as I was having a hard time believing it. This time, I found my dimple. Zoomed into it exclusively and independently of any other thought about my swing, his clubs, or past failures. Back and through … I barely felt it leave the clubface as I turned my eyes to the sky to see the ball on a trajectory Jordan Speith or Lydia Ko would have been proud to take as their own.
Still determined to push the theory and probably more to push my doubts, I took another players TaylorMade RBZ’s. Found my dimple and striped one farther than the other 4 balls before. I was absolutely amazed, inspired, encouraged, and full of thoughts of the future.
All that to say this. I changed my world by changing my focus. I changed my results by changing my focus. I trusted my training and took hold of the moment by zooming in to the smallest common denominator, a dimple on the ball. Even when my circumstance changed (hitting someone else’s club), my focus (what I control) did not and I got the same results and, in one case, an even better result as before. Let me remind you, at first it was very uncomfortable. I actually thought I may even miss the ball the first time I focused so intently. I also felt that I had lost sight of everything around the ball that I believed important to getting the result I wanted. Let that be a lesson. In life, trying new things will be uncomfortable and everything you think is important … may not be. It is beneficial to lose sight of the things you think are important to get focused in on the thing that is most important. Reminds me of some smart guys from an organization called Train To Be Cluth that said ” When you put first things first, second things don’t decrease, they actually increase.” I got focused on the most important thing, intently, and got the results I desired.
So now, what areas of my life am I getting less than optimal results? What areas of your life are you getting less than optimal results? In those cases, what is the focus? Is it total lack of it all together. Is it too broad? Is it on the wrong things? I learned 2 things from this experience. 1) Identify and focus on the most important thing 2) When you change your focus, you can change your world. Find your dimple and trust yourself!