When that "new club magic" wears off
Raise your grip-calloused hands if this has ever happened to you:
Your game is in the toilet. You’re farther right than Fox News most days, and others you’re so far left you make Michael Moore look like Ron Reagan. Distraught, you demo a club, or borrow one from a trusting buddy, address the ball full of fear and self-loathing, and proceed to knock the living snot out of it, straight down the middle.
Where in the hell did that come from?
Must be a fluke, you think. So you tee up another pill and, POW! Same thing.
OK. It’s settled. You’re buying one of those. Right now. Maybe from your buddy, right there on the course or the range.
And then….the “new club magic” begins to wear off. Maybe the second round you play with it, maybe the third. Heck, maybe even on the first hole after your purchase. Suddenly your cure-all has been infected with the plague of your swing.
You feel like William H. Macy in The Cooler.
So why does this happen? Now, I’m not a psychologist (well, actually I am – just not that kind of a psychologist), but I suspect it has something to do with attention. We every-day hackers get a new club in our quivering little mitts, and we want to evaluate it. We slow down our swings to try to feel the club. This promotes attention to the swing-plane, and the rest of the mechanics. For once we do what we know we’re supposed to do, rather than what we revert to habitually when we’re more focused on the outcome rather than the process of the swing.
Once that club is ours, well, it’s back to the outcome…and the slice, or the hook.
Now, this little theory of mine is not completely in line with some recent research on why golfers choke, but it’s not incompatible, either. Usually, says Dr. Sian Beilock at the University of Chicago, advanced golfers do worse when they attend to the mechanics of the swing. Novices, however, do better. If we hackers are more novice-like, my theory would hold.
Empirical questions aside, what does this mean for me and my newest Wonder Club? If the vicious cycle of my golfing life holds, it’s only a matter of time before my vicious hook comes back around and bites me in the pants. Maybe I should just change clubs every couple of rounds….
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