(Eagle Vines, 100, White tees)
After another disappointing round (this time at one of my favorite tracks, Johnny Miller’s newish Eagle Vines amongst the vineyards of the Napa Valley), I’m reflecting on the habitual ways that I’m still blocking my own ease on the course.

First of all, I think it’s funny that I don’t have to play with any of the pressure of the pros who earn their living by performing well on the golf course especially under pressure, yet I put enormous pressure on myself to play well. This pressure leads to frustration, but also to fun. I enjoy the challenge and obviously the paradox provided by my belief that it’s performing freely and with ease that leads to the ultimate success in golf.

Yet, I was encouraged by my friend Michael not to try to be so “upwardly mobile” by trying so hard to get my handicap down. Trying too hard, that’s my most basic problem. It diminishes the performance and the fun. Letting it go and swinging easy, that’s the lesson (and, in fact, the skill) that I’m still learning on my way to playing better.

I’ve also been working on shortening my back swing. It works amazingly well when I do it. For example, my approach shot on #9 yesterday. It’s a hole with a very tight approach. Trouble on both sides. But after a solid drive, I had just over 100 yards to the center of the green, but the front pin was maybe 85 yards away. I choked down on my pitching wedge and I took a shorter, more compact swing. Boom. I hit a beautiful high shot that flew further than I normally hit it with a full swing. It flew right over the pin, all the way to the back of the green. Less is more. Shorter back swing, more power and more solid contact.

Plus, I got more friendly feedback from a playing partner yesterday (a 68 year old who shot a 78, by the way!) that I’m over-back-swinging. I’ve known that for a while, yet I keep doing it. The same thing goes for taking too much time over the ball rather than just hitting it. Both are common mistakes, and both are signs of dis-ease. Habits that I don’t practice when I do practice. On the other hand, something that I don’t notice when I do practice is how easily and comfortably I hit balls on the range. I’m now going to focus even more on playing with the same ease with which I practice and being more aware and consciously practicing ease on the range. Yes, you can practice ease.

Thanks for listening. Thinking about what I need to do to “win with ease” and then writing to you, dear reader, about it helps me to go where I want to go, which is winning with ease on the golf course and in life. Birdies and pars to ya!