San Geronimo golf course, Northern CaliforniaWhew! After an abominable round at Stonetree last Saturday, I practiced what I’ve been learning and finally shifted my attention away from my score.

I put my focus on a “process target” of “just hitting the ball” (with an associated pre-shot routine). In other words, my intention was to stay present to a free swing that was naturally oriented toward the target, rather than being obsessed with the “performance target” of scoring well. I have tended to focus way too much on my scores, including thoughts like, “Hmm, a double bogie…

well, that’s not so bad. I can bounce back and still score a decent round…” and other self-judgments based on score, like that. I monitored my awareness of “just hitting the ball” by giving myself a “+” or a “-” on my scorecard, for each hole, depending on how much I was swinging free and letting it go. Keeping this awareness going became my process target.

A surprising, yet delightful component of this process was that I was inspired by the memory of some especially free swings from last Saturday. Ironically, these swings came after, for example, I hit a ball into the lake on #10. I then responded by “just hitting the ball.” Those second shots always seem to work, so I thought, “That’s the kind of feeling of freedom I want.”

Bottom line, it worked! And, the score actually DID take care of itself. 🙂  From the beginning, the more I focused on just hitting the ball and letting it go, the better I played. It was paradoxical, but productive.

Using this focus yesterday, I shot an 88 at San Geronimo, five shots below my current “personal handicap” (17.4 index = 21 handicap from San G.’s gold tees.) It’s a real accomplishment for me to break 90 on that course. Yay!

I know now, more than ever, not to focus on the results, i.e. the score. Easy to say, but the great news, is that I’m actually learning how to find a “process target” and to focus on it. It takes some practice, but it sure seems to work better. I think it’s also important to note that I am doing this intentional change of focus for its own sake (not just to score better). Afterall, it’s more fun to focus on the fun, as well as more fun to play better.

I also find it interesting that I really needed to play badly (like last Saturday, which was kind of a “bottom”) in order to become willing to learn this lesson at a deeper, more experiential level.

Now, I’m motivated to continue further down this path by continuing to learn and by just having fun (by “just hitting the ball !”).

Thanks for reading!