Last week, Jerry and I went to hit golf balls, our first practice session of 2016. I'd been telling him about my experiments with allowing--the experience with the soccer ball I described last week, as well as further experiments with skiing and tennis serves--and I told him I thought I was on to something. We went to the chipping green and tried it. And the results were extremely promising.
We centered and put a real focus on feeling the core, then allowed the club to move in a relaxed swing, with all the motion generated by core. It worked as we hoped. After my experience with the soccer ball, I wasn't terribly surprised that the ball came effortlessly off the club with much more power than I was used to. The ball flew with a lovely trajectory, right toward (and, with my shots, usually beyond) the aim point.
It was a challenge for me at first to figure out how to control the power. I worried that I'd try to do so by tightening up, and so for the bulk of the practice session, I simply allowed myself to hit long, enjoying how sweetly I was striking the ball and not worrying too much about the result. At the end, though, I felt confident enough to try a shorter chip. I allowed, still all the movement from core, but gently, and I put the ball within two feet of the pin.
Over the course of the session, we reveled in the sounds of our practice. Every golfer comes to love the unmistakable sound of a ball hit cleanly with a square clubface, and that's what we heard. On a chip, it's a crisp little thwack. The ball's flight confirmed the clean strike. The ball would fly through the air and then land with a similarly delicious thump.
Now let's be clear: it wasn't that every shot was perfect. A fair amount of the time I was so excited to see my shot that I looked up before I hit. And sometimes I struggled to allow, and cheated by getting really handsy, which obviously doesn't work. So I'm not describing some panacea. But my best shots that day were the best chips I've ever hit.
For our next practice session, we intend to practice at the range with full swings. For me, the challenge will be to see if I can keep myself from tightening unnecessarily in a misguided search for power. I have a strong tendency to think, "I have to hit it hard." But allowing doesn't feel like hitting it hard. Allowing feels effortless. My expectation is that it'll take some practice to learn to allow. I have a lot of muscle memory to the contrary.