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Get Out of Your Own Way – Chapter 1, Part 1.

You are not your job.

You are not how much money you have in the bank.

You are not the car you drive.

You are not the content of your wallet.

You are not your f***ing khakis.

Tyler Durden – from the film ‘Fight Club’. 


Oh no, not this one. You always make a mess of this tee shot.

Come on now, think positive, block out the negative thoughts.

Visualise the shot you want to hit

Nice and smooth, don’t rush the transition . . .

Noooo! Not over there!

You’re such an idiot!

Why did you do that?

I’m confident that a similar unspoken conversation takes place thousands of times a day on golf courses all over the word.

I use the word conversation, but it isn’t really that.

A conversation is usually back and forth. Question and response. An observation or point of view countered by or embellished with another observation or point of view.

These internal golf dialogues are one-way traffic. Someone is definitely talking to someone else. But there is rarely, if ever, a response.

From a rational perspective, this seems a bit odd. You probably don’t talk to yourself in this manner when you are driving a car or preparing a meal.

An internal dialogue may still occur, but it’s rarely instructional or even related to what you are doing. It’s usually about something else.

So why do we do it on the golf course?

Could this contrast be a clue in investigating what is being referred to when a golfer says they are ‘getting in their own way’?

My name is Sam Jarman. I’m a PGA golf professional and coach.

I played full-time golf for ten years as an elite amateur and as a professional on the European mini tours. Having just turned 50, I still play professionally in pro-ams and regional tournaments, as well as coaching golfers and athletes and teams in other sports.

In March 2016, I published my first book, The Three Principles of Outstanding Golf. It has sold thousands of copies all over the world during the past six years. In 2019, I published my second book, Take Relief – Uncover the Myths and Misunderstandings of Golf Performance.

Golfers have been kind enough to send emails saying how much they enjoyed them.

Some have said that reading them has been a turning point in their relationship with the game, helping them gain a new perspective on golf and life.

The recognition of a similar change in perspective occurred in my own game. When playing my best golf, I had a sense that something different was going on in terms of how I experienced what was happening.

The best way I can describe it is that ‘I’ was present, but ‘Sam’ wasn’t.

This intuition was a bit of a mystery at the time. I had been led to believe that a particular ‘mindset’ was essential for me to perform to my potential. And that there was something for me to do in order to get there.

I had been told that focus and concentration were necessary. That success would come from doing more, grinding, and suffering and trying harder.

Yet my experience was very much a sense that when I was playing well, I wasn’t doing anything. I was only doing something when I was struggling.

The game felt easy. Relaxed. Effortless.

When I started coaching other golfers, my experience was reconfirmed that the mental side of the game was at least as important as the technical or physical aspects. People who came for lessons often had good skills, but they weren’t playing anywhere near their potential.

The golfers I was working with seemed to know this too. But they had nowhere to turn to learn more about their thoughts and feelings about the game.

As described in Take Relief, the techniques and strategies offered by golf psychologists and performance coaches might help for a while. But the swing thought or pre-shot routine that led to a good performance one day, failed miserably the next.

With little logic or rationale behind what was being suggested, it was far easier just to return to the endless diet of technical instruction they were consuming, where at least a vague correlation between a swing alteration and a change in ball flight might be observed.

Paradoxically, the golfers who improved the most seemed to be the ones who just stopped searching for solutions to their perceived problems.

The ones who, from a third-party perspective, ‘stopped trying to get better. They reduced their obsessive ball beating and unsubscribed from the YouTube channels they had been binge watching.

They gave up trying to fix themselves and just played their natural game.

Reverting to playing the way they did before they started trying to become something or someone they weren’t had a surprising effect. Their performance improved, and with it their enjoyment of the game returned.

How to Read This Book

If you have read The Three Principles of Outstanding Golf or Take Relief, you might anticipate that the approach I’m suggesting will be different from other golf improvement books you might have encountered.

There are no techniques or strategies to control your thinking or emotions. I’m not going to offer any tools, tips, or tricks, or give you things to work on or think about when you play. There will be some questions to help you look at things in a different way. And there will be thought experiments to explore your current mental habits and patterns.

But before we go any further, I’m going to make a request.

I assume you have a desire to become a better golfer, or to solve a problem you believe is stopping you reaching your potential. This desire is probably why you picked up this book in the first place.

If you can, please just set those aspirations aside for a few hours, or a few days, until you have finished reading. You can always come back to them later.

You have nurtured them for a long time, so a short pause for reflection is unlikely to hurt your ambitions

Please just read or listen with an open mind to what follows. If you must have a purpose, simply make it the desire to understand what is being pointed to in these pages.

I hope the reasons for this request will become clear as you move through the book, but please be patient. The first few chapters are perhaps less about the game of golf than you might expect.

Reading them carefully and understanding what is being suggested will make the chapters that follow and that do directly address the issues many golfers are facing, much more relatable and hopefully more helpful.

Please also be aware that there is only really one big idea in this book. The bad news is that there might appear to be a considerable amount of repetition as I use different metaphors and concepts to point to it. Your intellect might rebel against this reiteration as it wants to get onto the next thing.

The good news is, if you can put these protestations to one side, deeply understanding this one idea will help with all of the challenges most golfers are experiencing with their golf. And just seeing this one thing can have an impact far beyond the game.

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