The prospect of a golfing holiday sounds fantastic. The question is – how do we keep those golf swings, minds and bodies in top condition when we find ourselves at a holiday destination with no golf course for hundreds of miles? I’m sure many of us face a similar situation each year. Every year we visit Kefalonia for our family holiday. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit this beautiful island, you will appreciate other than a mini golf course in Skala there is no golf course for miles!
Our time in Kefalonia is spent mainly relaxing on the beach or visiting friends. This year, I carried out a little experiment to see what golf related activities I could incorporate into my holiday without impacting the holiday activities. Our Golf Monkey experts are giving us so many tips that knowing I had the time, I wanted to put them into practice.
So………. this was my experience over a couple of weeks in Kefalonia…..
Golf Body – Before I came away on holiday I had a biomechanics assessment with our resident ‘Monkey Body’ expert, Michael Andreou. During the initial assessment, Michael checked my body for general joint mobility. Michael gave me a series of 5 exercises, designed to get my body aligned to play golf. So, whilst I was on holiday, I practiced these exercises no less than twice a day. I am really impressed by the noticeable improvement in my mobility and flexibility after maintaining this for a couple of weeks. My daily swim also helped, but the biomechanics exercises realigned my body and I definitely feel more balanced. I highly recommend if you feel a little off balance, maybe an achy shoulder or hip, to get in contact with Michael. Now I have returned home I will continue to practice the exercises and book a follow up assessment with Michael to check how I have improved.
Golf Mind – Over the years I have read and listened to lots of golf related material. There is always a reoccurring theme regarding the importance of visualisation within the game of golf. One clear message that repeats itself again and again is that generally the mind cannot tell the difference about what is real and what is imagined. This is great news for any golfer without access to a golf course. So I thought, why not use the quiet time on holiday to visualise playing that perfect round of golf in my mind.
I played my own golf movie in my mind once a day whilst on holiday. I found that by adding as much detail as possible helped i.e weather conditions, tee placements, pin position and pre shot routine. By playing this movie over and over again, I believed I could hit every fairway and green in regulation hole out with two putts for a perfect level par round of golf.
I feel my confidence in my ability has improved and I am going to continue this drill on a daily basis now I have returned from holiday. I am convinced it will help me to play better golf. Pete – am I along the right lines on this? How has this helped me to feel more confident and to believe more in my ability?
Golf Swing – Have you ever watched the film ‘The Karate Kid’? (the latest version). In the film there is a scene where the Karate Master teaches his young student a couple of what appear to be basic movements i.e taking off a coat , putting it on the floor and then hanging on a peg. The student is made to repeat this action over and over again. The student seems bored but out of respect for the Master, continues with the tasks given to him. What the student does not know is that through repeating the actions over and over again, he is ingraining muscle memory for what are martial arts moves.
I watched this film before going on holiday and associated this way of learning to the theory of ‘Deep Practice’. Reproducing a specific skill creates electrical impulses down nerve fibres in the brain. A substance called Myelin insulates these nerve fibres which in turn increase the signal strength associated with the skill. Many experts have likened the process of deep training to installing mega fast broadband. The more we practice something the stronger and faster the connections in our brain become. ‘Talent Code’, Daniel Coyle (2011)
According to Daniel Coyle, if you want to become world class in something then there is a universal equation that you will need to bear in mind ;
Deep practice x 10,000 hours = world class skill
So whilst I was on the beach, I used the technique of deep practice on my golf swing. In the absence of my golf club, I used a piece of bamboo found on the beach. Although this may sound very odd, it really helped and I concentrated on the feeling of the swing rather than the equipment that I was using. Take a look at my photo below. You may feel uncomfortable doing this on a crowded beach. I was fortunate that I practiced on a very very quiet beach!
It’s going to be interesting to see the difference in my game when I get back on the course.
Peter recommended I read Talent Code theory and Play Your Best Golf – both great books which I also recommend. Simon Tillson has been encouraging us to put the ‘Plane Truth’ theory into practice (see Simon’s blog) through drills for a one plane swing.
So even though I was on a beach for 8 hours (oh yes 8!) each day, I spent some valuable time putting all of this into practice.
Combining all of this with a healthy diet over the two weeks of lots of fresh fruit, locally caught fish and vegetables, I have come back to the UK feeling re-charged and re-energised and can’t wait to get back on the course!