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Psychic Hardpan: Didionisms for your game in 2022

What we all truly need - on and off the links - in the coming new year, and beyond. 

R.I.P. Joan Didion.  Counterculture, political and reality writer extraordinaire - and basic badass when it came to telling things as she saw them - whether you happened to be in accord, or not.   

Not unlike the golf ball we all so lovingly choose to chase: it doesn't care what you try to do, plan on doing, or even what you want (but please - do put that out to the golfing gods before each and every shot!).

Instead, it responds to the physics of the collision you've created between clubhead/clubface and its round, dimpled self. The ball 'rolls' much like JD's Corvette Stingray (speaking of badass..) pictured up north on your screen: highly dependent on just who is behind the wheel.

Do your navigation skills on the links need a boost?  Carry on, fellow lifelong learners!

The Opposite of Magical Thinking

Didion's hardpan, and how it relates to your betterment in this pastime (and the media incessantly polluting our very beings..)?

Take it from British novelist, essayist, and short-story writer Zadie Smith, from a Christmas eve offering a few short moons ago in
The New Yorker:

"Didion was genuinely interested in drilling down into that hardpan, no matter what she might find down there. She wasn't looking for approval.  Would not be bullied by what "everyone" was saying or what "everyone" believed. 

This she located just between the seemingly rational or ideological topsoil, which she found to be 'dense with superstitions, wish fulfillment, self-loathing and bitter fancies.'

To put it another way, while everyone else drank the Kool-Aid, she stuck to Coca-Cola and cigarettes."

You?  Fearful of on-course hardpan lies and upon life's daily sidewalks? Feverishly seeking approval everywhere you roam? Following golf advice full of on-Interweb superstitions & bitter fancies?

I gotcha... But with 2022 around the bend, isn't it time you weened yourself off of the omnipresent Kool-Aid, and sought some legit guidance? 

To follow, this last moment of December, a sevensome (why not - you can in CS' golf park) of cultural shots of introspection and wisdom from Madame Didion. Who knew she may very well have been the greatest mental chaperon in the history of our game?  Clarified in golf realms with well-intended pokes and prods from yours truly; my wellness-based Coca-Cola and cigarettes for your game.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live"

Indeed we do - and about ourselves as golfers.  Yet when the proverbial rubber does hit the road, there's the 'nagging' golf ball (Didion in disguise?) to call us out on our BS, dismiss the excuses, and look us straight in the eyes about what kind of game we've really got. 

What about those in charge of helping you with your golf?  More interested in impressing, than assisting? Sounding smart, or making your game more sound? Teaching in and of itself is an art, much more than slinging info your way in hopes that it resonates and sinks in.   

Click just above on a seated Didion for a fascinating TED-Ed offering on the "Art of the Metaphor" from Jane Hirshfield. 

"There's a point with when you go with what you've got.  Or you don't go"

Translation, fellow linksters?  When it's time to put the ball on the peg on that 1st tee, you've got to play with what body, mindset (alterable) and swing you've got that particular day.

Not what you're striving for.  Not what was working yesterday.  And certainly not what 'should be' (no more shoulding on yourself in the new year - I beg of you...) happening. 

Otherwise, stay in the clubhouse or at home and grind those 'wish fulfillment' fantasies. 

It's a big part of the golf warm up, did you know? So you can acknowledge, adjust, and adapt as need be for the day's work.

Not buying it from a nicotine-infused non-golfer? No worries; take it from the irrepressible Samuel Jackson Snead (then click on his image below for a coolio Slammer refresher):

"You gotta dance with who you brung"

"The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dreams"

CS guilty as charged!!

We all do live in our own little dream world - n'est-ce pas? 

The challenge becomes when you are bombarded by preference, bias and agenda-based dreams from the masses.  And: when those pretending to help guide you refuse to listen (another soon-to-be lost art) to what you are expressing. 

Could be a feel in your golf swing.  Could be an emotion when you play.  Could be a fear (more on that see below) - that you are hiding. 

Regardless, please make sure the person(s) supporting you on your path to betterment is not only listening to you - but recognizing, embracing and nurturing your dreams, via a concrete path to fruition. Think: mini goals to reach your BIG goal. 

"I know what fear is.  The fear is not for what is lost.  What is lost is already in the wall.  What is lost is already behind the locked door. The fear is for what is still to be lost"

You know what fear is, as do I...

A flared drive.  A chunked chip.  A whiffed short putt.  Yes, "it" happened, you've done your best to recover and move on - put it 'in the wall' - yet the dastardly dread of re-occurance remains. 

Hmm... if that ain't psychic hardpan, I don't know what is. 

So, how best to manage?  Run and hide?  Get it over with quickly?  Pretend (can't BS your mind on everything, boys & girls) it didn't happen?

How about:

"So what - now what?
What happened is over. What will happen hasn’t happened yet. What’s happening now is in my control."  Thank you, and R.I.P. to Trevor Moawad, for this powerful tidbit; click here for a short audio piece from Moawad on mental conditioning.

Click o
n the scarfed and sun-glassed image of Didion above to procure Moawad's fantabulous offering "It Takes what It Takes" to address your score-zapping fears.

"Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it"

Much like experience.  You see, nothing has been learned until it has been experienced.  

Do you and/or your guides truly 'know' those places of grief, turmoil and the like on the golf course, and how to best handle them?  Whacking balls into a simulator - or aimlessly & void of focus or consequence on the range - doesn't help much when the reality of 'playing golf' sets in, does it now?

Is your practice not enduring, nor transferring to the golf park?  Gamify it, among other.  Click on Didion's forlorn face above for more science and experience (those never go out of vogue, FYI..) principles from my signature Train2Trust programs.  

And competitive golf?  Alas, there is no substitute: go compete!

"You have to pick the places you don't walk away from"

Like your strengths as a golfer.  No question: upgrading your weaknesses (this is where stats help you, and I, as a coach) is critical to game improvement.  

However, be certain not to degrade the areas where you excel.  Even the best players in the world are better at some aspects than others (PGA Tour Stats tell us this story quite clearly). 

On a broader note - where are those places (the surroundings, the company, the tasks) where you feel best?  You know, where you are energized, enthused and alive? So very many 'deadening' spots & situations upon life's fairways; choose to leave those behind in the new year and pursue those 'happier' dimensions. 

Bottom line: Trust the authority of your instincts.

"I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends"

Accept who you are now as a golfer, while acknowledging who, perhaps, you once were.

Although your physical attributes may have devolved, can we not learn from past swings, renditions and 'mistakes,' in lieu of dismissing, denigrating and detaching from that person ('tis you, after all..) and those rich experiences? 

Those parts of your self (and mine) of 'ghosts past' exist to serve you now, in the present. Rather than doing your damndest to bury them in the basement, why not get to know them better?  Understand their motives, behavior and actions. 

Consider past game-management blunders you've made on course... have you taken your medicine and hence an alternative route?  Chosen differently?  Committed to more fruitful conducts, demeanors and ways? Or, are you stuck (worse than your arms and club behind your body in the downswing), waiting for 'things' to change instead of amending your path, ignoring past events and their potential mind-hammering repercussions yet to come? 

Choice time, yet again. Like with help for you golf.

I'm here for you - a
t Eugene Country Club, and part-time at Puerto Los Cabos in the wintry months.  I also offer remote coaching plans wherever you reside.  Click below on either spectacular venue for specifics. 



"I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.” 

 -- Joan Didion at her UC Riverside commencement address (1975)



          ~ CS ~
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