The Hacker: As the hangover wears off, make sure your mind is blank - Golf - Sport - The Independent

The Hacker: As the hangover wears off, make sure your mind is blank

Even more powerful than the hangovers they wake up with this morning will be the feeling felt by most hackers that this is going to be the year when their golfing dreams will blossom at last.

A sadly desperate hope, to be sure, but if hackers weren't so incurably optimistic we wouldn't still be trying to play a game so obviously beyond us.

And if you've spent many forlorn years in pursuit of a better golf swing, even the faintest hope of a new dawn is a comfort.

The secret behind the perfect swing is out there somewhere. Ben Hogan claimed to know it but died without revealing it to the world.

Some say his secret was that it is all in the mind. Others say it is all in the hands. The equally legendary Sam Snead said it was all in the feet.

He recommended that beginners should learn to swing in their bare feet because spiked golf shoes encouraged bad swings by applying an artificial grip to the ground. No wonder we get confused.

It is confusion that I intend to avoid. Instead of entering the new year befuddled by resolutions, I'm going to empty my mind, do what comes naturally and keep it simple.

Influential voices support this approach. I'm not sure Albert Einstein played the game but one of his more quoted proclamations is: "Simplicity is genius."Leonardo da Vinci said: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". But he always was a bit wordy.

I asked my latest trainer for a few words of advice to pass on to hackers on New Year's Day and he immediately replied: "Ignore your thoughts, trust your feelings."

You can't get simpler than that. It's the philosophy John Hastings deals in at the St Andrews Major club near Cardiff. He drills his pupils in the four reasons why they find the game so difficult: they think too much; they try too hard; they are too tense; they use too much force.

If they can relax and find their natural swing, he says, they will improve because most of the tools they need to play better golf are hidden within them.

That so many of my tools remain undetected is not the fault of his instruction but of getting an old body trained in the devil's work to fully adapt to a new style.

I am swinging more naturally and hitting the ball better but what I can't master is the consistency.

I no longer grip the club like I'm strangling a chicken, my down-swing only occasionally resembles a trainee lumberjack and my short game is acquiring subtleties I never thought possible.

Last year I had unprecedented success in match-play competitions. Yet my ambition to end a 10-year failure to break 100 in a medal is regularly ruined by a sudden lurch back to the old ways.

I promised that once I broke 100, I would give John full credit for the transformation he has caused but he doesn't deserve to wait that long.

There's a strong element of Buddhism in his themes of relaxation and inner harmony but he has a technical background as a professional player in European tournaments, and as a teaching pro in Germany and France. He also had a spell as Craig Stadler's caddy.

But now he is convinced that the answer lies in the natural approach instead of filling minds with various tips. The swing should be one easy movement and not the result of a sequence of thoughts.

The prospect of a year when I not only don't have to worry about my golf but I don't even have to think about it has a certain attraction.

p.corrigan@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen