A New Perspective
In late August, I sustained one of the first real injuries of my golf career. I sprained my left wrist pretty severely following a bicycle crash. While I wasn’t thrilled with missing a big chunk of the golf season, it gave me a previously unexplored perspective on the game. If you’re struggling with an injury, I hope this gives you some solace and a couple silver linings to look for.
Let’s get this out of the way so we can get on to the better stuff.
The worst part of being injured is the fear of re-injury. As my wrist started to heal, I wanted to get back on the course but stopped myself for fear of making things worse. There are no hard and fast rules about recovery. Sometimes we need to push ourselves, sometimes we need to hold ourselves back. The lack of clarity drove my crazy.
Loss of Distance
As much as we mock super strong lofted irons and people who lie about their driver distance, we all have egos. We’re used to hitting the ball X yards, and anything less feels like an assault on our pride. But the reality of being injured is that you probably won’t generate the same speed. Try to be accepting of it and don’t feel the need to inform everyone in your zip code that you normally hit it farther.
Fighting Your Body & Swing
This is the one that snuck up on me. As my wrist healed and I hit more balls, I started feeling totally out of sync. At first I thought it was rust. As it persisted, I realized it was something else: my body compensating for the injury. Because I couldn’t use my wrist and hand normally, the rest of my body started doing unusual things too. I felt completely uncoordinated. This was right up there with “losing my swing” as far as bad golf feelings, but, thankfully, as the wrist healed, it went away.
Many golfers are guilty of sabotaging themselves by thinking too much on the course. I’ve spent a lot of time doing just that: thinking about mechanics and worrying about outcomes instead of being focused on the shot at hand.
I found that when I was injured, most of that extra thinking went away. Because I was hurt, my expectations were lower, so I wasn’t worrying about outcomes. I also knew that I didn’t have the capacity to mess with my swing – I just needed to get through the round. My improved focus led to better results than I ever could have thought possible while hurt.
While I’m not an student of the “Just swing 50%” school, I did find value in dialing back slightly from 100%. I was shocked by how far the ball went relative to how easily I was swinging [I should have taken my own advice from this lesson HERE].
A lot of the distance came from superior contact. As the lesson I linked to says: you’ve got to find the point of diminishing returns for effort. The injury was a chance for me to reexamine my swing and realize that I could hit better quality shots without swinging full out.
Smart golf strategy tells us that it’s a lot easier to intentionally not lose strokes than it is to intentionally gain strokes. Putting this simple idea into practice became a lot easier when I knew that my body wasn’t at 100%.
Knowing that I didn’t have my normal speed, I opted against reckless plays. Having less practice under my belt meant that I picked safer targets. All of this led to better scores and more enjoyable rounds. I’m hopeful I can take this experience and apply it next year when I’m back at 100%.