Monday, 20 August 2012

Swinging into Twilight

golf twilight
Golf at twilight
At 9:00 PM in the middle of the summer it's starting to get dark. The first four holes at Westchester Hills, where we played as teenagers, loop back to the clubhouse. We would start at 9:00 and finish before 10:00. By the time we got to the second tee it was already quite dark. If you did not have an accurate sense of direction and distance to within say, 50 feet you were not going to find your ball. We learned pretty fast, and surprisingly, we didn't lose that many.

One evening recently I decided to go back in time and hit some balls into the dark. The gradual dimming of the light seemed to help me focus more and more on my swing. I found myself giving added attention, not so much to how my swing was supposed to be, but instead, to how it actually was. While being aware of my balance, rhythm and timing, I was really paying attention to how the ball and clubface were reacting to my swing motions without me consciously trying to control them. My objective became the experience of my swing, not the result of it. This internal shift of attention is helpful in learning to experience relaxation in the golf swing, and when we are relaxed we are most likely to produce our best efforts.

The entire orbit of a golf swing made by a driver measures approximately twenty-seven feet, yet during that swing, the ball is on the clubface for only 3/4's of an inch. Since the ball flight is a result of how the clubface and the ball dance together in that brief union through moment of impact, the more aware of ourselves we are at that point the better. There is no reason why, with a little imagination, we can't perform the essence of this twilight exercise in the middle of the day. You can swing with your eyes closed or you can swing with your focus funneled into that moment of your motion. This ability to focus will also will also save strokes in pressure situations when all of us are most in danger of losing our concentration.

Work to focus attention on what's happening thru impact and how it orients towards your imagined target in the distance. Work with a windup mode that is small enough to let you get back through the starting point (the ball), with a comfortable balance. Play with your movements and how they affect the extension of your arms and club shaft thru impact. We are looking for a 'repeatable', which is another word for balanced, accelerating motion toward the target thru impact. This motion, this 'repeatable,' is a relatively simple affair of winding behind and swinging back through the same place. Once we have a sense of how we want to move through the impact zone we can increase the size and effort of our windup knowing our movement is still oriented toward the target.

Your ability to take your swing from the dark to the light will enhance your experience of the game and lower your handicap at the same time. Enjoy the Moment.


  1. I'd probably have a hard time learning from that (even if the country club long island where i play is already well-lit at that time); i have a hard time with slightly darker lighting.