It never fails for those living in the colder climates. Hours spent looking out the windows at the frozen tundra, white everywhere, just dreaming of tightly mown green fairways and the smell of fresh cut grass.
You haven’t touched a club in months, itching to play - “This is the year I break 80”, you say. The new golf season is full of potential and promise, and the first several rounds of the year only seem to confirm the conviction that “this is the year”.
Undoubtedly, the first several rounds of the new season will be some of your best. You’ll hit drives without effort, strike your irons crisp and make 4 footers for par with no thought.
Your scores will be the same or possibly even better than they were at the end of last season, but why?
First, your expectations will be lower since you haven’t played in months. You’ll go out excited and eager to play and just looking to have a good time. You’ll also have an excuse if you don’t hit everything perfect, preventing you from getting angry and berating yourself and this will allow you to relax and just enjoy the round.
Second, and most importantly, you haven’t been tinkering with your swing - yet - and your mind is almost completely clear of swing thoughts. Your first few swings will be your best, completely devoid of thoughts of W.O.O.D.
What is W.O.O.D? Johnny Miller once used this term to describe the amateur’s plight at miscellaneous swing thoughts that Work Only One Day.
By mid-summer, your mind will be full of them and you’ll be wondering how you hit the ball so well in early spring when you hadn’t even thought of golf for months. You’ll be struggling to return to those early weeks of effortless golf, but the harder you try, the further away that bliss will seem. But it’s not that far off. You just need to return to the simplicity of Spring Golf.
I encourage you this year to devote your time not to swing thoughts or swing mechanics, but enhancing your enjoyment of the game - and your scores - by keeping things simple.
Don’t try to fix every single missed shot and don’t analyze every missed putt. When you hit a bad shot, go find it, step up there and hit again as if you’d never hit the one that you got you here.
React to the target and play instinctively, just as you’ll do in early spring. When you start to stray, just think to yourself “Spring Golf”. Remember what it felt like and how free you were of swing planes and lie angles, spine angles and wrist cock.
If you don’t, you’ll end up in the exact same place you ended up at the end of last year - tired and weary, frustrated and confused, wondering what happened.
You’ll never have more clarity than the first time you pick up a club in the spring, the winter layoff is just enough for your mind to completely reset and empty your mind of W.O.O.D. So enjoy it, relish the spring time golf and at all costs, don’t stray from it. If you’re disciplined, spring will last all year.