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Practice makes permanent

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Last week, I wrote about changing the game of golf and the role played by Will Robins Golf Academy. Robins was an aspiring touring golf pro whose life changed when he and his wife were swept out to sea by the tsunami that hit the island where they were honeymooning a few years ago. Robins was injured and unable to continue on tour so he began teaching it but doing it a different way. As a pro, he knew well the mechanics of the game. But because of the experience of his tragedy, he learned “mechanics” isn’t what most of us are about. Although those who play the game think what they want is the perfect swing. But, in truth, what they really want is to score well. When I came out of high school, golf was a game foreign to me. I was used to words like “gridiron” and “hardwood,” not “birdies” and “fairways.” Sports were muscle games meant to be endured as much as enjoyed; golf was … well, golf was just a game. I didn’t take it up until later in life when it became difficult to keep up with team sports. I figured I’d give it a shot, and in spite of my opening round of 150, I was hooked. Still, old habits die hard and I became aware of that during my first golf lesson. After looking at my setup, the teaching pro asked was if I was a baseball player; guilty, other than the fact I was actually playing softball by then. He expertly changed all my mechanics and I was eventually able to get my score below 100 but that’s about as good as it got. I still enjoy the game, but struggling to break 100 lost its appeal. After a long layoff, I received some information via e-mail as to the Will Robins Golf Academy coming to nearby Turkey Creek Golf Club. Intrigued by what it offered, I did an article on Will and his amazing ordeal. But, that was not the end of the story – far from it. Robins approaches the game differently. Instead of trying to recreate the “perfect” swing in his pupils, he tries to make it fun. And he does it by teaching the game – not the mechanics. Oh, he knows the fundamentals all right, but he discovered through experience that golf, like life, isn’t about mechanics. I well knew golf was a game of mind over matter but regardless of how hard I tried to train my mind it didn’t matter. So, when Robins offered to give me an introductory lesson I took him up on it. What I found is Robins unlocks the secrets of the game through a combination of proper techniques designed to put one’s mind at ease, thus making it easier to perform the required mechanics. OK, not a perfect explanation, but as Robins says, “Golf is not a game of perfect.” That’s also the title of a book but it goes hand-in-hand with Robins’ philosophy; golf is to be enjoyed not perfected. And when “failure” is replaced with “feedback,” practice can make permanent the joy of the game.