In golf, the full swing is the glamour shot. This is the one that is big and showy and the ball goes for miles. The full swing has the sounds of glory—the sound of club moving through air at the speed of light and the “crack” as club hits ball. The full swing has those big movements that make good body mechanics look sexy. It is synchronicity of all of the parts of the body working toward a common good and it involves a tool, a club, to increase the impact. The full swing is the reason that people ever start to play golf. They want some of the glory.
I’ll be honest. I want it, too. I stepped foot on an actual golf course last week and I observed some seasoned players and a golf-pro in action. (I also drove a golf cart for the first time and did fine when no one was talking to me, but then someone did and I ran the cart up on a curb in an embarrassingly noisy and dramatic way… but that’s another story.) There is a peace that these players find in the moment before they tee off. The tone is serious and everyone is quiet and it appears to take a lot of concentration. Then there is the swing and you can actually hear the club move through the air. It isn’t a boring swoosh, either. There’s the beginning of the swing and then the sound changes as the club speeds up to approach the ball. It’s a perfect sound. That sound is part of the glory, I assure you.
The full swing is a much more dramatic and much bigger version of the putt, and from what I know (having had only two golf lessons in my life), it isn’t really about having incredible strength in the arms and body. It is about using the inherently awesome body to do what it can do when the mind gets out of the way. It’s about finding your full range of motion, winding back, and then swinging the club head through the air from one end of a pendulum to the other. Because there is a ball in the line of fire, it happens to gets knocked into the distance. It’s at this point that the golfer looks and feels like a bad ass. (Curious about physics of golf??? Click here to read a great article.)
I tried to do this. I did. And I noticed something really cool. When I was able to stay relaxed, when I really didn’t let myself care about where the ball ended up, and when I let my body do its thing without over-thinking alignment and muscles and effort, it worked. My club made that sound and I even hit the ball into the far far distance a few times. It is so incredibly satisfying. When I swing like that, it feels like I am actually doing something beautiful and meaningful and important with my body. My mind and all my senses are tuned into the swing, and there’s nothing else in there. No distractions. But let’s face it, that wasn’t always or even usually what happened. As soon as I cared about the ball, I would start my swing, think about hitting the ball, shift my hands or tense my shoulders or bring the ball into sharp focus and then done-zo. No good sound, no contact with the ball, along with the annoying feeling of trying really hard to do something and then failing.
I want more of my mind and senses tuning in to what I’m doing. I want to stay relaxed and let the inherent power that is in my muscles and body do their thing without letting myself stress out and try so hard all of the time. I want to be ever-aware of the strength that is inside of me and I want to know how to make the most of it when I need to use it. This is the good stuff. This is the beauty of golf and it is the same beauty that I find in my yoga practice: ease, strength, the ability to observe the things that are happening in the mind and with the senses. Or maybe it is more simple than that. Maybe it is just that awesome feeling of doing something beautiful and meaningful and important with my body. I still can’t believe that I really like golf. I didn’t expect it. But I do. I’m hooked. And it happened with that first beautiful full swing.