Golf Puzzle-Are You Missing A Piece?

Visit my home at any time (open invite right there!) and it highly likely you’ll find my daughter Evie spending time attending to a jigsaw puzzle at various stages of its life… that just out the box and attending to those ‘straight edges and corners’ first…deciding which block of ‘similar colours’ to start next ….or getting pre-occupied with one particularly elusive piece hiding amongst other ‘similar’ pieces.

She’ll pick up one, convinced ‘it’s the one’…..only to find that despite being close…doesn’t quite fit. I’m sure if she could get away with it, she’d file off a section and declare completion sooner than was actually true…and heaven forbid if I point out that elusive piece is sitting under the table (having been knocked off many days previously and hand it to her)…Evie would have me go to jail instantly, such is my interpretation of her facial expression!

So why is it that even though I point her in the direction of the missing piece….she’s still not best pleased it’s a step closer to completing the puzzle?

‘Because Dad, I wanted to do it by myself….I don’t want you finding pieces for me….may as well pack it up and start another one….Thanks a lot….NOT’

This has been the pattern of Evie +puzzles for as long as I can remember ,so  rarely now do I point out the piece on the floor….or hand it to her(jail beckons remember)….but I have adopted the habit of secretly sliding it back onto the table when she’s not aware…positioning it amongst other pieces so not to draw attention to my exploits….after all, I’m totally aware that Evie wants to do it all by herself with no ‘obvious’ help from me.

But in the world of being a parent…or coach…there’s always a way to help in ‘other ways’….isn’t there?

Evie reports that collecting the OUTSIDE pieces first…. (straight edges and corners first)  is an obvious starting point and easier to get her going. Very quickly she’s constructed the frame…now it’s down to the real business of puzzles…finding the INSIDE pieces….knowing that some are more elusive and may take some time….guess that’s the challenge of completing any puzzle!

Right now Evie’s choice of puzzle is one displaying ‘The Simpsons Family’ with each piece made up of mini-pictures. From a distance it looks impossible, on closer inspection I can see she follows a strategy which involves the use of a magnifying glass for maximum scrutiny. It’s a puzzle she’s completed many times and I’d hazard a guess, to date, it’s her favourite puzzle.

‘Evie, haven’t you done that one before….isn’t it easier 2nd or 9th time around?’

‘I just enjoy doing it Dad….don’t want my puzzles to be too easy after all!….and NO…I don’t need your help!!’ (and you can put down the magnifying glass too..)

‘And don’t even think about putting pieces in when I’m at school….I’ve counted them!’

The similarity with being Evie’s Dad and her fixation with puzzles….and my role as coach with player’s golf games hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Of course you may well be several steps ahead as to where this article is going ….how it relates to your role as coach….how it relates to how you play…but humour me a little while longer as I wander along.

It’s still my belief (AND A STRONG ONE AT THAT) that one of the main reasons why a player’s game stalls is simply down to working on the pieces which are easier to see (straight edges and corners) and failing to notice the piece that has slipped under the table.

It’s not that the piece is missing (or you have to go to a secret puzzle maker who will give you his magic piece) it’s just that you aren’t looking in that particular place for it. ‘Gurus’ apparently have an Aladdin’s Cave of every piece known to man and for a small bag of gold pieces will share it with you!

Well….I don’t have such pieces, but what I do have is something akin to one of those big comedy hands pointing in the direction of the underside of your table.

You have ALL THE PIECES with which to complete your golfing puzzle….you just need to look in a different place

So, we’re nearing the end of YET ANOTHER playing season here in the UK… I’m guessing that’s true of other areas of the world too…and I’m also guessing that for a lot of players it’s been ANOTHER YEAR with a game that started out great (straight edges and corners showing up fast) only for the game to grind to a snail’s pace when that stubborn, elusive piece didn’t come into view.

If that’s you….maybe it’s time to recognise that the easy , straight edges…don’t require as much attention….and that the pieces that habitually slide out of view perhaps require more of your awareness.

Tough to complete any puzzle if you only focus on the outside!

By straight edges, I mean the obvious ‘external’ guide you follow and use as a barometer of success (score, handicap, ball flight, swing positions) which are fine at forming a frame for your game….but that’s all they are….A FRAME.

Without the INSIDE pieces filled in, there will always be gaps.

And you can have the best frame in the world….until you recover that elusive piece(s) from off the floor, completion isn’t any closer.

Don’t let anyone convince you that you have pieces MISSING or LACKING…for me they have just been overlooked as you’ve become a little too fixated on the straight edges.

I accept I share my world of elusive, inside pieces ( armed with Evie’s magnifying glass and curiosity) with a world of outside straight edges and corners….and  that’s fine.

Not everyone is aware of the piece that’s slid under the table, many are only interested in the obvious, visible components of golf game progression..I accept that.

But if you’re still reading this, I’m pretty sure you too have at least a passing interest in where I’m sitting.

Golf game progression appears to remain elusive for many players. If that’s you, I’m merely pointing to the idea that you may have inadvertently been caught in a trap whereby your personal puzzle is too heavily weighted towards the OUTSIDE….maybe it’s time to glance under the table and realise the very piece you are after has always been there?

I’ll leave you with one last thought-

Mainstream coaching will try to convince you you’re not long enough…..straight enough…fit enough…..flexible enough……educated enough…..coached enough…..strong enough… maybe all you need is to become AWARE ENOUGH.

The piece you seek has always been there. If you’re unsure how to find the way to where it sits, I have a magnifying glass, comedy hand and enough awareness which you can share whenever you want.

I’ve just noticed a couple more pieces which fill find their way back to the table…It’s okay, Evie is at school and pretty sure her CCTV isn’t running between 10 and 11am….

Guess I understand that when returning personal pieces….I’m always aware of what’s important to Evie and when it’s a safe time to engage in puzzle piece collection.

If you’re convinced golf progression is all about the frame, it’s not me you need. If you feel a few pieces have slipped under the radar and require a little help  with the inside pieces of your puzzle…I promise not to put them in for you….It’s your puzzle, and besides, I don’t want to go to jail!

Stay well…

Andy Morrison