When I’m at the range teaching in the mornings, I often have a cup of coffee on the table by my side. My cup is one of those insulated things that keep the coffee hot for a very long time. Great. I do like coffee.
I have never liked to drink out of those cups with the lids with the little oblong slot. Drinking out of those lids makes me think of a toddler’s sippy cup. When I try to drink hot coffee out of those lids with the little opening, I always burn my mouth. I like hot coffee. I don’t want warm coffee. Because I don’t want to burn my tongue, I always take the lid off when I drink my coffee.
When I drink out of my cup at home or at the range, I hold the cup in my right hand and take the lid off with my left, take a nice sip or two of steaming coffee and then put the lid back on with my left hand so the coffee will stay hotter, longer. I do enjoy a cup of hot, steaming coffee.
I’ve been thinking about habits. I’ve been thinking about habits we humans have and especially physical habits. Especially habits related to the golf swing and our physical motor function.
In my case, I’ve drank so often and for so long out of my tall, insulated coffee cup, every move I make when I drink is done by habit.
Just before I drink from my cup, I use my left hand to remove the lid. This has become a habit. It’s something I can mindlessly do while I’m giving a golf lesson. I don’t have to think about it.
There is something else I always do when I give a golf lesson. When the student is there before me, I always put the ball down for them. I always put the ball down with my left hand. I don’t want the student to have to think about anything but hitting the golf ball. I don’t want them to have to get a ball out of the basket and put it on the tee. I do it for them.
So this day I was teaching and drinking–teaching and drinking. I would occasionally reach for my cup with my right hand and take the lid off my coffee with my left hand, sip the coffee and then slip the lid back on and set the cup on my table. Then I would get a ball out of the basket sitting on my table and put it down for the student.
Then that day I did something different. Something out of the ordinary happened while I was sipping. Instead of putting the lid back on the coffee cup, I laid the clear plastic lid on my table. I set my coffee cup down without a lid. I don’t usually do that. Why I did that, I don’t know. I want HOT coffee.
After I set the lidless coffee cup on the table, I picked up a couple of balls in my left hand as I usually do when I’m teaching. I put a ball down for the student and decided I wanted another sip of my wonderful coffee.
I picked the cup up with my right hand and sipped.
Then, as I do habitually every time I drink coffee out of my cup, I went to put the lid back on with my left hand. Only this time I didn’t have the lid in my left hand. I had a bright, yellow golf ball in my left hand. As I habitually and mindlessly ‘put the lid back on my coffee’ I looked down at my cup. I saw a splash and saw a yellow range ball disappear to the bottom of my cup of hot coffee. I had stupidly dropped a golf ball into my coffee cup with my left hand in one smooth motion. I was stunned.
I guess out of habit I tried to use the golf ball in my left hand for a lid. It didn’t work.
Well, I really wanted that cup of coffee. I didn’t notice any difference in the flavor of my coffee after I put the golf ball in.
I’ve been thinking about how I accidentally managed to put a golf ball in my cup of coffee. I dropped a golf ball into my coffee cup because I developed a habit. A habit is a repeated tendency or practice. Habits can be good. Habits can be bad.
One of the things I have discovered after so many years teaching golf, is that my students do things during their swing they are completely unaware of. Once I point out the problem they can fix it and improve their ball striking.
It’s impossible for us humans to be conscious of every physical move our body makes in that second or two when we’re swinging at the golf ball. There’s too much going on with our body for us to be aware of and control everything. That’s why we need someone to look at us occasionally when we’re hitting balls. We do things we have no idea we’re doing when we hit a golf ball.
I guess what I’m saying is, if you want to improve your ball striking, you should let a teaching professional have a look at your swing. You never know what silly, mindless habit you’ve developed.
You don’t want to drop a golf ball into your coffee every time you swing, do you?
Play Often, Have Fun, Respect the Game,
Ps. I have a blog about stories and letters to my grandchildren. Click Here
pps. I also have a blog about birds in central Florida. Click Here.
Copyright 2018 Barney Beard Golf. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author. Click Here to order my book: Golf For Beginners: How Not to be Embarrassed on the First Tee.