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Fred Shoemaker: Extraordinary Putting

Advice from the Revolutionary Golf Pro

BY MARSHALL GAVRE

Fred Shoemaker is a revolutionary. In ExtraordinaryPutting: Transforming the Whole Game, best-selling author Shoemakerand co-author Jo Hardy boldly take on the world of golf with only theirown awareness and their putters. They lay open the existing golf landscapeand offer up new possibilities that challenge golfers to create a game thatis really worth playing. After all, is there really anything intrinsicallyof value in batting a little rubber ball around a big park with a stick?

At the basis of the exploration is the simple question: “Why do Iplay, for what purpose?” The quick and simple answer is usually aboutgetting better (read shooting lower scores, beating my friends, or at leastnot embarrassing myself). Shoemaker invites us to take a deeper cut andconsider additional possibilities. What if golf were a means to developa deep awareness of our own body and its genius; to create an environmentfor ourselves free from judgment and evaluation where real learning takesplace; to realize that self-image is not derived from the flight of ourball or our score; to learn how to deal with the Voice in our head so itdoesn’t stop us in golf or in life; to develop focus and concentration;to live in gratitude and appreciation more than hope and fear? What if golfcould provide an arena for a mastery practice in life?

In his experience of giving 40,000 golf lessons and coaching thousands morein one of the world’s top golf schools over the past 15 years,he has found that the only thing that really makes a difference in a golfer’slearning, enjoyment, and performance is one’s own awareness. Learningtakes place in our own experience. Golf cannot be taught, but it can be learned.

To quote Extraordinary Putting: “ The experience of freedom, peaceof mind and self-coaching that can transform your golf will come only fromexpanding your awareness, which is the simple act of being present to somethingas it is happening in the moment.”

As a person who has chased around the little white ball for 52 years, thething I find most fascinating is the simplicity and yet elusiveness of thisinsight. What would it be like to just be present to what is happening duringthe 2 seconds that it takes to swing a golf club? When we are not awake itis amazing how human beings can be such a mystery unto ourselves and thatour mind can create such interesting stories about what just happened. Golfis a game in which this mystery can be explored and revealed if we so chose.

Extraordinary Putting invites golfers to do something that is reallyrevolutionary – totake responsibility for our own learning. In a golf culture that revolvesaround “there is something wrong with my swing, how can I fix it?” golfersseek high and low for the latest tip, technique, and formula to fix theirgame and look for the latest and greatest swing doctor to manifest the bigbreakthrough.

Thankfully, Extraordinary Putting provides a smorgasbord of simpleexercises that invites us in to our own experience and that also can exposethe interference to our own simple awareness and learning. The exercises aregrouped in three themes: freedom, peace of mind, and self-coaching. They aresimple and amenable to both brand- new golfers and experienced pros. Theyinvite us to learn from the inside out.

In my experience of exploring the exercises, learning can take place equallypowerfully whether experiencing the quality under consideration (for example,a quiet peaceful mind), or that which interferes with that quality (say theinternal dialogue of self-doubt and criticism—the Voice) and which seems todisplace the quiet mind. Creating an intention and then noticing our own experienceputs us in the present rather than remembering the past or anticipating thefuture. Being present to what’s happening may be all that is required.We may already have all we need.

The author’s revolutionary promise and premise: “The exercisesdon’t work. You do.” Check it out for yourself.

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Comments (1)Add Comment
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written by Bill Corrick, April 03, 2011
I struggled for years of "trying to fix my swing" looking for tips, reading articles, taking lessons, but with Marshall's teachng discovered that when l visoned the shot or put l would generally make the swing or stroke. The more detailed my vison, the better l played. The connection between mind and body is a powerful skill that will enable you to understand why golfing can be wonderful and rewarding. SEEING IS BELIEVING.
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