BY MARSHALL GAVRE
Fred Shoemaker is a revolutionary. In Extraordinary Putting: Transforming the Whole Game, best-selling author Shoemaker and co-author Jo Hardy boldly take on the world of golf with only their own awareness and their putters. They lay open the existing golf landscape and offer up new possibilities that challenge golfers to create a game that is really worth playing. After all, is there really anything intrinsically of 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 I play, for what purpose?” The quick and simple answer is usually about getting better (read shooting lower scores, beating my friends, or at least not embarrassing myself). Shoemaker invites us to take a deeper cut and consider additional possibilities.
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 is the golfer’s own awareness. Learning takes place in our own experience. Golf cannot be taught, but it can be learned.
To quote Extraordinary Putting: “ The experience of freedom, peace of mind and self-coaching that can transform your golf will come only from expanding your awareness, which is the simple act of being present to something as it is happening in the moment.”
As a person who has chased around the little white ball for 52 years, I find this insight most fascinating. What would it be like to just be present to what is happening during the 2 seconds that it takes to swing a golf club? When we are not awake, it is amazing how human beings can be such a mystery unto ourselves and that our mind can create such interesting stories about what just happened. Golf is a game in which this mystery can be explored and revealed.
Extraordinary Putting invites golfers to do something that is really revolutionary – to take responsibility for our own learning. In a golf culture that revolves around “there is something wrong with my swing, how can I fix it?” golfers seek high and low for the latest tip, technique, and formula to fix their game and look for the latest and greatest swing doctor to manifest the big breakthrough.
Thankfully, Extraordinary Putting provides a smorgasbord of simple exercises that invite us into our own experience and that also expose the interference to our own simple awareness and learning. The exercises are grouped in three themes: freedom, peace of mind, and self-coaching. They are simple and amenable to both brand-new golfers and experienced pros. They invite us to learn from the inside out.
In my experience of exploring the exercises, learning can take place equally powerfully whether experiencing the quality under consideration (for example, a quiet, peaceful mind), or that which interferes with that quality (say the internal dialogue of self-doubt and criticism—the Voice) and which seems to displace the quiet mind. Creating an intention and then noticing our own experience puts us in the present rather than remembering the past or anticipating the future. 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 exercises don’t work. You do.” Check it out for yourself.