Finding my flow

Challenge Tour player Chris Paisley on taking technique work out onto the golf course and finding his flow state

It has been fairly quiet golf-wise since my last column. I have only played two events in the past five weeks as my girls came over to the North East from Florida and I wanted to spend some time with them, along with my side of the family; many of which had not met baby Annie.

I missed the cut in Italy by a couple of shots. My driving was great, but my iron play let me down. I just could not get it close enough to make any birdies. I’ve also played my favourite event of the year so far – The Big Green Egg German Challenge. I played really well after a poor opening round and ended the week in a tie for 20th. Unfortunately, that didn’t earn me another Big Green Egg barbecue. I am however in discussions about purchasing/being given the best tee markers of all time – exact mini replicas of Big Green Eggs!

Over the last couple of months, there has been a slight shift in focus regarding my game. The primary objective for a while now has been to rebuild a functional, repeatable swing… my swing. While this work is crucial and still ongoing, technique work will only take you so far. To play truly great golf you need to be able to access your library of shots seamlessly and precisely. This may not make complete sense at first, but stay with me.

At my best, when I arrive to my ball, get the yardage, work out the wind… my brain will automatically know the exact file to pull from my library of shots. The shot may be extremely complicated, and I may be making a ton of small changes to my setup, swing, and grip. Yet, to me, it is compressed into a very simple feel; as if it has been reduced down to its essence. This means I am able to see, feel, and then execute this particular shot without much conscious thought at all, despite having made hundreds of adjustments to account for whatever the conditions require.

This is what flow state feels like – the game feels easy. Your brain is accounting for thousands of variables, yet it feels like it’s barely doing anything. It is not possible to make all of these adjustments consciously and execute the shot correctly. While the focus on my swing has been necessary, the downside is that my mind is operating in a conscious manner. I’ve been focused on a certain feel or position that is only a fraction of what is needed to execute a shot out on the course. In flow state, you are unconsciously accounting for thousands of variables; and that is the only way to play your absolute best golf.

I have been in technique mode for a while and I am looking to regain access to my library of shots. This requires work. It requires me to trust the work I have done on my swing and allow my subconscious to do its thing. I saw some signs of that in Germany and I am excited to be on a journey towards playing free flowing, flow state golf.