BE A GOLF SUPERHERO
BY T.J. TOMASI
Here’s a question for you: If, by some magical operation, you could make your arm adjustable in length and shaped into a golf club — a sort of golfing Wolverine — would you do it to hit the ball better? Sounds like a lot of trouble, but it might be easier to do than you think.
Recent research done by Alessandro Farne and Lucilla Cardinali at the French Universite Claude Bernard Lyon, shows that human brains can be convinced to treat tools (aka golf clubs) as if they were actual body parts.
“We believe this ability of our body representation to functionally adapt to incorporate tools is the fundamental basis of skillful tool use,” Cardinali said. “Once the tool is incorporated in the body schema, it can be maneuvered and controlled as if it were a body part itself.”
When a club is not a club
Just as your immune system is based on a kind of “spatial xenophobia,” so your feel system treats foreign objects with a suspicion that leads to an intermediate step of evaluating then controlling the object. Think of how awkward your movements would be if you needed to evaluate your hand, leg or arm each time you used it. This extra step is inefficient and presents one of the major barriers to good golf.
If you view your club as a hitting instrument, separate and distinct from you, then you are doomed to overthink and overmanipulate your tool.
But when you think of the club as part of you, your brain calculates the movement of, say, your 73-inch arm (33-inch arm plus 40-inch club) instead of a 33-inch arm plus an alien object.
There are two things you must do to ensure that your brain adopts the golf club as its own: (1) Consciously conceptualize your club as part of your body, and (2) repeat this concept using full intention and full attention every time you take a club in your hand until it becomes automatic.
It sounds easy, but take it from somebody who has given over 50,000 lessons — most golfers spend their entire golf career thinking the club is a “foreign instrument of hit.”