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Hey SkiandGolf... or anybody: fun discussion

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Here's a special challenge for you. It's actually about golf, but I think the answers might have some universal application. Does anyone else play two or more sports and wonder why you seem to be "better" at one than the other?

When I ski, I particularly enjoy the times when skiing very aggressively and fast, yet with movements that are flowing and smooth, well-timed and dare I say, graceful, even in very difficult snow and terrain conditions. While I'm certainly not "extreme", on days off from ski instructor mode I do ski everything the in-bounds has to offer and the odd one that's off the map, so to speak. I've had some of my best learning breakthroughs on this type of terrain, and I think it's because I "get up for it" a little more, ski with more intensity, if you will. Is it adrenaline that seems to sharpen my focus and heighten my sense of feel and awareness for things?

So anyway, about the golf... yesterday was the first golf tourney of the season. Sure, it was my first "real" round of the year, so I didn't really expect much, but even though I am a golf professional when I'm not being a ski instructor, my own personal playing progress has stagnated in the past couple of years. When in difficult skiing situations, I seem to be able to rise above my average self and perform at a higher level, yet when playing golf, I can't seem to find that intensity... my "inner vision" is not sharp like it is when skiing. This was particularly true yesterday on the golf course. Just couldn't seem to focus.

In skiing difficult terrain, the landscape comes at you, ready or not. You simply have to respond. As your awareness sharpens under the influence of adrenaline ("fight or flight" response) you can actually slow down the movements you make and anticipate things before they happen. In old hippy terms, you just seem to "get into it, man". Your mind is calm, and the instructions from the brain just seem to zoom directly to the moving parts without static along the way.

In golf, that stupid ball just sits there and taunts you. You don't have to hit it on the fly, or jump over a stump before you swing. You've got a 700 dollar piece of titanium and graphite in your hand, 300 dollar shoes for optimum traction, a silly looking glove and a real silly looking shirt on, and still the ball sails of at a tangent to your intended line. Even special golf hats don't seem to help. Your mind is in a frenzy at the prospect of performing a relatively simple, non life-threatening task.

This brings forth a lot of questions for both golf and skiing... Why this paradox? How can one be calm, cool and collected when rocketing down the bumps on devil's rectum, and so panicked when standing on the sunny 1st tee at happy hollow? Would some skiing students respond better to a little danger? How can I bring some of the clarity and focus I find quite naturally in skiing to my golf game? Are the dynamics of these two sports too different to make any meaningful comparisons? Is is chemical? Psychological? Metaphysical? All of these?
post #2 of 34
Not to mention the plaid pants and their implications.........

Chemical? Skiing: H2O, Power bars, adrenaline, endorphins.
Golf: beer, cigars and bloody marys.

Psychological? Skiing: Demands real time focus, perform or suffer injury or death,
Golf: No real time 'demand' to focus, invites distractions, perform or by drinks?

Metaphysical (what isn't?)? Skiing: Read "Centered Skier" (explores "grooving with gravity")
Golf: Read "Golf in the Kingdom" (explores "true gravity")
Skiing and golf: read "Inner Game of Skiing & Inner Game of Golf"

I am only a casual golfer but find it intrieging how I can hit amazing shots and create flight shape on demand at a range when there is no "score" issue, but have less versitility on tap on a course when concerned about "how many strokes".

I see Tiger's biggest advantage is in his mental "inner game" that alows him to apply his physical skills to their max potential (and psyche his opponents into playing well below theirs). At the top of any game, many have the the physical skill potential to win, few have the "inner game" to make it happen with consistancy. The potential of the mind is a far greater unexplored frontier that all of the cosmos (or maybe just one in the same from a different perspective?)

[ April 30, 2002, 09:06 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #3 of 34
Here is something from the Physiology of Fear, Anxiety, Fatigue thread:

"This months Outside Magazine had some really interesting articles. One of them was called At Home in the Discomfort Zone, and discussed the physiology of fear, anxiety, pain and fatigue.
In fear inducing situations, neurons relay impulses from your eyes to your your eyes to your brain, which in turn sets off an alarm to your hypothalmus.

As a result, the adrenal glands pump cortisol, norepineprine and epineprine. These stress hormones increase glucose production and heart rate, while speeing up your breathing. The good news is that these reations turbo charge your muscles, creating a fight or flight response that is actually beneficial to performance.

Researchers have found that anxiety has a different brain circuitry from fear. Anxiety can be descirbed as future oriented, with a concern for POTENTIAL threats. Anxiety produces a more low level of arousal, which is characterized by stiff muscles and increased pain sensitivity.

Here's the point I find really interesting: Anxiety stimulates cortisol, but not a significant amount of adrenaline! The result? The athlete feel s paralized, and flow state is interrupted. Observe the person caught at the edge of the trail, afraid to make the first turn!"

Or unable to hit the golf ball. The point of the article was that cortisol without adrenaline produces anxiety, and anxiety has less "healthy" effect on sport than fear.

maybe if you pretended that you were skiing an icy double black diamond while you were golfing......????
post #4 of 34
Golf's a cold, cruel game. Very unforgiving. Geez, it keeps friggin'score, which skiing definitely does not! Golf penalizes the most minor of miscalculations, it forces you to count EVERY @#$% stroke, and it encourages you to constantly put THE SWING under a microscope.

I'd say the *mental* pressure to produce a consistent swing and get the dang ball in the hole without making a complete idiot of yourself is worse than rocketing down the bumps on devil's rectum.

Skiing has more leeway.
post #5 of 34
The problem is you are counting your strokes. If you just go out and think about getting the ball in the hole, you may relieve some of the tension???
post #6 of 34
Mmm, interesting.

Let's consider the 19th Hole/Apres ski.

Skiing: "The powder was excellent today. I had the most amazing wipeout, double eject, flew 50ft, put a knot in my ski poles..."
Reaction of friends: "excellent"

Golf: "the greens were manicured to perfection. I had a quadruple bogie on the 5th, kept going past the hole..."
Reaction of friends: "you need a lesson"

post #7 of 34
Good snapshot, WTFH.

I have golfed for many years. I have not taken a lesson, per se, other than taking tips from friends who are better golfers, owning a Weiskopf tape on the swing, and slogging through Golf in the Kingdom, which, not having been on Ken Kesey's magic bus, kind of left me in the dust.

On the other hand, as a skier, I get a couple days of clinics from top pros each year. My last snowboard lesson involved me and several snowboard examiners. I have miles of videotape of my skiing to watch and dissect.

It is a paradox.

P.S. I play good solid bogey golf, solidly perched on the "intermediate plateau." I know, I know, I should take a lesson!
post #8 of 34
I went golfing once.....

' saw some, but didn't get any.

post #9 of 34
I went golfing TWICE. First time, I almost killed the ski school director when I finally hit a good ball, in very much the wrong direction.

Second time, the only good balls I hit were when I stepped on a rake....

post #10 of 34
Golf spelled backwords is .....
post #11 of 34
Oh! Bob

That was good! I'll watch for the rake if anyone asks me to go golfing again!

We were using shovels, Perhaps that's why we didn't get any.

post #12 of 34
Stand on a stabilty ball while putting.
post #13 of 34
Lisamarie, WhosThatGirl, and others have probable hit on the critical difference between golf and skiing - performance anxiety v. adrenaline.

In golf, the “gallery” carefully and analytically reviews each shot. The player always has time to let the anxiety rise to an impairing level. Tee shots and Putting are the worst since all players are together and quietly watching, raising anxiety to its acme. This is always a problem with slow, technical, competitive sports.

Free skiing, on the other hand, is not generally competitive. Yes, many ski competitively within their ski group, but it is almost impossible to objectively rate similar skiers. Did Bob do better through the bumps than Sue? “I can't tell, I wasn’t watching, I was skiing. But from what I saw, Bob's line was easier, but he skied it dead on. Sues line was more difficult, and she had a few flaws. I would say they were equal.” Further, it seems to me that with few exceptions, skiers who ski together are of disparate abilities and use very different techniques, thus, reducing the competitive and comparative aspect of the sport. Finally, skiers who are competitive and who are skiing at a high level in difficult terrain seldom ski one at a time, all others stopping to watch the succession of skiers. The action is continuous with all skiers skiing at the same time. Since everyone is occupied with their own skiing, they are not self-conscious about their technique and consequently ski to a higher level since they are not as hampered by performance anxiety.

Take this test. Free ski with a group of instructors or friends over a specified course where everyone skis at the same time. How did you do? Probably fairly well. Now ski the same course but let the instructors/friends attain a good viewing position before you ski each portion of the course. Try to ski just as you did free skiing. How did you do? Usually not as well. You are back seat more, you are more tentative, you drop your arm, and rotate more, your rhythm in the bumps is off, etc. The specifics will be yours but the results will not be as satisfactory. Why? Performance anxiety and its paralyzing forces. This is one reason so many people in lessons seems to complain they are not skiing as well as the can. They aren’t!!!

It is also the primary reason I love skiing. My job is a performance anxiety job; I don’t need a performance anxiety sport to “relax”. I need an adrenaline sport to clear the anxiety cholesterol out of my soul. My wife doesn’t get this; she likes skiing for the air, exercise and socializing. I need skiing for the adrenaline catharsis; the socializing is a side “benefit”.
post #14 of 34

WOW. You nailed it. You must be one hell of a closer.

Anyway, ditto ditto ditto.

Does dchan park'n'ride or was that just another instance of performance anxiety? It's a fair question.

post #15 of 34
And why is it that golf balls have an affinity for water? It seems that no matter what you do, the ball is DRAWN right to the water hazard. :
post #16 of 34
hmmm... I've been a serious athlete in the following sports: soccer, golf, lacrosse, alpine skiing, mtn biking. I competed in intercollegiate soccer, golf and lacrosse. I would say that my highest skill levels are in alpine skiing and mtn biking, with mtn biking being higher than skiing. I tell my friends who do both that I truly believe I'm better at riding than at skiing. Nobody disagrees. There was a time that golf was my best sport, but even then, I was only a 7 handicap.

Advanced performance seems to be connected to a certain psychological attitude about one's skill in that discipline. I am more confident in my mtn bike riding skill than in my alpine skiing skill. But I'd have to say that is a result of the time breakdown -- it's a whole lot easier for me to get in more riding days than skiing days in a given calendar year.

The only sports in which I never really developed any decent level of skill were basketball and tennis. But I'd honestly have to say that is because I didn't play much of either while growing up or afterward.
post #17 of 34
I'm not a very good skier but was a 2 hcp prior to a Dec. ski injury and a 4 now. Personally the sports are very different in that skiing is not nearly as dependent on fine motor coordination as golf. Sort of like the difference in playing a soft delicate piece of music verses blasting out a march. Both require skill but in one a minor twitch is magnified a thousand times. A minor mental hiccup in golf can create a shot that is incredibly bad and which will result in many or all of the previously mentioned downsides, loss of match money and pride. Sure skiing is scary at times but like they said no one keeps track of your bobbles and flailings. My first time skiing bumps in the trees was scary but not as bad as sinking a 3 footer for a big match. As for focusing you are absolutely right, it is key! Various sport psychology books have excercises on improving focus and it can really help if you do em. Good luck! skidoc
post #18 of 34
ihavethe secret,
in case you're interested, the best book on sport psych. I've got is "In Pursuit of Excellence" by Terry Orlick and Amazon's got it for 12 bucks. It's got a good chapter on focusing and was suggested to me by a 50 y/o with a hcp 3 strokes on the other side of 0! He could play! By the way, don't get me wrong, I've wretched my guts out more often than I've come through in the clutch so I'm far from having mastered my mind as of this point in time. skidoc
post #19 of 34
Personally the sports are very different in that skiing is not nearly as dependent on fine motor coordination as golf.

I beg to differ. Perhaps they're different at the hacker level, but at top levels of skiing (PSIA 7 and above) fine motor coordination is critical to efficient and powerful skiing.

As a former competitive golfer, I understand the fine motor coordination required for golf. Honestly, at my skiing ability -- PSIA Level 8 -- I think skiing requires as much, if not more, fine motor coordination.
post #20 of 34
I have had some good golf rounds where I couldn't seem to miss and remember feeling very calm and relaxed with a certain amount of adrenaline going, but in a positive way. When I return to my regular game I wonder why I can't golf at that higher level more often. I can't seem to call the better game up at will. It just happens every so often.
My skiing is much more predictable and controllable.

[ May 01, 2002, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: Lucky ]
post #21 of 34

I would be a terrible closer. By the time I quit droning on, and on, and on the poor closee would be asleep.

As for dchan, who knows? I do believe that videotaping, when the victim knows about it, can be even more paralyzing than just being watched by friends. Particularly where the victim knows the video will be critiqued. But did this happen to dchan, I don’t know. The only good way to videotape someone is to sneak up on them and get them unawares. That will lead to a good learning experience. It is also one reason I am intent on building a helmet cam.

Skidoc, I have to agree with gonzostrike on this one. High speed, steep fall line skiing is a fine muscle sport. After all, the skier is handling 1 to 2 g’s (sometimes more) and turning through a medium that is seldom uniform. All on a relatively small base, particularly if you are SCSA. This is accentuated in variable snow condition, especially patch ice and spring snow. Slow the process down (like intermediates) and the fine motor aspect of the sport diminishes.

I frankly think that water-skiing has snow skiing beat in this regard. Since the water-skier is essentially lifting 200+ % of his body weight while balancing on a moving area about 4” wide, also in a medium that is not uniform. The snow skier has the ability to spread his feet to create a wider balance platform.
post #22 of 34
Gonz and Maddog,
I must admit that what I said pertains to my experience at a much lower level of functioning than either of you. I realize that at top level racing for example a bit of tightness could have catastrophic results. Like Ihavethesecret I have experienced better focusing when challenged at skiing while golf tends to erode my focus in similar situations. Strange when you realize that in golf only my ball dies if I screw up. skidoc [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #23 of 34
Here's a totally different perspective. I don't do golf fitness programs, but many of my colleagues do. They will often talk of a muscle tightness/imbalnces that some of their cleints have in their chest, trapezious rhomboids, etc. that restricts proper breathing. I mentioned in a different thread, that a faulty breathing pattern can lead to a feeling of anxiety, even if there is no psychological cause.

Have you tried incorporating a breathing pattern with your swing?
post #24 of 34

I like what you have to say, even if you think you drone on. I do some video of students, but it tends to be a bit of a rude awakening for some, and the viewing setup is poor, so I don't push it.

For myself, though, video is great. Once a year we get some footage and I wear out the tape watching it. Since I know that I will be the one watching with the most critical eye, I am not self-conscious, though I am trying to do my best.

Both skiing and golf require inner quiet, don't you think? Cut out the noise and focus is effortless. I loved the movie Bagger Vance.
post #25 of 34
What a great thread!

It's just so interesting how the mind intrudes so much in the game of golf.

Does it have to do with "role" models. On almost any given weekend you can on the tube and catch two or three different golf tournaments. You see the best in the world and can relate to playing a course. Maybe not at their level but you can be Walter Mitty and put yourself in their spikes.

When's the last time, if ever, you saw recreational skiing on the tube. Who do we compare ourselves with? Racers? Pro mogul skiers? Instructors?

On a mechanical basis one thing that does diffentiate golf and skiing is the ability to correct. If your a little bit off on a turn perhaps you can add some edge angle, a little rotary or increase pressure on the ski to get back "in the groove". Unfortunately, a golf ball is on the face of a club for about .003 seconds. Your actions prior to that split, split second determine where your watching the ball go. Maybe it's somewhere near where we hoped.

It's often been said that on the PGA tour the difference between the top money winners and a guy struggling to retain their card is the 6 inches between their ears. Is it self trust in that short moment of a swing, is it just being a little more "competitive" I wish I knew.

Last week I went through another PGA Playing Ability Test. We had to shoot a combined 151 over 36 holes that day to pass. On the first 18 I shot a 75 and was right in the game. As the second 18 progressed I started to hear a little gremlin congatulate me and tell me how great it was going to be to pass. I should have clubbed the gremlin!!! I lost my "play each shot in the moment" focus. Coming down to the last two holes I needed to play them in one under to pass. On 17 instead of focusing on the approach shot I'm thinking 18 is a short par 5 that I birdied in the AM, easy. Suprise, I fanned the approach right of the green and couldn't get up and down. Now I have to eagle 18. Good drive, good fairway metal. I have about 50 yards to the green, over a bunker and need to sink the shot to pass. Well that didn't happen. I went slightly long and I actually yelled at the birdie putt NOT to go in and leave me one short of passing. That's an interesting,in the moment reaction. Not caring I rimmed out a four ft. comeback putt and finished three off.

Oh well, victory WILL come on May 23rd!!! I've learned I'm very capable of playing at that level (and better). It's just putting it all together over one long ass day. And killing that damn gremlin if he reappears.

One factor that we often discuss in this forum is the complex issue of ski equipment. Yet how many golfers have equipment "fitted" to their body and swing. Yesterday I spent 90 minutes at the McGetrick Golf Center (one of the top teaching centers in the country) just south of Denver working with one of their pros to determine exactly what clubs I need. They have this medieval torture rack with over 80 different shafts of all compositions, lengths etc. and about 40 different heads of different types, lies etc. that can screw onto any shaft. It took that concentrated hour and a half of hitting balls, looking at the impact tapes on both the clubface and sole, watching the ball flight for Scotty to narrow in on what I need to play my best golf. Now I just need to get Ping to build them-fast!!!

Golf sucks, but it's the greatest game in the world! And skiing reigns supreme when I can't golf. And Colorado is super because you can do both simultaneously much of the year.
post #26 of 34
Golf's weird. I played it once, as we were guests of the St Andrews uni hockey club and had green time booked on the old course. So I went with the group...couldn't make the golf sticks work, the weightings were quite different from a hockey stick. Luckily i'd taken the precaution of putting my hockey stick in someone's golf bag (along with some beer), and so finished the game using that (hockey stick I mean, although the beer got used too). Did a lot better, that's for sure. Lots of furious glares from people who'd dreamed of this for years, and there's this drunken clown using a hockey stick.

(what you lot call field hockey, btw).

and then we went to the pub.
post #27 of 34
What do skiing and golf have in common?

Golf: Although you have a love-hate relationship with the game, there comes a time when you hit a perfect shot. It soars above all the others and lands perfectly placed. And, it happened effortlessly. Your friends are impressed. You tell yourself that if you can do it once, with practice, you should be able to do it all the time. You're hooked.

Skiing: Although you have a love-hate relationship with the sport, there comes the day when you have a perfect run. Each turn initiates easily, the edges hook up and you fly on rails. Your friends are impressed. You tell yourself that, with practice, you'll always ski like this ... powerful and elegant with perfect flow and rhythm. You're hooked.

It's not adrenaline or inner mental mindgames that either separate or bond these two activities, it's probably just your mad conviction that you have the capability to master this, and by God you will. Poor helpless creature ... just try to have fun!
post #28 of 34
just try to have fun!
...while you're beating yourself up. Sadomasochism is supposed to be FUN!
post #29 of 34

That rake must have really had a short handle........or, you are one tall dude!
post #30 of 34
Rakes are a menace in skiing, too. You'll find them in terrain parks, near the rails. I almost copped one in the head on our magic carpet this year, got out of my bindings to help a guest who'd fallen over on teh carpet (yes they do this constantly), and some IDIOT! had left a rake lying next to it. Fortunately, when you tread on a rake in snow, it just sinks in. to the snow, I mean.
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