by Steven W. Harley, M.S.
Frank had been playing golf for about eight years and had steadily improved with every year. However, over the past two years, he had developed a rather irritating hook whenever he used his driver. As you can imagine, this problem not only wreaked havoc on his score, but also caused some major embarrassment when he played with his coworkers.
Attempts to solve the problem on his own was met with failure after failure. And at the rate he was going, he knew that it was just a matter of time before he lost all interest in the game. Frank hated what his hook was doing to him.
One day Frank was talking to a friend about his dilemma. About ten minutes into the conversation, his friend looked at him with complete self-assurance and said, "I know just the thing you need. You need to see Brad Miner. He's the best! He's been working with people with your problem for years. I haven't used him myself, but I hear that he can help anybody. Oh, and he's not cheap. But hey, this is important. Right?" Frank got Brad's number and made an appointment.
The day finally came. Frank met Brad just outside of the club house. With his golf bag over his shoulder, Frank said "Well, should we head on over to the practice tee?" Revealing a slight smirk on his face, Brad looked at Frank and said "Frank, why don't we sit down and talk first. I need to go over a few things with you." Brad caught Frank a little off guard, but Frank followed him as they sat at a table in the club house.
"So Frank, you said you've been golfing for how many years?"
In a quick five minutes, Brad gathered some basic golf background on Frank. Brad then grabbed a napkin on the table and, with a pen in his hand, began drawing pictures. Brad was introducing Frank to some of the more basic physics of golf relating to the dynamics of the swing, body placement, and the ball.
Brad had a gift for bringing concepts together to really make sense. Over the next 30 minutes, the only thing Frank could do was to just sit there and act like a sponge. Everything that Brad was saying made perfect sense. Frank was soaking up every word that came out of Brad's mouth. Frank's mind was reeling as he was already putting this information to work in his head on how he could fix his game. In fact, Frank was considering cutting the meeting short as he wanted to test Brad's dynamic theories right there and then.
When Brad finished, he could tell that Frank was on edge. Knowing that Frank wanted to move along, Brad went ahead and asked Frank a question anyway. "So Frank, do you have any questions about what I've covered here?"
Frank paused for a moment, gathered his thoughts, and said "Nope. It all makes sense to me now. And actually, I really need to cut this off a little early. You see I've got just enough time to hit a small bucket of balls and then be off to a business meeting. But I really wanted to thank you for helping me understand what I've done wrong. This has been the most informative 40 minutes I think that I've ever had."
Frank reached out to shake Brad's hand in appreciation. As they were shaking hands, Brad asked "Do you mind if I just stick around and watch, Frank?" As Frank was confidently walking away, he half-turned his head and yelled "Sure! That would be fine!"
Brad sat on a bench near the practice tee. In fact, he was able to sit so that he could see the line of the ball and not be a distraction to Frank.
With a smile on his face, Frank teed up a ball.
Frank stood and watched in amazement. You could see Frank's body literally shrink a bit as he watched the ball curve off to the side. He looked down at the bucket of balls and slowly bent over to grab another.
"Ok," he thought to himself "I know what I did wrong. Brad said that the ball needs to be a little farther back in order to prevent the ball from spinning that way."
Frank just stood there and stared as the ball curved off to the side just as it always did. As he turned to walk towards his golf bag, he noticed Brad sitting on the bench.
"You knew this would happen, didn't you?" Frank asked.
"It happens a lot, Frank." Brad said in a reassuring voice. "Now Frank, are you ready to practice what I covered in the club house?"
Frank sat down next to Brad on the bench. They immediately began to create a plan outlining how Frank was going to develop the skills to hit the ball in a way that he now knows he should.
Over the next several weeks, the two of them met on a regular basis. Brad helped Frank understand that the hook was not the problem in his game, it was a symptom. Together they continued to implement the plan which identified Frank's bad habits and exactly what he needed to do in order to overcome them.
Each week, Frank learned a little bit more about the dynamics of golf. And each week he practiced what he learned. Brad was there to make sure that Frank stayed on track and to quickly point out any of Frank's bad habits when they crept back into his swing.
Months later, Frank's shot was as straight as an arrow. And the best part about it was that he knew exactly why.
There are many similarities between becoming an expert golfer and becoming an expert spouse. In both cases you must overcome bad habits and you must create good habits. Like Frank, You may have discovered what it is that makes a marriage great, but you may still be making mistakes because your habits have not changed. And, like Frank, you may find that you need supervision to correct your mistakes and provide motivation to practice new behavior.
If you can't seem to change your behavior, and you decide to use a counselor, be sure that the counselor becomes your "coach." Don't settle for mere "insight." Make sure that your counselor is also able to train you to become an expert spouse.
Dr. Harley has written an article to help you find that coach if you need one. Be sure to read, "What is a Marriage Coach?"
Food for thought...
Steven W. Harley, M.S. is the Director of the Marriage Builders® Counseling Center.