After two action-packed shows, Christopher and I focus on the amazing sport of Speedgolf and deliver some entertaining peak performance insights that can translate into many other pursuits…in case you are not interested in Speedgolf, which you should be by now.
Christopher is a Guinness World Record holder in Speedgolf for best 18-hole round, set when he shot a 65 in 44 minutes in Chicago. Christopher describes the zen–like “flow” state that happens when you play Speedgolf, when you get out of the over-analytical and tense golfer mindset and just go with the flow.
He describes how our brains operate better with “ballpark” concepts rather than precision, such as a quick estimate of yardage or how a putt will curve on the green. He makes the interesting analogy of how we exhibit automatic, instinctive, graceful behavior when we drive our car to the market. We’re not thinking, “Don’t hit that car, don’t hit that telephone pole!” and other negative, fearful thoughts when we are driving, nor are we scrutinizing the angle of our wrists when we turn the wheel. But we do this type of stupid shit when we play golf every time!
However, since the rapid pace of Speedgolf means you don’t have time to ruminate on striking the perfect shot, you are able to unleash your natural athletic ability and intuitive skills to achieve peak performance. How else can you explain Christopher’s YouTube video at Bandon Dunes, where – on the very day when a sophisticated production crew shows up to film him for a Speedgolf promo video – he delivers an otherworldly performance? I recall Reggie Jackson in the 1985 World Series against the LA Dodgers hitting three home runs on the first pitch each time. Three swings of the bat, three home runs, on the grandest stage of baseball. These are supernatural feats that don’t happen when you are tense or up in your head, worried about results or making mistakes. Another time, Christopher was by himself on a rainy day at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland, and went out for a late-afternoon round of Speedgolf. At the first green, he realized he forgot his putter. Instead, he decided to putt with whatever club he hit into the green. He proceeded to make five birdies in a row, using hybrids, wedges, and 8-irons on the green. Crazy. Amazing. And indicative of the magic of Speedgolf.
Speedgolf also helps you forget bad shots since you have to hit another one pretty quickly. In general, when it comes to bad shots, Christopher says you should expect them (pros hit bad shots all the time, but we rarely see them on TV!) and be more compassionate about your mistakes. Along those lines, Christopher says, “You should stop ‘should-ing’ on yourself.” Don’t stress about your score, enjoy your walk in the park, and maybe – just maybe – you will access the peak performance state naturally. Again, with carryover into all manner of real-life challenges, Christopher suggests you “Adjust, Adapt, and Move On” as a coping strategy and remember, “stop trying to be so perfect….it does not help.” This isn’t just folksy wisdom; Christopher quotes numerous leaders in brain science and cutting-edge athletic performance.
The problem with the modern game of golf is that it takes too long, costs too much, and is too hard. When you try to get help, the focus on technical instruction misses the point entirely. Consider Christopher’s message to strive for peak performance in a more holistic manner, relax and have a little fun, get over yourself, and perhaps try your hand at Speedgolf!
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Get Over Yourself Podcast
Brad: 00:08 Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author and athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit and happy in hectic, high stress modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Brad: 03:53 Welcome to the ultimate speed golf podcast between two Guinness World record holders, especially Christopher Smith, the greatest speed golfer of all time, who has the world record still standing world record from 2005 when he shot an 18 hole round shot, a score of 65 in 44 minutes at a tournament in Chicago. Yes, there are so many interesting aspects to speed golf, the zen-like experience that you have when you get out of that overly analytical, high pressure mindset that golfers are so familiar with and just go with the flow and react to your surroundings. Invision a nice shot and go up there and hit it rather than obsessing and getting too deliberate, which is possible in all areas of life. And Christopher has this great analogy, uh, between a proper approach to a golf shot and the concept of getting in your car and driving down to go to the store.
Brad: 04:52 Now when you’re driving out of your driveway and heading down to this door, are you constantly thinking negative thoughts like, oh, I hope I don’t hit that trashcan. I hope I don’t hit sideswiped that parked car. I want to turn with a 45 degree flection of my left wrist when I entered the parking lot and not hit the curb. No, you’re just in the flow state that these sports scientists talk about so much. Especially Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi the modern father of flow research, or they call it the zone and speed golf automatically gets you into the zone due to the fast paced nature and the inability to ponder and deliberate such that you’re forced to rely on your natural athletic instincts. So again, even if you’re not a golf fan, I think it’s a fascinating concept that might help you get into the flow.-like state when you’re a working on a clay sculpture, doing any other type of sport, writing a book or what have you. And I referenced these experiences in my life where I have a perfect setup for, uh, my morning of writing with my tea steaming out of the cup and my nice little office set up where everything’s dialed in, there’s no distractions. And I sit there and maybe don’t access the peak performance state as well as that time when I was sitting at the airport gate with a spiral notebook and under pressure of knowing that my row was going to be called on Southwest. Anytime I jot down some thoughts, just boom coming out of my brain without a filter and without any formality and those formulate maybe the most profound and valuable insights that shaped the entire writing of the book. That’s happened to me many times where these little accessing these little portals, these fractals of peak performance, uh, puts you into that state where you’re not judging yourself, you’re not worried about the outcome. You’re not wrapped up in negative emotions or energy depleting emotions. So this is what we’re going to talk about as well as the nuts and bolts of speed golf. And I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for your interest in speed golf and go check out youtube and you can type in Brad Kearns Guinness World Record Speed Golf or Christopher Smith, Bandon Dunes speed golf and you will be amused and intrigued if nothing else. So enjoy the show with Christopher Smith,
Brad: 07:06 Christopher Smith, Eugene, Oregon, the new home of Christopher Smith. We just did some very heavy lifting today with two incredibly intense shows about when do we even call that peak performance, getting over yourself, uh, making changes in life, getting out of your comfort zone, all that great stuff was covered. And this one, I want to cover the incredible, fabulous world’s greatest sport of speed Gulf, which we all know and love. And we were talking maybe a responsibly during our run, uh, about the concept that even if you’re not a candidate to play, you’re not a runner and a golfer itching to go try your first tournament. But just the concept of the sport and what it stands for and what kind of a representation it has. When you can run through a course and get out of that overly analytical mindset and try something new, it might be an interesting conversation for anyone. So why don’t we try it out.
Christopher: 08:05 Yeah, it’s certainly been a big part of my life for about 20 years. Not so much the last couple, but like with a lot of things, I stumbled into it and, and uh, enjoyed both the running and the golf aspects and then it kind of blew out of the water, some of the paradigms about, for example, what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to play and this is going to help you. And um, yeah, it might be interesting for the listeners to, to take some, uh, some things from that.
Brad: 08:36 So your lifelong golfer, a junior player college player, and you’re saying that you didn’t even start speed golf until you’re in your thirties.
Christopher: 08:45 Yeah, so I started about 20 years ago with my dear friend Tim Scott. Just on a whim, uh, Tim actually saw an article in runner’s world about this sport called speed golf And, uh, we were both pretty hardcore runners and, and uh, in PGA professionals at a different courses in Portland, Oregon. And we thought, wow, this is our, this is our calling, This is it. So we went out and first we played, we caddied for one another and then we played with one club and then a handful of clubs. And really what we discovered, what was really interesting is how well we played playing in that fashion where, you know, you’re running in between shots, you only have a few clubs, you’re ballparking distances. And really what it does is it makes golf a lot more reactionary. So you simply see the shot you want to hit, have some yardage in mind of what, uh, how far you want it to go, and then you react to it instead of all this thinking and overthinking in between maybe seeing the shot and then executing this way.
Brad: 09:44 Well, it’s hard to convey to either a golfer or even a non golfer that you can actually play as good or better rushing through the course and running at a brisk pace and only using half your clubs are less because we’re so conditioned to watching golf on TV is the most boring and slowest sport where these pros are deliberating forever. And then we model that with the recreational golfer because we don’t know any better. And we think that, oh yeah, you can a lot four hours for around or they have the sign up on the first tee. We expect you to play in under four hours. Like that’s a great, you know, accomplishment. And so, uh, I guess you got to see it to believe it. I would direct people to your incredible youtube video at Bandon Dunes, which I believe is one of the greatest golf rounds of all time counting anything Tiger Woods has done or Bobby Jones in the masters because on tape for the benefit of the camera and the viewer, you went around the championship, Bandon dunes golf course in four under par in 53 minutes. And they did that fancy video where everything was high speed. So you only have to watch for a few minutes and we see your entire 18 hole round. But then they post the score on the side of the video where you’re knocking in birdies, hitting pars and just racing through the course. It’s a, it’s a phenomenal accomplishment.
Christopher: 11:02 Oh, thank you. That was, uh, it was fun to do and a kind of a one off shot. So you got 18 holes to play and you’ve got people filming you and it’s a, it’s then or never. So, uh, it, um, yeah, we use that as a promotional video for the inaugural speed golf world championships, at Bandon Dunes and 2012 some events that were, uh, came to, came to be thanks to the, uh, the generosity of Mike Kaiser who developed and, uh, started Bandon dunes. And uh, yeah, that particular round, I shot 68 and 53 minutes running around with my six clubs. Um, it was fun. Yeah. And uh, again, it just, uh, it, it’s a way of playing that’s a lot less deliberate. It’s more intuitive, it’s more athletic, it’s more instinctive. And even though you know people, golf is hard. We all know that anybody that’s listening to this that plays golf, it’s hard. Um, and in some ways speed golf is easier than traditional golf if you have any kind of conditioning because you’re not getting in your own way. Uh, you’re constantly in the now in the present as we here and uh, just reacting to what you see. And then before you know it, you’re at your next shot. So there, there’s no kind of hanging out in the past.
Brad: 12:18 So you have studied this and made this your life’s work. The insights behind these breezy commentary, which many golfers I talked to and describe the sport and I don’t think they really buy it when I report that I play as good or better when I just run up to the ball. Don’t worry so much. You get a basic yardage estimate rather than an exact range finder. Again, we’re, we’re competing in a tournament in a tournament setting. You’re competing with, uh, the score being kept with your minutes and your strokes added together for a total speed golf score. So anytime you deliberate, such as lineup, a putt, or take a practice swing or any of those things that are routine for golfers, you’re just wasting time really because you’re, you’re on the clock every second and therefore you just described the altered state that you have to exist in to play. But what’s behind that? Why does it work to rush up to the ball and hit a shot and actually find yourself hitting these shots that you dream of when you spend for practice swings and a little self commentary prior to stepping up?
Christopher: 13:26 Yeah, it’s the same question I asked myself when I first started doing it. Brad is when, when I don’t know something, I’ve certainly come to you with questions about this, whether it be training or health or other things. Well then go to somebody that does go find an expert. And so when I first started playing speed golf in it and I had such success with it just in the golf aspect, I thought, wait a minute, this is all backwards. You know, it’s not, you know, not supposed to work like this. So I first consulted a good friend of mine, Dr. Christian Mark Hart, who’s a neuroscientist developer of the Sam Puttlab and uh, he actually explained it rather simply, um, you know, a few specifics that you just already really are already shared with the listeners. For example, the, uh, the yardage piece. So we know, and this isn’t directly from Dr Mark Hard, but we know that the brain actually works better in what are called in the ballpark concepts. So the brain doesn’t really know what 137 yards equates to or what it is, or 214 yards. Again, back to you, you’re driving your car down the street. Do you know exactly how far you are away from the cars parked on the side? No. Do you know exactly how fast you’re going at all times? No. Do you know exactly how much pressure you need to put in the gas pedal or the brake pedal? No. Do you know exactly how far they stop sign is that you’re going to stop at in a little while? No.
New Speaker: 14:48 Okay, but you have this system, it’s called the mind system that works better in these approximate and that doesn’t mean it’s sloppy and it doesn’t tie into what we see on TV with a really high level golfers who also do not always operate best with these specific yardage is. Now for the rest of us, you’ll also do better with these in the ballpark yardages because it then is requiring you to be less perfect. Stop trying to be so perfect, ladies and gentlemen, golfers out there. It does not help as a player and student of the game of golf or regular golf for 45 years in a fulltime coach and teacher for the last 25, I can share with you that my experience has been that when people try to be too perfect with whatever yardage is positions in their golf swing, whatever, it doesn’t work very well. So it’s not about being sloppy, it’s actually about being the way we’re designed. So that would be the first piece when it comes to, hey, how do you do this? You know, without, um, you know, these exact precise measurements. Uh, we’re, we actually have an incredible measuring device, if you will, or devices within us all.
Christopher: 16:03 We have a GPS, we have an aimer, we’re hardwired for these sorts of things. So it, it’s there if you, if you can activate it and let it come out and play, so to speak. Uh, it certainly, uh, can help us all. And, uh, it, it shows that, so that’s part of the why. Why does this work and speed golf? I also, um, I shared this in the previous podcast, but think about this as we’re going along and looking at all these things were we’re having liberal estimates tell us about 11 million bits of information that are coming in every second, 11 million bits per second. That’s a lot. So why would I take extra time reading a putt or doing whatever when I already have this information overload and hey, that is coming in to, I really need it more information usually creates doubt and confusion and then I have a difficulty choosing what I’m going to do, so there again, let you know less can be more and we have this system, you know that we kind of take for granted this incredible supercomputer and then this body and this spirit that that can put all these things together and perform admirably. Sometimes we just need to get out of its way,
Brad: 17:14 Right. We talk about the concept of that natural athletic instinct, that natural athletic ability, the natural knowing, and I referenced that most, most profoundly when I’m playing speed golf on these long putts where even if you spent 10 minutes there, you, you’re not going to judge that you’re taking your putter back 22 inches to hit the putt. Exactly 47 feet. It’s, it’s a feel shot if there ever was one. Unlike when you know that you’re a 140 yards out and you know that a full swing of a nine iron under these conditions is going to go around 140. If you hit it perfectly through trial and error on the range or whatever. But on those long putts, you don’t have an exact reference point cause you’re playing some strange, they’ve changed the position of the pin all the time. So why are you better when you’re instantly, uh, taking that, that picture and hitting the stroke rather than being calm and walking up and down to the whole and looking at the final five feet of break. Like all the golf instructors ask you to take in all this information?
Christopher: 18:17 Well, again, I think it’s, I think sometimes less is more in a, I think it goes to the way the human being to a large extent, the way we were designed and hardwired. So for example, let’s go way back even before the funny sport of golf came around. Let’s go back to caveman. So cavemen walked out of his cave. It was usually the man, not the woman. The woman was either gathering mushrooms or taking care of the little ones and he would go out and hunt to some extent. So every time he walked out of the cave, you know, was the saber tooth tigers sitting in the same place up on the rock? No. It was different all the time. Well, when we go to play golf, guess what? It’s different all the time. For those of you that have played the same course for years and years, or decades and decades, that course is a living, breathing, evolving, moving thing.
Christopher: 19:05 Okay. The conditions are always different. The pin placements are always different. The temperature is always different. Every day we wake up, as we know, we are always different. Okay, well that’s the way it’s always been. That’s how we survived. So the same thing is happening when you have a longer putt of any sort. Okay. Our eyes were were designed to kind of judge distance. That’s how caveman threw his spear and his rock to to kill whatever and to improvise, to adjust and to adapt. It’s part of what goes in wrong in practice sometimes where people set up, let’s just say, oh, I’m going to work on my lag, putting my approach pricing. I’m going to hit a 60 footer and then I’m going to hit a 50 footer and then a 40 footer and a 30 and a 20 I get it. I’m not saying it’s completely useless. It’s almost completely useless because when you go to play, what happens? Oh look, it’s a, I don’t know how long it is. It’s a 47 foot putt that’s slightly downhill. How much downhill? I don’t know. It’s downhill. I can tell. Okay, and then it’s going to curve to the right. Well, how much is it going to curve to the right? Well, I can just tell. Okay, so when people walk around, when you walk on something that is not flat, do you fall down? No. Why? Because you adapt and adjust to the slope. You can feel and see the contours and you have balance. It’s the same thing. So I’m just not certain that that and I’ve proven it to myself, I’d like to tell the listeners otherwise when I’m not, I’m not at all convinced that taking more time is going to improve performance.
Christopher: 20:38 Uh, one of the things people ask a lot about speed golf is practice swings, right? So practice swings and I could get into the, you know, the benefits or the, what’s happening from a brain standpoint, what’s happening from a functional MRI standpoint. If somebody’s taking a practice swing and somebody’s hitting an actual golf ball. So, uh, I can’t tell you this, that the practice or the rehearsal swings is I like to call them. Cause technically folks, when you’re out on the golf course, your practice is over. It’s done. You’ve either done your practice or you haven’t. So you might take a rehearsal swing. But in all the rounds of speed golf I’ve played, I’ve never taken a rehearsal swing, and I honestly don’t think it’s been a detrimental fact. So, um, is it, can it be helpful sometimes if you’re on a wacky slope, uh, if you have some weird lie it can be, but usually what the practice swing or the rehearsal swing does, Brad, is it elicits these conscious thoughts in a golf swing is largely, it is actually run by your subconscious folks, not your conscious mind.
Christopher: 21:41 It is an automatic motor program that you have created for better, for worse, you created it. It’s the thing that you’ve done the most. That’s why it fires. That’s why you swing the way you do because that’s what you’ve done the most. It’s very zen in its own way. It doesn’t no good, bad, right, left hook, slice fat thin. Why do you swing the way you swing? Because that’s what you’ve done the most. That’s the pattern that you’ve created. Like in your life. You say, well, why do I do this? Because you’ve done it a lot. So, um, if you get out of the way and let the subconscious, which has all by the way, all the experience, everything you’ve done in your life is stored in your subconscious. The conscious has no experience. It doesn’t really know how to do anything. It’s the here and now.
Christopher: 22:27 It’s the part of me that’s talking right now. So what do you want to rely on? You want to rely on the conscious that thinks it’s really smart and has no experience whatsoever. Now it might have the information but information is in is irrelevant when it comes to golf swing. You can get information in a book, go up to pals and PDX. Portland, Oregon, if you want information about golf swing. Golf swing is about experience and feel and having done it so we’re better off staying out of the way and letting the subconscious do its thing. And I think that happens more when we have less time.
Brad: 23:04 Why do the top professionals take forever out there? Is it, do we have a, a free pass if you’re a scratcher or a pro level player that it can pay off to know every single bit of information because they’re applying such a methodical and precise approach to their hours and hours of practice as they’re like a cutoff point where we can say, hey, spend time reading the putt if you’re shooting 74 below routinely and then everyone else might access some more potential and more enjoyment if they sped up and didn’t take practice swings. Rehearsal swings, excuse me. Yeah, for sure. I think
Christopher: 23:43 ends on the level of the player. I think for new players that are kind of just getting into the game, you know, a rehearsal swing can be really useful. Oh, this is a funny slope. Uh, and I noticed that my club hit the ground way behind the ball so I better grip down on the club or I have a long Putt, however long it is. I wonder how big of a putting stroke I need. And usually that information is, is brought in through your eyes. That’s one of the sources. So of the 11 million bits of information that’s coming in per second, about 10 million of that is visual. We’re very visual creatures. Now, the critters on the planet, the dogs and cats and other, you know, they’re, they use other senses more than we do, but we’re mostly visual. So as most people are walking up to the green, even before you get to it, you have a really very good idea of what that putt’s going to do. Now, if you don’t, and we see this even with the best players in the world, then maybe it’s worth taking a little extra time. Maybe you look at it from the side or from behind or wherever, which you definitely want to do is be without doubt. You need to be decisive in, you know, especially green reading and kind of trust your instincts and your gut. We now know that when people are given too many choices, they get blocked. They can’t, they can’t choose it all. Okay. So when, and if this happens to you on the golf course, reading a putt in between clubs, the very best thing to do is to completely distract yourself momentarily. Then come back to the shot at hand and whatever your gut and your instinct tells you, that’s what you need to go with. There’s one thing that’s never wrong in golf, especially for experienced players. That’s your gut. Now, your logical conscious thinking mind will tell you, well, maybe you could do this or you could do that. Or I read this and I saw this on golf channel. Now you’re adding more choices. But even the newest players, they know when they get to their ball intuitively, instinctively what they want to do and what they need to do.
Brad: 25:39 I remember around I had with you where you were on the golf board, uh, following me around in the, in the freezing rain in Portland, 39 degrees. That Pumpkin Ridge, no one out there. The best time to play speed golf when, when the weather’s bad and all the other golfers are watching out the window. Uh, but I remember hitting a couple of poor shots and struggling and then I, uh, I got angry with myself and you said, Hey, have compassionate for your mistakes, one of your Train to Trust tenants. Love that. And then you started to kind of get me focus with the Little Gulfport Board coaching and asking me to just visualize the shape of my shot and then making a suggestion I think on the par three you said? Yeah, just fade that one in there. Uh, with your, with your hybrid because you knew the yardage, it’s your home course and you just gave me a little tip. But I remember locking into that mentality where all I thought about was the shape of the shot. As I approached, as they approach the ball, I saw myself hitting a nice fade, a choking down on my club cause it didn’t look like it was a full distance five hybrid. And I started to hit some beautiful shots right on command of whatever you recommended for that hole. And it’s like, you can never do that when you’re playing in a slow round with your, your buddy who’s a member and he says, watch out for this putt. It’s really tricky on this hole fools a lot of people. And you get all this down filling in your mind rather than making it more simple and focus. Suggestion to, to execute without worrying about the,
Christopher: 27:05 Uh, the, the particulars. Yeah, for sure. I mean everything, Brad, in life and on the golf course, it starts with a picture. So when people read a putt, um, they’re picturing the line they want the ball to roll on. If you go farther back, good players. And, and I would encourage this of all golfers, whether it’s speed, golf or not, you need to put out there what you want your ball to to do. What behavior do you want your ball to take on? Do you want it to go high? Do you want us to go medium? Do you want it to go low? Do you want it to curve a little bit to the left or? A little bit to the right. Uh, most really good players never try to hit a ball straight. Most amateurs try to hit the ball straight. Now the golf ball goes straighter today in 2018 with the equipment and the ball than it did when I was growing up in the 70s.
Christopher: 27:51 However, it’s a lot easier to intentionally curve a ball slightly. I’m not talking about big, you know, big slices and in and banana hooks than it is to try to hit it straight. So you’re straight shot is your miss hit and it’s usually a good miss hit. So it starts with a picture. The person who designed the chair will go back to the caveman came man, probably got tired of sitting on a stone or sitting on the dirt. So somebody back then, I don’t know who it is, they had an image in their mind. They visualize this thing that had four legs on it and, and they could sit off the ground. That’s the chair. How did it come about? Somebody had a picture in their mind, they imagined it. So every shot in golf, even if it’s a tee shot, there’s an ideal shot in mind. There’s a picture of the flight of the ball that you want. Oh, I want it to go pretty high up in the air curve a little bit to the right and go just over the tree line. Okay. That’s the pre programming and the planning we’ve talked about in the past. If you don’t have that, for me, that’s a must in people’s pre shot routines. So for example, what is a pre shot routine in speed golf? I have a picture and I have a ballpark distance. That’s it. I don’t have time for rehearsal swing or choose not to take one. Don’t really need one, but those first two are musts. Now, off the tee, I don’t even have so much a distance in mind. Probably I just have a picture of the flight of the ball. And again, when you get in your car to go somewhere, somewhere in your mind, you have a little routing system, right?
Christopher: 29:17 Google maps, it’s already built in in there. I ain’t got to go out here. I got to take a right here and then I’m going to merge onto this or that. You have a plan and you follow the plan. Now, does the plan always happen the way you thought? No, of course it doesn’t, but that’s life. That’s life. And that’s golf. But without the plan, you know, I asked the listeners how many people have ever gotten in their car and just started driving? Maybe some of you had for like therapeutic reasons or you wanted to waste some gasoline or whatever, but no, you always have an intention and a destination. How are you going to get from point a to point B? That’s super important in golf. And I think what happens when things slow down, like with a lot of things, we get away from that. So then we get into, well, let’s see where do I not want this to go? Or what should I not do? Um, as opposed to where do I want this ball to go? And what does it look like? Oh, I want it to, you know, you’re close to the green and you don’t want it to roll very much. Well, I’m going to use a wedge and I can see this ball going up in the air x amount of distance and when it lands it doesn’t roll very much and it ends up next to the hole or in the hole.
Brad: 30:24 Yeah. I think when we’re playing slow golf as we call it in the speed golf scene, uh, you start to also get fixated on your score because you have five to seven minutes between shots and you want really badly to make a par on this easy hole because you should make a par as you just made a bogey and you start really ruminating on that end result. Whereas in speed golf, the funny part of the, the tournament situation is that you can’t even keep your own score because you’re running too quickly to get your pocket the card out of your sweaty pocket and take pencil to paper. So you actually just yell your score to an attendant who’s either stationed on the whole or as following you in the golf cart. And I know when I finished my tournaments, I don’t even remember playing half the holes because it’s so fast paced and all of a sudden you’re at the clubhouse and 45 minutes or whatever it is. And luckily someone kept my score because I don’t have the foggiest idea of, of what I shot. Uh, you know, between a, between a five to 10 stroke, margin of error. So I think that’s another aspect where the fears and anxieties about the end result are naturally muted because of the speed of play.
Christopher: 31:31 Yeah, for sure. And then I think there’s a couple of different mindsets that we could take from your statements there. First off, oh, I should this or I should that I always tell people, you need to stop shoulding on yourself should it, should is somebody else talking, it’s not you. So there is no should I should make par here. I should make this putt. I should shoot this score really according to whom. So stop shoulding on yourself. Secondly, the arguably the greatest coach of all time and one of the winningest coaches of all time. So if winning can equate into, if we quit that into shooting a low score, never talked about winning, that would be John Wooden. He always emphasized there’s a difference between being successful and winning. So never did he go into a game talking about winning the game. So I would recommend people stop thinking about shooting a score or I should shoot this score. So what’s your definition of success? Wooden have his, you know, in a nutshell, try your best, try your hardest, do your best, and that would be defined success.
Brad: 32:40 His quote about about that was worrying about the scoreboard is a big mistake. Focus on the perfect execution of every possession. So now we’re taking this to golf and thinking about that horrible shot that we just hit and now we’re angry and frustrated and stressed. Instead of punching out into the fairway, we’re going to try to hit a miracle shot to make up the stroke or we’re still carrying the frustration of a past experience with us. Uh, and then starting to add up our score in our mind and, and getting that stress and tension and anxiety. So that I think freeing yourself from that because you’re going so fast and you don’t have time to ruminate on a bad shot is another advantage to play in quickly.
Christopher: 33:20 For sure. It keeps you in the present. I mean letting go of the less than perfect shot and oh by the way, people next time you stand on the, on the first tee getting ready to play, let me tell you something. You are going to hit bad shots. It is going to happen. That is not a negative way to think. Like I said, you want positive planning and programming for every shot. Every shot starts with a picture. What do you want? Put it out there. If you don’t put it out there, beware. Because if you don’t put the intention out into the universe for what you want with your golf ball or what you want with your life, uh, somebody else will take control of it. So you do need to put that out there. However, uh, getting the golf ball to behave the way we want it to is an incredibly complicated task even for the best players in the world.
Christopher: 34:08 So when you do hit a bad shot, you know, it might be a poor drive that goes way offline. Uh, it might be a chunked iron shot that you hit the ground before you hit the ball. Might be a short missed putt. It’s going to happen. So rather than getting uptight, uh, disappointed, frustrated, turning into a drama king or drama queen, why don’t you just say, hey, cool. Yeah, that happened. I wouldn’t necessarily say you have to accept it, but you do and adjust and adapt and move on. And like you said, Brad, one of the cool things about speed golf is the less than perfect shots. Okay? Uh, they’re just in a matter of seconds. Literally you’re going to be at your next shot. So instead of having to wander around for seven to 10 to 15 minutes stewing in the last, you know, Miss hit shot, uh, and there, there are alternatives to that too. We can train ourselves to, to, you know, respond a little bit more positively to those shots, but it’s quicker. So you’re upon your next shot. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone. All you have to do is watch golf on TV. Those are the best players in the world. And the ones that are on TV happened to be playing very well that week. By the way. You don’t see the people that are missing the cut.
Brad: 35:17 Oh, we forgot about that. So also don’t see the bad shots, which was so amazing to me when I watch a tournament live versus on TV. These guys hit some sorry ass shots where you’re like, holy crap, what a bad shot that was. And then what they do is they’re there behind the trees and they, they shape a shot around the trees onto the green and it says, it says par on the scorecard, but you’re like, wow, what an adventure that guy had on the hole. But they, they’re good at keeping their cool. I liked that. Adjust, adapt and move on. And the other podcast that we recorded, uh, we’re deep into that and how to manage those emotions and reprogram the nervous system so that you get good at that. Uh, I think we ignore that objective and in favor of working more and more on the technical aspects of golf. And I guess that’s part of the magic of speed golf as well is that for me anyway, the breakthrough occurred when I just thought about the target and shaping the shot and the general distance instead of the fact that when I want to fade something, I want to take my club back a little outside the line with a slightly stronger grip and all those things that I believe, in in my case, at least mess me up when I’m playing regular golf.
Christopher: 36:26 Yeah, for sure. And we’ve, you know, we’ve gotten into the phase here in modern golf instruction where we’ve come across some relatively, and I say that a relatively accurate measuring devices, uh, that will tell us certain things about, uh, everything from the way the ball is flying to the way the club is moving to the way our bodies moving and they’re are only somewhat accurate, which is neither here nor there. However, uh, getting the golf ball to behave, getting it to curve, getting it to go the right distance. It’s really, it’s a little bit more complicated than this, but not so much. So if I gave somebody a ball and I asked you to throw the ball some distance high, most people know how to do that now. And then I said, well, throw it some other distance kind of medium and then throw it another distance kind of low.
Christopher: 37:15 So you’ve just changed the flight of the ball. Now did anybody think about the angle of their elbow, their arm, their wrist, where their pressure was? Where their, uh, force vectors were? What the plane of there aren’t? No. Well, how did you, how did, how did you do it then? It’s amazing because you’ve learned how to throw, and I gave you a picture, I gave you a task. Throw the ball here at x trajectory at x height, and you can do it. So how is that any different from hitting a golf ball to a certain distance with this certain flight? Now the differences is most of us can only throw a ball. I don’t know, 20, 30 yards at the most, depending on what kind of ball it is, the golf ball can go up to, you know, and we see this now up to 300 or 400 yards for some of these people. So there’s a few more variables going on. Nonetheless. At the end of the day, somebody will say, well, I know, I know what it feels like. I know how to toss, I know how to throw. And all I do is have a picture in my eye and I in my mind and I react to that picture. So that’s kind of what’s happening with speed golf. It’s just that having a little tiny golf ball and havimg weird looking stick in your hand with an odd head. At larger distances it’s a little more complex.
Brad: 38:28 So tell me about your competitive experience, the tournament scene and how, how it works out there with the staggered start and uh, some of your favorite tournament memories too. I know we’ve had some great world championships in recent years and the speed golfers would gather annually for these big tournaments. We know it’s not a huge participation sport. Uh, but it seems like the people who are involved are very passionate and if locked into something special, especially since, uh, the game of golf is struggling due to high expense, high time commitment, and extreme degree of difficulty that can discourage a lot of players where we have answers to all those objections.
Christopher: 39:07 Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think speed golf to me, to me it’s been a big part of my life for 20 years and yet however I will still even as the Guiness world record holder currently still in speed golf and with all my background and speak golf and uh, there’s still a ton of people that have never ever heard of speed golf. So, and also being in the golf industry, we just take for granted that people know what golf is. Well, here’s another startling insight. Golf itself. Just golf, normal golf, slow golf is a niche sport. So where does that leave speed golf? Well, it’s a hyper niche sport. Uh, it’s a handful of people that play that are super passionate about it for sure. It’s really fun. Uh, it’s incredibly difficult to find the opportunities to play because there cannot be anybody in front of you on the golf course. So it’s either really late, really early. So I don’t, I don’t see it as this burgeoning, booming piece. Uh, I, I thought for a while it might be, um, that being said, you know, it’s a heck of a lot of fun. You can get a really good workout in, you can work on your golf and your fitness. So, um, yeah, I’ve played just so many rounds of speed golf that, that kind of stick in my mind. Fun Tournament’s different conditions. Uh, the comradery, it’s kind of an interesting, yeah, it’s certainly, uh, the hyper niche sport. You get some, some interesting characters playing speed golf and not have them, not all of them are necessarily very good golfers or a very strong runners, which is interesting. It’s just people that want to try something different. So, uh, I think probably the one of, you know, funny speed golf story.
Christopher: 40:43 I was the lead Teaching Professional Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in just outside of Portland, Oregon for 18 years. I was there from 1999 until this year when I came to Eugene Country Club. So I spent most of my time, at Ghost Creek, which is the public side, wonderful golf course, um, championship venue. So I’ve literally played thousands of rounds on that golf course. But to this day, uh, the lowest score I ever shot on that golf score was in 2001. I remember it was just a bleak January cold, horrible day in Portland. And I felt like playing speed golf, which by the way, I don’t like playing in rain and cold, but I don’t mind playing speed golf and rain and cold because it warms you up anyway. It Ghost Creek is a, is a par 71. And I played it from the blue tees, so it was playing long, you know, that day, probably 6,600 and the ball was going nowhere and rolling nowhere. And I shot 66 and 48 and a half minutes. So in many ways, if I think back, maybe my best ever round of golf and it wasn’t in a tournament, uh, the uh, world record, uh, feat was, that was at the Chicago speed golf open in 2006. But yeah, that was a fun memory. Um,
Brad: 41:52 And the 66 and 48. So your speed golf score is 114, adding 66 and 48. Yeah. About that. Now didn’t you have another wild time out there where you had some little game where you’re using the last club you hit and we’re, we’re playing with the six iron and knocking and putts or something like that.
Christopher: 42:11 Yeah, one of the days I was fortunate to be able to play a lot out there, you know, in working there is sometimes at the end of my teaching day, I’d noticed that the golf course was pretty open and I think, wow, this is perfect. So I bring my stuff up and, uh, basically speed golf. We play in a golf shirt and a golf shorts and then some running shoes normally. And, uh, I kind of hurriedly put my things together after the, uh, after the work day, uh, through my things into my little speed golf bag and, uh, realized that an teed off and realize when I got to the first green that I’d forgotten my putter. And so I thought, well, I’ll just run back and get it. And I said, no, I don’t, I don’t want to do that. I’m just gonna keep going. And so I kinda just decided myself that that day, whatever club I hit onto the green, I would putt with. And this is a really a great example, folks, of our ability to adjust and improvise and solve problems. We are designed to solve problems, which is hard to believe because we see how many problems people are creating on the golf course in golf instruction in the world and politics and everything. Anyway, so I go around the front nine and you know, I’m kind of enjoying it and you know, I’m skilled enough that I’d actually putted with my driver and my little four wood and my five iron in my eight iron and my gap wedge. So those were my remaining clubs. My putter was sitting in my office and I got to the back nine and I proceeded to make, let’s see, I birdied 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. So that’s five holes in a row, all with different clubs. And I, I was just flabbergasted to some extent.
Christopher: 43:49 And I remember when I got done with that round, I, uh, I actually emailed Dr. Mark Hart, who I mentioned earlier in the episode and I said, Christian, how did this happen? And he explained it very simply, just what I shared with you, you know, that the task at hand when we’re putting, and nobody can argue this and, and we’ve really gotten into quagmires with putting’s about the right way to do it. And this, you have to do this and you have to do that. So you don’t have to do anything. You know what you have to do. You have to roll the ball into the hole with something, with some kind of stick. And so that’s the sort of mode I got into. And so I ended up making birdie with the gap wedge birdie with a five iron birdie with an eight iron birdie with another wedge. And then on the 14th hole, which is downhill par three kind of long, I hit my little five metal for metal onto the green and I made about a 30 foot or with it. And I, I even, I was just laughing at it, but I kind of went into this very simplistic state of, okay, the ball is here. I read the green relatively quickly because I have all this information coming in. And then I used whatever tool was in my hand at that point in time to roll the ball into the hole. So, um, it was fun. It was interesting. I always, you know, learn from these things and uh, yeah, I don’t, I don’t often, uh, in all my years, I can’t remember the last time, even recently I’ve made five birdies in a row with my putter.
Brad: 45:13 Right. I think we’re talking about an amazing example of accessing of a supernatural superhuman plane by, by all accounts. And I always reference Reggie Jackson in the 1981 world series where he came up to bat and three times on the first pitch, hit it out of the park. So he took three swings and hit three home runs in the world series, the biggest stage. And it’s like something was going on between him and the pitcher and the universe where he was getting that bat onto the ball on the first swing and the likes of which we’ll never see again. And you can make these, uh, other occasions where a Wade van Niekerk and lean eight in the Rio Olympics took off from the gun. And you can watch this guy on youtube and he’s sprinting from the gun for a 400 meter, not a hundred. A 400 meter destroys a world record without seeing another athlete. No one to key off, which we all know is so important in sprinting. Uh, but I think for some reason, if the magic comes together like it did for you that day on the golf course, we elevate to a higher plane. That’s, it might be an attempt to explain it from the world’s leading brain scientists, but it’s in another way. It’s inexplicable and it’s, it starts with getting out of your own way. And I think, uh, just to try to offer some speculation. I know what I’ve experienced with my, my single hole world record and putting with that three wood is when you’re lining up a pot with a three wood, all I’m thinking about is making clean contact with the ball because it’s so difficult because it’s not a freaking putter that has a nice straight edge that you can usually make clean contact with the ball while you’re fooling around thinking about your risk angle. So I was completely fixated on a simple goal of just making contact with the ball. And that’s probably a great way to think about putting it all times.
Christopher: 46:57 Yeah, for sure. I think people, sometimes when the task is more demanding, Brad, that people’s focus goes up and if we could all have more focus, more concentration to the point that allows us to perform, sometimes we try too hard. Trying too hard doesn’t necessarily equate into better performance or better work. But there is a focus piece that puts us in a, in some states, some people like to call it the zone. And I guess if we knew enough about the zone, then we’d simply be able to, you know, flip a switch and we can just get into it all the time, couldn’t we? But we can’t and no one’s ever done that. We’ve seen great performers get into the zone, but it’s usually quite temporary. So I think as we move along, I think it’s a, uh, it’s an interesting cocktail. It’s a, you know, what is going on. I think there’s an intention piece as well. I mean, I didn’t go out with the intention of birding five holes in a row with different clubs. So there is a high focus I’m going to put out there what I want, picture what I want, and then I’m going to allow it to happen. But sometimes when we try too hard, that doesn’t happen too well either. Or things don’t pan out the way we want. So there’s a fine balance there that we’re still, you know, still discovering.
Brad: 48:10 Yeah, I can reference let’s say my goals in writing something special and I’ll go make my herbal tea and block off the morning hours and sit down at my desk with a beautiful view of the outside and everything’s quiet and my phone’s turned off. And then you sit there and fritter around and go over to Youtube and type in Christopher Smith, Bandon Dunes and see that that viral video with 70,000 views of some guy burning the course up at 4 under in 53 minutes. But, and then I can reference many times when I’m sitting in an airport gate waiting for the B group to be called because I didn’t qualify for a list this year on southwest. Terrible tragedy. But I’m, I’ve, I have a, a pen and a notepad and I’m scribbling some ideas or trying to, uh, you know, get focused on something that I’m, I’m supposed to write about. And that single piece of paper, two sheets of paper that took me 12 minutes to write and then I have to get up and get in line. So I’m feeling a little pressure that they’re about to call my group and something comes out that’s accessing that flow like state, whether it’s the pressure and the short duration where I know that I only have a few minutes to get something down a, those things seem to seem to help me. And that’s kind of a strange a example because we were always trying to create these ideal peak performance circumstances and like by the best putter cause this new $370 one a has a weight balance face that’s been tested in the laboratory to hit smoother putts. And then you hold this beauty and your hands and your, your hands start to shake because uh, you’re, you’re thinking about it too much.
Christopher: 49:40 Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think some of the revelations we’ve had in, uh, in performance have spoken to balance in the brain, what we call synchrony, where all the different hemispheres and all the different parts are kind of aligning with themselves. That’s something we can train it is, is it’s something that we stumble into. Like most people at some point in your lives, in something you have stumbled into the zone and it might be a biochemical thing, it might be an expectation thing. Sometimes it happens when you’re really not trying so hard. You know, when you think about the things that people have discovered while they’re singing in the shower or doing really leisure like activities and perhaps that, and I think everybody’s a little different. Perhaps that’s when a lot of people really come to epiphanys or discoveries when they’re in a state where there maybe isn’t a lot of stress, worry, anxiety or have or a deadline or I have to get something done. So I think we all operate a little bit differently just in performance, like in many things. And what’s, you know, what’s really important for us all is to find, hey, how do I operate the best? Whether it’s, you know, on the golf course in the workplace, in life, what’s gonna work best for me? And it’s probably not what works best for the person standing next to you on the driving range or the person who lives next door to you. And that’s okay.
Brad: 51:00 Yeah, there might be some commonalities. Like lowering your expectations and focusing on the process is probably a nice way to get the best out of yourself and not choke and, and do all these things. And I mean, the best example is like underdogs in sports. They win all the time. That’s why Vegas has beautiful sports books cause they take your money cause they know that, uh, you know, it’s not always going to be a predictable result.
Christopher: 51:23 Yeah, for sure. And that’s the beauty of the game. You know, there’s, there’s some things that are more predictable than others and you know, in sport and performance to some extent you can predict it and there, you know, elite performers and then there’s a lot of randomness and chaos that jumps into our lives, that jumps into our golf swings and two onto the golf course. Um, and, and those things really need to be embraced rather than dreaded. Well, I didn’t see that coming. Well, there’s a lot of things we don’t see coming, uh, in our lives. And the question is, is how do you want to respond to it? That is your, that becomes your choice, how to react to it, how to respond to it.
Brad: 52:01 So if someone’s interested in accessing this magic of speed golf, what’s a great way to just test it out? Try it out a little bit.
Christopher: 52:11 Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of people are intimidated wanting to get into it, uh, as far as, oh, I have to play 18 holes and I’m not good enough shape and I can’t, there’s no golf courses. You know, when I first started myself, I took one club, just take one club and go play a couple holes. How’s that? You know, you could run, walk, you don’t even have to run, just play a few or take a handful of clubs, you know, five or six or four clubs and do it that way. Uh, and kind of wean yourself into it where you’re just playing a few holes and it’s not, you know, physically exhausting or intimidating and you don’t do, it’s like we’ve talked about is hit your tee shot, have a picture in mind. I usually run, you know, there’s usually some kind of yardage reference out on the golf course. There’s, you know, a yardage is on sprinkler heads or there’s 150 yard, you know, marker or a stake or a bush. And then you kind of ballpark how far away you are. And then you also have to look to see, well is the, where’s the hole located on the green? So all you’re doing is activating this incredible system, this mind body system that’s run by the super computer that’s sitting on everybody’s shoulders to come up with, oh, that’s about 160 yards away and I’m going to hit my whatever with some flight in mind. So it’s really incredibly simplistic and incredibly effective
Brad: 53:35 Speed golf, go try it out. Model the same ideals in any peak performance endeavor, which is getting out of your head and the over analytical mindset and just go with the flow. Thank you for giving us that insight about this wonderful sport, Christopher Smith.
Christopher: 53:50 Thanks Brad. Always fun to chat about speed golf, Thank you for listening to the show. We would love your feedback. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org and we would also love if you could leave a rating and a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I know it’s a hassle. You have to go to desktop, iTunes, click on the tab that says ratings and reviews, and then click to rate the show anywhere from five to five stars. And it really helps spread the word so more people can find the show and get over themselves because they need to. Thanks for doing it.