Gallwey in his “Inner Game of Golf” surely approaches the golf swing with more attention and rigor than we approach our patients. Why is that? He writes 200 pages on something that takes about two seconds to complete.

In this post, let’s  review Gallwey’s diagnosis and treatment for the ailing golf swing. And in the next post we’ll see how this applies to an ailing doctor-physician encounter.

Gallwey claims that the major impediment to a relaxed, sincere swing is over tightness in the golfer’s body. And the challenge for the golfer is to be self-aware of one’s over tightness. This self-awareness precedes improvement. Gallway calls it the law of awareness: “The something that needs to change will (change), as you increase your awareness of it.”  He also hits this point straight down the fairway: “If you wish to change something, first increase your awareness of the way it is. Where you focus your attention will determine what you will learn.”

How do I know if my swing is ailing from over-tightness?  Gallwey recommends three approaches:

  1. Hum when taking a practice swing and when hitting a ball. Use a tape record. Gallwey found “When I was taking the back swing the sound (hum) would be nice and smooth; jerking to change of direction, my voice would become strained, and at contact my throat would constrict and the humming would increase in volume, pitch, and most noticeably in tightness. The increasing tension was painfully obvious… Later on I found it is sufficient to hum in a voice audible only to myself.”
  2. Gallwey recommends focus and self-awareness. He urges: to be self-aware (115 times in his book); “to feel”( a form of self-awareness) 90 times; concentrate 55 times and focus attention ( a form of concentration) 75 times. This smacks of Zen to me. Gallwey brings rigor to self-awareness and focus. For putting and chipping, he identifies 23 different critical variables. He recommends paying attention to 3 to 5 critical variables each day and to spend no more than 5 to 7 minutes on each one. That is up to 20 minutes a day. He also urges the golfer to make an accurate observation as possible upon these critical variables. And to increase power in one’s long-game, he gives 25 different critical variables, that one should focus upon with the same rigor.
  3. Should we fail to improve, Gallwey recommends getting an experienced observer: “ As individuals operating within our own mindset, we inevitably develop blind spots, areas of our behavior that we simply overlook or ignore. We become accustomed to what we repeat, in this familiarity breeds unconsciousness. So, as effective as natural learning is, there is no substitute for the help of another pair of eyes, especially if they belonged to someone who understands the natural learning process.”


The next post will examine possible critical variables for the doctor and how to bring biofeedback to one’s practice of medicine. What are these critical variables and how are they achieved? Your suggestions are welcomed.


Striving for aequanimitas,


John Mary Meagher








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