Some Food For Thought...
Do you practice how to play or do you play how you practice? There is a difference. How you practice is driven by your golf philosophy so do you think golf is about trying to hit a target with a ball or trying to hit the ball with a club? This matters because ineffective "grinding" on the range is inhibiting your ability to perform.
Let's step away from golf. Do you know anyone who thinks their car driving skills are in any way flawed? Maybe before your driving test you possibly weren't sure but after the test, no doubts. Amazing. A 45 minute test and you were certified to drive! Who would now admit that their driving technique was flawed in any way? How dare I even suggest such a thing! Our strong beliefs are based on our ability to drive without hitting other objects. Should we ever have an accident it's never our technique which gets questioned but our concentration levels or that of the other driver!
After just 40 hours or so of effective instruction and practice, the motor skills required to drive are learned and put into neurological storage. Good for life. We are set free to perform. We never again doubt our ability to drive. We allow our "non-conscious" self to take over the control of the vehicle where our lives and those of our family members are at risk whilst we happily chat to passengers, on the phone and listen to the radio. The conscious mind is occupied with erroneous thoughts but it'll never be trying to control the vehicle. So how does this happen so quickly when academic learning theories suggest you need 10,000 hours to be expert at a skill?
Based on your car driving experience, it's clearly NOT the number of hours which is the key to mastery but what you focus your ATTENTION upon which matters. Firstly, in a car we are physically constrained by the environment which ensures we carry out the same physical movements time and time again (without focusing our attention on them). It's very difficult to change gear using alternating motor patterns so the neurological memory gets developed quickly. This repetition is important when developing any motor skills. One move, the same move, one neurological memory.
Secondly, we naturally want to shift our attention away from our physical actions and on to the road ahead. This attention shift is the most significant element in mastery of life skills for it enables us to hand over our physical actions to the non-conscious self. Imagine what would happen if you spent all your time looking down focusing on your gear changing? You'd never learn to trust your non-conscious self to change the gears or ultimately learn to drive. Yet this is exactly how you are being taught golf.
The above 2 step process happens in every life skill we master. First we develop the motor patterns to use the tools, then we use them without thinking "how" to use them. From riding a bike to playing a musical instrument, the non-conscious self is always trusted to manage your actions. So have you ever thought to yourself "Why can't I ever trust my non-conscious self to putt a golf ball or swing a golf club?" You really should because you can but unfortunately not the way you are currently practicing golf. You will need to significantly shift the focus of your attention.
You have to WANT to break the destructive habit of a lifetime. A habit which established itself during and after your very first golf lesson. One which may have lead you to believe that consciously controlling the club in your hands was the same as learning how to play golf. It never was or ever will be. Clearly, you need time to develop the correct motor patterns and put them into neurological storage but this stage does not happen successfully for the vast majority. Then you use the clubs to carry out the task in golf - which is to hit the ball at a target. That is playing golf.
However, many get psychologically 'stuck' by a philosophy which suggests golf is about hitting a ball with a club. The obvious consequences of such a philosophy results in a life time attempting to consciously control on the range that which needs to be trusted, your technique. This not only inhibits the critical external attention switch but the constant 'tinkering' with your swing creates multiple competing neurological memories. Which one will you use to swing the golf club? You have little chance of consistency as you may have observed in competition. It's time to go 'fix' the swing.
I know of no life skills we perform successfully thinking and behaving that way. Golf is not a unique life skill but how you are currently practicing certainly is and unfortunately you believe that YOU are the problem, not the coaching METHODS. Can you imagine someone sitting in their car after driving home from work analyzing their technique telling themselves "I really suck at driving, I've got to improve my technique". What would you think of someone who did this? What is the individual saying to themselves at the subconscious level? I am flawed. I am broken. I'm not good enough. Would you feel comfortable being a passenger in their vehicle?
So why do so many think that very same mental approach to practicing golf on the range can ever lead to anything other than self doubt and poor performance? If you believe your technique is flawed every time you head off to the range (and typically after you leave it!) you will sadly be right. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. What are you confirming to yourself? You may be thinking "but my technique IS flawed and it does need fixing!" but have a good think about when you have NOT thought this way in your golfing life? Haven't you done enough "grinding" to realize your current approach to practice is NOT working? Stop for another moment and have a think. Do you know anyone who thinks their golf technique is anything but flawed? Is it really co-incidental when every one is being taught golf using the same flawed methods which actually INHIBIT trusted motor skill acquisition? That is THE golf delusion.
The reason why you never develop a strong motor pattern you can trust in golf is because you are never taught how. The neurological pathway for a trusted golf swing never gets a chance to "set" due to persistent, conscious interference. What you currently perceive as golf "practice" is often little more than re-enforcing your self doubt in your ability to play. When you hit a poor shot, most will immediately analyze their swing as if 'it' was the problem. If this is your dominant behavior on the range, you'll not be surprised what comes to the fore on the golf course. What if your intention and attention were mis-aligned? What if the poor shot was due to poor attentional focus control and your non-conscious self didn't have a clue what it was supposed to do with the club in your hands? FOCUS is your key to performance.