FLOW by Colin Bykowski

I love reading!  While reading is something that I have never found easy I have come to love a good page turner and have been growing on my personal library for many years now.  I also love audio books so if you feel you are better listener than reader please do not be ashamed to listen to audio books as they are just as if not more valuable sources of knowledge.  In the summer I came across a quite popular read that I somehow missed over the past 20 years.  The book FLOW - THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi goes deep into the experience of FLOW or the ZONE state as we golfers have come to learn the term.  Having been lucky enough to experience this state (only a few times) in my career the book spoke to me magically.  Csikszentmihalyi goes deeply into how and why we achieve these states and teaches us some of the steps we can make to make these feelings and state more regular in our lives.  He explains that it doesn't matter if you are an artist, worker or an athlete we all can experience flow states in our lives. The chart below shows the perfect mix to reach the ZONE and I highly suggest you read the book so you too can achieve this feeling on a much more regular basis.  


Quote of the month by Colin Bykowski

I came across this amazing golf qoute by Ram Dass.  What do you think? 

“The game of golf is an exquisite practice for cultivating the qualities of mind, that in the long run, relieve suffering for you and other people.  You have an attraction to and the skills in, and the involvement with something that is basically a vehicle for libertation.” 

-Ram Dass 

THE YIPS - A 10 year Anniversary by Colin Bykowski

It was in the spring of 2005 and I was playing the PGA Tour of Canada event in Stockton, California.  It was the 3rd event of the season and this was the day I received the gift of the "YIPS".  My diagnosis of this dreaded disease was the full swing version.  Many players have experienced putting and like Tiger last week the "CHIP YIPS" however they can affect the full swing as well.  I can remember the moment where they started perfectly, trust me I would love to forget it!  I had hit a high block driver that travelled at least 60 yards off line, like WAY off line.  After that single moment my golf game and life had changed forever.  I proceeded to play a few more holes in full body shakes, with an increased heart rate, severe anxiety and complete fear on hitting a golf shot.  I had to WD, I called an official over and packed it in.  I was devastated!  Unfortunately for me I had to tee it up in another tour event the very next week, I was not in a good state of mind.  My caddy and I practiced hard and the issue was not going to easily go away, every few shots caused me fear and panic and I walked into the next weeks event with zero confidence at all.  I showed up, teed it up and lasted only a few holes before once again withdrawing.  I was crushed, hurt, devastated, worried, stressed and simply disgusted.  I walked off the PGA Tour of Canada and drove 20 hours straight home without stopping,  Once back I met up with the phenomenal sport psychologist Dr. Saul Miller and while I learned some amazing breathing and visualization techniques, the doc couldn't magically make these demons go away.   The "YIPS" resulted in me quitting the Tour and leaving the game completely, I quit golf.  Most people say "ya right you quit", but I did for just shy of a year.  The clubs went in the closet, I stopped watching it on TV, I couldn't even watch the Golf Channel and the thought of putting my hands together on a golf club nearly made me vomit.  Why did this happen and how did this happen? These are the questions I have been asking myself for the past ten years of yip recovery.  While I do feel I have a strong handle on this dreaded curse, forever in the back of my mind I cannot forget that moment.  The "YIPS" are something you learn to accept, cope and deal with, in my opinion they will never completely go away.  You have to trust your visualization process, commit to your consistent pre-shot routine, trust the moment of action/strike and accept the end result NO MATTER WHAT happens after the moment of impact.  

This past week there has been a lot of talk on Tiger and his "CHIP YIPS" and trust me I feel for him.  The "YIPS" are no laughing matter for anybody that plays this game.  Anybody laughing at Tiger's demise is breeding their own golf god karma, so be careful because they are looming inside all of us.  Luckily enough we have seen some hero's in the game that have gotten through them.  Bernhard Langer got through them and continues to grow on already amazing career, Henrik Stenson got through them and won a FedEx Cup.  There are many pros that have gone on to win events after theses symptoms.  I continue to feel like a recovering golf addict and am always working on getting through the "YIPS" every single day of my life.  I am rooting and supporting Tiger and truly hopes he gets through this disease of the mind.






My Story by Colin Bykowski

"An old pro told me that originality does not consist of saying what has never been said before; it consists of saying what you have to say that you know to be truth."

- Harvey Penick "Little Red Book"

So the story begins...  An average 14 year old kid spending most of my time mountain biking and listening to gansta rap.  We had just moved back to British Columbia from Ontario just outside of the city of Vancouver.  Growing up in a middle class household, we moved directly across the street from the local public golf course, The Tsawwassen Golf & Country Club.

I can remember the day perfectly, it was a beautiful summer day.  Having nothing exciting to do I was messing around in the garage and out of the corner of my eye I caught a glance of my father's golf clubs.  They were old Wilson Staff Blades, Wilson Laminated Maple Woods, a Ping Anser Putter and hideous green golf bag that was full of orange Titleist DT golf balls.  It was in that moment that I would play golf for the rest of my life.  I went back into the house and asked my mother for $5 so I could head over to the driving range.  Clubs in check, cash flow in the pocket, I was off to go whack some golf balls.  

I have never spent another moment of my life not thinking, studying, feeling, breathing, sleeping or playing the game of golf.  Golf has allowed me to travel the world, play and teach professionally, learn life's lessons, cry with joy, cry with sadness and return to where it all began.  I love this game!


What are the mental skills? by Colin Bykowski

I am currently reading "The Champion's Mind - How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive" by Jim Afremow, PhD.  In his book in the second chapter he defines the mental skills as:


GOAL SETTING - Think It, Then Ink It

MENTAL IMAGERY - Visualize to Actualize

SELF TALK - Feed the Good Wolf

CONFIDENCE - Flex Your Confidence Muscle

FOCUS - A Champion Is a Now-ist

BREATH CONTROL - Breathe Life into Your Performance

MENTAL TOUGHNESS - Build Your Inner Strength Bank Account

ANXIETY MANAGEMENT - Go From Panicky to Pumped

ENJOYMENT - Humour Is the Best Sports Medicine

BODY LANGUAGE - Make a Golden Impression

INTENSITY - Own Your Zone

PERSONAL AFFIRMATION WORK - Power Phrases for Becoming a Champion


I feel all of these are truly necessary for success and we all have many ways to practice these each and every moment.  I highly recommend you pick up this book and add it to your library.





LAX = PATIENCE by Colin Bykowski

There may be no better place on earth to practice patience than flying in an out of LAX airport.  Having just spent he last week in Los Angeles you realize how many people live in such a small area.  I am writing this post to remind ourselves how patience can be such a valuable lesson for the golf course.  When you are battling long lines, waiting for baggage, shuttles, sitting in traffic, waiting to get on a plane plus plus plus... you MUST use patience and you must practice how to handle it.  When you are out on the golf course and the tee sheet is running 15 minutes behind, there is a three group wait on the the 2nd tee, the round is over and you are waiting around for the results or you are stuck in the middle of a 5 hour + round you must use the same skills to stay calm, breathe, relax and just witness the NOW of every moment.  So the next time your are waiting in a 10 person line at Starbucks or stuck in traffic, practice staying calm and just witness the moment (sometimes a little laughter even helps!).  During your next round of golf bring this same attitude and calmness out to the course and if you find yourself in one of the above examples stay calm, breathe and witness this NOW moment.  I guarantee this will lower your scores for years to come!