I have a confession to make. It is an addiction. Something that was introduced to my life as a pre-teen and still persists. I am a golfer! Why the hullaballoo? Well, golf and the people who, mainly, play it do not have a great reputation amongst my colleagues and followers. I am not going to dwell on this except to say that I, like you, live a complex life, full of contradictions, and golfing does not fit in with the majority of my other activities. Or so it would seem…
In fact, as a movement teacher and creative artist, there are many parallels between the world of golf and the world of creative performance and movement for healing that I exist in. Apart from anything the actual business of hitting a golf ball with a stick over 200 yards in a straight-ish line consistently, is sure one of the most fiendishly difficult motor skills that humans have come up with. To get into the right place psychologically and somatically to play your best golf is akin to going on stage or simply raising your awareness for daily life, and like most sports, when played at the highest level, as Nick Faldo has undoubtedly played it, it demands a great degree of creativity.
For those who are new to me and A Sense of Movement, I am an actor, and actor trainer turned Feldenkrais practitioner. I teach people creative methods, and awareness-based strategies to get more out their bodies and lives than they had previously hoped for. And I use story-telling to get my message across. Here is the story of yesterday’s encounter with Sir Nick Faldo. It is personal but I hope I can eke out some good reasons for you to do Feldenkrais with me which is why I do these blogs. My life has shifted immeasurably due to Feldenkrais and my desire and job is to share the benefits of it with you.
I had booked a day at a big international golf tournament at one of the UK’s great golf courses which has served as the setting for the fiercely contested bi-annual team competition, the Ryder Cup, in which Sir Nick or just plain old Nick, as he was in his prime, was supremely successful. It was the pro-am day, which precedes the actual competition which starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday. Sports personalities, celebrities and those who can afford it tee up for a round with a top touring pro golfer. It is all part of the marketing for the game and does not attract big crowds which turns out to be a good thing for me.
Now, for another confession…I have an irrational and deep-seated admiration for Nick Faldo. It is a kind of love; somewhere between awe, irritation and undying admiration. Feldenkrais Method is rational. It is based on movement, and using an ease of movement to improve your chances in life. So that is why I call it a confession because, as a prominent Feldenkrais practitioner, I should be rational but as I have already said, I am as complex as you. I had booked this day out, near Birmingham, partly because Sir Nick was hosting the event. I do not know what “hosting” a golf tournament involves but I assumed that Sir Nick would be there, and that I might get a glimpse of the great man in person. I have been passionate about him and his golfing prowess for 40 years but never been near him in person. His playing days were almost over when he achieved an astonishing victory at the Masters in 1996! I went on my own, and felt vague, aimless, but cheery as I navigated the tented “village” of the tournament before seeing a bit of a crowd gathering on the course. It was the starting point of the 10th hole and before long I picked out the distinctive posture of my favourite golfing legend. He was not just there; he was about to play! Not only was he going to play but he was going to play a full nine holes on one of the world’s iconic courses, with only a few people watching. I know this sounds weird but it was like a dream coming true. I was gorgeously, totally and blissfully happy, as I set off behind him, beside him and in front of him sometimes for the two or so hours that it took his foursome to get round the course. I described it to a friend that evening as surreal. It was like the most massive gift that had been put in my path. I expected so little and was granted so much, to watch one of my heroes play 9 holes is to me what it would be like for you to sit in a group of 50 listening to your favourite singer give a private concert or having an informal painting lesson with your all -time favourite artist. I think I grinned for about an hour solid.
This is not the place to go into any more detail of play as I recognise that the minutiae of what happened are of interest only to my closest golfing buddies! But the broad picture and reason I am posting this on the A Sense of Movement site is that Sir Nick is famous for his movement. He had and still has one of the most fluid, dynamic and beautiful golf swings. It was beautiful because it was efficient which is where it intersects with Feldenkrais Method. Moshe (Feldenkrais) is famous for saying, “ make the impossible possible and the possible beautiful’. Nick certainly does that with golf. He makes it beautiful not with flair, or any superficial beauty but with the sheer hard work he put into making it easy! Now if that sounds like a paradox it is. Making golf or life easy is harder than we might imagine.
To round out this story, I have two points to make. One is that in spite of Nick Faldo possessing one of the greatest swings in history, he played absolutely terribly yesterday! He could not hit it straight or the right distance which are two things he is famous for. He ended up in about 7 bunkers on just 9 holes which is an unimaginably high ratio. He had lots on his mind and does not play much nowadays and it was a bit shocking and disappointing. But mine is a true love and I stayed with him for every step of what must have been a torturous round for him. I was sometimes the only voice piping up with “good putt Nick” or “well out Nick”. He was affable and charming, funny and generous with the teeming autograph hunters and selfie-seekers at each hole and even when he finished up, again with a terrible score on the last hole, he was patient and generous with all around him. Bob Rotella the famous sports psychologist who has written best-sellers on the mental side of the game has said, “It is not how you play the game that matters but how you react to how you play.” This could be a line from one of my Awareness Through Movement lessons! Feldenkrais is not about the moves per se, but your state of mind around the moves, hence AWARENESS Through Movement.
The second point is that despite Nick’s incredible swing, and yes, to experience it in the flesh as opposed to on the TV or video was way better and more instructive, his back is stiff and his hips look shot. He is only 65 and despite, as I say, having an easy golf swing he does not move OUTSIDE of his golf swing very well. I noticed as he walked towards another bunker that his spine is essentially fixed. He does not move his hips in relation to his pelvis and he has a gait issue which creates possibly more back pain in men than anything else, and which I will call for the moment, John Wayne walking. How I would love to get my hands on him!! At 65 there is still time to improve things for him although it would take some hard work. Hard work in that he would need to apply himself to the Awareness Through Movement lessons and submit himself to Functional Integration ( which is much less scary than I have just made it sound!) I have seen his mobility and stretching programmes, and have even bought one. They are not good enough. He talks about stretching in a really vague way, although he was a pioneer of fitness in golf, and even talks about his “docs” giving him advice on movement! Doctors are NOT experts on movement, and certainly not in Awareness Through Movement which is what Sir Nick needs now. If he or his people read this, please just get in touch. I will come to Montana to help!
For the rest of you, please come and try out my Awareness Through Movement lessons at The Flourishing Human. https://the-flourishing-human.mn.co/settings/landing-page You can do a whole 2 weeks for free. There are 4 new lessons on Zoom per week and you can do them on catch up if they are not convenient times for you. For any of you, and particularly golfers, I can help you with chronic pain. I have a particularly effective Shoulder Protocol, which you can investigate here on the site under the Classes section>Individual. Don’t book through the site but simply reach out to me and I will give you a free 15-minute consult before taking it further.
When he finally missed his last putt, I said loud enough for the spectators next to me to hear, "Well that's a bad shot to end a bad round, but he is still my hero!" and a man next door to me turned and said, to his son, "See, I told you, he's a legend. It's NICK FALDO!" Thanks Nick for all your hard work and mind-blowing technical transformation in the 1980s that put an ordinary lad from Welwyn Garden City ( my birth place too!) at the top of the golfing firmament and for inspiring me and thousands of youngsters to take up the game and improve their lives.