How the guy code is killing your golf game and keeping you stuck

Like many men, George Daranyi thought he could think his way to a better golf game and life, but it wasn’t until he took a hard look at his beliefs and behaviours that he broke through.

Last September, George Daranyi was in “full and utter despair.” He was once again in the throes of the driver yips.

It got so bad that he considered giving up golf. Then “I realized, childishly, stupidly, ‘What if I got someone to help me?’ It took everything to pick up the phone and say, ‘Help me.’”

Within 15 minutes of his first lesson, an instructor pointed out the flaw and his yips went away, and they have stayed away. 

In retrospect, Daranyi said his experience is pretty typical: when men struggle, we often isolate and ruminate, afraid to ask for help—and risk being judged weak and less of a man.

As an avid golfer and a leader in the ManKind Project (MKP), Daranyi is uniquely qualified to talk about how men get stuck, but also how they can transform and find more joy—and even fairways.

Along with being a lawyer, Daranyi is former chair of MKP, a secular men’s organization of about 70,000 men around the world. MKP is dedicated to supporting men in leading lives of responsibility, emotional well-being and authenticity. You join MKP by attending a New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) weekend. 

(Full disclosure: I have been a member of the ManKind Project since 2003. This New York Times article is a solid primer on MKP.)

During a conversation on our Swing Thoughts podcast—check out episode #86 for the full fascinating interview—Daranyi said he prolonged his driver agony because he fell back into an old behaviour.

“I thought I could think my way into better living, and even into playing better golf.”

Before he attended the NWTA weekend in 1992, he believed that, “I needed to be a perfectionist. I had to have the answers to everything. It was about busyness and accomplishment. I was focused on external things because of what was going on internally,” said the native of Tucson, Arizona, who has staffed or led more than 100 NWTAs.

Things began to turn around for him when he attended the NWTA where men are invited to look at their “shadows”—those hidden, unconscious parts of us that drive our behaviour and our lives.

At his NWTA, Daranyi realized that his shadow was “the fear of dying alone after a useless life. When I brought this into my conscious life, that’s when I started to make external changes. I got clear about what was important to me and what wasn’t.

“Here’s the link to golf; I was really attached to outcome. The fear of not doing it right, not looking good. Where’s the ball going to go? What’s my score going to be?

“I was so focused on those external things, primarily because of what was going on internally. The same things that happened on the New Warrior weekend were playing out in my golf game.”

Tired of spinning your wheels? Attend my Getting Unstuck mental performance workshops at clubs around the GTA, including King Valley/Golf Lab, Mississaugua, Summit, Glendale, Glen Abbey, Greystone and more. Click here for details.

Daranyi says men struggle with golf for the same reasons that we struggle in other parts of our lives.

“Inside the grown man is a little boy … scrambling for safety, looking for comfort, anything that will reduce our anxiety. I want safety on the golf course. I want the ball in bounds. I want a good lie and to make the next swing great. Men are addicted to comfort, and anything that moves us into discomfort we dislike intensely. And golf does that.”

Naturally, when the world doesn’t seem safe, we react fearfully, which makes things worse and prolongs our agony. (Such as prolonging the drive yips.)

So, what can men do?

The first step is to ask for help, but as Daranyi experienced himself, most men resist. They can’t break through their fear—sometimes not until a crisis, whether it’s considering quitting golf or something truly dire, like losing a job or a relationship.

But once you step through that resistance—that’s when things change. “Moving into transformation requires me getting out of the trap of fear, and risk losing control, and bumping into discomfort,” he said.

“Once I do that, and cross that threshold, then everything changes and everything becomes accessible.”

Daranyi underscored his point by paraphrasing Werner Erhard: “My intentions, my desires, my hopes, my dreams, and my wishes won’t change anything. I can scream those to the mountains, to the cosmos, to the universe and it won’t respond to any of that.

“But when I do something, then the universe responds.”

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!