Pixabay: by 3dman_eu
We can’t always choose our playing partners when we’re playing in any sort of competitive golf, whether that be your junior stableford, club monthly medal, county championships or at a higher level.
Playing with the same fourball every Saturday morning can start to lose its attraction after a while, no matter how friendly your mates are and it’s always good to play with others and against others in the game.
I’ve played with some, how shall we say, less than friendly sorts over the years including one guy that didn’t even bother to turn up because he wasn’t sure who he was playing with!
Nothing personal I’m sure, just some seemed to lack a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ as they would say in France. But that can happen in any walk of life.
And to be honest, it can be challenging playing the game with someone who is miserable. The game is a social game after all, so who wants to spend their leisure time with someone who is going to drain your energy?
But that’s exactly what many golfers do each week. They play with the most demanding, difficult, at times miserable and downright rude person you can imagine.
The guy who mocks you when you miss that short putt to go one ahead or tells you how useless you are or tells everyone “What an idiot” you are. You know he’s going to turn at some point, you’re just not sure when.
Who would want to play with someone like that?
The thing is many do. Every week.
That guy is themselves.
We don’t always see it that way when we do it to ourselves, but when we think of it another way, it doesn’t look too good does it?
So why not play with your best friend, your best buddy every week instead?
The guy who helps you out when things are starting to get away from you, when things start getting difficult and you’ve dropped a couple of shots or missed an easy putt.
The guy who whispers in your ear “you’ve got this” or “let it go and let’s move on” before it all goes to pot.
We often think we’re on our own out there for hours and it can be challenging, especially if we think that way.
However, you can choose to think differently. You can play with your best buddy.
Imagine having someone cheering you on instead of berating you. Someone who believes in you and wants you to succeed rather than falter.
Your best mate or buddy can and will show up if you ask him. You just have to practice it. The more you do it the easier it becomes.
Ask him and I’m sure he’ll tell you he’s up for it.
If you want to know more about how to improve your mental golf game, get your complimentary copy of my 7 Keys to improve Your Mental golf Game by clicking here.
Editorial credit: David W. Leindecker / Shutterstock.com
What a great tournament The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass!
Not just because of Sunday but all four days. It had beautiful weather, ok, except Sunday, we had great golf, drama, a hole in one and Tiger had the crowds and viewers smiling with his fooling around on 17 when having a joke with his playing partner Kevin Na.
Something that’s rarely been seen over the years.
We had numerous golfers who were challenging for the lead and some came out of nowhere to post some incredible scores, but Rory managed to hold on, played some terrific golf and won an amazing tournament. It certainly made for great tv.
However, one thing stood out besides Rory’s brilliance.
He managed to beat Jim Furyk by only one shot. One shot!
Rory is in the top 5 on driving distance and is known for his terrific long game and is in the prime of his golfing life. Furyk on the other hand is ranked 212th in distance just now, with an average of 271 yards, some 41 yards less than Rory.
To put it into perspective, on the 16th Rory hit a drive and a 9 iron into the green on this 520 yard par 5, whereas Jim Furyk was hitting a drive and some kind of wood for his second shot!
A drive and 9 iron 520 yards was unheard of when I was growing up.
Over the whole tournament, the guy who is 212 in driving distance loses by 1 shot to Rory.
Oh and Furyk is only two months short of his 49th birthday. Even by golfing standards, he’s not old, but he’s also not considered to be in the prime of his career.
I’m not taking anything away from McIlroy, I’m a great fan of his and love watching him play, but I also love to see how others manage to play at the levels they do without having the best long game, the best short game or being the hottest putter on the planet.
I’m sure he’s going to have a great time on the Champions Tour in just over a year’s time.
So what did I learn from the Players Championship?
It’s still the greatest game or sport out there, whether you hit it long or fat, you’re young or old, you can still get a great deal of fun and enjoyment out of it, if you put something and your mind to it.
No matter what age.
Furyk and McIlroy are proof of that.
Well played guys.
If you love the game and want to know how to improve your mental game, click here to get your complementary copy of my 7 Keys to improve Your Mental Golf Game.
I remember presenting a workshop a while ago, talking about the importance of developing routines to help build healthy habits and processes so that we can rely up the same thing to happen each time we do something.
A guy sitting in the front row was looking distinctly puzzled and I asked him if there was a problem.
He said he couldn’t get his head round doing everything in a special order and that he “wasn’t a robot”.
I must admit years ago when I first started playing golf, I would have agreed with him as it is very challenging putting all the swing mechanics, thoughts and processes into a smooth rhythmic motion when we first start playing.
We just want to get out and hit it, then hit it again and again then hopefully two putt. That was the theory.
However, when I asked him what his biggest challenge was, he said it was having too many thoughts when approaching his ball.
And that’s exactly what we’re aiming to avoid I explained and why we want to have these routines, to go on autopilot, so we avoid all these swing thoughts. Or in other terms, interference.
Whether that’s a pre-shot routine, a putting routine or moving on from a setback, the idea is to automate each process rather than each time having something different to think about and something different happening.
At first, trying something new isn’t easy and the tendency is to ‘think’ about what we want to do. Thinking about all the mechanics of the swing, the sequence, where what goes where and when. A good teaching pro will help make that a lot easier but we need to be aware mentally what’s happening, but not overthink it all.
And that takes time.
It’s the same when we first start out driving a car. We have a lot to take in and think about: from putting the key in the ignition, make sure the clutch is in, car is in neutral, check mirrors, signal, manoeuvre, oh and don’t forget the handbrake etc etc.
It can be mentally challenging and frustrating getting all that information to work in a seem-less fashion. It takes time for it to become fluid and natural, by making adjustments along the way using our senses and our feelings.
I remember kangarooing down the high street when I first started driving and it's no different in golf when we start out playing. It's not all smooth and rhythmic.
After a while of repetition, it becomes automatic, as we take the thinking part out of the whole process, just the same when you’ve driven somewhere, you've got there but don’t remember actually doing it. In other words 'autopilot'.
Your subconscious is running the show as it has gotten used to the whole process and doesn’t need your conscious thought processes to actually drive the vehicle.
In golf though, all too often our thought processes get in the way depending on what’s happening during the round, which brings in emotions and at times the real killer, doubts.
Learning to build automation or becoming a little ‘robotic’ in your thinking will go a long way to improving your mental strategies around the course and removing some of the unnecessary thoughts at the wrong times.
Try it out and see for yourself if you’re not already doing so.
It will take some time getting used to but with some commitment I'm sure you'll get great results.
We often hear about golfers struggling with their mental games when things go wrong. But that's not the only time we can struggle.
It’s also when things are going well or shall we say, a little too well.
We all like to play well and want to improve our golf. In order for us to improve our golf, we need to change. Therein lies the real problem, as the mind doesn’t always like change.
It’s quite happy for everything to stay the same and keep us plodding along doing what we do and what we’ve always done. It likes familiarity, our own little comfort zone, unless you're prepared for it.
A while back, a friend who plays to an 8 or 9 handicap, was playing in his club’s monthly medal. By the 12th hole he noticed he had a good score going as he had only dropped 1 shot by the time he walked onto the 13th tee.
He started thinking about his score, which meant his mind started to wander instead of focusing on his game.
Within short it got away from him, because he was so excited about the possibility of shooting his best score ever. Monkey mind set in and his thoughts were going at 100 miles per hour.
That’s when the problems started and he started dropping shots.
One. Then two, then three.
With each dropped shot, his anxiety and stress levels increased.
Finally, he walked off the 18th a nervous wreck with a huge sigh of relief that it was over. He needed a well-earned beer I remember him saying (or two).
However, as he sat down for his cold beer, the reality kicked in that he had only played to his handicap after dropping a bunch of shots when he got ahead of himself. He couldn't quite work out where it all went wrong as he reviewed the score card in dismay.
He struggled because he’s not used to shooting that type of score and his mind simply worked on ways to prevent it happening. It became a mental battle, which he obviously lost, because he hadn't worked on that area of his game.
Developing a strategy of staying focused on the present rather than what may happen, or what has already happened will help prevent the mind getting carried away and cause unforced errors.
Work on that part of your game to help you maintain a good score next time you have one going.
If you want to know more about developing the mental side of your game, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game by clicking here.
The snowy conditions have gone but that's not the meltdown I'm referring to. This one happened in Saudi where's there's no snow and not sure there ever has been.
I wasn't planning on writing on this topic but I felt compelled to after a couple of recent events in the Middle East.
Lee Westwood, has been a top class golfer for many years, but the last few have been a little testing at times. He missed the cut last year at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but managed to finish 7th this time around and was interviewed during the tournament in January by a reporter asking about his approach to golf now as he has his girlfriend on the bag with him.
The reporter seemed quite taken aback when Westwood told him “I’ve given up caring”.
That may seem totally bizarre to many, for a world class golfer to be heading into tournaments with that sort of attitude, but sometimes we have to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective in order to become more effective and enjoy the game more.
On the flip side, we’ve seen another of the world’s top golfer’s being disqualified from a tournament recently for serious breach of conduct.
Sergio Garcia has apologised for his behaviour and also to the group of golfers behind him, for the damage he did to the greens through what could only be described as frustration.
We know golf is a challenging game, and as I’ve mentioned before, the further up the ladder you go, the more challenging it is with the pressure of expectation.
However, this is not Sergio’s first high-profile tournament. Far from it. What happened to that care-free leaping teenager that was looking to take on the world and have fun along the way?
Usually getting married and having a child has a calming effect on people as they tend to view their priorities somewhat differently and don’t view golf as a matter of life and death.
What prompted this outburst is yet to be discovered. It may well just be not reaching his own high expectation level and let himself down in more way than one.
However, I don’t believe Westwood’s attitude is as cavalier as it may first appear. Having a “caring too much attitude” can affect our ability to think straight, control our emotions and ultimately our golf suffers.
What he was really referring to was caring where his ball went. As I’ve covered in other posts, we can only control so much on the golf course and indeed we control the ball far less than we imagine. Once it’s left the club face, it’s no longer in our control where it finishes.
Not caring simply means we are less reactive to the situation and are in greater control of ourselves and our emotions.
By doing this, we free ourselves up to play more freely and allow our natural game to flow, instead of letting our emotions run the show and ultimately run the risk of having a meltdown at some point.
It can be a fine line and like anything, it takes time and effort, but Westwood has proved it can be done, even at the highest level.
Try it on your next round and see if it frees you up to play a more relaxed and enjoyable round and not get sucked into a meltdown.
If you want to know more about improving your mental game, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Game by clicking here
To your success.
It’s January and it’s been cold of late and we finally got some real snow last night!
I mean real snow, as in more than a dusting, which means, no golf for the weekend as they’ve forecast more is on the way.
Now is a great time, to improve your golf even if the course is covered in snow.
Instead of nipping out to the golf stores to spend more money on shiny new objects that have just been released after the PGA show in Orlando, why not spend some valuable time assessing your mental game and how you can improve improve your golf?.
Instead of wishing and hoping things are ‘going’ to get better, answer these questions to gain some clarity on your game.
1. Where are you in your golf right now?
Be specific and not merely, ‘Shooting somewhere in the 80’s”
2. Where do you want to be this year? If you’re shooting on average 80 or 82, or you’re a 14 handicap
where do you want to be by the end of the year?
3. What challenges or obstacles do you foresee preventing that from happening?
Once you’ve clarified any challenges, then you can decide it’s a mental or physical problem.
For example, if you keep having that one ‘bad’ hole just when things were going great and then it all ends up going to pot. It's a mental challenge.
Or you’re on the 11th and you’ve got a great score going. Suddenly you get the “if’s?”.
You know, “What if I bogey the next few holes”, “If only I can par the next 6 holes”.
This again is a mental problem, focusing on the future rather than what you’re doing at the time.
Spend some time going through and analysing your game, to help understand what may be holding you back and from there, what you can do to work on it before the season starts.
It may just change your whole season.
If you want some help with some more mental strategies, get a copy of my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf Game by clicking this link Improve My Mental Game
There’s been a lot of hype and talk about the new rules that came in to effect from January this year and not everyone welcomed them.
Some were welcomed and some have been questioned, such as being allowed to putt with the flag stick in. I’m not so sure about the benefits of doing that, except it may save a little time on the green, which over 18 holes may shave a few minutes off the round.
Everything helps I suppose.
I know I prefer to stick with the old way of taking it out when on the green. An old habit.
But when it comes to dropping from knee height, I’ve seen videos of some of the pro events where the pro’s haven’t even been sure exactly what to do and are concerned with an infringement.
Some things are understood when written, but some need seeing to be understood and I’d recommend watching this short video released by the R & A that explains the 20 Must Know Rule Changes for 2019.
Now what’s all that got to do with improving my mental game?
We are creatures of habit. We spend most of our day on for want of a better word ‘autopilot’, doing things we always do from the moment we get up with our usual routines, to the time we go to bed and do all our usual then.
The same happens in golf and over the years we’ve become accustomed to certain habits and routines, both good and bad and much of the time we aren’t actually aware of them. This is true with the rules of golf.
Here’s a short example:
John’s out on Saturday in a club competition and he thinks he knows the rule changes but hasn’t spent much time frequenting himself with them. He’s had a busy week, so he’s pressed for time and gets to the club just in time for his tee time.
His ball hits his bag on the 5th and he penalises himself. Then on the 11th he double hits his ball and penalises himself again.
Now, he hasn’t actually any penalties with the new rules changes, but if he isn’t fully aware of the changes or indeed forgets about them, he can easily revert to his old habits, think he’s done wrong and penalise himself.
He then starts getting frustrated because of two ‘silly’ errors and his mind starts working against him, he gets anxious trying to claw back those two penalty shots.
Before long he’s dropped another 4 because he’s under pressure to get back into the game and by the time he walks off the 18th his round is ruined.
We’ve become accustomed to many of the rules and don’t have to think about them, with the exception of some of the more complex ones.
When we have changes to make to our habits and routines, the mind doesn’t always like them and it’s very easy to fall into our old habits and do what we’ve always done.
It’s easy to forget something unless we remind ourselves of the changes and it can be easier to watch the rules to get a real understanding, rather than simply reading them, to help get them fixed into our minds.
If you want to know more about how to improve your mental game take a look at my 7 Keys to Improve Your Mental Golf. It’s a short read of around 5 minutes but I think will help if you’ve not worked on that side of your game.
To your success.
Let’s face it we all want to improve our golf. There’s endless instructional video, information and books on improving and perfecting the swing. The idea of the game obviously is to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots.
So, the target is the hole ultimately. But before then we also have a target somewhere on the way to the hole and usually that is a spot in the distance, the fairway 200, 250 or 350 yards away depending on who you’re playing with!
You’ve heard the instructions “Pick your spot and let rip” and off you go to do as instructed.
Over the years there has been differing advice as to where we should be aiming or picking a spot. It has been suggested picking a spot just in front of your ball in a line directed to where you want your ball to go to keep your club and ball heading in that direction.
Like many things, it comes down to personal choice about what is comfortable and works for you.
Back in 2017 Golf Top 100 Teacher, Eric Alpenfels and Dr. Bob Christina, Emeritus Professor of Kinesiology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, studied 32 golfers with an average 12 handicap, to see what actually worked better.
After extensive testing using different methods, they discovered that the golfers who picked a wider target area in the distance, the width of the fairway for example, produced better results than when focusing on a smaller target on the fairway and not only that but gained an average overall of just over 6 yards.
Something most golfers would be happy with.
They concluded picking a wider target in the distance from the tee would produce the best results.
Now, new evidence has just come in that would appear to be even more interesting.
The same two guys, Eric Alpenfels and Dr. Bob Christina, did a recent study of 29 golfers of varying ability, where the golfers were asked to hit 6 shots each, aiming at three different directions.
1. Looking only at a distant target
2. Looking only at an intermediary target
3. Looking at a distant and intermediary target, which is considered to be the traditional method.
The results seem quite amazing really.
When measured, they showed that there was improvement over all the golfers when they forgot about the distant target.
Their accuracy was better, and their distance was the same when they focused on a point just in front of their golf ball!
I don’t have the all the figures available but if you are struggling to hit fairways off the tee and haven’t been able to fathom out why, try testing this out and see how you get on.
Focus is such an important part of the game, which is often undervalued by many golfers. The problem I believe in trying to focus on a spot in the distance and an intermediary spot doesn't work because the mind gets confused.
It can only focus on one thing at a time and when we 'try' to focus on the two different places, believing they are in alignment, it causes confusion and the body struggles to follow the instruction.
There’s no right or wrong way, we just have to find the way that: a) works for us and b) we are comfortable with and c) gets the best results. I believe that is to focus on one thing only and take it from there.
Otherwise it can drive you crazy with frustration, which will only have a negative effect on the rest of your game.
If you find you're not getting the results you want and would like to know more about improving your mental golf game, click here to get my 7 Keys to Improving Your Mental Golf.
I recall being at a range not so long ago where there were a few guys out preparing for their round. They had a basket of balls each and were chatting as they went through what looked like their set routine; grab the driver and smash away until the basket was empty, then get in the cart and head off to the first tee.
After about 20 shots, one of the guys would stop for a second and watch friend swishing away and then continue attacking the balls on his pitch. In turn, his mate would stop, turn and watch him smack ball after ball.
It seemed like they were wilfully hitting driver after driver in roughly the same direction, but I couldn’t really tell if it was at any ‘target’.
I don't think they could either.
Every so often one would make a comment which ranged from “I think I need a stiff shaft” or “I’m not sure why I keep slicing it” or “I haven’t warmed up enough yet” which was a cracker really as he was halfway through the bucket by now, which equated to 9 holes of golf in reality.
They eventually got into a conversation around swing thoughts and how to develop a well-honed swing like you see on tv.
Eventually they finished their respective basket of balls, got in their buggy and headed off to the first tee whilst wiping the sweat from their brows with the complementary towels that had been supplied.
No wonder they were sweating. They’d just hit a large basket of balls each which works out at around 90-100 balls depending on who fills them and it was 85f (29c). That’s a round of golf for many an average golfer, more if you think about hitting that many shots instead of the putts.
By the time they finished they’d have hit enough balls for 2 rounds of golf, it was hot and the total amount of time being out including playing would be close to 5 hours.
Fatigue is not limited to the physical side of the game. The mental side suffers too.
Can you remember how difficult it was at some point to concentrate at work, whilst studying or played well at a sport when you’ve been tired from the night before?
A whole basket of balls may not seem a lot but it's too many to be hitting just before going out to play a full round, even if you are fit. It's more difficult to swing with the same conviction and accuracy, which of course affects how we perform.
Which means it’s more difficult to focus, there is more margin for error, the mind has to work harder and there is more likelihood of frustration creeping in. Not a recipe for success.
So how many is enough?
There is no exact amount. It will vary depending on the person and of course the weather. I’m sure no one wants to stand out hitting a whole basket when it’s really cold or when it’s really hot, on top of the playing time. All I know is a basket is too many.
The idea is not to perform a full practice session nor re-train your swing on the practice ground before playing. The idea is to spend a few minutes to literally warm up, get the body moving and ‘feel’ what it’s like to swing the club again and get into the frame of mind to play golf.
Just the same way as turning up in a rush and heading straight to the first tee is not a good way to prepare, neither is spending too much time on the practice ground before playing.
I would suggest you experiment by hitting 20-25 balls next time you go out, to just get warmed up and ‘feel’ the club swinging before heading out to the first tee. Then see how you feel and how it worked. You may feel 20 is enough or you may find that you need a few more or a few less, so you don't tire too easily physically or mentally during your round.
The main thing is to find what works best for you and how many is enough.
I hope this will help you and if you haven’t already, grab a copy of my 7 Keys to improve Your mental Golf Game by clicking here 7 KEYS MENTAL GOLF GAME
To your success
Jordan Spieth is one of the great talents in the game.
From an early age it was evident that he was a very talented golfer. Turning pro before he even finished college in 2012 was certainly a brave decision, as he didn’t even manage to make the final stage of Q school.
In his first pro tournament in January 2013, he failed to make the cut. But it wasn’t long before he was making progress on tour, with a couple of top 10 finishes within a few months and in July the same year he won his first PGA Tour event at the John Deer Classic at the age of just 19.
He continued to progress and in 2015 he won the Masters at the age of 21 and added another 2 majors to his collection, the U.S. Open in 2016 and the Open Championship in 2017.
He’s had his share of success in his relatively short golf career, but he’s also missed several chances of winning tournaments and lifting a trophy.
In 2016 at the Masters, he was 5 shots in the lead standing on the 10th tee but managed to throw away 4 shots in 3 holes and finally ended up being beaten by Danny Willett by one shot, which stopped him winning back to back green jackets.
By all accounts he puts himself under immense pressure with his own expectations, never mind what the media think, which maybe is the reason why he's not smiled much on the course in previous years.
No one is able to keep their foot on the gas so to peak permanently. It’s just not possible. Not even Tiger. We are human after all and that’s what may tend to forget.
There’s a time and place for having great expectations of our game and pushing ourselves on, but sometimes we need to spend a bit of time reflecting on what we are doing so we don’t forget to enjoy the ride along the way.
So, what’s one thing we can learn from such a talent that doesn't revolve around the swing?
By his own admission, there were times when he was a little short tempered and he aimed to change his focus.
At the start of 2017 he stated he simply wanted to enjoy playing golf more. “I want to just feel I’m really enjoying the process enjoying playing and living out my dream”.
At this year’s Masters when he trailed the leader by 9 shots on the final day, he was asked if he had any sort of plan for his final round, to which he simply said “‘Go out and have fun”.
He did and he shot 64 because as he said, he had no pressure on him. No unrealistic expectations. No chasing leaderboards or focusing on what everyone else is doing. Just the freedom to focus on his own game, have fun and simply let his natural golf come through.
Which seems to be a problem for many golfers, including professionals.
Many seem unhappy, some just downright miserable, instead of being happy they’re doing what they love.
Playing golf, some for an awful lot of money. But not always enjoying the ride along the way.
Maybe it’s because they’re focusing on the pressure and everything that goes with it: the scoreboard, what may happen, what may not happen, “What if…” and a myriad of other distracting thoughts and emotions instead of enjoying the process along the way.
We don’t start out playing the game this way.
We start playing the game because it’s fun and we enjoy it. But somewhere along the line, if we aren’t fully aware, it can take us away from that enjoyment and it becomes a grind and a source of frustration, which only adds more problems to our game.
If we can take a leaf out of Jordan's book and focus on having fun and enjoy the process, it may just bring a more relaxed and enjoyable game to your golf. And better results.
Try it and see what happens.
The worst that can happen is you just end up enjoying yourself.
How bad can that be?
If you like this and want to know more about how to improve your mental golf game, grab a copy of my
7 Keys to Improve Your Golf Game
To your success.
Performance Coach & Trainer at Golfing minds