Tip #50 from my book, “Break 80! 52 Ways To Lower Your Golf Score Without Practice” is about connecting your conscious mind to your unconscious mind just before you swing or stroke your putt to execute a really good pre shot routine that lines up your shot. As I’ve said a million times, you golf your best unconsciously, that is, without thinking. Therefore, it only makes sense to FIRST, communicate to your unconscious mind EXACTLY what it is you want to happen! You want your golf ball to go to a specific target, right? The hole, a landing spot for a chip, a spot on the fairway, etc. Do this for EVERY shot with tip #50 below from the book.
Greens and Fairways,
p.s. Want all 52 Ways To Lower Your Score Without Practice? Sign up for these emails. http://break80golf.com/
As usual, you can do this at home, during warmups, in your backyard for putting and chipping too. Set up to your shot or putt like normal and get all ready to hit/stroke it. Do your pre-shot routine just like you always do.
Right before the moment of truth where you start your backswing, look up at the target and stay looking at it while swinging or putting. You won’t believe how well you still hit the ball without looking at it and you will be shocked at how many putts you make. Believe me, if blind golfers can break 80 without ever seeing the ball, so can you.
What are the benefits? You will learn to connect target and ball together in your mind as you swing or putt. You will be sending an even more powerful message to your unconscious mind what you want the ball to do.
You will really learn how to TRUST your swing. For putting, you will discover awareness of how to keep your body very still and feel the clubhead travelling square down the target line.
Golf Digest published a study in 2005 that found that many golfers actually make more putts while looking at the hole while putting!
Golf Tips for all
Before I give tips about playing well as a golfer, let me introduce myself, and why I am “qualified” to give golfing tips since I have been golfing for less than 10 years, am past my 50’s and have not really taken any professional teaching per se.
I live in Oregon, where it sunshine’s on the days I work, and rains on my days off. I have used the official pro golf grip successfully when golfing, but not really wired for that grip.
I was born when all people were right handed (1950”s). Left handed people did not exist.
When I began golfing, my cross handed grip caused a minor stir, and I tried to adapt to the correct grip, but found it to be awkward . I found out that there were a few cross-handed pro golfers, and they were good golfers, but never really acknowledged as such. (BTW, Phil Michelson is right handed).
After struggling for a couple of years trying to adapt to the correct grip, I found a pro golfer who encouraged golfers to grip the club anyway they wanted to.
As he so well said, “the goal of golf is to move the ball from the tee box to the green and ultimately to the hole in the green in the fewest strokes as possible.” I adapted that mind set, and am a happy golfer even when the ball doesn’t go exactly where I want it to go.
Tip #1. A golfer’s goal should be the least strokes, not how far you can hit the ball. Too much money is being spent on buying the newest club, rather than learning on how to move the ball from tee to green in fewest strokes.
Tip #2. Leave the driver in the bag unless you can consistently move the ball forward and keep it in the fairway. Digging the ball out of the rough costs strokes.
Tip #3. Find a good 3 wood or 4 wood and use it as your driver. Played correctly, the distance between the 3 & 4 wood and the driver is not that far, and the ball is still in the fairway >75% of the time. (I have a 3 wood that I can carry almost 250 yds, and the ball is in the fairway >75%).
Tip #4. Stop spending money on expensive golf balls. The average golfer does not swing fast enough to fully compress high-end golf balls. Buy a 3 ball sleeve of several golf brands and play them. Some give you more distance, some less spin (more control and straighter), some putt better. (Also gives you more money to play golf.) You will find golf balls that fit you perfectly.
Tip #5. Practice putting, practice putting, practice putting. Of the 18 holes placed , “the perfect score is 72 strokes and 36 of them are putts. “ How many putts do you use?
Tip #6. Try different ways to putt. At present time, after getting a sense of the greens contours, I set up and then focus on the hole, not the ball. Relax, keep your eyes on the hole and stroke the ball. Practice this for a while, and you will be making 20 foot 1 putts, no matter whether the green is flat or undulating. Why does it work so well, I do not know, it just works. (BTW I have a golfing partner who is scratching his head over this.)
Tip#7. “Remember this is a game.” Remind yourself every time you golf that “this is a game”. There is no reason to bend your clubs, scream and holler (feels good though), and have any other types of tantrums because the ball did not go where you wanted it to. (Yes you can throw it into the pond, but that means you will have to buy more balls.) Remember the goal is to use the same balls, every time you golf. (They should be well trained about 4th time out).
Tip#8. Get rid of some of your irons, #3, #4, #5 and maybe #6, and use hybrids instead. Hybrids are easier to use, hybrids are easier to use, did I say hybrids are easier to use, and that means more distance and consistency. Be careful of the loft you get. Make sure the hybrid loft is either the same loft as or within 1 degree of the iron you are replacing. Practice with them to find the normal distance. (Hybrids also make good “chip & run “ clubs). I have used hybrids for a number of years and do not regret taking irons out of my bag.
Tip#9. Take drinks, (Gatorade, not that other stuff), snacks, sandwich, cookies, nuts, and other snacks when golfing. Keeps energy up and keeps game fun.
Tip#10. If you don’t remember anything else I wrote, remember this….. Golf is a game, play it as a game, enjoy it as a game.
Tee high, score low
Changing Golf Clubs? Learn from Rory McIlroy. (by Eddie Shackleford)
Thinking about trading in your golf clubs for newer models? You might want to think twice before you make any major changes in equipment.
Although the latest and greatest clubs on the market promise longer drives, a smoother swing and targeted aim, switching sticks can sometimes have a negative effect on your golf game. Just ask Rory McIlroy.
After signing a major endorsement deal, Rory McIlroy switched from his trusty Titleists to a new set of Nike golf clubs. He made the switch at the tail end of the offseason, giving him limited time to break in his new clubs.
The result? A less than stellar performance at some of the season’s opening PGA tournaments. He denied any equipment problems in the press, but the scorecard doesn’t lie.
McIlroy saw big success in the 2012 golf season. He won the PGA championship by an astounding eight strokes and climbed to the No.2 spot in the World Golf Rankings. So it seems that the only thing that has really changed between this year and last year, is the golf clubs.
We’ll see how his new clubs perform at this year’s Masters Tournament, and if he’ll be the next winner to host the Masters Champions Dinner .
We can all learn from Rory McIlroy’s experience. If you are thinking about changing golf clubs, consider a few things before you make a big investment:
Do your homework. Don’t walk into a golf store without doing a little research first. Sure, golf pros and sales people can be helpful, but it’s good to hear from other people who have purchased the same clubs. Read online reviews, or ask fellow golfers for club recommendations.
Beware of the Brand
Consider switching clubs, but staying within the same brand. If you are still playing pretty decent, and just want upgraded equipment, buying a newer model of the same brand of clubs is a good option. This will minimize any major changes in your swing.
Swing before you buy a couple practice swings in the store won’t give you a true read. Ask to take the clubs out to the driving range.
Hit a few balls with each club. You might find that the driver swings great, but the irons aren’t connecting as well. In that case, you can always buy a single new club instead of a full set.
Most golfers change out drivers and putters pretty regularly without seeing any major impact in their game.
Purchase, Practice, Practice
If you a buy a new set of clubs, take them for a test drive before you book a tee time. You don’t want to use a new set of clubs in a high stakes tournament without getting some good practice sessions in first.
Start with the driving range, and then follow with a casual 18 holes.
Most importantly, give yourself a little time to adjust – but not too much. Once you make the switch, set a deadline for the transition. It will take a few rounds to get used to the clubs.
But if after a month or two you start to notice your scores getting higher – take a mulligan and try again!
Eddie Shackleford is a Senior Editor at Cable.tv and writes about all entertainment related content. He put this infographic together on the last Master’s winners and the dinner they chose: http://www.cable.tv/masters-champions-dinner/
Craig’s note: I bought new clubs last summer that are NOT big name, big advertising, big marketing.
I am extremely happy to report that I am playing fantastic with them and have been very surprised at their performance. I will be telling you more about this as I conclude my testing but so far, I am totally convinced that you DO NOT need to spend big money for great clubs.
I also learned from taking a tour of the manufacturing plant that most all clubheads from all the companies come from the same place overseas… You can pay more for big name marketing, endorsements, and TV ads…or you can keep that money in your pocket and score lower….
tell you more later!
Greens and fairways,
Tiger Woods Comeback – How did he do it?
That’s almost hilarious. There was never anything wrong with his swing or his physical game or talent. We all know exactly what happened to him.
Nobody thinks it’s a total coincidence that his game went downhill after his personal problems.He has said in interviews that he rebuilt his swing and his game…blah blah blah…
Awhile back, I wrote a post saying that Tiger Woods is not mentally tough. I got all kinds of flack for that from Tiger fans. But, I was just calling it exactly like it was at the time. He wasn’t. His personal life hurt his golf and he didn’t win for quite a long time. That’s not even debatable.
So what about today? Well, since I preach to all the teams and athletes I work with that mental toughness is 50% resilience, then yeah, I have to say that Tiger, having regained #1 world status again, has become mentally tough….and that’s not really debatable either.
Whatever you think of Tiger Woods, his recovery in golf brings up an important point for your game…and your life.
What did he change and how do you make CHANGE like that?
Well, this is exactly what I do…help people CHANGE.
If this weren’t the case, people could give up smoking easily, we wouldn’t have an obesity or drug and alcohol problem. AND, this is the same functionality that creates problems with your golf swing or putting stroke. If you’ve been with me for any amount of time, you know that this is the core of everything I teach here.For starters, in order to make any kind of permanent or long-lasting CHANGE, it has to be done at the unconscious (subconscious) level of the mind.
When you tighten up, you have a program at the unconscious level that needs to CHANGE.
When you “yip” a putt, that’s your unconscious mind creating that problem.
When you can’t stop all of that negative thinking and worrying on the course, that’s also your unconscious. You are in need of CHANGE.
In fact, all of your problems out there can be traced to the unconscious mind…and so were Tiger’s. There was never anything wrong with his game or swing.
So…step 1 is just understanding that you have a conscious and an unconscious mind and that you must INTEND to make your CHANGE in the unconscious mind because this is what controls your emotions, and your emotions are the police force for your behaviors and performance. If you get to understanding this, you are 40% of the way to making your CHANGE.
Step 2 – Find an antidote thought. This is something that “counters” or directly challenges the problem at it’s core. For instance, you might have the program: “This hole always gets to me and I never do well on it.”
The antidote could be: “A golf hole is a golf hole no matter where I play and the fact that I know this hole makes it more likely that I can own it.”
Do you see how this antidote is really specific to the problem? We’re not just doing a general “affirmation” like: “I’m a great golfer” which is supposed to overcome all of your problems. That kind of general antidote doesn’t have near the CHANGE power as one that is specific. You are now 60% of the way there.
Step 3 – Mental repetition with INTENTION to go to the unconscious. Think your antidote thought at least 10 times a day. Take a moment, stare off into space or close your eyes, take a deep breath and think your antidote thought. Let the antidote thought integrate with the rest of your knowledge of the game and your other beliefs. Process it in. ( I could write a book on just this step but this is the basics)
This is probably the most common and simple way to make CHANGE. If you do step 3 with INTENTION, you are basically doing hypnosis. Hypnosis is nothing more than communication with the unconscious mind.
Another even more powerful way to make CHANGE is to take advantage of highly emotional states. Whenever you are in high emotion, you have opened the gateway to the unconscious mind. When that gateway is open, whatever you are thinking at the time has a very good opportunity of becoming your new program in the unconscious mind.
So, going back to Tiger Woods comeback, I don’t know exactly how he rebuilt his mental toughness but somehow, he had to integrate what happened in his personal life with his beliefs as a world class golfer.
Clearly he did that. Bravo for him for making this CHANGE. Sure would be nice to hear from the press about any positive changes he’s made in his personal life in addition to his game.
You can do the same thing with any problem for your golf game all on your own…or, you can get guidance with someone like me. Basically, coming up with antidotes is all I really do. Maybe you’ve picked up some by now!
I’d love to see your comments or questions below.
Greens and fairways,
You show up to the course with 20 minutes to spare before your tee time. You spend it chatting with your buddies, stroking a few on the practice green to get the feel of the day’s putting.
Maybe you squeeze in a small bucket and somewhere in there you find the time to put the club behind your back and stretch a little.
Maybe you kind of just wander around feeling your way around the practice area and clubhouse or maybe you have a really solid, consistent pre-game routine.
Either way, you walk up to the first tee like you’ve done a hundred times or more before and everything seems ok. Not amazing or in the zone, but just ok.
The holes fly by and before you know it, the front 9 is over and you are making the turn.
You add up your score and are somewhat surprised to see how well you’re doing! You thought you were playing pretty good but didn’t realize just how good! Wow, exciting. Much better than usual. “This game is pretty fun after all” you think to yourself.
Walking up to the 10th hole your mind is filled with thoughts of what could be. “If I can repeat what I did on the front, I’ll shoot a ______ “(which would be one of your best if not your best score ever.)
A little jolt of energy shoots through your body.
You tell yourself to calm down and just get back to playing golf like you did on the front 9. You start having a full-blown conversation with yourself with one part of you thinking about how great it will be to get the respect from your buddies for such a great round.
Another part of you, the worrier part, starts to give you all sorts of advice inside your head for how to repeat what you just did with your swing and putting or the last advice you got from a book or pro.
Your game falls apart.
You start steering your tee shots. You spend too much time over the ball on the green and overthink everything there.
You feel the tension or stiffness in everything you do.
…and another round that “Could have been” goes into your memory banks.
As you followed that story from the perspective of me writing this as an outside observer, can you see yourself in it? It’s so hard to see/feel/know what’s going with us WHILE it’s going on but it’s crystal clear from this viewpoint right?
What caused the problem in the story? The obvious answer is because SCORE became the focus of the game on the back 9.
“But Craig, how am I supposed to avoid focusing on the score? It’s right there and I have to put down a number every hole. I can’t just ignore it.”
Yes, I get that. Our unconscious mind is too smart to try to fool it by pretending SCORE doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter or to NOT think about it. Your unconscious is what kicked into gear those destructive parts that hurt your back 9.
I teach all of my clients that it is SO MUCH easier to replace thoughts than it is to NOT THINK of certain thoughts. This is what you did on the front 9 that worked so well for you. In sports psychology terms, it means “playing in the present moment” or “one shot at a time.”
You hear that advice so often but it goes in one ear and out the other and what does it really mean anyway in reality out there on the course?
It means WHAT are you going to fill your mind with while you play so that SCORE doesn’t have an opportunity to take over and ruin your game?
Why not make a list, in advance, on a 3×5 card for what things in your game that you will dedicate the next round to focusing on.
Pull that card out of your pocket and look at during the round to keep you on track. This kind of mental work is what is going to keep SCORE in the proper mental compartment and allow the back 9 to repeat the front.
Also, the next time you have a great 9 (or if you can remember the last time), see if you can identify the difference in your thinking from front to back. Write down WHAT WORKED on the front about your THINKING. Add it to that 3×5 card. Bring it to your next round.
DO NOT assign your front 9/back 9 breakdown to any physical part of the game. That’s the trap you’ve always been in and there’s no way out of that because your swing is already good enough to go low.
Greens and fairways,
P. S. I’d love to see your comments and additional help for other golfers on the front 9/back 9 problem. Let’s help each other all out. I read and answer every comment.
Employees often roll their eyes when they hear the phrase ‘team building’. For them it conjures up images of forced fun and a waste of time doing something they do not want to do in muddy fields or embarrassing situations. Whether they like it or not, team building is a huge part of any corporate culture and companies spend a fair chunk of cash on physical activities such as paintballing, assault courses or similar team-based activities.
Whilst it may give people a day out of the office, such team building activities can alienate certain people who are not as physically able or willing to partake in particular activities. That is why a driving range is a perfect place for a day of fun and gentle competition with colleagues. More relaxed and forgiving for new players, golf ranges are more accessible for a wider range of personality types and physical abilities.
Golf is usually seen as a somewhat exclusive community, with clubs that would not be willing to put up with a large group of people taking too long at each hole. Furthermore, time spent on a full-sized course can become frustrating for new players and may eventually lead to boredom.
Golf ranges are a better option as the games are quicker and more relaxed, allowing for larger groups to enjoy themselves with no pressure (apart from some gentle ribbing from co-workers of course). Modern ranges have state of the art simulations that allow users to partake in a selection of different games that everyone can get involved in such as target practice and score attacks.
Last, but certainly not least the facilities at driving ranges allow for further enjoyment after the games have ended. As things are all closer together, employees can enjoy food, drink and some down-time after an afternoon of gaming.
So, the next time you are considering taking out your workforce to a muddy day of paintballing, consider a driving range for a more relaxed and inclusive activity.
‘Tom Logan works for TopGolf, a driving range with several UK locations.
I played a casual golf round this past weekend with my brother and had a big breakthrough. It was spur of the moment and we were risking getting rained on since the weatherman was predicting 50% chance of rain. Pretty typical for us here in Seattle. I throw the umbrella in the bag, shrug my shoulders and say “let’s do it!”
We show up at the course at 2pm for a twilight 2:50 tee time and it’s pretty quiet so the starter asks us if we are ready to go and we say “sure!”
No warmup, no range balls, not even rolling a few balls on the practice green. Get this… both of our first thoughts for going out there on the course were to be able to surprise our women by getting home early after golf. Hah! We figured we could earn some points to be stashed for later cashing in or when we do something stupid that we need to apologize for.
Hilarious I know but a lot of people make their golf decisions this way! That decision did cost me 2 strokes though…
Ok, getting back on track for something useful for you…
I walk up to the first tee, take a few practice swings, step up to the ball, and then proceed to top it and send the ball a whopping 100 yards. My second shot goes into the trees, I chip up short, 3 to get in and I card a double bogey. Boom, I’m 2 over after 1 hole….nice.
To make the story short, I make par on the next 8 holes in a row. It’s an easy course but still, even on an easy course, you still have to putt and chip to make your pars and I was doing it!
I tell my brother at the turn that I’m going to par out the back nine and finish 2 over…AND I DID! Couple of bogeys and a couple of birdies and yep, I finish 2 over and it’s a darn good day for me! I’m ecstatic!
“So what’s the problem Craig?” you might be asking.
Being Mr. Analyzer, (for yours and my benefit), I keep asking myself “Why is it that I could go out there today and shoot a 2 over today and yet, a couple months ago on my last round, I shoot a 12 over?
I did no practice or any kind of work on my game between rounds.
Other than writing to you in my email letter and blog posts, I’ve done no mental work on my game the whole time either.
“What the hey? How is this possible?”
There is one big difference that finally hit me after I got home and here it is….
Energy…my overall energy level is up from a month ago!
Yep, that’s it. Energy.
You’ve got to remember something here in order to buy into this: There is a next-to-nothing difference in muscle movement between a great shot and a horrible one. The slightest bit of improved focus (the brain is a muscle), and the golf shot or putt comes out better.
The weird thing about all of this is that IT IS VERY SUBTLE but I am totally convinced that this was the difference. The way it showed up was that when I stepped up to the ball, EVERYTHING WAS EASY. My swing was easy. My thoughts were easy. My body moved easily.
I was never tired! I wasn’t mister “on fire” or anything…I just had an optimistic attitude that comes from my body working well. A couple months ago, it wasn’t. I’m totally convinced that this was the biggest part of a 10-stroke difference. Many of us who are getting up there in years have noticed a significant drop-off in energy levels. I’m almost 49 and I can definitely tell the difference from 10 years ago.
How did I improve my energy levels from a couple months ago?
I went and saw a naturopath! This is a doctor who primarily uses natural remedies as much as possible. A couple months ago, I was struggling with pollen allergies and just woke up many days with low energy. Get this, my body was also struggling with toxins as my blood tests showed. We narrowed it down to formaldehyde concentration and guess where that came from? My new car I had bought late last year. True story. Anyway, she put me on a program to deal with it in a totally natural way and 2 months later, I’m back to feeling energetic again!
This is a big area of study I want to learn more about and will keep you apprised. I also have learned of the new science called “energy psychology” and I am very curious.
She works with people worldwide via Skype as well as in person.
I’d love to hear your ideas below about how we can increase our energy, besides the obvious of more exercise and eating better.
Greens and fairways,
Bubba Watson has never had a swing coach. He hasn’t had a lesson since he was 10 years old.
His playing approach is contrary to every golf strategy book ever written…as he says it like this: I always ATTACK.” He goes for the pin no matter the situation.
Bubba Watson isn’t a big student of the game either. Here’s what he said about that:
“I don’t play the sport for fame. I don’t try to win tournaments for fame,” Watson said. “I don’t do any of that. It’s just me. I’m just Bubba. I goof around. I joke around. I just want to be me and play golf.”
About his swing he said: “I just swing funny and somehow it works.”
This guy is my new hero.
In an age where parents are moving their families to Florida so they can play year round and to work with Golf Digest top instructors, is Bubba just a rare exception or does he know something most golfers don’t?
It’s my contention that every golfer can adopt his secret and improve your game with it. It’s not hard. In fact, I think it’s hard to hold on to those old beliefs that your swing isn’t good enough….IT IS.
I read an article that said that Tiger would try to pair with Bubba on practice rounds in the majors because he was intrigued at how someone could make the ball move the way Bubba does without ever having had a swing coach. Tiger probably studied Bubba’s swing in great detail to try to find the mechanical key that makes it work. When all the while, the secret was probably in a few simple words and sentences that Bubba plainly and simply gives away for free.
What can us mere mortals learn from Bubba?
Does Bubba have talent? Of course. More than Tiger or Phil? I doubt it. But he knows how to win.
What does he have a tremendous amount of?
TRUST in his swing and his game.
There is no perfect swing, there is no perfect golfer. As Bagger Vance said: “You’ve got to find your authentic swing”
You can spend your life trying to tweak your swing or your putting stroke or you can get on to the business of scoring well. The two don’t always jive together. Just ask David Duvall if you don’t believe me.
Here’s another gift Bubba has given us. Will you accept it? From Bubba himself in a post-win interview:
“I don’t even know what happened on the back nine. … Nervous on every shot, every putt. Went into a playoff. I got in these trees and hit a crazy shot that I saw in my head, and somehow I’m here talking to you with a green jacket on.”
Nervous on every shot, every putt
You can play well AND feel nervous.
The mental game is everything, just ask Tiger who is in the midst of re-learning that.
And by the way, remember when I said last year that Tiger Woods isn’t mentally tough. Well, maybe now he is even though he didn’t win the Masters. He did win last week and that says a lot…AND it doesn’t prove I was wrong a year ago when he couldn’t win anything after faltering from his personal problems.
Nobody is stuck at where they are at today. Everybody can change and does change. That’s the only constant!
All golfers can adopt a new way of thinking or a new focus in order to break through what’s been holding them back on the course and life. What can you take away from this for your game that can open some new doors that had previously been closed?
And here’s another rambling that will mean something different to everyone with regards to golf…and life that may or may not have anything to do with Bubba Watson and the 2012 Masters…you decide:
Happiness = Growth (or improvement)
Here’s why – We get used to everything! No matter how great your game is. No matter how big your house is. No matter how good looking your partner is….you get used to it and the great feelings you once had when you first got that, will always fade.
Therefore, the only thing that brings us sustained high enjoyment is the chase for the better game, not a score for any single round.
Let me hear your opinions on any of this below….
Greens and fairways,
p.s. that last thing just popped into my head as I was writing this. It meant something to me, I hope it does for you.
In the opening pages of this book I implied that there is something new in golf. Perhaps, as I close, I can bring it more into focus by explaining what is old.
There was a day when I might have attempted to
describe the golf swing by, first of all, handing you
fifty-seven varieties of stance. To these I could have
added that supergyration known commonly as the
“pivot” and another known as the “weight shift.” I
am willing to wager that Hemingway couldn’t put
either into words.
To impress you further, I could have explained in
detail, one by one, literally dozens of positions which
together form the pattern of the swing beautiful.
Hypothetically, you’d have a swing like Bobby Jones.
Actually, you’d have the same old swing you always
I could have sold you a bushel basket full of posi-
tions at the top of the swing. To rescue you from
them, I could have peddled as many different contor-
tions of the hips.
Another old stand-by in golf books is a line or two
of verse, to be recited during the swing for the sake
of rhythm. As a matter of record, I didn’t even ask
ADDING UP THE SCORE
you to recite “1-2-3-4” to yourself. All I asked is that
you swing the clubhead back, pause, and swing it
I have not stuffed a handkerchief under your right
armpit nor hung a plumb bob from your chin. What
I have done is divide the golf swing into its basic
maneuvers, the golf game into common sense.
The secret of consistency in the golf swing is to
hit every shot, from the putt through the drive, with
the same basic action.
Hold the club no tighter than you would as your
caddie hands it to you. Some good golfers hold the
club incorrectly, but no bad golfers hold it correctly.
So, as near as you can, hold it the right way. After
all, the hands are the only parts of the body attached
to the club.
In addressing the ball, stand erect enough to speak
when spoken to without looking up to answer. This
prevents you from pulling up as you swing, and per-
mits you to look up as much as your concentration
will allow you.
Play all irons midway between the feet. The woods
are played more toward the front of your stance to
allow for the projected face, particularly the driver,
which meets the ball on the upswing because the ball
is already in the air.
Use the square stance whenever distance is a prime
factor, opening it when distance is not.
Swing the putter with the hands, arms, and shoul-
ders as a unit. Start the backswing with every club
the same way. Ignore the follow-through and so-
called “wrist action.” Both are superfluous.
A chip is struck down upon. Any other way simply
is not a chip. This is the action which gets any ball
THE NATURAL WAY TO BETTER GOLF
off the ground with an iron, and in turn causes the so-
Pause between the backswing and the downswing.
This causes the slow backswing, which causes the
head to remain still.
Hit all your irons in the same tempo.
Proper footwork is as important as a proper hold
of the club. After all, the feet are the only parts of
the body attached to the golf course. They are the
motor of the swing.
Proper footwork finds the left knee pointing behind
the ball on the backswing and the right knee pointing
in front of it on the downswing.
With the driver, tee the ball as high in the air as
the tee will allow. Always tee the ball on par-three
Hit all shots with less than your full strength.
Three-quarters strength is about what is needed to
get all the distance of which you are physically capa-
ble. A long ball is composed of fast feet as well as fast
Learn the shots you can’t play, and fit the shots
you can into your own par.
Think before you address the ball. After you have
addressed it, concentrate only on hitting the ball.
With the putt, distance is more important than
direction in the long run.
Percentage golf is hitting the ball squarely at all
costs; a wild shot is not nearly so damaging as a mis-
hit ball. Percentage golf means hitting the fairways,
hitting the greens, and missing the hazards. Nothing
can be more important in your strategy than giving
all hazards a wide berth.
Approach each game with a tactical plan. For ex-
ADDING UP THE SCORE
ample, make up your mind to stick to the percentages
of medal play.
Prepare your muscles for each game by hitting
balls on the practice tee or at least by swinging sev-
eral irons at once.
Don’t use your driver off the tee simply because
the caddie handed it to you. Start with a spoon, and
work your way to the driver through the brassie. The
tee shot is still a percentage shot.
Never tee your ball up in the fairway. Each time
you do, you are doing the equivalent of spreading
Vaseline across the face of the club.
Don’t seek advice on your selection of clubs. Hit
what you feel like hitting, for indecision will ruin
the shot even though it was the correct club.
Debate each of your first choices of clubs. Do
hazards dictate playing to the front or back of the
green? Or the right or left of it? Be wary of any pre-
conceptions you may have about the correct club.
Aim at the green, not at the pin. You can’t hit it
with a golf ball if you can’t hit it with a rifle.
Play the last putt as decisively as the first drive.
There are eighteen holes to a game of golf, not seven-
teen and a half.
Bad golfers think first of recovering from hazards.
Good golfers think first of getting out of them.
The trap shot should be the easiest shot in golf.
You don’t even have to hit the ball.
Think strongly in terms of the shot you want to
play. Think “hook” if that’s what you want the ball
On either a downhill or uphill lie, always play the
ball nearer the higher foot.
Reduce all trouble shots to what you probably can
do, not what you possibly can do.
THE NATURAL WAY TO BETTER GOLF
After you have addressed the ball, have only one
thought in mind: “Hit the ball.”
Those who play the best golf of which they are
capable relax and enjoy the game—their own game.
And those who relax and enjoy their own game play
the best golf of which they are capable.
Excerpt from “The Natural Way to Better Golf”
It’s the 18th hole and my junior golfer, 15 year old son, walks up to the green and eyes his ball lying about 25 feet from the hole. It’s a double breaker with a bit of an uphill putt that he needs to win a bet from me. I follow him around the green as he squats behind the ball to take a look at the slope. I hover around him and look him in the eye and finally decide to give him a little lesson in managing his mental game.
I ask him: “So AJ, right when you take the putter back, do you breathe in, out or hold your breath?”
I have a sly smile on my face as he sends mental daggers my way through his eyes. He is determined to show up the old man for the first time in our many years of playing together. I just keep smiling and smirking while noticing his body language reeks of tension.
Flash backwards in time for a moment. I’ve been playing and teaching my junior golfer since he was 3 years old. Before that, I actually pushed him around a course while in a jogger’s baby carriage in his first year while I played the game. Heck, it was the only way I was going to get to play some weekends when his mother left him with me. I’ll never forget the gyrations I went through to try to keep him either asleep or entertained enough to stay quiet on a golf course! From a distance, other golfers must have thought I was nuts doing African dances around my funny-looking golf cart!
Come to think of it, you know, those times were probably very instrumental in my learning how to deal with distractions and still play the game at a high level. Did you know that Tiger Woods Dad would purposely yell and throw clubs in front of Tiger while he was swinging in order to teach him that famous Focusing ability he is famous for?
But I digress from the main story. From the age of 3 til about the age of 12, AJ would listen and hang on every word that I would say about golf.
I showed him a very simple swing that served him very well and we enjoyed many years of playing together, driving golf carts in crazy ways, and celebrating another grand day at the course with a tall soda (and beer) at the 19th hole.
And then, something happened…AJ hit that age where he all of a sudden “knows everything” if you know what I mean. His game started to get better and I could see this wall come up any time I would talk about the mental game of golf. In his eyes, it was just a matter of him playing more and practicing more and he’d seen the beginnings of improvement from that formula. Never mind that I write to 10,000 golfers every week, never mind that I’ve worked with hundreds of kids and elite athletes from all over the world. Never mind the fact that I took my own golf handicap down to a 5, shot a 1-under and a hole in one, all without practicing….No, never mind all that…I’m just Dad and I don’t know anything, right?
Flash forward to that 18th hole where he challenged me to a bet where if he won, I would have to buy him some new Nike shoes and if I won, he would have to wash my car 10 times. He wants those shoes really bad. I don’t let up as he walks all around his putt and takes an unusually long time to line it up. I know that he is a bowl of jello inside and his legs look like they will give out from under him at any moment.
He takes the putter back very hesitantly and leaves himself a 4-footer. I mentally pounce all over him as you can feel the pressure in the air between us. I tell him that he will not be able to handle the pressure and that I am looking forward to a clean car for the foreseeable future.
Hi misses the putt and I say nothing, not a word. We walk to the car in silence as I let him process the whole thing his way. I turn the radio on in the car to break the tension as we drive home.
A whole month later, he comes to me and tells me he is ready to learn about the mental game and we get going in earnest.
I just learned this week, as I write this, that AJ has earned a college scholarship to play golf in college. He is a fine, upstanding, moral young man who impressed a college coach not just with his golf skills but with his personality and character.
Sometimes, golfers need to get their lessons in a certain way that only works for them. After working with hundreds of golfers in person and more online, I’ve noticed a few patterns about what makes you a play your best game. It’s all about being able to play under pressure. More to come on that…
Greens and fairways,
The No-practice expert