First off, let me just say that this is one the peak experiences of being a golfer…hanging out with some friends for a long weekend or more and making golf your central focus. It doesn’t get any better than this and you should find some golfers and do it!
My 2 brothers and I showed up at our condo and right off the bat, were pleasantly surprised at the golf prints on the wall in the main room. The golf attitude heats up!
We get settled down in our condo, have a beer together and go right to the course! We get there at 3:30pm and plan on playing the short course, 18 holes of par 3s, but it’s full and so we say what the heck and step out onto the 1st tee with no warmup at all. We just figure we will work out the kinks on the course as a practice round until my son shows up in a couple of days.
I step up to the first tee after a couple of stretches and I flick the switch in my mind that sends me back to all those great drives I’ve had in the past. I’ve done my preshot routine so many times now that my zone trigger has become that moment when I’m standing over the ball and just about to start my backswing. I hit it pretty good and 250 yards down the left side of the fairway. As I walk up to the ball, I’m thinking “Square and Point” over and over. I pull out a pitching wedge for a 120 yard approach and I’m pin high about 15 feet left with a downhill putt. Not having hit one putt on the course, I bend down and feel the grass and estimate the speed. I end up 3-putting from a total lack of feel for the putt. I take a few more practice putts before going to the next hole (yes, that’s within the rules).
It’s my first round with a new set of irons and I’m all over the place with them but my chipping and putting game make up for it and I finish 2 over. Now, it’s a pretty easy course but I’m extremely happy with my practice round and go to bed that night replaying all my great shots as I drift off. It’s a great golf day and here’s the keys to the round that comes from my teachings.
1. Go into a new round ASSUMING you are going to play well. But, it’s not an excited feeling, no, that can turn to tension really easily. What you want is a relaxed, cocky attitude….I thinking thoughts like “I do this all of the time…this is easy…I know I’m going to play well today…etc.
2. Do nothing tricky. I played extremely conservative not having had any warmup. I used more club and swung the clubs easier. I did everything I could to keep the ball in play.
3. For putting, the key was to ALWAYS make sure I had my eyes directly over the target line. When I forgot to do that, I missed three putts from inside 4 feet. I now know I need to incorporate that into my pre-putt routine.
4. I noticed that when I took my time on chips and picked my spot and focused like I do on my other shots, they come off well. It’s so easy to be lazy on chips and treat them like longer irons where we just pick a spot and fire away. You’ve got to walk up and look at the green like a putt.
I’m always learning, always observing. I’m constantly going over what goes well and telling my inner golfer that I want more of that. Tomorrow’s another day and another challenge we can all look forward to whether or not we are on the course!
Greens and fairways,
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,
Get out and go golf now! It’s high time for us Northerners to take full advantage of the weather.
GET EXCITED! Get out there! I know I am. 🙂
Ok, that’s just how I’m feeling right now about this time of year when the Tours are in full swing and the days are the longest….LOVE IT!
We go out with all the hopes in the world, you just feel like this is a fresh new season and this is the year that you are going to break your scoring barrier. We show up to the course smiling and taking deep breaths soaking in the smell of the fresh cut grass and hearing the sounds of balls pinging off drivers on the range – Remember the last blog post where I discussed FOCUSING on what you’re senses are taking in?
You get up on the first tee and pull hook it OB. “No problem, I’ll just take a mulligan and start all over.”
Your next shot is reasonable and your approach comes up short. You chunk your chip, hit the next one 30 feet long and then 3 putt coming back for a triple bogey.
All the air has been taken out of your sails. Maybe you are able to shrug it off and start fresh again on the second hole. But, inevitably, more bad shots show up and you stop scoring about the 13th hole and start calling the round a “practice” round.
All of a sudden, you start making more shots! 5 foot putts start dropping and seem easy. Your body actually starts feeling more flexible and loose and the next few holes has you feeling like a kid again.
What happened here?
Maybe this exact scene hasn’t happened to you but I would bet that the part about letting go of your score and then starting to play well has!
I am going to say something bold here today….
If you have learned the fundamentals of golf and have had some good holes before, then
ALL of your mistakes can be attributed to your mental game.
This is the biggest problem with golfers actually realizing new personal bests for scoring. They just think they need to hit more balls and buy the newest equipment and get another swing tweak and then the game will be all better.
Let’s turn this all around now.
What if you were to just go out the next couple rounds not even caring about your score or even bothering to put it down on the card and just focusing on hitting a few great shots and putts?
What would happen if your whole reason for playing was something other than score?
Even more important…what do you do when you are in the midst of a melt down? How do you stop it? I’ve got an answer for you here today. (Sorry about the rambling above, I’m just writing what comes to mind today).
For instance….I followed my 18 year old son around at the High School State Tournament. He wasn’t playing to his potential through the first 9 holes and thought he was out of it. But as he checked the leader board at the turn, he found out that he would make the cut for the 2nd day if he played the same way on the back. With the bad weather, everyone was turning in high scores.
He got a renewed sense of hope…and then promptly on the 10th hole, he birdies it.
On the par 3 11th, he gets up there and hits a horrible shot that goes into the bushes. Totally miffed after lying 3 near the green, he chokes the chip and ends up with a triple.
He lost it and ended up tripling the next hole and doubling the one after that and ended up not making the cut.
You might be asking, aren’t you the mental game guru? Why couldn’t you help him? Well, I wished I could have but the rules prohibited any contact with the gallery.
What he needed to do after that 3 par miss was to use a powerful tool I call “The observer” in order to stop the meltdown of his emotional state. This is where you pretend you can take yourself out of yourself and observer yourself like another person would and you comment on what you are observing.
This is such an effective mental game technique because of a bunch of reasons. One, you automatically take control of your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you. Two, you become bigger than your problem at that moment. You can see more clearly. As an objective observer, it’s easy to see what the problem is and how to solve it. Three, I can’t explain it, but there is some mental magic that happens when you do this technique that shifts your energy. You’ll just have to do this for yourself and experience it.
I’d love to see your comments below
Greens and fairways,