Golf news now…what's your opinion?

Golf is in the midst of some controversy these days and I want to know your opinion on the following 2 topics after I give you mine.

Did you know that the International Olympic Committee just voted Golf to become an Olympic sport starting in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro?

In my opinion, as much as I love golf, this is a ridiculous development for the Olympics. In order to make room for golf, it is eliminating wrestling as an Olympic sport! Wrestling has been an Olympic sport since the 19th century and man has been wrestling in competition since…well, since probably sporting competition began!

Let’s face it, it is a privilege to play golf and only a small handful of athletes in rich countries have the opportunity to develop the talent. I work with wrestlers on their mental game in my office and I can tell you that wrestling is a tough sport to train and become good at. I feel for the wrestlers.

By the way, in doing a little research, I found that golf was in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics. In 1900, 4 countries participated and in 1904, 2 countries sent teams.

I’d like to know if you agree or disagree with me below and why.

Banning anchored putting?

Ban anchored putting?

Ban anchored putting?

I’m generally in favor of allowing anchored putting to continue as it has but the other side has some good points. Let’s go over them:

“There is no compelling data” to prove anchoring helps, said the R&A’s chief executive Peter Dawson. “This is about defining what a golf stroke is.”

If there is no evidence of an advantage, then what’s the big deal? And even if there is, anybody can use one so it’s fair for all.

On the other side of the coin is Mike Davis, USGA executive director who said: “Throughout the 600-year history of golf, the essence of playing the game has been to grip the club with the hands and swing it freely at the ball, The player’s challenge is to control the movement of the entire club in striking the ball, and anchoring the club alters the nature of that challenge. Our conclusion is that the Rules of Golf should be amended to preserve the traditional character of the golf swing by eliminating the growing practice of anchoring the club.

I think the tie-breaker for me is that many average golfers, especially older ones, enjoy the game just a little bit more when they can use a putter that helps them beat the shakes or the yips and that’s the promise of the anchored style.

What do you think?
Greens and fairways,

Craig

Cold Weather Golf

It’s the beginning of February and I recently returned from my annual winter golf trip down South for some warm weather. This year, I went to Tucson, AZ with extremely high hopes of having a break from 6 months of cold and wet living where I do in Seattle.

Arizona Golf

It was going to be the usual competition between my younger brother and I vs. my older brother and my son. We have a friendly, but high-stakes thing going between us over the years. I was pumped! I was ready to go. I had used my visualization techniques for weeks prior to the trip…imagining sinking 10 foot putts like I was during my last outing when the season closed for us here in October.

Back then, I had that “knowing” and feeling that I could just putt the ball exactly down the line that I chose. The only reason I could miss back then was if I mis-read the green. I had done what teach others and emblazoned those thoughts and images in a certain corner of my mind where I store all of my successes for later retrieval.

I was mentally practicing “square and point” over and over each night as I went to bed the same way I did 15 years ago to break 80.

I was ready!

3 days before our trip, I check the weather…and there’s a cold front hitting California and Arizona. I panic! What if the weatherman is right? Should we cancel? Postpone? The day before we are to fly to Arizona, my brother calls trying to talk me into putting the trip off a week. I frantically check my schedule and see that I have clients lined up. (Yes I work on weekends but I also take days off mid-week.) I call my son who takes the peer pressure off me by saying he can’t change his work schedule and so we are going no matter the weather!

Cold Weather Golf

We get down there and at least it’s sunny! We are excited about that as we step out to the curb at the airport and it feels pretty nice with the radiant heat of the suns rays….but as it turned out, we went down for 3 days that were the coldest Tucson has ever been since 1988! We woke up to temperatures in the high teens and each day had a frost delay which delayed our start times til 11am to noon. The highs each day were no higher than 45 degrees (7 celsius) What rotten luck!

Well, at least we were prepared with our cold weather golf clothes. I even brought some of those chemical hand warmers you shake and put in your pocket that cost a buck or so. I ended up not even using them all weekend.

We all dressed in layers starting with something against the skin that was synthetic so as to wick away the sweat moisture from the skin and onto the next layer so you don’t get the chills when you sweat. I remember constantly putting on and taking off layers throughout the weekend as the sun would come out and then go away again or when the wind came up.

It turned out to not be that big of a deal golfing in the cold weather and we had a lot of fun. Often, when there was no wind at mid-day, we would shed clothes down to just 2 layers. On the other hand, there were times when we could barely hold our clubs, usually at the end of the day.

Here’s my big learning from this weekend:

20 Foot Putt For Eagle

My first round I came out of the gate playing pretty well for not having played for 4 months. I was very pleased with my game scoring an 83 at El Conquistador.  Everyone else in our group had horrible scores as it wasn’t exactly an easy course.  Given the weather and all the bulky clothes, it was a good day and I looked forward to improving on that the next day.

The next day didn’t go so well and I got worse the following day and we ended up losing the bets for the weekend. Day 2 we played at Arizona National and day 3 we played Tucson National.

What happened? What caused my meltdown?

I’m always teaching golfers to go over their round in their mind afterward and get your learnings! Take what you do well and implant it in your mind adding to your storehouses of success and then see if you can find a bigger pattern that will help you improve from your mistakes that you let go of.

I kept going back to the old excuse that “It must be the cold weather and having to wear the bulky clothes and the wind and the blah blah blah…”  That’s the story I kept telling myself to feel better about the situation…”shoot Craig, you’re the mental golf guy here, figure this out.”

But it wasn’t to be.  Yes, it was cold. Yes, I was wearing bulky clothes that affected my swing. Yes, the wind tests your patience.  But here was the real problem….

I did not play (as they say) “Within myself” after my first round.

My first round I played conservatively. I didn’t swing for the fences. I hit straight shots, kept it in play and focused on that knowing that I had no idea what my swing was going to be like wearing those clothes.  Believe me, bulky clothes affects your game.

The 2nd and 3rd rounds I had gotten warmed up and felt cocky. I got drunk on watching my driver roll 30 yards after hitting the ground…something that doesn’t happen up in Seattle’s wet courses.

I allowed one missed 8-iron to a par 3 that went in the bunker to get to me. We kept saying that we were glad that we still decided to come out even with the cold weather and that it wasn’t so bad and we WERE having fun! But I lost that consistency mind-set I had the first day.

18th hole. Drove the strip next to lake

In fact, I would say, in hindsight, that hitting a monster drive off a cliff on #18, a par 5, to within 150 yards was the beginning of my downfall. I fell into the “show-off” mindset and that sunk me.

I didn’t even realize this until on the way home in the airplane.

Oh well…that’s golf right? We absolutely did have a blast just hanging out together and messing with each other as golf buddies do.  I learned a lot and I hope you did too.  It may not be because of just cold weather that you need to play “within yourself.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts below on playing in cold weather.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

 

The ‘I’ in team comes in the form of a driver

By Tom Logan

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.

http://topgolf.com/surrey

How to get confidence in golf

Today, I want to discuss Confidence and whatever that means to you.  Recently, I interviewed a 20-year sports psychologist who had taken teams to the NCAA finals in his sport and had coached professionals for years.  I asked him about Confidence and how you get it.

I’m not kidding when I tell you he said: “I don’t know any other way to get confidence other than to have success. You get confidence from past successes. Maybe a hypnotist can do some things but that’s been my experience. (he did not know that I do hypnosis…hah!).”

Anyway, I began to think about that on my last round when my golfing partner mentioned that he always putts his best when he has confidence stepping up to the ball.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly that it seems that if you have the feeling like a ball is going in the hole, then that is the biggest factor in whether or not it goes in the hole or not, right?

Well, to take this further, I thought, well, I’ve made lots of putts when I DIDN’T have any confidence or I was just feeling nothing or neutral.

My brain always starts checking on my theories by taking them to the nth degree. In other words, a theory must hold up under extreme situations, it has to be taken to it’s logical end.

So, I tested this theory that you get confidence from having success… and it failed miserably. I thought about all the times I’ve had confidence with ever having any success AND, more importantly, I came to the conclusion that you DON’T EVEN NEED CONFIDENCE in order to have success!!!

Yes, confidence is a good thing. It certainly helps things…but it’s the cherry on cake! it’s not the cake!

Follow me here.  We were all babies at one time, right? And most of us learned to walk from scratch, right?  In other words, we learned to walk (got success) without ever having had any success at walking! Furthermore…we weren’t TAUGHT to walk.  We just learned it by trial and error and modeling grownup humans already walking.

Therefore, we created success without ANY previous success!  We had no confidence, just a DESIRE to walk and a willingness to get back up after we fall down. (maybe that’s all confidence really is)

I keep hearing from golfers saying that they lack confidence standing up there on the tee box about to hit an important drive.  Or that their last miss on the green was because of doubt. Or, that they lacked confidence about to speak or present to their team or boss at their job.

Sooooo, what’s the point of this article?  The punchline?

We don’t need confidence to do anything! The sooner you let go of that, the faster you will get confidence!

Really what happens when you do that, is you let go of some FEAR about whether or not you have confidence or not and can make this shot or not.  When you let go of the FEAR, that’s when you play to your natural potential.

The formula for success is:   Performance = Potential – Interference.

FEAR is the biggest interference in your golf game (and other areas of your life).

I’m going to get into this formula a lot in coming weeks. Stand by….

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Warming up your putting stroke before a round (because I never practice)

So why do golfers on the practice green before a round take 2 or 3 balls, drop em and then hit them one after the other toward the same hole without setting up or reading the green?

Putting practice

Useless putting practice

Some people might answer, well, Craig, they’re working on their stroke.

I’m guessing what they mean by stroke is the ability to send the ball down the chosen target line.
Ok, fair enough, but if that is what they really want to do, that’s got to be the least effective way to accomplish that. If I wanted to accomplish that, I’d go get my putting track out with side guides or just line up a couple clubs as a track to make sure I hit the ball square and follow through square… and I’d do it on a spot on the green where it’s flat and straight so that I could see the results. I would hit 6 or 7 balls in a row and I wouldn’t even be hitting at a hole, I would be aiming at a smaller target than that. I would train my stroke this way. Doesn’t that make sense? Maybe there’s an even better way but certainly hitting 2 balls to various holes is NOT the best way to train your stroke.

But hitting your putt where you are aiming it is only a part of actually making a putt. In fact, I would suggest that speed and break are even more important.
So, I’m going to guess that the true answer as to why golfers hit 2 or 3 balls from the same spot (like I used to do), is because they’re lazy.   They don’t want to go through the motions of reading a green and going through a routine like they do on a real putt. That would be REAL practice. I’ve asked and found that they actually think they are being more efficient and getting to hit more balls in the same amount of time which they consider “reps” or “repetitions.”

There’s this religious-like faith in repetitions in the golf world. But, isn’t it totally logical that if you are repeating an action that isn’t useful that you are ingraining poor results into your mind and muscles?

So what’s the truth about lazy practice putting?  You’re getting reps and practicing how NOT to read a green and rely on the feedback you got from your first putt (which never happens on the real course).  On top of that, those golfers are totally relaxed and at ease on the practice green with no pressure to make a putt.  Final result?  They are practicing UNFOCUSED golf and when they need to make a putt under pressure, it becomes extremely difficult.

You will not fix playing UNFOCUSED golf by buying more clubs.

You can’t become FOCUSED by hitting more unfocused putts on the practice green

A new putter or putting stroke will do nothing to reduce your score when your normal game is to play unfocused golf.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with playing UNFOCUSED golf. That’s playing for the pure enjoyment of the game.  Go out there and have a beer, I play this way some of the time for the sheer fun of it.

But when I want to go low….FOCUS and INTENTION

So what’s my point here?  Whatever you do out there on the practice green or the range or even at home when you want to work on your game, BE INTENTIONAL.  What do I mean by this?

I mean, before you hit a ball, have an idea of specifically want you are working on and put your intention on that. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is the best way to achieve my intention here.  That’s how you will develop FOCUS for out on the course when it counts. That’s how you will make your warmups (practice) actually pay off for you out on the course.

I’d love to see your INTENTIONAL warmup tips for on the practice green below and why you think it works.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Golf trip with buddies

Day 1 and 2 of my annual golf trip with the boys.

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,

Craig

Golf breakthrough – another variable affecting your game that nobody talks about

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.

I’m always exercising with my girlfriend nutritionist cooking for me so there’s been no change there. Here’s her website if you are interested in her services:

FitFoodCoach.com

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,

Craig

 

 

When you melt down on the course

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,

Craig

HOW to play golf one shot at a time

How many times have you been out on the course and experienced frustration at not being able to play the kind of game you know you know how?  I’ve got an answer here today for you.

Mike is a fanatical weekend golfer.  He plays year round and whenever he can get enough time for 9 holes or just an hour to hit a few balls on his way home from work mid-week.  He loves reading golf magazines and email newsletter tips and really enjoys following the professional tours.

When the weekend comes around and he gets to play with his buddies in a friendly match with some money on it, he is so excited driving to the course that he just can’t stop smiling and his body has this light tingling feeling of anticipation. He loves the camaraderie and the competition.

He pulls into the lot visualizing his best shots and talking himself up that he’s a great putter.  After checking in and getting a small bucket, he proceeds to work his way from pitching wedge to driver on the range…and he’s feeling good!

He moves over to the practice putting green and calmly sinks 4-5 foot putts one after the other.  He takes a few lag putts and is satisfied with how he is reading the greens in leaving the ball within 2 feet.

He’s ready..and he feels it! His confidence is sky high.

After a few light verbal jabs shared with his buddy, his group is called to the tee and his first shot is a good one which increases his excitement to be out on the course this very fine day!

His approach shot is a bit short so he pulls out the lob wedge to float it over the bunker for a soft landing.  It’s a tricky shot but he’s done it successfully many times.

Unfortunately, he blades it a bit and the ball runs past the hole and he ends up 2 putting for a bogey.

Still beating himself up over the chip shot, he goes to the next tee and hits a wild duck hook.   Bewildered where that came from, he still manages to pull out another bogey on the hole.

Mike starts figuring out what he has to do for the next few holes in order to “get those 2 shots back” in order to wipe the memory of them from his mind. In some twisted way, he’s connected future birdies in his mind with past mistakes much like an amateur gambler does when thinking “I need to get even” after being down and then starts doubling the bets from this faulty thinking.

Mike starts pressing for a birdie to make up for those bogeys.  He’s now lost the great feelings he had when he showed up to the course. His mind is making all sorts of “calculations” about the rest of the round.  He’s forgotten about having a great time with his buddies.  He’s forgotten why he plays golf in the first place. He’s totally centered his entire experience on his score….

…and that’s why he’s not scoring well.

And now he’s added frustration to anger and disappointment. Not the best state to be in to have a great round.

It is often repeated by sports psychologists to play one shot at a time. This is where Mike went wrong.  But how do you do that?  How do you play one shot at a time when your mind isn’t cooperating?

My problem with a lot of golf mental game advice is that you hear such simplistic terms without the tool to make it happen.   Here’s my tool to play one shot at a time:

During the round, your goal is to be in the present moment. You do this by putting your focus on what your 5 senses are taking in.  You get out of your head and into your senses by noticing what you see, hear, feel and touch and yes, even your sense of smell and taste.  That’s what will put you in the present moment.

You see, all of Mike’s problems came from thinking about the past or the future.  When you think about what your senses are experiencing right now, you are directing your mind in a very easy, natural way that works wonders for your golf score.

The funny thing is, you probably do this on the practice range and green. The really great thing about this, is that you can practice being in the present away from golf.
You can do it anywhere.

See how long you can put all your focus, awareness and attention on what your senses are doing before going into some kind of analytical thinking.  The more you do this off the course, the better you will do it on the course…and your best game will show up without even trying.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

p.s. I’d love to see your comments below

Bubba Watson Lessons from the Masters 2012

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,

Craig

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.

 

 

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