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
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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,
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,
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
In case you missed part 1, you can go read it here: improve your golf game – part 1
Now to continue on with the story…
My first drive is perfect. I can’t ask for more. What do I do? Instantly after watching my ball land right where I want it to and as I walk towards it, I am reminding myself of what made that happen, namely, my plan I told you about in part 1.
I followed my plan to the letter. I did exactly what I said I would. I got the result I wanted. I felt totally empowered. I told myself that I got it now. I replayed that shot over and over in mind as I walked to the ball. I talked to my unconscious mind and thanking it for pulling the “280 yard straight shot” file from the filing cabinet in my mind. I told it that I wanted that again and again…all day. I went over an over in mind what went right. I filled my thoughts with “this is how I play” and “this is how I drive the ball.” Etc.
And…I’m smiling all the way as I keep walking to the ball.
I get up to my second shot and it’s about 70 yards to the pin. Great, no problem. I know what to do here as well. I know that my sand wedge will go 70 yards at about a 3/4 backswing. I figure that out a couple years ago when I took a bucket of balls down to the schoolyard while the kids were out and I placed a rag at 30, 50, and 70 yards out and then hit while only observing how far back I take my backswing. You really only have to do this once and it pays off for years.
Now, the problem for me wasn’t my distance on approach shots. The problem was hitting the darn thing straight. Standing over the ball, I re-committed my entire mind and energy to what I had been working the last 2 days…square and point.
I took a look at the pin and used that target to draw an imaginary line to my ball. I squared my body up to that target line. I went through my preshot routine like religious monk in prayer. I NEVER LOOKED AT THE TARGET AGAIN. I didn’t have to!
Yes, I know, this goes contrary to popular golf advice for score improvement. Everyone says to be “target oriented” and so do I. But, you see, at my level of play and for 90% or more of all recreational golfers JUST PICKING A TARGET AND FOCUSING ON IT ISN’T ENOUGH. We need to have an intermediate, simple instruction between the target and our swing that bridges that gap.
That “bridge” is the 12-18 inches of imaginary target line from the ball to the target.The simple instruction I give to my unconscious mind is to “square the club face at the point of impact and point it (or “follow it” if you like that better) down the target line”
I hit to about 10 yards from the pin, I lip out my putt and tap in for an easy par.
My son, on the other hand, is in big trouble having hit his shot into the lateral hazard. He pulls out a bogey and I can see the sweat starting to bead on his forehead as says “nice hole Dad” to me…and we go to the next hole.
I end up following my plan to near perfection. I end up the day with NO DOUBLE bogeys and 1 birdie. I shoot a 79 playing strictly by the rules of golf and I win the bet. I’m very excited! I’ve got my game back!!! Woohoo!!!
My son owes me 12 hours of labor. What do you think I should have him do for me? 🙂
Car washes? Clean my clubs? Clean my house and toilets!, Yes, that’s it…hahaa.
I don’t rub any of it in with him. At the end of the round, I’m a good sport and I put my arm around him and remind him of some great shots he made.
We go out to beer and pizza afterward and have a good laugh about the round and the funny things we said and did that day. We love golf. We love the camaraderie that goes with the game. We love the competition whether it’s with someone else or with just ourselves to beat our personal best. We love the outdoors and we love the game itself.
I go to bed that night in total gratitude…
The next day, in the car on the ride home, I ask my son what his plan was for fixing what went wrong with his game. He gave me the typical teenager “I don’t know” answer.
We had a long talk and I helped him devise it. He says he is committed to the plan…we’ll see
We’re playing tomorrow.
I’ll let you know.
Greens and fairways,
p.s. This just came in from one of my golfselfhypnosis.com members:
“Thank you so much. I’ve really been helped with my golf game. Having
been a therapist for several years before I retired and got to play
more golf, I’ve seen what hypnosis can do. I usually shoot in the low
100s, but after listening to that one time I shot a 92. I’ll be sure
to keep it going. I hope any of the older women will go with it. I’m 68 and
it’s great to play better!
Katharine Abbott, Ph.D., Provo UT
I just got back from my annual golf vacation trip to the Running Y in South Central Oregon. It’s a beautiful Arnold Palmer course along Klamath Lake. It winds in and around some amazing scenery and you usually get to see wildlife like snakes, eagles, squirrels, marmots, deer and I once saw a bobcat there.
Anyway, the first round out, I played horribly. I put a couple dollar bet on the score with my 17 y/o son who lives for the days when he can beat me at golf. He’s well on his way and ended up winning by a stroke as I carded an 88. Ugggh. I was not happy with my game at all. Usually on vacation, I play my best because, well frankly, I’m in a great mood as vacations tend to do that!
After that game, I examined myself to find out why I played so poorly. By the way, the time to do that is after the round. During the round, you just want to focus on your successes and forgetting your misses. In that review of each hole, it was obvious to me that I just wasn’t hitting my approach shots which is one of my strengths!
As I teach my son and you, I then went about designing a plan to fix that before the next round and that plan revolved around “square and point.” (If you missed that video, here it is: straight golf shots)
I thought, “Great, I know the problem, I have the solution, I know what to do” and vowed to put some attention on it during my warmup before my next round.
So the next round comes up a couple days later and I go to the range to warm up. I go through my usual routine of pretending to play the course while on the range. During my “pretend” approach shots, I’m thinking and practicing “square and point” and my shots seem a lot better than before.
I go out on the course and shoot an 86. Ugggh!
Please understand that I don’t mean to insult you if that’s a great score for you. Everyone has their standard and mine, of course, is to break 80.
“What’s going on here” I again reflect and ask myself after the round. I was making putts and chipping reasonably well but my drives were bad and that undermined my confidence for my approach shots. Net effect on score: NO GAIN.
We had a 3rd round planned in a couple days. I vowed to fix these problems and finish the week with a great score.
With my driving, it was simple. I found myself trying to be too tricky in “working” the ball. I was trying to turn it over to get that extra 10 yards so as to make sure I out drive my son. I was trying to be Mr. Pro Golfer by hitting the low screaming drives against the wind and making it fly high with the wind…all fun things to do, but if you aren’t good enough to be consistent with that (I’m obviously not) then that is a BAD plan.
I let go of that and made a solid commitment to hit my regular consistent straight shot… every time, no matter what the hole or how long it is. Follow my preshot routine, pick my target, align my body along it, and just do “square and point.”
I spend the next 2 days thinking “square and point” with every free moment. I listen over and over to my golf hypnosis recording for accuracy. Before the round and warming up, I leave my woods in the bag and completely dedicate my warmups to “s and p.” I turn myself into a robot before I ever get to the first tee. I allow myself to have fun and joke and mess with my brothers and my son between shots but as soon as the preshot routine begins, I am Ben Hogan jr. with my icy focus on S & P.
Look over what I’ve written here as there are powerful messages on how to really improve your golf.
1. Review your game after every round.
2. Come up with a plan to fix what went wrong. In doing that, know that if you’ve hit good shots before or putted well before, then you have the answers within you. Ask for help if you need it.
3. Completely commit to the plan. Believe in yourself and the plan. Go all out to execute it.
What do most golfers do instead? The same thing they always do. They go to the range, do the same routine they’ve always done, and then they just HOPE that the golf gods will smile on them and give them a good score the next time. Not me, there is no HOPE in my vocabulary. There’s INTENTION and COMMITMENT.
My son makes a bet with me for straight up scratch scores. If he wins, I have to buy him a new pair of Nike Golf shoes. If I win, I get 12 hours of free labor from him for whatever I want.
The round begins and I rip my drive 280 right down the middle….
…tell you the rest in my next post.
Ok, it happened yesterday to me…I played hacker golf.
There, I said it and I admit it. (I still am struggling with that admission).
Yesterday, I played a round and I played the worst I’ve played in years. Now, this is no disrespect to those who are still honing their game and are happy playing hacker golf, believe me. I played that way for years and enjoyed the game immensely.
But this was different for me! You see, I played on the 4th of July (just 2 days before) and played pretty good. Not my best, but certainly right in my range. I shot an honest 80 on a full-sized course. Yes, you probably know how frustrating it is to get that close to breaking 80 while missing 3 putts inside 4 feet when any one of them would have gotten me a 79. Oh well. I was still pretty happy with my 80 since I hadn’t done any practicing and and only played about once a month this year so far.
And then yesterday, the wheels fell off.
I’m playing with my 17 year-old son who is about as good as me and we put $5 on the line, scratch score for 18 holes.
So I go out to the first tee with all the confidence in the world. I’m loose, I’m feeling great, the weather is perfect, the course is in great shape…and what do I do?
I hit my opening drive into the trees on the left with a pull-hook.
Ahhh, no problem right? It’s a par 5 and I can just punch it back to the fairway and play for the par.
But noooooooo. I hit an overhanging branch trying to get too cutesy in attempting to advance the ball and then have to do it all over again. I end up with a double on the first hole.
“Ok, no problem” I tell myself. “Just get back to doing what you know how and play consistent golf and you’ll be fine.”
Hole #2 is a big dogleg left and pull my tee shot into the left trees again.
“What the *($$%%&** is that?
How is it that I can hit 12 fairways in a row 2 days ago without any warmup and then come out and it’s like I’ve never played golf in my life? I end up with a triple bogey and my son is snickering over there counting the money he’s going to make.
I continue with my worst round for the next 4 holes and end up being 12 over par after 6 holes and 9 strokes behind my son. I’m in a daze and I start asking myself “what am I to learn here today?”
Just then, I’m standing on the tee of the 7th hole and the 2-some behind us drives up in their cart with a big smile on their face and jokingly asks “Are we having fun yet?”
And I answer “Not really”
And he says back “Well, why don’t you start?” and I said “Great idea!”
Something shook inside of me and I drilled my next tee shot 270 yards down the right side. I somehow got the idea that I could still win. My next shot was 220 yards and I roll my 3-wood to the back of the green.I miss the birdie but get the tap-in par.
All of a sudden, I hear this voice inside my head “Every shot matters, never ever ever give up.” My son pars the hole too.
It’s the 7th hole and I par it. I par the next 4 holes in a row and I pick up 5 strokes on my son.
“Never ever ever give up….every shot matters” is still ringing in my head. I keep my focus even on the tap-ins.
We come down to the 17th hole and I’m down 4 strokes. I scramble for a par and my son double-bogeys.
18th hole and I’m down 2. I tell him that I’m going to birdie this hole because it’s a par 5 and I’m feeling mighty powerful.
I know it puts the scare into him. I’m 70 yards out when I hit my approach over the green and into the bunker. “Never ever ever give up”
I wedge out to about 8 feet from the hole. My son is about 4 feet away to make his bogey.
I make the putt!!! He’s got tremendous pressure on him and I add a little more by asking him how much pressure he is feeling…hahaha.
He ends up making the putt to win by 1 stroke. I sign the $5 bill and it’s hanging on his bulletin board right now as we speak.
Now, we both played horrible, if you look at our scores, but no matter. That last 5 holes gave me such a thrill and challenge to try to come from behind. I learned more from my day of playing hacker golf than I would have if I had shot a 77.
Never ever ever give up!
There’s always something to learn. I learned about myself that I can turn on focus like a water faucet. I learned that I have a reservoir of determination that I can call on at any time.
Even if your score is toast mid-way through a round you’ve got to find a way to make the rest of the round count.
How many times have you played a round and played bad and given up on your score only to start really playing well AFTER giving up on your score? Happens to all of us.
Even if you have nothing on the line and are just fighting your own anger from playing poorly, you’ve got something to prove… to yourself and there’s something to learn and grow from. No round is a throwaway round unless you declare it so.
At the very least, when you let go of scoring during a bad round, you will find in yourself a certain ease and comfort about your game. A letting go. That is something that you own that you can recall again in the future when something is on the line. Golf can teach us many things, especially when playing hacker golf!
I’m going to be spending the weekend going back to the drawing board and listening to my golf hypnosis recordings. Maybe I’ll see you over there eh?
Greens and fairways,
If just about every top teaching pro says that golf is 90% mental, then why do most golfers spend next to zero time and effort at improving focus, consistency, and managing emotions like pressure and fear?
Here’s your answer and it couldn’t be easier and at $24.95, it’s a steal: Golf Self Hypnosis
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from my clients about how well they have played on their vacation. And I’m right there with them. I think I wrote to you somewhere already that I was taking my annual golf vacation with my two boys to Canada. We had an amazing time cruising around BC and Alberta golfing, camping, and seeing the sites.
I think we ended up golfing 4 times in a week and, as usual, I played the best rounds of the year on this trip. What’s going on with us golfers when this happens? Could I call it “proof” that we play our best when we feel our best? I’ve even found that I still play very well at the resorts under pressure just because I am having such a blast and enjoying myself so much.
Oh, I have to tell you about an area that I didn’t know about that has some fantastic golf and gorgeous scenery to go with it up there in British Columbia.
It’s the Upper Columbia River Valley area in BC. There are 15 courses within 40 minutes of each other! We stayed at a town called Radium Hot Springs and yes, we did have a great soak in the natural hot springs. The area is so beautiful and the weather is perfect during the golf season, dry and warmer than most of Canada. We stayed at a very nice resort there and the staff was very friendly. Did I mention 15 courses!
Anyway, I shot a 77 on a par 70 course and was very happy with my game. My son, on the other hand, still hasn’t learned how to bounce back when he makes bad shots and he lets it get to him and then it’s all downhill from there. But I must say that I give partial credit to being on vacation. I was smiling, I was happy being with my boys, the weather was perfect, life was just so good…and my golf game just flowed from all of that.
Now, when I go out to a local course, I do everything I can to re-live those types of vacation feelings. I stop and smell the flowers, I definitely smile a lot, I make it a point to laugh and joke with my partners. I really find good feelings in this one word: “Appreciation”
Appreciation for being healthy enough to play. For having eyes to see the green grass and the outdoors. To be able to afford this wonderful activity and how much I have learned from it that I have applied to all aspects of my life.
I mean, c’mon…what percent of the world’s population gets the privelege to play this great sport? Do you realize how lucky we are to have enough abundance to spend money on playing a grownup game? I can sometimes work myself up into a frenzy of “Appreciation” if I really try. I see so many golfers with serious and sour-puss faces out there on the course. Aren’t we there to have fun? Even Tiger wrote in his book: “Even when I’m grinding in a tournament, I’m still having fun”
I would love to hear your thoughts on either your favorite golf vacation resort or area and why you love it so much. If you have tips on how to bring that vacation feeling into every game, I want to read that too and share it with everyone as well.
I’m busy planning next year’s golf vacation and can’t wait to discover another golf treasure. Maybe we should meet up there, eh? (I love Canada).
Greens and fairways,