Category Archives for Mental/Emotional

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

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

Is Tiger Mentally Tough?

Did my email anger you?

Did you feel threatened?

Did that bring up some old feelings?

or

Did you agree with the statement I made that Tiger Woods is not mentally tough and get a smug feeling?

Or did you have some other reaction?  Either way, I hope you felt something from that.

I received a lot of hate responses after that email. Some people said that I’m an idiot. Others said I was racist. Others said I had no idea what it takes to make it on tour. (I find it fascinating what it takes to get people to feel…something…anything and then respond.)

I pulled those statements I made about Tiger from yesterday’s front page of our local paper and another article I read online.  I didn’t even come up with them. I don’t normally make provocative statements but felt compelled to teach this way today.

…But this is not about me.  This is about you.

I write this blog and the emails in order to teach you something about golf that maybe you’ve never heard elsewhere.  But really, I’ve got a greater purpose for you in doing that. If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I think of golf as a metaphor for life. It’s almost like a religion. There are so many things to learn from playing this game that can be applied to the rest of your life. If you’ve read anything from me, you know that to be the case. You know you aren’t going to get mechanical swing instruction from me. I write about bigger things than that.

You know, I put out content all of the time and get no responses whatsoever. And then when I mention Tiger Woods,  the emotions come out.   Yes, yes, I could have said something about religion or politics to get a reaction but I thought I would stay within the bounds of golf since that’s what we are all doing here.

I sent that email out as it was…on purpose: to get a reaction from you for a powerful lesson and something I’ve been working on the last few years and that’s Emotional Mastery. A few years back, I became totally convinced that this is the key to opening the door to your golf (and life) potential and have been working on it ever since.

So why should you care about emotion and your golf game? Here’s why:

What is it that causes the yips? Emotion

Why does it seem that a 5 foot putt is sometimes harder to make than a 10 foot putt? Emotion

Why do we play well on the front nine and not on the back (or vice versa)? Emotion

Why is it that some golfers seem fired up and do very well when challenged? Emotion

Why is it that you play better on some courses and not on others? Some days and not others? Emotion

I could go on and on about that but you already know all of that.  All pressure is emotion too!

When teaching about emotion, other mental game teachers would just write something like:

“You’ve got to manage your emotions”

or

“Don’t get too high or too low”

“Get in control of your emotions”

When have you ever heard from someone who can tell you HOW to do that?

I, on the other hand, am trying to show you something by experience. In order to do that, you have to actually FEEL something and not just intellectualize it.There are answers and there are solutions to the emotion problem.

When you become aware of and work with your emotions, LIFE and GOLF gets so much easier and you perform better

Here’s some questions you might want to ponder about yourself. You don’t have to answer the questions directly…just absorb it and let your mind go where it needs to go.  The questions themselves will do the work for you and help you to take back control of your emotions. Take your time with each question and see where you need to go with it. I recommend you get yourself in that difficult emotion while doing this…remind my email again and get angry again if that helps.

In order to first make change, we have to aware of what needs to change.

If you got a strong negative reaction from my email:

1. How is it that you could allow a total stranger whom you’ve never met or seen in person cause you that emotion?

2. How does that happen on the course? In business, in your relationships?

3. Where does that emotion begin in your body. Try bringing up that emotion again and see where it starts.  When you become aware of this, you will be able to nip those troubling emotions in the bud BEFORE they become a problem.

4. Ask yourself:  “Why is it that some people would not have a strong reaction like I did”  Follow that up with: “Is that difficult emotion USEFUL to me?

5. Do I want to be a victim of my emotions out on the course or master them?

6. When have I been offended before OFF the course and shrugged it off? How did I do that? Can I do that ON the course just the same?

Now, here’s the big kicker:  7. What is the belief I’m holding that is causing me to have a negative reaction.

I’m sure that the people who wrote to me expressing their anger and hate would say something like:  “What he wrote made me so angry”

But how can I MAKE anyone angry?  I can’t.

NOBODY or NOTHING outside of you can MAKE YOU EMOTIONAL

If you got NO EMOTIONAL REACTION from my statement, you want to ask yourself: “Do I allow myself to FEEL?”  Can I get excited and passionate about golf…or anything?

Some golfers may be missing out on their potential because their true nature is a FEEL golfer yet they’ve shut that system down over the years.  I’ve run into that many times working with male athletes.

Emotional Mastery isn’t just about dealing with difficult emotions. It’s also about creating the fun ones like joy, bliss, pure, flow, etc. All of those emotions and more are what golfers use to describe THE ZONE.

You might be thinking about now: “This is a bunch of garbage. This has nothing to do with golf or my life. All I need to do is work harder  at my game,  practice more and I’ll get better.

And I would have to ask you…”How is that belief useful to your game?”

Tiger’s got some work to do. That’s no secret. He can still develop a type of mental toughness that he doesn’t have right now. That’s also a fact.

My own personal opinion is that the game of golf would be so much better if he were back in contention every week and I want to see that.  He brought excitement and passion into the game and it is sorely missed now.

The first step to mastering your emotions is allowing yourself to feel them.

The next step is to resolve the reason for the emotion and tell yourself that resolution WHILE IN THE EMOTION.

There’s more to this. I’ve developed a 7-step process to Master your emotions.  I’ll tell you more later.

The next time you hear from me, I’ll be giving you some training from a real pro instructor….unlike me.

😉

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Lessons: Playing golf in the present

You hear it all of the time:

focus on the present

play one shot at a time

stay within yourself

Easier said than done right? You know what the problem really is? It’s that we have too much brainpower for this game. Our brains are way overdeveloped to be able to swing these clubs and knock this little white ball around a grassy field to drop it into a silly cup cut out of the ground.

Notice the beauty of a course

What I’m writing here today could just be a big breakthrough for you as it has been for a lot of my clients I work with in my office. You see, most of the athletes I see in my office for help with their mental game are smart, really smart. In fact, some are quite brilliant outside of golf and sport. Out on the course, this can be a problem.

You read all of the time about pros who say that they think of “nothing” out there on the course when they are swinging or going through their preshot routine. This is great advice FOR SOME PEOPLE. And poor advice for others.

For many golfers, much better advice is to DIRECT your mind and give it something to do that is constructive instead of the destructive things you are currently doing with it. You are too smart for golf and so you have to learn how to channel all that mind power.

Golf tee lookout

So, I have a couple main lessons for you here that once you understand, I think you could get a big “Aha” moment that frees your from your destructive thinking.

1. Just because a top pro tells you a certain way to think, don’t necessarily buy into it. Your brain probably works completely different than others. Everyone is unique. I’ve been preaching this for years now and sometimes it seems like nobody is listening. Do not think that advice from anyone in the golf world (including me) is good for everyone.
You’ve got to pick and choose and then trust that when it feels right or you somehow get a sense that this works for you, then it is!

2. I like to fill my mind with what my senses are taking in on the course. If you were to just stand on a course and just put all your attention on what your 5 senses are taking in, you will find many things to occupy your mind so that it doesn’t get in the way of your next shot so that you can play unconsciously.

3. Here’s the biggie. You’ve got to make a commitment BEFORE your round that this is what you are going to do during your next round. It’s a mental skill that you develop, get good at, and then do automatically at some point. It’s not going to happen without some effort and dedication. Too many golfers pay lip service to their mental game and then default right back to their old ways once they are on the course. If you haven’t pre-lived how you are going to think once you are on the course, then you’re unconscious is going to create a strong pull to do what you’ve always done…and you won’t break through.

Start tapping into the power of making a decision and commitment to practice using your mind in ways that support your game instead of being a victim of it. You have this power…use it!

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Playing hacker golf

The game is on!

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.

Trees - the sentinels of the golf course

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!”

It's never too late to turn a round around

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.

Every shot counts!

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,

Craig

***********************************

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

Believe in real golf improvement

“Many of life’s failures are because people did not realize how close they were to success, when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison

Golf improvement for women

Never give up

Golfers up here in the North are excited to begin a new season.  They just watched a fantastic Masters tournament that fuels the passion for getting out there and smelling the grass, hearing the announcer call your group to the tee, the laughs of your buddies, the feel of a perfect shot coming off your driver, the joy of sinking that 20 footer for birdie!!

Everybody starts off with such high hopes for a fresh start and like when we follow our favorite professional sports we declare to ourselves…”THIS is the year when I break through to my personal best!”

And yes, that is all good…do that. Do it often! And…I want to do you one better to help you actually achieve that…

It’s been my experience that the biggest hindrance to keeping that momentum and continuing to improve is in how you handle your bad rounds and screwup holes.

Too many golfers take those deep inside them and it eats them up. It gets in the way of future progress.  The chokes and misses become like a cancer that grows inside you throughout the season.

Here’s the real truth about improvement….it occurs in an irregular fashion.  It’s never a straight line.  You take 3 steps forward and then 2 backward. You should expect that.  You should go into every game with a curiosity of HOW you are going to take those 3 steps forward when you are feeling most down or disappointed about a particular hole or a few bad rounds in a row.

Prepare yourself for this right now.

Tell yourself that you will never give up, never give in, that you are now on a never-ending continuous mission to improve yourself….AND YOU WILL!

This sounds sort of simplistic, I know. Sort of like something you would tell a 13 year old kid about his sports participation right?  I get that.

But you have a 13-year-old kid inside of you as well.  Because you once were one.

John Wooden, the famous basketball coach once said:

“Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time”

It’s the same thing with golf.  You’ve got to look at your game with a longer-term or bigger perspective and never give up on that.

Golf improvement

Everything fuels your improvement

I don’t care if you play for the fun of it or competitively, it’s the sheer thrill of watching yourself improve your game that keeps you coming back…or at least the hope of that.   Take advantage of that…it’s goood…very good!

I make mistakes in golf and in life. AND…I keep telling myself that I learn from everything and everything makes me better and I am constantly improving a little bit at a time.

Don’t try to force improvement either…just open yourself to it and do the actions that you believe are the keys to getting you there, whether it’s working out a swing flaw, refining your preshot routine like I teach,  doing the guided visualizations, putting on your carpet at home, or whatever.

3 steps forward, 2 steps back will get you where you want to go. It’s so much more fun to play with the belief that you are always improving.  And I know you love challenging yourself too, don’t you!

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Developing Trust in your Golf Swing

I went golfing today with my son. As usual, I hadn’t done any practicing this winter. I played once last month in 3 layers of clothes and today, in 45 degree (7 Celsius) weather that was a bit warmer. Not exactly the peak of the season form for my game.

I ended up shooting 3-over par for 9 holes at Everett Country Club here in Washington. Like you, I finished the round thinking “If only I’d have executed that ONE shot better….

You know the one shot I’m talking about. The one shot that would have saved you 2 or 3 strokes if it would have gone well.

I was this close (holding my thumb and index finger barely apart) from hitting par.

Varsity golf

Anyway, my son was struggling hard with his driver blocking everything out to the right and this course is tree lined on every fairway.  I told him that he looked really stiff and robotic and to loosen up. It didn’t work.

I finally told him to dedicate this practice round to one concept….Trust.

“How do you do that” he asked, “when I have no confidence in my driver right now?”

I said: “Well, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying something different right?..why don’t you pretend that you can speak or communicate to the driver head and tell it to square up at the moment of impact and then travel down the target line?  Stop trying to guide the club and TRUST that it is going to happen. Let go of control.”

That’s unconscious golf.

I told him to go up the tee with the idea that you want the ball to go down the middle of the fairway but that you don’t care if it doesn’t.   He was completely lost with that one 🙂

“He said I don’t know if I can do that” and I said, “I know…just go ahead and PRETEND that you can” and see what happens.

Narrow fairway helps you focus

He ended up parring out for the last 3 holes after that. It was fun watching him. He surprised himself.

You see, every round shouldn’t be a round where you are trying to beat your best score. Some rounds are a buildup to that day. How many rounds have you played poorly and then left the course in disgust or disappointment.

The goal is to have fun and learn and improve in the long run.  With that kind of attitude and a certain TRUST that your body knows what to do, has done it before, and will do it again, you can stop trying to force every shot and let them happen to your natural ability.

Dedicate each round to focusing in on one thing that if you were to incorporate into your game without having to think about it, you would drop scores.

It’s too late to do much about your swing when you are out there playing.  That should be done off the course or with your instructor.

Oh, and by the way. Did you know that some pros actually purposefully go with a block shot sometimes when they really need to hit a fairway because it is really reliable and easy to replicate.

Ray Floyd wrote about this in his book. I told my son about this and I’m thinking that just maybe, that’s what freed him up to start trusting and letting go of trying to “fix” his swing.

There’s many ways to get a low score on any given day.

Greens and fairways,

Craig

Bring your "vacation" golf back to your home course

golf vacation resortsI 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.

Golf resort sceneryI 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,

Craig

Golf pressure

The Europeans have won the Ryder cup this year and it came down to the last match between Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan. On the 17th hole of their match, under tremendous pressure, Mahan flubs his chip and can’t make the next long putt from off the green while McDowell gets a conceded par.  The key, though, is how McDowell made a pressure-packed birdie on 16. No doubt, this played huge in Mahan’s mind.

Long story short, one golfer stepping up under pressure and the other folding.

Now, Mahan has won 2 tournament events this year but McDowell won the US Open. Every golfer has his boiling point for how much pressure he can handle and it seems that McDowell had the edge having won a major, the pinnacle of golf.  Can you imagine how much more pressure there would be on you when you have a team of golfers counting you at the end of the Ryder Cup? For your home country?

Golfers need to continually work on increasing their tolerance for pressure…prepare for it, practice it in their minds before they ever get to the course. Do you remember, as a kid, pretending to play professional sports and imagining you hit the winning home run at the bottom of the ninth, or you score the winning goal as time runs out, or you sink that 30 foot putt to win the Open?

What creates the feeling of pressure? It’s your thoughts…your representation of what is going on as experienced by your unconscious mind and it sends signals to your nervous system to give you the feelings of pressure.  Those feelings ultimately turn into interference of our find muscle motor movements and destroy the golf shot, especially little touch shots like Mahan had on the 17th.

What’s the solution?  Well, ultimately, it’s to find ways to be able to control your thoughts and therefore, your emotions. You have to either

make change at the unconscious level through either:

1. repetitious conditioning -continual and increasing exposure to pressure in reality or in your mind and perceiving that it turns out ok (such as what McDowell experienced having won the US Open)

or

2. unconscious communication –  clearing the interference to a direct rapport with your unconscious mind. The centerpiece of this would be self hypnosis or meditation, whatever you want to call it.

Here’s a quickie that will certainly help you the next time you feel pressure and it’s too late to work on either 1 or 2 above:

The next time you feel pressure on the golf course, embrace it. Tell yourself to “bring it on” “I love pressure” “Let me have some more of this feeling”

because I can feel pressure AND sink this putt…

It’s an AND world

Greens and fairways,

Craig

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