There are a lot of websites and golf instruction programs out there on the web these days. Some are headed by big name golf instructors with some touring pros behind their name. Others are by amateur golfers who have figured it out….and everything in between.
So how do you know how to pick the golf instruction that will work for you that is delivered online? Because let’s face it, if we could get our instruction from a golf instructor who knew the best way to TEACH ME, then that would be optimal. Unfortunately, there are many golf pros who have their “pet” program and they try to fit everyone into it.
If it isn’t confusing enough to find a good instructor in person, I can see how choosing a program online is even more tricky. Let me see if I can give you some helpful advice to ferret out the bad from the good.
The first thing that I would want to know before I spent one dollar on anything is…do they have a good guarantee and do they actually fulfill on that promise if the customer asks for one. I, for one, make this a top priority for everything I do and anyone I recommend to you as well.
The next thing that I want to know, is does the instructor actually golf well! You would be shocked to learn how many people out there are selling online golf instruction and do not golf themselves. Many of these sites are run by very good internet marketers who don’t have a clue about how to golf or how to instruct golfers. You would also be very surprised to know how many “mental game gurus” out there couldn’t golf their way out of a paper bag.
Another big one is getting instruction on ALL facets of the game. I think the best instruction will be well-rounded for driving, putting,
short game, and the mental game. And there will be enough info that you will never run out of strategies and drills to work on over time to continue improving
Finally, you want to choose golf instruction that is fit to you and your game. This is a biggie and let me explain it a bit. Many times, the top golfers in the world have no clue how to teach average golfers how to improve. Conversely, the pro who spends every day working with golfers with handicaps over 20 probably doesn’t know what it takes to put a golfer on tour.
For example, I’ve read so many tips from Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods over the years that should be completely ignored by MOST golfers except those going for a tour card. Remember, I’m an efficiency fanatic and I want to get to my goal as fast and with the minimum amount of effort that I can. This means that you need to focus on what is most likely to bring your scores down and not what Phil and Ernie are doing lately. Be selective and don’t get carried away by the big names…they play a different game than most golfers.
Review golf instruction online for what seems to match where you are at. Read between the lines of advertising and banners for honesty. There is no silver bullet to dropping 10 strokes from your game in 5 minutes with one magic swing move.
I hope this helps you in separating the wheat from the chaff of online golf instruction.
Greens and fairways,
What? How can I say that when golfers everywhere spend billions of dollars on this game chasing the lure of the great feelings of achievement they get when they improve. Here’s why: when you start to read golf instruction in books, you start to find that there are some universal truths about how amateurs should play in order to actually cut their scores. I have and will continue to cover these ways in my writings and lessons in this site.
The problem is that many amateurs are far more interested in things other than scoring lower such as: big booming drives, making miracle shots, having a pretty swing (rather than an effective one), mimicking their pro idols, keeping up with their playing partner’s club choices, and/or just partying out on the course.
All of those outcomes are fine and dandy and I indulge in them too, but many times, they are directly opposed to you scoring lower!
Wake up and smell the coffee! It’s time to make a decision that you are interested in lower scores and that you are going to do everything in your power to allow that to happen now aren’t you?
Having said that, sometimes you might still want to go out on the course with the idea of just having some fun, or working on the the ideas here and not caring about your score. Great! So long as that is your INTENTION for the day. Too many golfers go out there in complete denial of reality thinking they can have that cake of appearances and eat it too. But not you or any of my clients anymore. From now on, you are going to do everything with INTENTION with regards to your game.
INTENTION simply means that you are going to make conscious decisions about what it is you are doing. Decide right now that when you have the INTENTION to score lower, you are going to follow through with that. Just so you know, INTENTION is my favorite word and I’m going to be using it and other important words in CAPS throughout the book because words have meanings beyond the obvious. 🙂
In summary, with everything you do, think or ask yourself out loud such questions as:
“Will this ______ help me to a lower score?”
“How can I turn this _____ into helping me lower my score?”
“What can I be doing right now that will lower my score?”
What happens out there on the course is you get tempted. Really tempted to “go for it.”
Resist that temptation with the sweet feeling of looking at your scorecard at the end of a round and not finding any double bogeys. If there is anything that age and wisdom have taught me about this game is that a conservative strategy is the way to go. When your buddy is using a 6 iron and you feel that a 5 iron is the more sensible choice, LISTEN to that feeling…it’s your unconscious mind communicating to you.
Decide at the beginning of a round that “Today, I am all about making every decision on the course that a lower score is my priority.”
Think back on rounds in the past where you indulged in useless activities, thought, or emotion that hurt your shot at a a lower golf score. Yes, it’s true, negative self talk is undulgent! I want you to fight it, dispute it, push through it. Stay focused and robotic on your preshot routine, keep to your plan, and play within your game and you will lower your scores.
Greens and fairways,
1. You’ve been doing it all wrong
In case you didn’t know, it is standard knowledge in the golf world that average scores for golfers have not lowered in 60 years. We have improved clubs, equipment, course grooming, and teaching methods and yet golfers are still stinking it up! In fact, many golf courses are suffering low play and declining revenues since the turn of the 21st century. I am convinced it’s because it’s so darn hard to improve and golfers throw in the towel when everything they are sold doesn’t turn into lower scores. It just gets too frustrating.
Personal development guru, Tony Robbins teaches that “Growth” is one of the 6 main human psychological needs. Golfers like to get that need met through the challenge of improving and when you hit an immovable roadblock, you tend to give up if it’s just a game.
I believe the biggest reasons for this failure of the typical golfer is because they try to work on too many things all at once and they ignore subtle improvements. I too was like this as I was thinking about the 10 swing “keys” I was supposed to remember for every shot that my pro taught me. What happens is that your automatic, consistent mind gets confused and then shuts off defaulting you to play the shot with your thinking mind…which rarely works.
For some reason, and I think it’s because of the brainwashing advertising of the golf industrial complex, golfers have created an expectation in their minds of being able to find magic fixes and cures to their ailing game. They think that all they need is a new driver or new putter or zip-zing wedge set. They want instant results with no effort.They want a dramatic fix and they want it now and won’t settle for anything less…totally setting themselves up for frustration and disappointment on the golf course.
Yes, I know, welcome to the human race Craig.
Well, I aim to change all that and tell you the real way to improve at golf.
The solution is to work on one simple concept at a time and don’t move onto the next one until you have it down. One drill, one thought, one movement of the swing, one facet of putting, etc. Isolate something that will give you the best bang for the effort right now, focus on it regularly and often, put tons of intention into it and then move on to the next one. Here’s some practical examples:
“Today on the course, I’m focusing on being target centered….or a consistent pre-shot routine”
“This week, for my game, I’m thinking about improving my visualizations of hitting the sweet spot on my driver.”
I often work with folks in my office and we have a dramatic session where the client is blown away by what they learned or taught themselves in trance. They kind of walk out of the room with that deer-in-the-headlights look. The client comes back the next week and I ask how things have changed. The client has trouble finding much. As we move on to other topics, I highlight the changes that they made in their daily life that they didn’t even recognize. Sometimes subtle and sometimes huge changes. But they didn’t recognize them as changes.
10 subtle changes in your game added up can easily mean 5 less strokes or more on your scorecard. Now that’s something! Stop the insanity of looking only for that dramatic fix and ignoring everything else.
Allow yourself to improve your game with one of my no-practice strategies at a time and you will see improvement fast. Don’t move onto the next one until you’ve fully incorporated this one. Got it? Good….now go do it.
Break 80 Without Practice is loaded with such strategies and techniques. This is how to really improve at golf .
Want to speed up that incremental improvement? Go to Golf Hypnosis and see what all the buzz is about in the golf world.
Thank you for signing up for this series of very valuable mental game lessons from Dr. Kubistant. I hope you enjoyed them and I know you received value from his wisdom as I have.
This is the last article in this series. There are some additional articles on my Break 80 Golf newsletter.
More of Dr. Kubistant’s articles and continuing lessons and teachings will be available exclusively to purchasers of:
These books are written by the Likes of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Sam Snead, Paul Runyon and more…
Where else on this planet can you find a golf psychologist with over 30 years experience working with golfers on a regular basis? Nowhere. Today, when he isn’t teaching and giving seminars with the Tour Instructional Series, he is still working one on one with golfers from the best professionals to beginners.
Dr. Tom maintains the entire bibliography (collection) of all that has been written on the mental game of golf. And he has READ IT ALL!
You can have access to this treasure of knowledge and ask him about your game when you get in on
Greens and fairways!
Psychologyofgolf.com and Mind Links Manager
How to get in the zone for golf interview I conducted with Kelly Sullivan Walden.
I have read much from sports psychologists about how to get in the zone. Much of it is common sense and even more of it has been talked about ad nauseum and rehashed by everyone. Kelly comes to golf performance improvement from a much different place and I believe is exactly what many golfers have been missing by following all of the standard advice out there.
In this interview, she gives you a mindset of what will get you to the gateway of that zone. Nobody, but nobody can promise you that you can get in the zone at will. If anybody ever figured that out, they would own the world so don’t buy into that b.s. marketing out there.
You can, however, drastically increase your chances and get into FLOW which is the precursor to the zone. I think that Kelly has really discovered a very time and effort efficient approach that can work for anyone but will be especially valuable to those that don’t have much time to practice. Her website is: Zone Golf Now
If you really listen, you will find something very powerful here: Right click and “Save as” to Download .mp3 Here
or listen right here:
The full training lasted about an hour and a half and we got into much specifics. If you would like to hear it in it’s entirety, go to golf hypnosis. There, I have a $7 for 7 days trial in the membership. There are 14 hypnosis sessions on all phases of the game including “The long game series” for increasing distance and improving accuracy, the putting series for confidence and green reading, eliminating the yips, mental game trainings for focus and concentration and eliminating fears. How to improve your golf visualization skills, and how to do self hypnosis…and much more. All for $7. Click the graphic below.
This is the kind of scenery us golfers get to recreate in. It could be the picturesque contrast of the desert against a bright green grass, or fairways lined with majestic pine trees, or wetlands with wildlife and plants that you rarely would get to see otherwise. Most of us would admit that it’s one of the reasons we love this game; that we love the beauty of the outdoors. Even on a mini course in the heart of the city it’s still a welcome break from the normally chaotic scenes we take in our vision on an average day.
You’re there because you love it. You’re there because you want to be. It’s a release from our every day worries. It’s a respite from the pressures of our jobs. It’s a break from all those people who want a piece of you all day. It’s a time-out from stress and having to think hard to solve problems. And for some of us, it’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves when we don’t get enough of that to stimulate our brain as much as it needs to feel alive. On top of that, we get to do it with people of our choice, like-minded friends and friendly souls to exercise our social nature.
What I’m trying to say right off here is that, we don’t deserve to get anger or frustration. What? No, we don’t. But I just missed a 3 foot putt that cost me $100 and yes, I am angry about it and experiencing frustration!
Go and reread the first paragraph again. Doesn’t it seem downright silly to be angry given all that? Just the fact that we have enough money to be able to spend some of it this way puts us in the top 5% of people on this planet that can even afford it!! Do you know how lucky we are to be able to even play golf? Billions of people don’t know where their next meal is coming from and so we have only the right to be thankful and grateful. And yes, even a duty to really enjoy everything about this game, even the times when we don’t play so well.
The thought I hope comes to your head now is: “I never thought of it THAT way.”
That’s called perspective.
I know, I never thought of it that way either until recently. We take so many things for granted in our lives and I’m now going to make every effort to be grateful and thankful and those conscious-directed thoughts will not only keep my body’s natural balance in order, but I believe it will also do something for my spirit.
I threw a club a few years ago ! It’s true! I was so angry with myself for missing a putt I thought I should have made. I winged my putter about 30 feet toward the next tee (didn’t want to have to do any extra walking you see- Hah!) You know, I wasn’t even so angry that I missed the putt as much as I was for not following all of my own advice that I’ve been giving out. I didn’t follow through and didn’t hold my finish and so the putt was a weak stab. I was angry for not living up to my own expectations. And how many times have I preached and written about not having expectations? And there I went and did it myself!
What’s really ironic, is that the fact that I had expectations of myself to play the way I tell others, perfectly all of the time, is the exact reason why I didn’t play the way I tell others! It’s the reason why I missed that putt! Had I put myself in the correct frame of mind BEFORE playing that day, and kept myself there,
I would have given my unconscious the opportunity to consistently follow all the instrutions I’ve been giving it including making sure that I hold my finish on putts. It all goes back to internal representations, it always does.
You get yourself wound up in this endless loop of “why me?”
More confession time: That day that I threw the putter, I was on the 6th hole and that putt was about 4 feet for a birdie. I had parred all 5 holes prior to that. So even after missing that putt, I was still at par. So I tried to get ahold of myself because I knew there was lots of holes to play. But guess what, the chemicals in my body had already been released from my little tantrum. My limbic brain had already hijacked my neuron transmission processes. I read in the book Emotional IQ by Daniel Goleman that when this happens, you are at the mercy of that part of your brain for awhile. Normal patterns of electrical impulses in the brain get redirected so that some information doesn’t get registered in parts of the brain that help with making informed decisions. Have you ever heard someone say something like “I’m so mad I can’t even see straight?” That’s a physiological fact.
I thought, no problem, I’m an expert at this kind of mental control and I’ll be fine. But I wasn’t! I was in denial and continued to play the same way I was before my losing it. And I double-bogeyed the next 2 holes. I never really recovered that day and my score showed it. I vowed to go home and figure it all out and find out why and never let it happen again.
You know, we’re all human. Give yourself a break! Get in the state of mind at the beginning of the round where you believe in your gut that no matter what happens you will still be enjoying the thing you most want to do – GOLFING!
The thing I want you to get from this article, this lesson, is that the best cure for negative emotions is prevention. It’s so much easier to not have a loss of emotional control in the first place than to try to recover from one.
In Part 3, next time, I will talk about what we can do to get back into control when we do lose it. Until next time,
Greens and fairways,
In the next 2 lessons I want to talk about the word commitment. Yeah, I know, you’ve already committed to wanting to get better at golf right? You might have even taken the time to write down your golf goal as I have been pounding on you to do right? If not, better get on that! I was going to do these lessons in about the same order that the CD’s are in, but, I’ve changed my mind and just decided to put the lessons down as they come to me in thinking of their importance to your game. My research just keeps finding all sorts of interesting information and I don’t want to wait until that section to tell you about something I get excited about and want you to know. Here’s my thoughts on this concept that you hear thrown around a lot in golf circles.
Now, do I mean the commitment to a particular shot or a commitment to myself. Both. Today, let’s start with commitment to myself (yourself) as a golfer. It’s absolutely great that you have come to the conclusion now that you have infinite potential to improve at this game and anything else you want in life. If I have helped with that and done nothing more for folks, then I will die a happy guy when it’s my turn to go. If I haven’t, stay tuned for more on this in future lessons or email me and I’ll get you there if it kills me!
One of the things I am noticing about doing this business and my writings is that a lot of folks have everything they need already to be an excellent golfer and all they really need is someone to give them permission, to push them, to excite them to take what they already have and turn it into golf greatness reality. I want to do that for you because that’s what keeps me going every day. Really!
More on that later but getting back to point here. Part of commitment to yourself, that is,implied in part of the meaning of that word is “action.” You know this deep down, but far too often, we get a new energy from an outside source (me?) and then it slowly fizzles out over time and then you end up reverting back to your old ways. The antidote to this, is Action. Constant, continuous action, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem at first glance. When nobody’s around, and nobody’s checking on you.
Here’s the big key as I talked about in CD1: Incremental action. Always, always ask yourself something like “did I do something today in my round or my warmup that is a step toward improving?” Before the round, tell yourself that one of your main goals today is make sure I learn something, take something from my round for that incremental action like the POW’s did every day. I have read a very good book I can recommend to you that might shed some more light on this subject and help propel you and it’s called “ACTION! Nothing happens until something moves” by Robert Ringer.
The other implied meaning in the word “commitment” is “follow-through.” Once you make a commitment to yourself about your intention to improve at golf, you might be tempted down the line to “justify” a slacking off of your plan.
It’s real easy to do as we do it all the time with things we want to improve on for ourselves like exercising, eating, drinking, and smoking. The way to ensure you follow through with your commitments is to make your committing statements to another person, outloud and in writing both. You see, we as humans are programmed by thousands of years of our ancestry to follow through with what we say we will do with other humans.
For instance,In the past, before modern civilization, it was absolutely necessary for survival that humans cooperated with each other. If a person said that they would trade an animal today,for an amount of a crop when it came in, and when the crop came in the farmer didn’t follow through with his end of the bargain, it wouldn’t just be a little court case and a collection agency matter as it is today. No, the person who didn’t follow through and reneged on the deal would never be able to make a deal with anyone in the village again and that person would starve!
Over generations, those that didn’t follow through on their commitments to others just died out and those that did, lived. This isn’t just cultural, it’s hard-wired into our brains after so many thousands of years of this selection process. Being called a hypocrite is the ultimate insult for many of us and for good reason. If you want to learn more about things like this that us humans do and why, there’s an excellent book called Influence by Robert Cialdini and I’ll give you more items from it in future subject matters.
You all know that it is difficult at times to change our old ways of thinking and that sometimes we have to play “little games” with ourself to get over mental hurdles. There is nothing wrong with this and it is not a sign of weakness, in fact, it’s a sign of strength that you now understand a little bit more about your own mind and can use it to direct your future instead of just waiting for things to happen to you. I’m going to give you more of these kinds of ideas to help you do just that.
If you are an extremeley strong-willed and mentally disciplined person who doesn’t need this kind of thing, great, do it your way but I must warn you that it is written in too many books about golfers who have put every ounce of mental strength into their commitment to improve and all it ends up doing is putting more tension and stress through unfulfilled expectations. Real improvement in mental management for golf should come easy and without “trying.” From psychocybernetics: “our creator made ample provisions for us to live successfully in this or any other age by providing us with a built-in creative mechanism.” Our trouble is that we ignore the creative mechanism and try to do everything and solve all our problems by conscious thought, or “forebrain thinking.”
So, just simply make your commitment to yourself and someone else to taking action on these tips. Make it clear that you will always be moving forward and that improvement will happen. And that you will take small incremental action continuously throughout your golfing life. And then, just let it happen, and it will!
Next lesson, I will “follow-through” with my promise to talking about committing on the course.
Greens and fairways!
Ok all you couch potatoes. I know your only mildly interested in this area. But I’ve got to write a few things here to help you out. First off, to reiterate what I said on the CD’s,
WHATEVER YOU DO GOOD FOR YOUR BODY IS STILL GOOD, no matter how little.
You don’t have to be a world class athlete to play good golf. You don’t even have to be in shape to play your best, of course that would help. What I really want you to get out of this letter today is the fact that every little thing you do helps and here’s why:
It’s the 17th hole and even though you’re riding in a cart, you are starting to get just a bit tired. Your attention is off just a hair as you crack another joke to your partner or golf buddies/gals. That’s excellent and that’s why we come out to golf right? Great! But, you’re still chuckling about that last one about the frog on the man’s head in the bar and it’s now your turn to tee off. You try to get into your pre-shot routine but it just seems so pointless now as you have played pretty well up to this point and you think “so what if I don’t do my practice swing the same way I’ve done it this round so far.” And you step up to the ball and take a big swing and the little white orb goes flying out of bounds with a big fat slice on it.
You cuss yourself out for being so stupid and not concentrating on that last shot. You tee up another one and it hooks into the trees on the other side as you overcompensate for the slice.
When you get to the ball, it’s right behind a tree and because you are so angry with yourself and figure you need to “make up” those shots, you go for a small gap in the trees .You know “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say as you end up carding a triple or quadruple bogey on that hole. You play the 18th hole o.k. and when you add up your score, you find that all you had to do on 17 was to bogey and you’d have broken your scoring barrier.
One swing is all it takes! One swing can turn a score sour like in the blink of an eye. You can’t afford to be lazy for one moment on a round that you care about your score. If you want to go drink beer and just have fun, great! Do it! And don’t even bother scoring if you have a few bad holes because it will just ruin the fun anyway. I sometimes do this myself.
So what could our serious golfer have done different to have kept his/her energy level high for maximum, sustained focus and concentration? Lots of things…
If you have other quick and easy ideas, send em to me and I’ll put them up here for others. Thanks!
I’ll catch you next time with some more ideas for Better Golf Without Practicing.
Greens and fairways,
Nick Bayley, The golf pro whose opinion I most trust, and I recently discussed some golf theory with regard to a Tibetan Lama (spiritual monk) who loves to golf. It seems that this guy has taken lessons but still can’t normally break 100 and his best score is 97. Now, the lama believes that because he knows all about mental toughness and how to use the mind, he has come to the conclusion that golf is 90% physical.
So how much is golf mental and how much is physical?
Ok, here’s what I think….
With regard to the lama, there’s just too much we don’t know about him or his game to be able to really say that he needs more “physical game” than “mental game”.
For instance, we all know that there are some pros out there that are very good golfers but very poor teachers. The pro says to him in the article: “”Try releasing your hands,” he says. “Fire through at impact. Finish high.”
This probably means absolutely nothing to the lama. And may not mean a thing to you either.
Just because the Lama has had lessons doesn’t necessarily mean he had GOOD lessons. There are more ways to teach the golf swing than stars in the sky. It’s very possible that he was taught something that just doesn’t work well for his body type. It’s very possible that if he had the best lessons he could theoretically receive (for him), that he would be breaking 90 instead of trying to break 100.
He assumes that because he’s had lessons and that he has the strongest mental abilities because of his training, that all there is left is that he has to play or practice a lot more and that is the only way he will get better. This is not necessarily true. He could practice til his hands bleed with a defective method (for him) and he’ll never get better. Witness the amount of “ball beaters” you see at a range on any given day. They practice their bad habits!
Proof of this theory lies in the fact that there are zillions of golfers out there who have had lessons, play regularly, hit thousands of practice balls, buy all the greatest equipment money can buy, and they STILL DON’T IMPROVE. I’ve got testimonials from my own customers who say that.
Statistics show that average scores have not dropped among amateurs in the last 50 years despite all the improvements in equipment. And if you go out and golf with average joes, you can just see that they have very weak mental games. You can hear it in the way they talk and their body language. I think this is because the mental game is rarely taught during a set of lessons with most pros and so most average golfers never get much info there. If the Lama said that he has read and uses concepts from Michael Anthony, Bob Rotella, and Craig Sigl and he still thinks golf is 90% physical, then maybe he has a point. But even then there is one more factor left that I don’t even like to discuss. Inborn talent. There, I said it.
Lama Kunga obviously has a good handle on control of emotions and having the right attitude which is many average golfers biggest problem. However, there is far more to the mental game than just that. Does the lama have a consistent, productive, effective pre-shot routine where everything he does contributes to increasing his chances for a good setup, grip, aim, etc? If he was taught one (unlikely), does he use it every single time? I put all of that in the mental category. You might say that’s part of the physical game but I would disagree because most average golfers know of the value of a pre-shot routine and some elements, but they don’t have the MENTAL toughness to do it every time.
When I say that golf is 90% mental to someone, I say it with the assumption that they have already had some basic, good fundamentals taught to them and they know how to use that knowledge. If they practice that knowledge, so much the better, but, I’m of the belief that once they know a reasonable swing system that produces some good shots for them, then they now enter into the 90% mental category. Because too many golfers have proven to have been able to improve their ultimate scoring using just mental techniques once they get the basics down.
Way before I ever said this, Alex J. Morrison, one of the greatest teachers of the 20th century was espousing this and wrote a book called “Better Golf Without Practice”. Now, obviously if you give a complete beginner some clubs and tell them to hit a ball without any instruction, then yes, they are in the 100% physcial category.
My conclusion #1: There are no absolutes in making sweeping statements like “Golf is 90% mental”
Conclusion #2: All physical instruction is not equal. Obvious to those of us that are really into golf but shockingly not known by a good population of average golfers, including me a few years ago and the Lama according to the article. Once golfers get GOOD fundamental instruction from pros like Nick Bayley, then they spend their efforts on the mental side of things. IF THEY HAVE THE TIME, then yes, physical efforts (practice) will pay off in reducing scores. I just live in the real world where you can tell a client til your blue in the face that they need to practice and they still just won’t as I hear time and time again from teaching pros.
Conclusion #3: Golf is a game that is played “holistically”, meaning, with the whole body and mind working together fused together by all sorts of cellular communication systems between the psyche (mind) and the soma (biology).
You really can’t separate out the Mind from the Body and put numbers to them because these systems are just way too intertwined and without boundaries. This is my latest field of study and interest for golf and other things for our life and I’ll be writing more about this as I get into it more. Wondering if I’m starting to lose it now as I go into some way out stuff. Ha!
Conclusion #4: For pros and golfers and the top levels, I have to agree that the game is 90% or more mental. And for new golfers, 90% or more physical. Between those extremes I think in terms of the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) which I love and adhere to.
Some golfers, at certain times and stages of their game need to devote more to the physical game (which might only mean a one-hour lesson to fix a flaw) to get the greatest scoring reduction for their efforts, and other golfers need to direct more mental efforts into their game.
It all depends on where they are at in that particular time and space. And their particular 80/20 rule can change from week to week. This why I always say “assess yourself.” That is, continually use the feedback you get from any given shot, hole, or round as part of your cybernetic mechanism that completes your feedback loop thereby keeping you on a course to your ultimate goal! Sometimes, you need physical adjustments and sometimes you need mental adjustments. I think that most of us believe it to be quicker and easier to incorporate a physical adjustment and so we tend to gravitate toward that area of fixes.
Henry Ford said “Thinking is the hardest things a man can do”
Greens and fairways!
But it really doesn’t matter what you do before you strike the ball (Look at Jim Furyk). What matters, in physics, is the point of impact and direction the club is going at that spot.
The basic idea behind this is that you really only need your club to do 2 things to send a ball straight to your chosen spot.
1. Have the clubface square at impact
2. Have the end of the club follow along the target line until a release “point” where the club will then follow through naturally over your shoulder to a finish.
For instance, when you use the driver, since the swing with the driver is the flattest (closest to horizontal), the point where you release the club to finish will be sooner than if you use a sand wedge. The wedges generally will have a more upright, vertical plane and so I find myself actually having the wedge and higher irons following all the way down the target line until, at one spot, it actually points at the target before releasing to a finish.
The longer the club, the less likely it is to actually hit the spot where you are literally “pointing at the target”, however, it is still valuable for those longer clubs to start a little practice swing by first pointing at the target and then bringing the club back to “find” the right backswing.
Why is this concept important or even worth considering for my game?
Because if you are going to try and improve without spending hours on the range practicing every intricate move a teaching pro gives you over a period of time, then you need something SIMPLE that your unconscious can take, understand, and run with.
If you try to do Mental practice for the list of things you need to keep in mind while trying to achieve the perfect swing, your unconscious mind is likely to get confused and give up, just like you do when you hear too many things at once. Square and point is SIMPLE!
Also, if you have an uncontrollable hook, you might find this concept helpful in straightening out some. Pointing the club at the target more will make your swing a bit more vertical which will necessitate more of a fader’s path.
Part of square and point is talked and written about when you see references to keeping the clubhead on line for the first couple feet after striking the ball. I totally agree but it’s only part of the story.
Here is a question one of the members asked specifically about this:
“ I do have a question on the square and point.
Are you talking about squaring the club face to the target and then with
your arms pointing the head of the club at the target (at which point the
shaft is parallel to the ground) or are you talking about simply moving the
club face ahead of the ball a couple of feet while maintaining its alignment
to the target?
That part was a bit hazy to me. “
And here is my answer:
“Square and point” means as you mention: “squaring the club face to the target and then with your arms pointing the head of the club at the target”. (with caveat in paragraph 2 above)
Now, having said that, the way I use this concept, is to think about it during my practice swing. Mentally see a “freeze frame” of these 2 spots in your swing occurring. Direct your unconscious to accomplish these two positions with your club and the ball has to go straight since you understand the physics of it that necessitate that result if successful. The swing is really happening too fast to try to manipulate your hands to “square” the clubface. You just need to give a good message to your subconscious along these lines and over time and let IT accomplish that.
Just like you ride a bike you don’t consciously think about all the muscle contractions necessary to balance and pedal and steer.
Depending on the person, you can go so far as to focus your whole swing around this even while doing your regular swing, or you can subtely (sp?) let it sink into your unconscious over time and let it slowly become a part of your swing that you built using a good swing method taught to you by a pro or other instructional swing system.
If you’ve ever seen a golfer swing the “Natural Golf” way, (originated by Moe Norman) then you might notice that they really understand this concept. They actually almost finish their swing pointing at the target.
However, I and others take our regular swing and let the swing finish naturally AFTER having the clubface point toward the target at one point. And don’t forget that to help set it up, you can begin a practice swing by starting with the club pointing at the target and then bring it backwards to help “set” and feel where the backswing should go to be on a good plane as I described in the CD.
When I’m on the range warming up for a round is when I really work on this concept and then when on the course, I just say outloud or think “square and point” to direct my unconscious to make it happen. Off the course, I do this in my head.
Here’s the kicker: When visualizing this as you nod off to sleep, imagine yourself doing this in slow motion. Slow your swing down so that you can actually see the clubface at the moment of impact with the ball, in a perfectly square position and then freeze the vision again at the perfect spot of release so that the ball HAS TO GO TO THE TARGET. You will then be sending clear, direct messages to your subconscious of what you want it to accomplish! Use any of the techniques on the CD’s for visualizing.
Greens and fairways!