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Golf is a game of bad golf shots more than it is a game of good shots. That’s why sports psychologist Bob Rotella’s book was titled “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect.” Golf is one of those games that really only suits two types of people; golfers that thrive on challenge and who have a high tolerance threshold for hardship and adversity, and golfers who want to learn how to.
If you don’t fit into either of those categories then my best advice is for you to look for another easier game to play because you will not enjoy playing golf. That is the reality of elite level amateur golf and pro tour golf; it’s a tough game that suits tough minded individuals, because the majority of golf shots you will hit will be at times a lot less than you expected and you will need to be able to handle it and not let it affect your progress.
How you handle the constant and never ending challenges you face during a round of golf will determine to a great extent how successful you will be at playing the game of golf competitively. Since most of your golf shots will end up somewhere other than where you want them to you really need to prepare yourself better for it. Golf is one of the few games where you practice usually in a different place to where you perform, and this creates a lot of problems for golfers wanting to lower their golf score average.
When you look at a typical driving range or practice fairway you realise pretty quickly that they look very different to golf holes. A golf range is relatively flat in design and wide and the tee area is also flat. The target areas will usually have flags or mounds for you to hit shots to. The driving range is nothing like the design of a golf hole which is designed to challenge you from the tee all the way to the green with narrow fairways, bunkers and sloping greens designed to make you think.
So the way you go about practicing your golf skills away from the golf course could be having a dramatic effect on the way you play. If you practice on perfectly manicured tee’s all the time, how can you expect to pull off great recovery shots from tough lies around the golf course like these ones?
Biggest Practice Mistakes ….and what to do about them
Practicing only swing technique
Solution Use other types of training: competitive, routine, shot shaping, and mental skills.
There is nothing better than the feel of a well-struck shot or the sight of a drive soaring through the air. Striking the ball correctly is one of the most impressive aspects of the game, especially when you are the one doing the striking. Perhaps this is the reason for such a preoccupation with the golf swing with both players and coaches.
A constant focus on swing technique, no matter how justified it may seem will be detrimental to the overall development of your game and the ability to transfer your practice to the course.
In order to create a more seamless transfer Continue Reading→
It’s club championship time shortly. It’s an exciting time for many but it can also be a nerve-wracking experience that, for many players, ends in disappointment. A lot of golfers perform far below their potential and expectations in the club championship because they’re not as prepared as they could be. They don’t arrive on the first tee with as much confidence as they should. Also, many golfers aren’t sure how to be their own best coach – how to effectively execute shots and a sound game plan under tournament pressure.
1.Plan ahead. Give yourself the necessary practice and playing time to prepare for the club championship. Be clear on your preparation for this event at least three weeks prior – write it down. Block your calendar and plan sufficient practice time and pre-event rounds.
2.Practice effectively. Good performance in tournament golf is largely attributable to consistent tee shot execution: minimal errors and penalty strokes, high percentage putting conversions in the 4-10 foot range, and sound wedge play. Spend a high percentage of your pre-event practice time and effort on these skills to build competence and confidence.
3.Hole out in casual rounds don’t fall into the trap of not holing your short putts in casual rounds before the club championship. The habit of accepting “gimmies” – short putts in the 2-5 foot range – is common place. Expect to be nervous and miss a lot more of these critical length putts in competition if you don’t practice holing them out in your regular social rounds. If the putts are in fact that easy, then putt them in the hole.
4.Coaching check a week or two before the event it is a good idea to have a coaching session with your Professional – not a technical session but rather a session on key scoring skills and to discuss your game plan and execution strategies. Tap into your professional’s experience and expertise.
5.Set realistic goals in sports, less than 10 per cent of participants can expect “career” performances in major events. Preparing your best beforehand makes this highly probable. Know your skill and performance level, for example, a typical 12 handicap may likely have a 79-85 scoring range. Set up a game plan and shot strategies that are in alignment with your range. Don’t try to play a game that you don’t have. Don’t force shots – let the magic happen!
6.Create a written game plan. Write down how you plan to play each hole. Know your tendencies and where you feel the most confident and the most vulnerable on the course. Be appropriately aggressive and don’t be shy to play cautious on holes that are potential blow-ups for you. your plan should be focused on enabling you to hit as many greens in regulation as possible and planning for the most probable up and down conversion spots when you miss greens.
7.Focus on deep breathing to get relaxed over your shots. When golfers peak perform they are in a calm and relaxed state over the ball. Focus your energy and attention on using your breathing. Here’s a technique. Breath-in deeply through an imaginary straw and completely empty your lungs when you exhale; soften your body tension and lower your mental tension when you are over the ball. as the great George Knudson said, “don’t play golf to relax – relax to play great golf.”
8.Think the “right” stuff. Players perform their best in competition when they engage the right side of their brain – this is where the athlete lives. Right brain thoughts are “external” on the target, tempo, desired flight and simple performance cues like “full back and through” or “smooth roll.” Be careful not to play “golf swing” in competition: this can be a deadly performance buster – it is left-brained thinking on technique or a “to do” list. Leave this thinking on the practice tee.
9.See yourself succeeding. Visualize and imagine yourself executing your game plan – escaping from trouble and hitting good shots. Winners see themselves winning before they begin. Moe Norman always said that Jack nicklaus had the Green Jacket on his breakfast plate on Thursday before the first round of the masters.
“Players perform their best in competition when they engage the right side of their brain – this is where the athlete lives.”
10.Just play, enjoy the opportunity to compete and challenge yourself. expect some mistakes and deal with poor shots. Don’t make the tournament bigger than it is. Your identity and personal self-concept are not related to your golf score in the club championship. Smile and have fun!
Problem Not knowing what to practice.
Solution Know your game and devise a practice plan.
To be intentional in your training assumes you know what it is you are going to practice. In this instance the player isn’t even really sure what to practice.
Nothing wastes more time than wondering what to practice. During the session the internal voice is asking whether you are practicing the right thing or not. This doubt will undermine the quality of the session and fail to cement any learnings from the session.
The easiest way to determine the areas of your game most in need of development is to collate statistical data from your game and to analyse it.
Generally there should be approximately a 60:40 break-up of time with 60% devoted to short game (putting, chipping, bunkers and pitching up to around 60 metres). There should then be a slight bias toward the areas of the game which are showing up as statistically in need of development. This certainly doesn’t mean an ‘all the eggs in one basket’ approach as that would be unbalanced.
What are the strengths of your game?
Which are the areas in need of development?
What is the priority in practice for you for this month?
Been practicing hard but not showing the benefits of all that practice when you get to competition? This is extremely common and it occurs with players of all levels, from Tour players to high handicappers. Frustrating isn’t it!
How would you like to ensure that your efforts in practice are transferred to the golf course, especially in competition? Of course that is what every golfer wants.
One way to ensure value from your practice sessions is to avoid making the errors outlined below by first being aware of them and following the advice
Problem #1 Practicing without a purpose
Solution: Be Continue Reading→
This one goes out to all the young players with goals of being a professional player. Oh and everyone who values their precious time.
I am sure we all agree that every avid golfer desires to spend more time at the golf course practicing and playing golf.Imagine having more time to iron out the swing faults, perfecting the putting routine and working on aspects of the short game. You can see it now right, all that extra time at the range and on the course making a major difference to your game, right?
Time spent at the driving range is precious. Arriving with an idea of what needs to be worked on is important. The golf professionals on tour make Continue Reading→
A measure of…the truth
Why do some athletes avoid recording statistics, setting plans and sticking to them and putting their hearts on soles on the line? Part of the reason lies in the words of Colonel Jessep “they can’t handle the truth”.
It is rare with all but the best athletes to hear something like “I have followed a structured preparation plan to the letter and am ready to compete, confident I will do well”.
Much more common is “I haven’t been able to prepare as I would like, so hopefully I’ll go ok”. This is both preparing for the worst and having a ready-made excuse in advance.
It takes courage to fully commit to a plan and declare you have done the work and are ready to put your performance on the line.
Have you got that courage?
The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you know why. Once you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve, own them and create a pathway to achieve them. It takes many small steps with lots of setbacks and distractions to achieve your personal best. Commit to it always. Continue Reading→