- I'm sure we have all seen tournaments and rounds (including our own) come apart at the seams for no apparent reason , one minute everything is great & the next moment the game starts to crumble faster than a chocolate biscuit in a cup of hot coffee!
Many World Class Golfers have given away huge leads , these include the likes of Martin Kaymer in Abu Dhabi , Greg Norman , Seve , Rory McIlroy & Jordon Speith at the Masters.
Why does it Happen?
Although no one can be 100% sure what happened in each of these instances.
- The most likely reason is not one of lack of confidence causing a bad shot or technical flaws in the swing, but a change of focus from playing golf in the moment (the next shot) to the result of winning the event.
- Once the shift of focus has moved from the present , poor shots are very likely to occur ..
A couple of bad shots can quickly to progress into frustration and trying harder to make up for the previous mistakes leading to worsening performance - and the rest is history!!!
An advert for an insurance company once said "Don't turn a drama into a crisis.."
- Taking a few seconds to compose your thoughts after poor shot & gaining control of your composure will make a massive difference.. the facts are we can't un-hit the last shot (even though we would like to) and we will have to deal with where the ball ended up .. but to have the best chance of playing & scoring better we need to Focus on .. What's Important Now!! or WIN
The great golf Legend BEN HOGAN once said "The Most important shot in golf is the next one" Sticking to your Routine & Focussing on the Next Shot is all YOU can control
- Take a little time to feel the smoothest , most flowing swing you have .
To help remind yourself to do this is to write a note such as "Win" or "Next Shot" in your planner"
The Next Shot!
Review , Learn .. Improve!
After a couple of poor recent scores on the course , I remembered a very simple but effective technique , so simple that it should have been more obvious to me! After the round , normally a day or two (so the emotion is separated & you can review objectively) review each shot & mark out of 10 , do this for a few rounds & any trends of either poor shot selection , game management or weak areas will become apparent!
For me score were (last two weeks) Driving avg 8.5/10 (good) approach shots 9/10 (good) short chips 4/10 poor! putting 4/10 poor ... normally my best bits were the weakness
The learning .. not enough time spent practicing the short game over last few months
.. to improve ...
off to the putting green now!
The Best Ever Ball Marker??
Gary Player once famously said "the harder I practice the Luckier I get"
which was adapted from a quote from US President Franklin D Roosevelt who said
"the harder I work the more luck I seem to have "
Both of the above statements are true however
I was having coffee the other day with friend, a former touring professional & discussing raising some money for The Sick Children's Trust.
While waiting for my coffee at the counter , I spotted Bill a member of a local club I had hardly seen in the last few years as he has all but given up golf as his eye sight had worsened over the years (he is in his 80's)
As we talked , he produced a couple of ball markers to give to me & my friend
(he carries them in his pocket everywhere!)
Simple & To The Point , This Ball marker is a great reminder to all of us that,
even if we are playing badly ......
"The More We Notice ... The Luckier We ARE"
Lydia Ko Part 2 .. more learning!
World Number 1 Golfer Lydia Ko
observe ,caddy for & interview Lydia Ko during a social game at Moor Park.
Sometimes it can be difficult to relate to the worlds best players , however there are some Simple Ideas You & I can learn by observing carefully the very best golfers.
3 More Observations of Lydia's Golf which you & I can learn from & apply!
1. Use The Tee Box correctly - Take Time to Find the Best Place on the Tee to put your ball.
If there are nicely cut lines in the Grass (as Above pic) and they line up to where you want to hit , then use these as guides to help with your alignment (the worlds best players do this) - as it helps makes lining up much easier!
2. During the game Lydia backed off a number of shots as she was not comfortable over the ball - if you stand over the ball feeling uncomfortable , it is extremely unlikely you will hit a great shot - don't feel afraid to walk away - and start the set up routine again - you will hit better shots and save time in the process ( you & I have both done it in the past & heard many others say "I did not feel comfortable , I should have walked away..)
Don't get stuck in the trap of feeling compelled to hit the ball if you don't feel ready to make your best swing..
3. A Great Set Up Routine , gives you the best chance to hit Great Shots.
Every shot Lydia played during the game (even though it was a friendly) she stuck to her routine.
If you are inconsistent with your routine , you will be inconsistent with your golf .. FACT!!
Listening to Phil Mickelsons audio program "one magical Sunday" which is a great and informative cd - perfect for the car journey to the course!
In the program Phil talks about one of his (and mine) favourite pre game routines called "round the clock"
For Phil , he sets a target of holing out 100 putts in a row from 3 feet before moving on to the practice ground & course.
For you & I , a more modest figure of 20 would be a good start.
How to do it ?
*Place Tees around the Hole to mark out a 3 foot putt
*Decide on your Target number of putts to hole , eg 20
*Place balls at each point and putt each one in turn.
*if you miss one you have to start again from zero!
Why is it such a great drill ?
As you get closer to your target the pressure builds helping to simulate on course situations.
Builds Concentration Skills & Routine while adding Stroke Confidence.
On the course a putt of less than 3 feet is the length of putt you are going to face most often. The 3 foot putt for many people is the least practiced area , which - the benefit of being confident in your ability over this distance - will help not only hole out with certainty but allow you to be more positive on the longer putts knowing that if you do go 2 or 3 feet past its no problem!
On the reverse side of this , if you are not confident over these putts & start missing them it has a massive negative impact on the score & game.
Get Great at These Short Putts & Notice Your Scores Tumble!
Recently while watching a replay of Jonny Wilkinson playing for England and seeing him kicking , I was reminded of the similarity of this set piece penalty kick to playing golf.
Unlike many sports Golf is a game consisting entirely of set pieces , the majority of the time we spend on the course and most of the physical energy ,is not on the shots we play but on the walking in between. If you think about the amount of time spent actually playing the strokes , it is remarkably small.
Each swing takes on average 1.4 seconds , which means the total golf swing time on the course is comfortably under 3 minutes.
What does this mean to you & I ??
On the course we should focus on the three important phases of each shot:
1. Physical Set up routine to get to the ball with the correct fundamentals (grip /posture etc.)
2. Engagement or focus on the target (where the ball is going to go)
3. A moment to shift attention to the ball and settle & let the swing flow.
Far too often, we either fail to engage with the target (focus on where we want to go) & worry about technique or we rush to play the shot without taking the necessary moment to settle, before making the stroke.
Next time you watch , you can notice how all great golfers (and rugby kickers) take this second or two to gather themselves before hitting the shot.
* Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Allred has also coached golfers such as Luke Donald
Some Winter Adjustments
Smile More & play better golf!
Watching the film Happy Gilmore recently , the golf comedy with angry golfer Adam Sandler , who finds his best golf from his "happy place" where the thoughts and visualisation of "happy things" put him the RIGHT STATE to play his best golf (and win the tournament & girl!) Watching the movie reminded me of a quote from Seve's book , where his caddie was asked what he (Seve) could do better?
"Smile More , you play better when you do!" this was an honest observation where his caddie had noticed that Seve had played better & won more when he was more relaxed and connected to the game & the spectators..(the better seve played the caddy earned more!)
The concept is a simple but powerful one - if you are happy & relaxed you will be able to access more of your resources then if you are angry or frustrated .
As performance coach Anthony Robbins noticed , our Emotional state & Physiology are directly linked & by decided to smile , the muscles in our face (linked to our nervous system) tell our brain to relax & have fun..
Relaxed muscles = smoother & more powerful movement and tempo = better shots
The Outcomes you can Expect if you decide to smile & enjoy the game
Score your best score everytime? No .. but Better Scores more often
Be World no1 in next few weeks? No , but you will enjoy better golf & more fun..
Lydia Ko , what can all learn!
Super Star Golfer Lydia Ko (5 LPGA wins by age 17!) -
A few months ago I was fortunate enough to observe ,caddy for & interview Lydia Ko during an18 hole social game at Moor Park.
Sometimes it can be difficult to relate to the worlds best players , however I believe there are some Simple Ideas You & I can learn by observing the very best golfers.
5 of Lydia's Keys which you & I can learn (a lot) from :
1.Rhythm is King - All Shots from Driver to Wedges are played at same Tempo
The Swing is Perfectly Smooth & Balanced throughout the swing - an out of balance swing is out of control & leads to an out of control golf ball
2.Lydia Spends over 50 % of the time on Putting & Short Game and practices the putting indoors on a perfect surface - by practicing indoors we can concentrate on stroke mechanics & build confidence.
3.Every Shot has a target!!
Always have a landing target for all tee shots & approaches , this helps you focus on where you want the ball to end up - rather than just aiming down the fairway , pick a specific place for the ball to end up.
4.Keep Swing Practice to the Range , On the Course Just Play!
Lydia does her Swing Practice at her Home club (Lake Nona -Orlando). On tour , Lydia spends the available time on playing the course or short game feel - on practice days she sometimes plays 2 rounds to learn The Best Way to Play each Hole rather than hitting lots of balls.
5.Golf is only one Part of Life - interestingly (especially for someone so young) when i talked to Lydia about her goals, most were outside of golf .
- by having a balanced outlook , the pressure is greatly reduced
What we can learn.. each shot good or bad is only a golf shot & we should not get too attached to the result -we should look to try our hardest , focus well & enjoy good result but not dwell on bad ones- There are far worse places to be than on the course however poorly we might have played.