Category Archives: Mental Game

I Had the ‘Nots’!!!!

“There’s an enormous gap between KNOWING and DOING.” -Some wise dude

Here’s a confession that might just help your game…..
Honestly, sometimes, when I’m practicing and feeling good about my game, I honestly have a difficult time relating to some of my students….  The gravity golf drills and my understanding of the swing make the game seem quite easy at times…..    
And then there’s the other 360 days of the year…….
These days, as most of you know, I’m so busy at work (and loving it!) that I don’t have a lot of time to practice and train.  My mechanics are fine.  My grip, stance and alignment are not going anywhere…. But sometimes my game can get a little chaotic!  It’s more frustrating now than in years past because I truly understand the swing.  There is no mystery to my bad shots, and yet at times this past year I have felt very little control over my shots…. It’s quite embarrassing and aggravating.
Today was no exception.  I got up extra early with the hopes of completing my ‘to do’ list in time to tee off with some friends at 9:30.  I was really excited and felt quite confident as I stepped on the first tee.  After 4 holes, I still felt like I could turn my game around, and I kept myself in the round with some good putts and ‘up and downs’….   It was on the 7th hole that my swing ‘bit me’.  Ugh, it was so bad… and it cost me 2 strokes.  
It was two more holes before I caught on to something…..   I HAD THE ‘NOTS’!!!!!!
You see, outwardly, or at least on the surface, I still felt confident and was trying to make full and free swings.  Just before my ‘ah ha’ moment, I really felt that I was doing the things necessary to produce quality shots.  It was really frustrating that almost every swing up to that point was not up to my standards….  really frustrating (can anyone relate so far?)
Then I thought about one shot that I did hit particularly well.  One that I seem to hit well most times on that particular hole.  It’s the 12th hole at Snee Farm, and it calls for a low hard draw to put yourself in the ‘A’ position.  It sets up perfect for me, and I get a GREAT IMAGE and GREAT FEELING EVERY TIME I step on that tee……..
………………………………………………………………..THAT’S IT!
That was the difference.  I swung with TOTAL confidence.  I SAW the exact shot I wanted to produce and truly swung with freedom and with purpose.   The rest of the shots that day, with very few exceptions… I was trying to NOT hit it right, or left, or short, etc…..  IT hit me like a ton of bricks!  As I quickly went through the holes that I had played in my head, I knew that I was trying harder to NOT hit the ball one way or the other, than I was trying to hit the ball the way I know I can.  
That’s what golf can do to us all.  A few wayward shots, a few tight holes, a few bad thoughts and it’s SO EASY to start thinking of where you do NOT want the ball to go, RATHER than thinking about exactly where you want the ball to go and how you want it to get there….  
I TALK about this in almost every lesson I give…..  BAM!  I had a bad case today…. 
Fortunately (and this is a feel good story!), I figured it out with enough holes left to play to really turn my round… well…. around!  I started to swing freely and with precise images of what I wanted on the second nine and was rewarded with some great shots and some solid play.  I stumbled around to a 38 on the first 9, and easily shot a 31 on the second 9*…… 
So here’s the lesson:  

YOU CAN NEVER GET GOOD AT MOVING THE BALL WHERE YOU WANT TO IF YOU ARE TRYING TO 
NOT HIT THE BALL WHERE YOU DO NOT WANT TO.  
****A TARGET creates A SWING****
If you have the Not’s as your target, you can pretty much guarantee inconsistent to bad results….
Moe Norman put it this way:  “Bad Thinking, bad golf.  Good thinking, good golf.”
So pay attention to THE BAD TARGETS in golf.  Catch yourself if you try to hard to hit at, to lift up, to steer or guide the ball….  Catch yourself if you too often try to NOT hit the ball right or left…. It makes sense…….. but……..say it with me…… “IT’S WRONG”!!
Now go PLAY GOLF!  Stop THINKING golf swing!   
Learn from the pro (who really mucked it up today!).  Best, 
*Results will vary.  There are no guarantees in golf.  Good thinking will just ‘up your odds’ of playing the type of golf you are capable of…..

If Golf was a Feather…..

Most of us simply LOVE the game.  The goal should be to enjoy every moment.  Every shot!

Some of us play the game far more seriously.  It can be great to be competitive and focused….
It truly seems that some golfers play simply to get mad!  They blame the course, the clubs, the wind, etc…They yell.  They curse.  They BARK! It’s a waste of time, and it sucks the fun out of the game…..
The reality of the game is that it is difficult.  Sometimes downright scary.  Playing with fear is almost always a swing killer.  
 It happens to us all, and we need to work hard to PLAY TO PLAY GREAT!  *And trust me, when that wind blows that little feather around… it can be plenty scary!
…..Something to think about.  
Now go PLAY GOLF! Stop THINKING golf swing.  
*Special thanks to Calvin, for putting on a great show with that feather!  Also, thanks to my wife, J, for taking such great photos!

Keep Believing That Today is the Day!

Here’s a great quote that we can all take to heart:  
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

The golfer that can keep waking up with the belief that ‘TODAY IS THE DAY’ is the golfer that is going to get the most out their time on the course….  regardless of their scores…..

Get excited about your next trip to the first tee!  I know I am.  

Take Your Medicine

I’m constantly amazed at the shots golfer try to pull off….  I’m not talking about Bubba Watson or Phil Mickelson.  They are two of the most talented golfers in the world, and I’m in awe of their talent and imagination….

No, I’m talking about the 10 handicap golfer that attempts to reach a par 5 in 2, even though water, woods and O.B. surround the green 240 yards away….. I’m talking about the once a week golfer that hits driver off every hole, costing them 7 shots a round…..  I’m talking about the guy faced with an impossible bunker shot that still aims right at the hole, even though the only possible out comes are staying in the bunker, or sailing over the green into the water or another bunker….  
Why?  
The excuse is often the fun of it.  I’d buy that if I didn’t see so many upset golfers day in and day out…. I’d buy that if we played pure match play each and every day and never posted a score for handicap purposes….   
Truth is, most of us play shots we have no business playing!  I’m also saying that if most of us chose a smarter route, golf would be far more enjoyable and most often scores would be lower!
Play to play great.  That means playing shots within your skill level.  That means thinking great around a golf course, and playing smart golf.  
Leave all that risk and reward to the pros, and those you are competing against.  The professionals have a better chance because of their skill and the repetition of their swings….  Your competitors can continue to play that way, and you’ll come out on the winning end more and more often!
Play smart.  Chip out, lay up, lag putt, TAKE YOUR MEDICINE….. And to really drive my point home…. Study this image
“Should have taken a drop”
            

GOLFER – SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A DROP  This happened on a desert golf course in the upper Scottsdale area, Arizona near Cave Creek.   He fell backwards into the cactus whilst attempting to play his ball.

It took paramedics 2 hours to pull the cactus needles out before he could go in an ambulance to the hospital.  

Let Yourself Learn

My thoughts today go to how quickly many golfers go into ‘confused’, ‘panicked’, or downright ‘depressed’ mode…… 

I understand it- trust me.  I just know that it is not the best reaction to allow to come to the surface.  Golf is DIFFICULT.  Golf is extremely precise in it’s demands….  

Some days will just be lousy- That’s close to universally true.  Some days the body just won’t comply with the commands of the mind.  Some days, the minds commands won’t be as confident, precise, correct as they need to be….. 

The key is not to overly stress.  The key is to trust that YOU HAVE THE KEY to the most efficient golf swing.  You KNOW you have the recipe to build PATH INTEGRITY into your swing. 

Most important-  Know that you know (I mean, you are reading this blog, right?).  Go to the range and let GRAVITY MEET ROTATION.  Work first on your FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED FINISH…..  BE AWARE as you hang out in your finish…….  Stop judging….  Just be aware. 

Let yourself learn by continuing to just HEAVE and FINISH IN BALANCE….. It may take a while before you LET YOURSELF COMPLY with GRAVITY AND ROTATION….. But trust that it will happen. 

We very often turn to ‘FIX MODE’ way too fast….. Stop thinking….  HEAVE and FINISH IN BALANCE….. Let physics work it’s magic……  Trust and KNOW, and your body will comply over time……

Breaking Radio Silence….To Celebrate!

Might as well turn this little ego kick I’m embarking on into a lesson…. So here we go!

The Power of Positive Visualization. 

So my time here at Carolina Colours has come to an end.  It’s been a fantastic time. 

I love this golf course!

When I first began playing the course I remember commenting to Ken that I really think I’ll make a hole in one here….  Because the design of the course fits my eye so well, I was confident that I would make a good run at holing out on one of the par threes.

We’ve talked about it a lot.  I’ve agonized over it after several close calls…. But most importantly, I had a visual of holing out most every time I stepped on a par 3! (most of the par 3’s anyway….)

Over the last month, it became a bit of a comical obsession of mine to ace #16.  It’s the shortest hole on the course, and the only one that has NOT had a hole-in-one recorded.  I’ve talked about it with staff and members and tried calling it pretty much to anyone I’ve played with over the last couple of weeks.  When Joe, Paul and Mike came up for a visit, I darn near holed it (or at least made the shot worth watching) each time we played! 

So yesterday was probably my last round here (as head professional) at Carolina Colours Golf Club.  Ken and I talked about how I might leave here without making my hole-in-one…..  What a shame.  While driving from 15 to 16, we discussed the possibility of taking a shag bag out the next day and just teeing away for the afternoon!!!! (yes, that desperate!)

Now I know that a hole-in-one is a bit like winning the lottery…. It takes a lot of luck.  And I honestly made that lottery connection in my mind before teeing off.  I thought about how cool it would be if this was the time.  How incredible would that be if I could ace this hole the very last time I play it as the Head Professional of the course….. 

108 yards.  Perfect 3/4 gap wedge.  When I hit it, we started talking it up (like many other times)… As it approached the green, I think we began shouting at the ball….  it hit about 4 feet from the hole, bounced past and then spun back into the hole…….

silence….   Total disbelief?  The best we could both do is say ‘I think that might have gone in?!?’

Holy #%%$#@ (mom, pardon the language), we were giddy, but still not quite believers…. I was afraid to believe too much!

And then we drove around so that we could see the entire green complex.  NO BALL. 

I DID IT!!!!  I now had that dumb glazy look on my face like Phil Mickelson gets when he’s just won another major (yeah, I’m equating this ace with a Major victory!  It’s my blog after all.)

Ken walked over to look first and confirmed that my ball was in the bottom of the cup.  It’s official. 

First hole in one-  15yrs old.  Hole #4 at Pinecrest GC. 140yd par 3  6:15am- A maintenance guy moving the sprinkler heads on the 3rd green saw it.  Yup, my last hole in one was back in the day when most greens were watered by the rotating sprinkler heads you hooked up to a hose!!!!

Second hole in one- 43yrs, 13 days old.  Hole #16 at Carolina Colours Golf Club.  108yd par 3.  Ken Gerhardt was the witness (and fortunately I managed to hole out on a hole short enough for him to actually see it go in!!!). 

How about them apples?   Pretty proud of myself right now….. 

Oh yeah.   VISUALIZE.  See the shot,  Trust the shot!  Let’s celebrate!

Target Observation

While driving around the golf course yesterday, I noticed in 2 groups something interesting in some pre shot routines….. 

The D player in an event would set up to the ball, then spend 10-20 seconds gauging where the ball was.  You could see in their waggle, they were attempting to find the ball in the downswing….  Their practice swing was their backswing down to the ball… NO FOLLOW THROUGH!  Watching 2 groups in a row hit a fairway shot to the green, the D player in both groups never looked at the green once they placed their feet into their stance.  The major part of the check list was preparing to strike the ball…..

The A players in both groups did something very different.  Their pre shot ritual was much more focused on the flagstick and green.  The practice swing of one A player had almost no backswing, and you could tell he was just focusing on ‘throwing’ the club out towards the target…. Their practice swing was basically the follow through…. The other A player just kept looking up and adjusting to what was out in front of them….

It’s an important lesson.  THE BALL IS UNIMPORTANT in the golf swing.  Prepare to throw the club and let the ball get in the way. 

Interesting…..

Greatness Chokes Me

*If you are having a hard time reading this on your email browser; simply go to blog.athleticgolf.net today and read.  I messed with the font colors a bit and, well…. 

*Please send along some comments, questions, etc!!!!  How can I make this blog more meaningful to you? 

Since I did a Moe Norman presentation last nite, it seems fitting to use one of his quotes today.  When asked about if he visualizes every shot he hits, he replies,

“See it?  I don’t just see it.  I taste it.  I taste it.  Purity of technique is choking me.  Ooohhhh…. Like this, like this.  I’m tasting this shot.”  He then proceeds to swing and finishes with, “See, perfect every time!”

Make a decision to see and feel great shots, both on the range and on the course.  Golf, because of its difficulty, tends to drag us down into negative thoughts and images…. I understand that all too well.  Fortunately thoughts are a choice.  You can choose to visualize what you want.  You can choose to think as you please.  Really see great impact and perfect outcomes, and your body will begin to comply with those thoughts and images.  BELIEVE!

How Phil’s Win Can Help You Play Better!

Congrats to Phil, what a spectacular win yesterday at Pebble Beach. 

Here are 2 things you can learn from his victory:

1.  He has been practicing great over the last 6 weeks and yet until this week, his results have been less than desirable……  

Phil knew that his training was top level.  He had tremendous confidence in what he was working on and just kept plugging away….. 

We can all trust that results will follow!  Sometimes it seems that the drills will never kick in on the golf course.  Sometimes we have a bad stretch of golf, or the proverbial ‘worst round of our lives….’, even while practicing consistently….  Phil showed us again that the past does not equal the future.   If your training is solid, YOU WILL SEE RESULTS! 

Stick with the drills.  And BELIEVE!

2.  Phil stopped thinking about mechanics with his putter.  It’s hard to believe that a golfer as gifted as Phil continually falls into the bad habit of THINKING MECHANICS while on the course, and even worse in competition….  He made the decision a few weeks back to simply look at the putts and trust.  Commit to that mind set and the strokes will become more fluid and reliable!!!!   Practice, but more importantly,  LOOK AND REACT! Don’t think about your putting stroke!

*Especially in the winter, when every mistake is magnified, it’s easy to think you need to change or fix your swing too much….  What you need is CONSISTENT AND SYSTEMATIC TRAINING!!!!  And then you need to TRUST YOUR SWING.