Play to Learn

How much time do you spend on the range or on the course ‘PLAYING TO LEARN’? 

I believe it is very important to PLAY both on the range and on the course.  By play, I mean goofing around, to some degree.  I mean going out on the range and spending 1/2 hr to an 1hr just trying to hit extreme shots…  big hooks, big slices, low shots and high shots…..  Or getting in a bunker and hitting 50-100 shots trying different techniques, or different shots….  I mean going on the course and hitting several shots from the pine straw, or off bare lies to figure out how to best hit the shot. 

Curiosity is a powerful force in learning.  Be like a kid, PLAYFUL and curious while you train. 

*But of course, be PLAYFUL with a FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED FINISH!!!!  

****Have trouble with a slice?  Go GOOF around on the range hitting hundreds of BIG OLE HOOKS.   Struggle off bare lies?  Go to the range and hits tons of shots out of divots!  Figure out how to hit down and through the ball.  Struggle with balance?  Make a game out of FINISHING IN BALANCE!!!!  How many times in a row can you finish in balance? 

PLAY to learn.

“I Don’t Understand….”

Words that I refuse to acknowledge as a golfer.  This game is so difficult, and there is SO much information out there that if a golfer has any doubt, they are cooked. 

The ball flight is lawful.  The golf swing is governed by the Laws of Physics.  The human mind, probably the greatest variable, has to a large degree, fairly predictable responses when left in the ‘unconscious’ mode…..

A golfer that understands a ‘PHYSICS COMPLIANT SWING’

A golfer that understands their own tendencies with their swing

A golfer that has a clear and certain MENTAL PRE SHOT ROUTINE and

A golfer that TRAINS consistently and systematically with high quality drills……. 

SHOULD always understand the inherent ups and downs of golf.

This golfer may not always hit great shots.  They may not always score great…. But they will outplay most (with or perhaps without their handicap strokes), improve over time, and have the peace of mind in UNDERSTANDING all the frustrating things that occur in this fascinating game! 

Persistence and Belief

Sean O’Hair won the Canadian Open yesterday on a brutally tough golf course.  He had missed 9 cuts in his last 12 events.  I’m sure he has been frustrated, but I also know that he has a strong belief in his game, and the persistence to KEEP TRAINING, and training hard!  Golf can be a relentlessly difficult game on the ego. 

Looking for quick fixes is not the answer.  Complaining and worrying are not the answers….

Be very clear on your objective (to move the ball solidly towards the target, in balance….), believe in your game, your method and yourself, and persist in your training. 

Even the best players in the world have ups and downs in this game.  Have a positive attitude, enjoy your time on the course, and your game WILL turn around. 

**If you swing concept gets cloudy, muddy, or cluttered, work with a coach to get back on a clear track!  Doubt in swing will almost always destroy consistency. 

Out of Thin Air

You don’t grab touch or consistency out of thin air….   It takes consistent and systematic training.  A few putts before a round just won’t cut it.  A few mindless chip shots will not do much for your game. 

Sure you might have the odd day of great touch, but it’s not something that can be counted on.  Conversely, the golfer that puts in quality time on and around the green will have the odd day where their feel is off on the course….  I’m going with the second option!  I always want to train so that my less than perfect shots are still good enough to give me a chance. 

I understand that without practice, impact and distance skills deteriorate fast, even with proper technique….. 

Consistent and systematic training is the key.  You don’t have to spend hours upon hours practicing (although with proper training, you’ll get better faster if you did…), you just need 20-40 minutes 2-4 times a week training with high quality drills. 

Build your skills and guess what happens?   BAM!  Better golf. 

Flexible Hips?

 Here’s an interesting question- “Pete, I am interested in your comments regarding hip flexibility. Lack of flexibility (or tension) of the left hip inhibits the turn (heave) on the backswing (and subsequent tendency to lift the arms), while lack of flexibility (or tension) of the right hip inhibits or limits turning on the front axis and finishing in balance. ” -Joe

Joe, you are right on.*

Here’s a real simple answer:  Practice with HIGH QUALITY swings.   Over the years, I’ve found that if a person is relaxed, they can rotate enough. 

So one key is to train well.  Really work on GETTING THE TENSION out of your body early in the backswing, so the core can turn.  (Just watch most golfers take their practice swings, no tension, decent turn….).  As you consciously get the tension out early in the backswing, notice how you can turn LEVEL with more ease.  If you are really tight, you may not be able to ‘HEAVE’ quite as much as you would like, or the arms will rise up or out of position.  Your ‘HEAVE’ must match your ability to turn….

In terms of forward hip flexibility, I am convinced that training a FULLY ROTATED RELAXED BALANCED finish is by far the best way to stretch.  You’ve got to work at it though.  You’ve got to make a FULLY ROTATED finish more important than the results of the shot.  You’ve got to get your balance, relax, then stretch some more.  Everyone of my students knows exactly what I’m talking about.  STRETCH!!!!   

Can you speed up the process? Can you improve upon the process?  Yes.  Yoga or specific stretching exercises will most definitely improve your swing. 

Most important in my opinion is ‘SPORT SPECIFIC’ stretching.   High quality training. 

Hold that finish.  Stretch.  BAM! You’re better. 

*Joe, I also just wanted to congratulate you guys on continuing to do THE DRIVER DRILL, especially in this heat!  You guys rock!!! 

By Definition…..

You can’t be using your muscles, or adding tension with your arms, shoulders and back  to strike the ball and be SWINGING a golf club. 

Chew on that for a while:

Now go out and work on your drills!  HEAVE ALL the tension out and let the club swing with GRAVITY AND ROTATION. 

Finish with a ____________  _______________  ______________  _____________  ____________

I’ll let you fill in the blanks. Answer below:

 

Course Management ‘Spin’

You guys (almost said y’all…  The South is running thicker every day in my blood and I love it!) know that I’m a big advocate of playing ‘smart golf’.  I love Dr. Bob’s philosophy of making cocky swings with a conservative strategy. 

… It doesn’t always work out.  I’ve screwed up plenty of lay ups and safety shots. 

I made a decision many years ago that I would never make the mistake of berating myself after screwing up a conservative play.  Here’s what I mean:

I take a 4 iron off the tee instead of Driver on a short par 4.  I proceed to block slice the 4 iron into a fairway bunker.  When I was a mentally weak player, I would say stuff like, “What an idiot, I knew I should have just gone for it!” or, “I can even hit an easy shot today”. 

Yes, I still get a bit angry or disappointed after the shot, but I’ve learned to recognize that had I hit driver, that bad swing would have put me in far worse position!!! 

I know the odds are with me in the long run.  You’ve got to spin things to keep your confidence high. 

Preparation

Are you prepared to throw, or are you prepared to lift and strike?  It’s an important concept that can make a huge difference in your game.

Are you prepared to swing, or are you preparing to control?  Again, your answer has powerful implications for your game. 

If I see someone gripping the club tight with their right hand (for left handed golfers), I know that their perception is not optimal.  If the right palm is clutching the grip or if the golfer GRABS the club, he/she has a ‘kill’ concept that destroys a swing. 

Remember, the TARGET is ‘out there’ and the objective is to move THROUGH a golf ball, never to strike AT IT.   This is critically important to the consistency of your game!!!

*the grip should be in the fingers, like when throwing a baseball.  If your TARGET is truly ‘out there’, and your INTENTION is to ‘THROW’ the ball out there, you will more naturally give up the tension in the hands and wrists. 

I also see people preparing to control the club.  This flies in the face of a ‘swing’.  It also destroys the forces that best allow the club to stay on path (GRAVITY AND ROTATION).  Many golfers are rigid at address, too perfect with their positions…  They are not set up to SWING! 

It’s a real killer in the short shots.  Look around you.  How many of your fellow golfers are really good short game players?  Hardly any!  The few that are will be more relaxed, and will tend to swing the club rather than control it!  (*that’s a clue)

It make sense to control shots, especially short shots… It just doesn’t work. 

CONCLUSION:  Prepare to throw.  Prepare to swing.  You must give up control to create consistency in your game. 

*Golf is difficult, so even with great intentions, we’ll all screw up a ton of shots.  It is not a reason to go back to gripping tight or controlling the swing!!!!   We KNOW that won’t work. 

PGA Tour: Many Success

Here’s a great comment about the final round at the John Deere Classic-

“I knew watching yesterday that the finish was post worthy. I thought you would take the approach that sometimes your best isn’t good enough. Or, over the course of 72, there are always times when you could do better. I felt bad for my fellow (Clemson)Tiger k Stanley, but Stricker played an exceptional final two holes to beat him. When you lose to someone hitting shots and scoring like that, I guess you just tell yourself, today wasn’t my day, keep practicing and my day is coming.”-Rob

In a sport so deep in talent, I would absolutely agree that great play is sometimes not good enough. 

Thanks for the comment….  And while I’m on the subject-  I want more comments!  Ask questions! Tell me your success’s and your frustrations!!!  If you want to keep it low key, shoot me an email, and I’ll write about it without using your name.  The more you interact, the more I can keep my blog on target for you.