What Every Golfer Wants
What does every golfer want?
Of course, people play the game of golf for different reasons. Some play for fun, to be with friends, relax or be outdoors. Others like the competitive aspect of the game, have a desire to do their best, compete in tournaments or even play at the professional level.
No matter what your reason for playing the game, the desire to play up to one’s potential and shoot lower scores remains a common thread.
Daniel, a 15 handicap, called me last week because he believes he can play better than his scores indicate and he was frustrated by what he called, “the gap between what I know and what I’m doing” on the golf course. Daniel, like many golfers I speak with believes that the mechanics of his golf swing are most important. Daniel also told me that he reads a lot of books on golf and that he believes the “psychology” of the game is also very important. “How much of the game is mental?” I asked. “About 70%”, he said. “How much time do you spend developing that 70%?” I asked. “Not that much”, he replied. This gap caused Daniel to experience inconsistency in his game as it does for golfers of any handicap. Of the players I’ve polled, 95% say the “mental game” IS important yet less than 10% of them formally develop it for a number of reasons which I’ve written about in other articles.
“What if I told you the mental game impacted your performance 100% of the time…and I could prove it?” I asked Daniel. “That’s not possible”, he said. “Why not?” I asked. “What about managing the course and mechanics?” he fired back. “Sure those things are important but it all begins within. Do you want the proof?” “Sure” he dared.
“The mental game, as I teach it, is made up of 4 components. They are; the mind, body, emotions and spirit of every player. The great news is; you already have all of these tools at your disposal and you don’t need to go anywhere to find them. Look at it this way. Even the most highly trained and skilled musician cannot make an out-of-tune instrument sound good. You’re playing to play great music on an instrument that’s out of tune. Tune the instrument, know how to play it and it will sound much better!
Now the proof. Every time you put your hands on the golf club…all four elements are ALWAYS in play. You could try to find a time when they’re not in play but you won’t find it. The truth is; there are predictable and undeniable laws by which your mind, emotions and body produce outcomes, the kind of outcomes you experience on the golf course. They have always been doing this and they always will. You have a choice. You can learn what they are and begin to use them to get what you want or you could ignore them. Either way…they’re still operating. When you put them in sync (in tune) they will allow you to produce your best golf. I know you are hooked on mechanics but it all begins within. The laws function for everyone. There are no exceptions.”
So it is with you. Whether you’re a 30 handicap or +3 index, you can set yourself up to play your best more often. Talent alone will take you only so far. How a person uses their INNER GAME tools is what allows the talent to show up more often. No matter what your current skill level or particular outcomes, bringing the INNER GAME back in sync allows you to experience an improved “outer” game. Every golfer I know wants to play their best and lower their scores.
It all begins within.
Donal Crawley – A Challenge for 2008
I know that we don’t all make “resolutions” at year’s end or, if we do, we rarely stick to them past January 10th. But I am going to challenge you to seven simple, yet practical, resolutions
that will help your game for 2008.
1: Keep it simple
Whatever method, system or theory you employ with your game, keep it simple. The brain can only handle a couple of swing thoughts at a time. The swing only takes 1.2 seconds, so you have to keep those thoughts as modest and uncomplicated as possible, getting right to the point of what must be accomplished.
2: Set a golf goal
If you are a bottom line person, set a numbers goal. That might mean a low score mentality: “I’m going to break a 100, 90, 80 this year.” Set a realistic one, not a distant dream. For most amateur weekend golfers, aiming at improving five strokes per round would be an attainable goal.
3: Be more consistent
Let’s understand what consistency is. Hitting every shot perfect is perfection, not consistency. To be a more consistent golfer, you have to practice and play on a consistent basis. How about one practice session during the week and one round every weekend? Improving your mechanics will produce more good shots and fewer poor ones, as you build a more consistent, repetitive swing action.
4: Build a routine
If you build a repetitive, unswerving, recurring routine for hitting a golf ball, you will help yourself achieve resolution #3. Building a routine simply means you are following a set of pre-shot steps.
Visualizing the shot can mean no more than seeing, in your mind’s eye, a shot airborne and going forward. Only at the top “Tiger” level are we seeing a high fade falling two yards softly to the right at the end of a 220-yard high, screaming 5-iron. That is Tiger, not you. Where you are concerned, aim the club face before you take your stance. Keep your posture tall and athletic. Plug in your one simple
5: Evaluate your game
Break the game into four areas: driving, fairway play, short approach shots and putting. Which needs the most help? Often, people complain about their score yet never work on their putting, that facet of play which contributes to 30-40 percent of the game.
Rate each area by your own standards (being objectively fair) and find time to work on your weaknesses this year, striving to establish a more balanced game.
6: Get some help
Take a lesson. Very few good golfers are self-taught. To improve, you need another pair of eyes to help you see what is real, not just what you feel.
Make sure this “help” is from a qualified professional and not the buddy who shoots 100+ and with whom you play every Saturday morning. You know, the friend who tries to explain what he saw the pros doing the other day watching them compete on TV.Not going to happen.
7: Be committed
Not to an asylum for the golf obsessed, but be committed to every shot. Remember, you have a 50/50 chance over every shot. You could either hit it or miss it. It could be good or bad. Take a chance and infuse a positive, committed attitude over every shot. Don’t labor over it; just be more confident than
you have been in the past. Practice will help that along.
Select one of these seven resolutions, or all of them, and put them into practice as the year unfolds. You may be looking forward to your most successful golf season ever in 2008. Most of all enjoy the
beauty of this game.
Two L\‘s for Perfect Practice by Jason Carbone
By Jason Carbone
One of the staple exercises at the Jim McLean Golf School is the L to L drill. The reason this drill is so great is because it can give you perfect feedback about both your clubface and swing path.
From a relaxed address position, swing the club away to chest high (3/4 position). This is your first checkpoint. At this point, your hands should be in a corridor of success that is in front of your right chest. Really the corridor is from your shirt buttons to your right bicep. If your hands are anywhere in that area, they swing away on a descent path.
The second checkpoint at chest high is where the shaft is pointing. If you put a tee in the vent hole of the grip and swing to chest high, the tee should point at the target line or slightly inside it. The tee should never point well outside the target line, nor should it point straight down toward your feet. If you meet the two checkpoints for hands and shaft, your backswing is great.
Now swing forward to chest high on your follow through. Look for the exact same checkpoints as the swing away. If your hands are somewhere between the center of your chest and LEFT bicep (mirror image on forward swing), then your hands probably swung through on a descent path. The most common mistake we see at the school is for the tee to be pointing more toward a student’s feet at this point, rather than the target line. If the tee in the grip is pointed back toward the target line, then you can be certain the clubface was completely released, and there will be very little curve on the ball. If the tee is pointed toward your feet, you will most likely see a slice. If the tee is pointed well to the right of the target line, you will most likely see a hook.
Practice this drill and I know you will see more consistent ball striking. Look for our section in the next issue to learn and understand how our teaching philosophy has allowed us to be ranked as the #1 golf school in the country.
Editor’s Note: We’ve found this drill is a great way to warm up before playing. It seems to help the player develop a good rhythm and ball contact quite quickly. Give it a try and let us know your results!
The Right Fit
By Dave Pelz
Imagine wearing shoes that are too small and hurt your feet but you keep them on because the price was right or they’re in style. Crazy? Golfers do something like this all the time by using putters that don’t fit.
Maybe the putter was a gift or it looked good in the store. Doesn’t matter. Putters are like shoes: If they don’t fit, they hurt! I don’t mean a putter will hurt you physically, but it will hurt your game. And that pain can be even worse.
Some golfers even spend years trying to use a putter that was built to fit someone else: They adjust their stance and stroke to fit the putter instead of the other way around.
To do your best on the greens, you need a putter that is custom-fit to your body size, stance, and stroke. Here’s what to look for.
The Angle Doesn’t Lie
I’ve taken my preferred putting posture—eyes above the putting line (Aimline) and hands directly under my shoulders. As you can see by where the grip touches my hands, both putters are the proper length. But neither has the right lie angle—the angle of the shaft coming out of the head: One is too upright (above my hands), the other too flat (below my hands). Having spent years developing a stroke that swings my hands under my shoulders (so the putter moves straight back and through along my Aimline), I’m not about to use a putter that forces my hands onto another path.
Just as important is to keep my eyes directly above the line, the position that produces the most accurate putter aim. When both my eyes and hands are in these ideal positions, and my posture (back angle) is comfortable, a properly-fit putter (correct lie angle and length) will slip perfectly into my hands.
Body Putter Basics
If you use a “body putter”—like Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Paul Azinger, and many other pros—length and lie angle remain important. From this photo (right) you can see that a more upright putter moves me closer to the ball. You may be able to find a body putter lie and shaft length that positions your eyes
above the Aimline.
If you’re considering a longer putter, spend a few minutes in the shop trying different lengths. Then take a few putters to the practice green and put each one through a 10– to 15–minute putting session. That should be enough time to learn which length and lie angle works best for you. You may want to ask your pro to check your hand and eye positions and watch your stroke mechanics.
On the Leather
Many golfers switching to long putters neglect to check grip position (below). The grip must be at the correct height on the shaft so your hands are “on the leather” without any adjustments. Your pro should be able to replace a grip that doesn’t fit you perfectly.
Stick with Your Pick
Now that you know what a properly fit putter looks like, I suggest finding two (or more) that suit your body and posture—one with a conventional-length shaft, the other with a longer shaft. Take them to the practice putting green and test your feel and performance with each one: Measure the percentage of short putts (3- to 6- footers) holed and how close you lag the long ones (from 40 to 60 feet). Play enough contests or games with both until you know which one lets you putt best.
As soon as you are sure which one is better, commit to that putter for the rest of the year. Use it when you practice and when you play: Don’t even touch another putter! You want to become totally comfortable and secure with your one and only.
It’s just like wearing shoes that fit and make your feet feel good. Use a putter that fits and you’ll be thrilled as putt after putt finds the hole.
Common Sense Learning from the Experts
By Russ Christ
Numbers don’t lie.
In fact, statistics tell us that of people who play 50 rounds of golf or more a year, only three percent of them actually see a real person for help, as opposed to reading an article like this one.
Why not do both?
Golf instructors Scott Sackett and Tyler Kirkendoll would like those numbers to change. They are experts (some students may even toss around the word “genius”) in what they do: helping people improve their golf games.
We asked Sackett, a GOLF Magazine “Top 100 Teacher” since 1997, and Kirkendoll, a bio-mechanics expert at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix, to share their thoughts on a variety of subjects including leverage, grip, the pelvis or “core,” adjusting to a new move, getting behind the ball and the both believe that improvements are easily within reach of even casual golfers.
Kirkendoll has a total understanding of range of motion and muscular structure. His strength is his ability to recognize how to help golfers maximize capability. Over the course of his 21-year career in golf, Sackett, currently the director of instruction at the PGA TOUR Golf Academy, has worked at Legend Trail Golf Club in Scottsdale, Dobson Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, Fiddlesticks in Tempe and Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.He currently teaches at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale. Students for both men include PGA and LPGA players, 20 handicappers and even PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Readers may be surprised and occasionally find humor with the knowledge these two notable teachers have accumulated, so we decided to turn on a tape recorder and find out firsthand.
This piece is the first in a series of articles that will run in Arizona, The State of Golf and on the AGA’s website (www.azgolf.org.) Topics will include Sackett and Kirkendoll’s
candid observations on equipment, posture, body type, physical conditioning, swing mechanics and scoring improvement.
What’s Non-Negotiable in a Golf Swing?
1. Creating Leverage
Sackett: Anything you do with authority in any sport requires you be behind the object, whether it’s hitting a tennis ball, hitting a home run, throwing a ball 100 miles per hour or hitting a golf ball.We’re not single axis people.We have a right leg and a left leg. If you’re right handed you have to shift your weight from the right to the left, load and unload.
You have to be behind the object if you’re going to hit it with power. Period. Not open to discussion.
Kirkendoll: What we call that factor in a mechanical way is shortening the radius. If I’m going to propel an object, the body always pulls. It doesn’t push. With a golf swing the thing that transfers the speed to the tip of the club is the rapid deceleration of the center of the body.
On one level you have to be in front of the club at some point, but at impact, as speed is transferred to the tip of the swinging mechanism, you absolutely must be behind it. It’s a simple law of physics. Unfortunately, most golfers are in front of the ball, and they start their swings in front of it. The result is a weaker swing.
Where Should You Start?
1. Encourage a Strong Grip
SS: I like a “V” at the right shoulder, but not at the chin. The grip is really important. The average person can error huge with a strong grip, but you can’t error as much with a weak grip.
2. Control the Pelvis
TK: Control your center. That’s No. 1. If the goal of the golfer is real change, then he must learn how to control the pelvis. The secret of the downswing is that it starts from the core, or center, of the body.We divide the body into three major zones: the pelvis, the shoulder girdle and the arms (as a structure). The proximal pieces dictate the positions of the distal pieces.What I mean is that your hips tell us the possible range your shoulders can go through, which tells us the possible range your arms can go through. If I can move your hips I can move your arms, but not necessarily the other way around.
3. Have the Upper Body Tilted Back Behind the Golf Ball at Address for Virtually Every Club
SS: When I do my golf schools, 95 percent of the students stand over the top of the golf ball. That’s dead wrong. But the good thing is once you can get someone tilted properly it’s virtually impossible to do a reverse pivot.
TK: The perception among most people is that they are behind the ball. But the good instructor is going to give them feedback. It’s trial and error. The teacher says, “We need to get you behind the golf ball.” They try it and the teacher says, okay, but “not exactly.” The student eventually responds from the feedback given by the teacher. “If people’s perceptions were accurate, they would do the right thing; but, perceptions do not reflect reality. Once a player understands how to get behind the ball, and learns to hit it from there (not easy for most people at first) golf becomes much,much easier.”
How Do You Get the Average Person to Feel Comfortable with a New Movement?
SS: I always try to tie a visual into it. Everyone knows what good looks like. If they know it looks good they’ll get there. But, when I move you, and I don’t care what I move, that golf ball is going to be in a new place. You have to find it again. And that’s where some of the frustration comes after a lesson…learning to “find” the golf ball with your new swing sequence.
TK: I agree. Have them look at the video if necessary. If they accept the video and once they understand (the change) they’ll say something like, “wow, how did I ever hit it?” Then I’ll answer, “You know, that’s what I was thinking.”
One wonderful teaching technique is called “exercising the contract.” Here’s where you were and here’s where you are going. “Do you feel the difference?” If you’re a feel player, when you’re at your best you get to the point where you feel very little. You look at the situation, you conjure up a response that is appropriate and then you execute. The idea is to keep doing it because like anything, the more you experience it the less sensitive you are to the difference and the more “comfortable” it becomes.