Conquering FEAR in Golf

Hitting the ball short of the hole is a constant problem for amateurs. Off all the challenges I face on the links, under-clubbing is the most frustrating and obvious in my game. Using the wrong club can stem from many reasons, but for me it boils down to one thing. FEAR of going long! Yup, that is it. For some reason I am afraid to hit the ball past the hole or even worse over the back of the green.

As of right now, this FEAR is over! I choose not to let this FEAR influence my game anymore! I am exposing this dark cloud to the sunshine and making it disappear!

There are many reasons I can accept for playing a short approach shot. A poor lie, small green, blind approach shot, being outside of 175 yards or poor playing conditions. These challenges are realities while playing golf and proper course management usually helps reduce their effect on my game. Occasionally, I can accept misjudging something that results in a short approach shot, but none of the above cause any real frustration in my round of golf! But, hitting the ball short of the hole because of being afraid of hitting it long….well lets just say it really affects my next shot.

Sam Snead Fear

It is time for a change! Proper mental preparation will help me conquer my FEAR of hitting the ball long on approach shots. I must reframe the feeling of hitting the ball long from anxious to relaxed. To accomplish this, I believe that visualization will be the key. As I wait for the golf season to start, I mentally and physically prepare to play golf. This year, my mental preparation will include visualizing hitting the ball to hole on every approach shot!

If there is a situation on the golf course that causes you to feel uncomfortable or afraid, now is the time to address it! It is time to rip off that Band-Aid!

Personally, I like to use visualization. Others like to use positive self-talk to reframe the tough situation. Others hit the range using focused practice. Regardless which method you choose, you have accomplished the toughest part – deciding to make a change.

Improving your golf game is very much about conquering FEAR. Mine is mostly centred around hitting the ball short of the hole. I am choosing to make a positive change!

How about you? Are you ready for a positive change?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Let the Games Begin!

No Caddie RacesThe Waste Management Phoenix Open starts in two days. This tournament has been one of my favorites over the years because of the caddie races and the interaction of the players with the golfing fans. Unfortunately, my excitement is waning for this event. The first blow came in 2013 when they cancelled the caddie races and to add salt to my wounds, this year, the players are not allowed to give out swag on the 16th hole. I guess the over indulging and exuberant fans were taking away from the real reason they were there; to watch professional golf.

This year, after a 14 year hiatus from the Waste Management tournament, Tiger Woods chose this event to return to professional golf after 10 months of rehab. He and Chris Como, his new swing coach, will be trying to make their way back into the winners circle. I do not expect too much from Woods this weekend, but it will be great to see him golfing again.

Other notables like Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet will be teeing it this weekend. If they have anything to do with it, Woods triumphant return will be short lived. Woods, Spieth, and Reed will be playing partners for the two days and Mickelson and Fowler will be in another group. I am pretty sure the coverage of both days will focus on these players regardless of how they are playing.

As this weekend unfolds, I expect plenty of media coverage to focus on the 16th hole. This is one of the best holes in golf. The stadium just enhances the atmosphere for the fans. It looks like a Roman Coliseum where to people go crazy as the gladiators enter the field of battle. Well that was before the PGA cancelled caddie races and swag give away….but I transgress. It is still one of my favorite holes in golf.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open should be a great tournament this weekend. I know who is my favorite. But what I really want to know is who is yours?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

Golf Grip – Strong, Weak or Neutral

The golf grip is the singularly most important choice any amateur golfer makes. The slightest change to the position of the hands has a tremendous impact on whether the ball finishes in the woods or in the middle of the fairway.  Focusing on how to hold a golf club is the first step to developing a great golf swing. After choosing how to hold your hands on the club, it is now time to experiment with your hand position to decide if you need to use a strong, weak or neutral grip.

Determining if you naturally hold the club in a strong or weak way is determined by the thumb and index finger of each hand (Vs). A strong grip, the Vs are right of the centre of the shaft. As a visual cue, you can see the knuckles of your left hand. A neutral grip, the Vs are down the center line of the shaft and you can see three knuckles on each hand. A weak grip, the Vs are left of center and you can see the knuckles of your right had. (The above description is for a right-handed player; the opposite is true for a left-handed player)

Strong Golf-grips

Strong, Neutral or Weak grip. Which is best for you?

 

A strong grip has several benefits: it closes the club face on impact, helps players draw the ball and can help players with an inside-out swing. Golf Magazine’s “The Best Driving Instruction Book Ever” recommends the strong grip for amateurs with fast hips. Fast hips force the club head to lag behind on contact resulting in an open face.  Using a strong grip reduces the tendency to push or slice the ball. The club face will close with a strong grip and allows for a natural draw.

A neutral grip is generally used by players who have all aspects of their swing in order. The neutral grip helps a player to ‘shape the ball’ easier, but it takes practice to find the proper technique to make that happen. Golf Magazine recommends players with medium hip speed to use the neutral grip.

A weak grip has its benefits as well. It produces a natural fade and recomended for players with an out to inside swing plane. Golf Magazine recommends that players with slow hips use a weak grip to center the club face being closed on impact. Slow hips force the club head in front of your body on contact and by using a weak grip, it reduces the tendency to pull or hook the ball.

Choosing how to hold a golf club that best suits your swing is important to success on the links. Employing a strong, neutral, or weak grip is an important step to building a strong swing foundation. Determining which grip is best for you will require some effort on the practice range. Once you have found what works best for your, lower scores will in your future.

I use a neutral grip. Through the years of trial and error, the neutral grip continues to make its way back into my swing. This year, however, I am going to experiment with a strong grip. It might increase my distance off the tee, but more importantly to increase my course management options.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.