Building Your Golf Game From the Ground Up

Don’t let the title confuse you into thinking that your stance is the first part of your golf swing you have to master. Although it is very important, it is only one component of your golf game. A golf game is made up of four basic parts, each is as important as the other. Leaving out any of the four does lead to under achievement and immense frustration.

Before you start laughing, think about your golf swing; now focus on playing golf. After a moment, I bet you only come up with three components. These would be considered the low hanging fruit and easy to discern. But, pray tell is that fourth component that makes all the difference!

Before I tell you my secret, let’s review the first three. You may call them something else, but here is how I see it.

  • Physical. This is made of your stance, grip, swing, weight shift, etc. It is all those physical aspects of playing golf. This is probably the most talked about segment of anyone’s golf game. The lions of golf understand this part of their game better than at any time in golf history. Fitness is a priority and we can thank Tiger Woods for this change in professional golf.
  • Mental. The ability to course manage your game. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is key to success within the professional ranks. Bashing the ball as far as you can has merit in some cases, however many players are hitting fairway woods and long irons off the tee to get into position for their next shot. Of all the recent Major champions, I believe Zach Johnson has the best course management game. He is not overly long off the tee, but he seems to know when to press on the gas. Hence, his Masters and Open Championships require two divergent ways to manage his game, yet he won.
  • Emotional. Controlling your emotions is very important to shooting low golf scores. Reacting in a calm and controlled manner regardless of the situation is critical to success on the links. Everyone gets frustrated from time to time, but how we handle this frustration says a fair bit about our game. In the modern era, I believe Jack Nicklaus is the best example of controlling his emotions on the golf course. His Masters win at 46 years old was text-book example of keeping ones cool under immense pressure. If I was to pick a player today who seems unflappable, I would go with Dustin Johnson. He is almost robotic at times.

The above three components of golf are talked about until the subjects almost get stale. Yet, they are the foundation of great golf, but there is that one thing often overlooked that turns a great golfer into a legend! Most of the top players have it to some degree, but for those it comes naturally too are revered! The last topic is an intangible.

  • Cerebral. The ability to see a shot out of nothing! It is a very important quality innate in every player. These are players would be considered natural shot makers. They seem to see the probably from a shot and make the impossible possible. I think this is the fourth aspect of a golf game that turns a good golfer into a great golfer. Players like Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Phil Mickelson are naturals. Tiger Woods definitely had it; however the player who exemplifies this quality the best was Moe Norman. His unconventional swing did not matter. If he could envision the shot, he could make it! This quality empowers golfers to play without fear and to embrace the risk/reward situations with gusto. Being cerebral on the golf course is a difference maker to your score.

All four parts of your golf game are important. We all have these parts to our game in varying degree and generally, the first three are very obvious. However, the real great golfers are those who also have the cerebral trait in abundance. I am not sure if this trait can be taught or it is a natural thing, but for certain, we all know it when we see it.

If you do not believe me, check this video out:

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

4 thoughts on “Building Your Golf Game From the Ground Up

  1. Jim,

    I agree that having the ability to visualize shots is fundamental for playing at a high level. Very undervalued skill and a very underrated golfer in Moe Norman who I’m personally a big fan of. Great insight as usual.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim, as soon as you unlock the vision secret please share! I struggle with this especially around the greens. For some reason I’m much too rehearsed in all aspects of my short game. Would love to “feel” more shots but just don’t know how to foster that. BTW, Jack was 46 when he won in 1986.



    Liked by 1 person

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