Growth in Your Golf Game

Well my move is done. Due to other priorities, I have not touched a club in 11 days. This was expected and given the countless tasks involved in moving, golf was not really at the top of my to-do list.

Is the ball half in or half out?

But now it is time to get back to hitting the links. I wonder what this early break will do to my momentum. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, ot will be important to keep focused and to understand that there is a potential for growth in my game.
As I prepare to return to golf, it is important to keep three things in mind. These mental and physical actions are proven my processes to ensure that my golf game has not fallen toonfar off the rails. 

First, manage my expectations. I have not practiced, physically trained or mental thoight of golf in 11 days. Therefore, I cannot expect to play as well as I was before the break. Of course I will play to play well, but I will not allow my ego to elevate my expectations of how well I will play.

Second, follow my preshot routine on every shot. My routine will force my mind and body to remember quicker that I am golfing. It will help with my course management and iron out the kinks in my game.

Lastly, have fun! This is probably the most important of the three. I am golfing again and enjoying the moment while on the links is always important to maintaining a positive attitude on thw links.

As I venture on to a new course with old friends, I will look for opportunities to grow my game. Because this is a new course, I must approach my game differently. I am hoping it is for the better in the long run. Changing course has not detered my intention to be a scratch golfer, in fact, it has increased it. 

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

Adjusting to Slow Play in Golf

Jim FinishThe natural flow of a round of golf is something I think is very important to low scores. This flow includes all aspects of your round and must be flexible. Previously, I mention that I use techniques adjust to a slower round, especially during tournament play. These techniques work for me hopefully you will find them useful.

It is important to understand that staying within your natural flow as much as possible during a slow round is important to great golf. Even though the play is slow, the following things I never change:

  • Preshot routine – regardless of what is happening around me or how long I have to wait, I never change my preshot routine. Same routine and same tempo through each shot.
  • Walking to your ball – I walk to my ball at my normal speed. Keeping my same speed helps with my natural flow and preshot routine. Sometimes I have to wait for others to hit, but that is normal. If I am waiting for quite a while see the points below I use to help pass the time. (Attention – if everyone is always waiting for you….well maybe it is time to speed up a bit)
  • Club Distance – knowing generally how far I hit a specific club never changes. The exact yardage may vary slightly depending on conditions, but for the most part, my club distance will never change.
  • Course Management – I try to play within my capabilities all the time. If I never draw the ball, as an example, I do not attempt in during the middle of my round regardless of how inviting the shot may be.

After ensuring the four points above never change, I still find that I still have lots of time to kill before it is my turn. To lower my frustration in these moments, here is what I do:

  • Carry a wet towel – I use a wet towel to clean my golf ball before I putt. I generally clean my ball every 3 or 4 holes, but now it is at every green.
  • Clean your clubs after every shot – I know most of you will say that I should be doing that anyway, however I am talking about giving it a good cleaning. This takes a few moments longer and allows players to get a head start before I walk to my ball.
  • Examine the conditions – while waiting for my turn to hit, I take a closer look at the wind, my lie, the lay for the hole and the location of the pin. Most of the time I do this while walking to my ball, but when things are slow, I wait until I get to my ball on the fairway.
  • Have a snack or drink– I keep some food in my bag. Just snack food or the odd sandwich. I also carry plenty of water. I find that on slow rounds I need to keep my strength and having liquids or food helps pass the time and keep me energized.
  • Stay mentally focused – I hum a tune in my head. It varies from round to round, but it keeps me in the moment. When I am waiting, I find music helps pass the time way. It keeps me calm and relaxed.

The above mentioned techniques are probably not a big surprise to most of you avid or competitive golfers. They work very well for me and the list is definitely not an all-inclusive one.

I would interested in what techniques to you use to keep the slow play monster from bothering your game?

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


Focused Putting

Have you ever played a round of golf when you could not sink a putt? Most of you said ‘of course’! Have you ever played a round of golf when you seemed to drain your putts from everywhere? A few less ‘of course’ was just spoken. What was the difference between the two rounds? Most will say the mental game was the difference and that would be true, however I suggest it was your focus when putting.

On the days when they are putting awesome, most players will sink or lag their putts on their first two greens. Suddenly, the player is feeling ‘it’ (what ever it is) and they start to pay closer attention to the factors of the green that are important to making great putts. But, why do most golfers wait until they have a good start before practicing focused putting.

Other sports have the same moment during the game when the player must focus differently. In basketball – the free throw; in tennis – the serve; in darts – doubling out; and in volleyball – the serve; all of these sports require a focused effort to perform a specific skill; golf is no different.

Focused putting can be achieved by anyone at any time. It is a simple skill. It all starts on the practice range. I talked about the 3-6-9 putting drill in earlier posts and that will definitely help; but the skill for focused putting is a pre-shot routine! It is important to develop a pre-shot routine to trigger your entire body and mind that focused putting is required. This routine is yours alone and there is no wrong way to do it. Watch Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, two completely different styles with a similar result.

Like other sports, a pre-shot routine is very important to duplicate success. Do you have a pre-shot routine for putting? If not, why not?

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

Visualizing a Shot

Visualizing a shot in golf can be very difficult.  You can search, ask, apply and observe ways to visualize a golf shot, but it may just seem a bit overwhelming.  This skill is one of the most important to great success on the links.

Just watch the Pros pre-shot routine.  They look at all the elements that would affect their shot, choose a club, then stand behind the ball.  Then they just stop.  Focus and visualize the entire shot.  For just a few seconds they zero in on the target and eliminate all distractions.  Just like Bobby Jones in the movie Bagger Vance.

So how does a golfer achieve such clarity and focus?  Each person has the ability to visualize, but it does take practice.  The following are the steps that I go through to visualize shots:

  1. look at the lie of the ball;
  2. check my yardage;
  3. check the wind;
  4. check the elevation of the green;
  5. check the location of the pin;
  6. choose my target;
  7. select my club;
  8. stand over my ball;
  9. take one practice swing;
  10. move to 3 steps behind my ball;
  11. look at my ball – then my target;
  12. draw a mental line from my ball to my target;
  13. focus on the trajectory I need;
  14. return to the ball; then
  15. execute my shot.

The steps may seem like a long process, but all of this happens in 10 seconds or so. Steps 10 – 13 take about 4-5 seconds and is the real visualization portion of my golf shot. It is important to know that visualization is an intentional act.  For me, it is important to do my pre-shot routine because it sets me up the visualization portion of my shot. There is no question that visualizing my shot has enable me to be a single digit golfer. Moving forward, refining my Visualization skills is going to be key to becoming a scratch golfer.

Do you visualize your golf shot?

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