New Season, New Goals

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

This game is crazy. Incredible shots are sometimes followed by the most awful shots imaginable. But it seems every round has a reason to come back. Maybe it’s a great finishing drive. Or maybe the worst front nine turns into the best back nine and you salvage a round. Or maybe you see one of your friends hit the shot of their life.

Things are finally warming up in the northeast. My course opened yesterday, and I’m playing on Saturday.  I’ve been looking forward to this all winter, especially this winter. This was the most brutal winter in recent memory.

Anyway, I’ve decided I want to keep it simple this season so for now I have just 2 goals. I’m sure this will evolve throughout the season but it’s a place to start.

1) Learn AimPoint Express.

I especially like the express part. No more taking too long to read a putt. You get some you fell the slope, maybe in more than 1 spot, depending on the putt. Pick your number. Line it up and hit it. Seems much easier than looking at the hole from every angle, walking around, or relying on someone else’s read. It should be quick and accurate from what I’ve seen. Now to put it in play and see how it really goes.

2) Fix my driving.

I feel like I’ve said this every year for the past, well every year since I got back into golf. I feel like I’ve figured something out. And that I’ll actually be able to release the club.

So there are my goals. We’ll see on Saturday how things start to shape up. Being the first round of the season I can’t be expecting awesome results. Will take some time to get the rust out.

BTW and just show how much rust is out there take a look at these stats from a recent trip to Golfsmith.

Way off line with driver
First hitting session at Golfsmith this season

Play well and good luck.

Do you expect things to go as planned?

I saw this post earlier today and I couldn’t help thinking how much it relates to golf and the way we approach it.

http://lifehacker.com/5832020/ambition-becomes-counter+productive-when-you-expect-things-to-go-as-planned

So often, we set high expectations for ourselves, especially when we’ve been working hard on a particular aspect of our game, like chipping, putting, or driving.  Then when things don’t go as planned we stop having fun.

The problem is that this way of approaching the game, makes it harder to perform well.  It gets in the way.  Or rather, our expectations get in the way.

I want to make a distinction between this and confidence.  You can have confidence without expectations getting in the way.  Confidence is a great thing to have.  In fact it’s what we want to develop in our game.  We want to have confidence that we can hit the shot we’ve committed to hitting.  But I think the greatest confidence comes from knowing that you’ll be all right even if things don’t go as planned.

Watching tournaments on tv you’ll often hear players who are playing well talking about the way they felt during the round.  They knew that even if they missed some shots, that they’d be able to get up and down.  This kept them in the moment.

You’ll see the opposite from players who are playing poorly.  Every bad shot is an arrow through the heart of their confidence.  Every bad shot makes them more miserable.  Frustration sets in and bad shots begin to pile up.

It’s not easy to play without expectations.  But I’ve found a few techniques that help.

1) Focus on this shot right now.  Forget about what happened on the last shot, or the last hole, or the front nine.

2) Make a conscious realization that if the shot doesn’t go as planned, you’ll still be ok.  Golf isn’t life or death.  It’s a game.  It’s a maddening game, but it’s just a game.  Learning to let go of the outcome is incredibly powerful for many reasons.

Rickie Fowler – He gets it

Watching Morning Drive this morning, I was in total agreement with the comments that Brandel Chamblee (@BrandelChamblee) made about Rickie Fowler.

“You understand the best way to play golf, this is my opinion, is to go out there and try to hit shots…You know,it’s the big lie to me, that you can go out there and swing perfectly.  And I understand why guys do it.  I mean literally they’re trying to play this game in the most organized fashion, there’s so much money out there, and if you can stay on tour a long time, you can get ridiculously rich. So what are you gonna do? You’re gonna work out, you’re gonna get a sports psychologist And you’re going to take all these lessons ’cause you want everything to be perfect. And Rickie’s like ‘No, I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna hit golf shots. I’m gonna hit it high, I’m gonna hit it low, I’m gonna draw it, fade it.’  And I know it’s because of the way he was taught the game. His teacher was very much into hitting golf shots. And that’s why he plays fast.  Because he’s not out there thinking about a pre-shot routine, and he’s not out there thinking about swing mechanics. He’s out there thinking about golf shots.”

There’s a ton of wisdom in what Brandel said this morning.  This is why Rickie is the future of golf.  And I think he is going to stun us with what he is going to accomplish in his career.

I want to contrast this style of play with Tiger Woods.  And my intention is not to bash Tiger but to look at differences.

Tiger Woods when he was dominant could hit every shot in the book and then some.  He created that famous stinger and it appears he doesn’t even have that shot any more.  Tiger said he is thinking about his swing and swing mechanics now before every shot and it looks that way.  When he gets off track, he goes into repair mode, and it’s mechanics, mechanics, mechanics.  The artfulness seems to be have left him, at least for now.

On the other hand, Rickie Fowler (and several other players, most notably Bubba Watson), look like golf artists.  They see shots, and they hit shots.  They use the golf course as their canvas and they create masterpieces of golf.  Plus they’re really fun to watch.

So where does this leave us (the amateur golfer)?  Well, for one, I know when I’m playing my best it’s when I’m seeing and hitting shots and when I’m not thinking about mechanics.  There are times when golf seems so much easier.  Conversely, when I’m playing poorly, it’s all about mechanics.  The swing ends up feeling like it’s separate from me. And it feels forced.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you know that I’ve moved away from mechanics to a feel based approach, where I not only see the shots I’m trying to create, but try to feel what it’ll feel like to hit them.  And every shot is unique and feels differently.  This makes golf more fun, and the end result for me has been better scores, more fun, and not having to practice as much.

Other posts about Rickie Fowler:

Pro’s slow motion swings

Rickie Fowler – a result of Consistent Coaching

Stuck in a slump?

Never give up

Never Give Up
Never Give Up

GMac’s victory at the Chevron this weekend over Tiger Woods is a wonderful example of not giving up.

He continued fighting even as things seemed to be breaking down around him.  His miraculous bogey on 17 kept him in it.  Tiger then hit it tight on 18 giving McDowell a must make putt with a lot of pressure. He made a gritty 15 footer for birdie putting the pressure on Tiger’s short putt.

On the first playoff hole, as they played 18 again, Tiger left himself with an almost identical distance for his approach shot.  Graham had a shot from about 175 over the trees.  He hit a good shot and left himself a nearly identical putt to the one he made to force the playoff.

Tiger Woods hit a solid approach shot inside McDowell’s ball giving him an advantage.  As we all know, McDowell sank that putt again putting the pressure back on Tiger and Tiger’s putt slid past the cup, giving GMac an impressive victory.

I can’t really think of many people who would handle the pressure the way he did.  Think about how you would have handled the pressure.  I was absolutely amazed at the gritty resilience that GMac showed.  I know I couldn’t have handled that kind of pressure and it is inspiring for me.

I want to give you another example of not giving up.  In one of my last rounds this year I started out 7 over par for my first 9 holes.  Throughout those first nine, I just could not find my game.  My short game was off, my putting was off and my ball striking was off.  It was very frustrating.

I could have easily given up and gotten mad.  I could have complained about the weather, or the pace of play.  But stuck it out.  I determined that I was going to enjoy the rest of the round no matter what.

The back nine turned into the best nine holes I’ve had all season, scoring wise.  It was a real grinding round though.  On my tenth I hole missed the fairway way right.  I hit a short iron over the trees, onto the green and two putted for par.

On the next hole, a downhill par 5 with trouble right, I hit my tee shot into the right rough, laid up, missed the green short right with my approach from 115 but I managed to chip it to 8 feet and sink the putt for par.

The next hole brought the first birdie of the round along with the only fairway hit. Hit the green and sank a 10 footer for birdie.  The next hole is the number one handicap hole on the course.  I hit my drive through the fairway just missing a fairway bunker.  With 145 yards left, I hit an 8 iron to 10 feet and sank my 2nd birdie putt of the day.

The following hole brought me back to reality a bit.  A long par 3 with trouble left and long.  I hit my tee shot way right, hit a fat chip, chipped again into the bunker, splashed out on to the green and 2 putted for a double bogey 5.  I’m not going to lie to you, that one hurt.

On the next hole I hit a long straight drive that ended up in the rough through the fairway.  I had a decent lie and 225 yards left to a severely uphill par 5 green.  I took out my fairway wood and hit a solid shot out of the rough that came up 15 yards short of the green in the rough.  Chipped up and 2 putted for par.

The next hole, a dog leg right par 4 with severely tree trouble at the dog leg was next.  I hit a decent tee shot that got slightly past the dog leg but left me in the rough with a large overhanging tree.  I needed to hit a low shot that would get to the back of the green.  I hit a 3/4 6 iron from 155 that just got through the back of the green.  I had a decent lie so I opted for the hybrid chip and the ball stopped 2 inches from the cup.  Tap in par and on to the next hole.

The eighth hole on this back 9 is an uphill par 3 that reads 195 on the card but plays more like 205 – 215.  Although I was trying for a draw to the left side of the green, I left the club face open and the ball ended up down the right side.  I was left with a shot off hard pan, to a green 20 yards above my head and overhanging trees.  After much deliberation I selected a lofted club.  I hit a good shot and got a nice break off a branch that left the ball 4 feet from the cup.  I made the putt.

I call the last hole my nemesis.  It’s a hole that for some reason always gives me trouble.  It’s a long uphill par 4 with one of the toughest greens on the course.  I usually feel pretty good if I walk away with a bogey.  I hit my drive long, but right onto the next fairway.  I was left with a 200 yard shot over trees to a pin tucked on the right, 2 bunkers right in front of it.  The wind was swirling and in the end I picked a 4 iron.  I hit a good shot, but the wind killed it a bit and I ended up in the bunker, short sided to the pin.  My bunker play had recently been a strength so I felt the shot I wanted to hit.  I got cute with it and dumped it into the rough short of the hole.  Feeling par slip away, I took my PW and hoped to get it close.  Miraculously the shot went in and I saved my par.

On that back nine I hit 1 fairway in regulation, had a 1 chip in, and a grand total of 11 putts.  I don’t think that would have happened if I had given up after the first nine.  In the end I walked away feeling great.

Never give up.  You never know what can happen.

Lessons from the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone

This week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational provided a unique learning experience.

Did their expectations do them in?

We saw the world’s number one player, struggle to his worst finish as a professional, while the number two player in the world was coping with a new kind of pressure, the chance to take the number spot away from Tiger Woods.

So why weren’t Tiger and Phil able to muster anything better than +7 and +8 respectively?  Was the course unfair?  Hunter Mahan shot a 64 on Sunday to win by two shots.  Goosen, Furyk, Harrington and Oosthuizen had good rounds in the mid 60s.  So I would say that the course was not unfairly setup.

I think two things happened.  It appeared that Mickelson became very technical. His swing wasn’t as fluid and powerful as he usually is.  And his putting was shaky at best.

I think Tiger phoned it in.  He had given up hope, he had lost his fight, and he just wanted to get out of there.

What’s interesting about the Tiger story for me is that he had felt that his game was where it needed to be.  He thought that he had found some keys to playing well again.  He also had a lot of confidence from the venue itself.  He had won 7 out of the last 10 times he played without finishing worse than 4th.  Given all those factors he came into the event expecting to contend, if not outright dominate.

Could Tiger’s expectations been his downfall?  Where they realistic based on the amount and the way he’s played this year?  Did he put pressure on himself in a way that he’s never really done?

Lesson learned

As a golfer who is working his game down to scratch (though I still have a way to go), I got a lot out of watching this event.  Surprisingly the lesson I came away with was to be kinder and more patient with myself.  If the world’s #1 and #2 players, can have days like those, why am I expecting so much of myself?  Why don’t I just play the game, shot by shot, and see where that takes me?

Recently I had worked really hard to prepare for my local city championship.  It was my first time qualifying for the event at the Championship division, meaning there was no handicap.  I prepared for several weeks, and felt my game was ready for the event.  I ended up playing some of my worst golf in recent memory in those two days and missed the cut by a wide margin, and although I can’t draw a direct comparison to what happened with Tiger and Phil, I believe I can learn from what I saw this week at the WGC.

It is frustrating to show up at the course without the game you know you are capable of.  It is even more frustrating when it is a tournament situation and you realize you just don’t have it that day.  How can you turn it around?  How can you post a good score, when you don’t have it, and how do you change what you are thinking so that you can change the experience?

Days like that happen to everyone.  If you come in with high expectations you automatically put more pressure on yourself.  But you can’t come into it with low expectations either.  I think one of the hardest things to do is to set aside your expectations and just play the game.

There’s a lesson in every shot

As I kept thinking about what the way Tiger and Phil played, for some reason I thought about that Rolling Stones song “You can’t always get what you want”.  I think that every round of golf, every shot has a lesson, “But if you try sometimes/you just might just find/you get what you need”.  I’m using that tournament experience as something I can learn from.  And just remember, it happens to everyone.  Be kind to yourself, stay patient, and good things are bound to happen when you get out of your own way.

Stuck in a slump? It may be the best thing for you.

Golf is a game full of up and downs, and I’m not just talking about saving par.

What I mean is that everyone’s “career” with golf, whether playing professionally or playing on the weekend with buddies goes though periods of highs and lows.  Whether it’s missing 5 or 10 cuts in row, or shooting 10 strokes above normal for your last 5 or 10 rounds, we all go through tough times trying to get that little white ball into the cup.  We all get into occasional slumps.

I’ve been on a bit of a slump myself.  After shooting some of my best rounds of the year several weeks ago, I have fallen into a deep fog, where it seems like I had lost all control of my golf ball.  We’ll at least until today, although the seeds of the discovery were sown a while back, but I’ll get to that shortly.

The slump seems to have come out of nowhere.  My last round before the slump was a 77.  I’m not yet a scratch golfer so 77 on a tough par 72 course from the back tees is just fine with me.  However when the slump started it began a downward slide in scores.  Before I knew it I had several 88s, a 90, and the dagger in my heart was 97 in the member member tournament yesterday.

Although I wasn’t sure how I would fix it, I firmly believe that I will.  I also know that I’m not the only golfer to have gone through slumps either.  Jack Nicklaus, Steve Stricker, David Duval, Davis Love III, Ian Baker-Finch and many more have gone through their share of slumps.  Steve Stricker came back from “no man’s land” to world #3.

How they fixed their individual slumps is another story, but knowing that even the worlds best players go through times like these, gives me hope that I can get my game together, and take it to even higher levels.

I also believe that whatever happens can be a blessing in disguise.  In my case, the slump made really dig deep and address some swing flaws.  I knew that I didn’t want this inconsistency any more and I became determined to find a way to fix it.

Last night, hours after coming home from the the worst score of the season at that tournament, I had a thought that turned into a deep examination of a flaw, what caused it, and how to make it go away.  I remember something that my coach Eben Dennis said to me in a discussion we had about Jamie Sadlowski.  The more I thought about that conversation, the more I realized he was right, although I still wasn’t sure what to do with that information.

It was a moment where I challenged a deeply held subconscious belief about the golf swing.  And as I worked with that thought, things began to click.

My major flaw had come into being a long time ago as I had decided that I was going to learn how to create big time lag.  Sure enough I learned how to create lag, but the way I did it, made it extremely timing dependent when it came to releasing it through the ball.  As Eben put it, I was “dragging the club head” through the finish.  This drag made it really difficult to square the club face at impact.  I also realized that this dragging result, was not the cause of my mis hits.  It was actually an effect of a different flaw.

I realized that if I wanted to play well and consistently, I need to address the root cause and not just band aid the effects.  I set out to discover the cause, and I believe that I have found it, at least as it pertains to my swing.

Something else interesting happened along the way.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve analyzed Rickie Fowler’s swing.  Well, I now believe that my previous analysis of his swing, was incorrect.  I was simply looking from the outside in, at what he was doing.  Well, the reason I bring this up, is that without trying to copy him, my swing seems to now have some of the same characteristics of his swing.  What’s more is that now I have a better sense of where his consistency comes from.

When I look at video of both swings together, side by side there are some pretty clear similarities, but there are also some major differences.  Now let me repeat this, I did not set out to copy or imitate Rickie Fowler’s swing.  It’s unconventional, and I think most golf teachers would steer clear of that, but there are some elements about it that work very, very well.

The main element about Rickie’s swing that I understand now, is that from start to finish, it never gets to a point where he has to “save it with his hands”.  He doesn’t really get stuck to where he needs to flip it or where’s going to block it (the way Tiger Woods often does).  In fact his whole swing is designed to bring the club head back to square at impact in an extremely efficient way.

I bring up the Rickie Fowler reference because as I watched video of my swing, it reminded me of Rickie’s but in my own way.  And like I said, I’m not trying to copy him.  I was just trying to find the most efficient way for me to bring the club head back to square at impact, and it’s probably just a coincidence that there’s any resemblance to his swing.

So how did this swing perform?

At home, I use the driving range on my dancin’ dogg simulator basically to look at two statistics: club face angle, and swing path.  From the day that I got the simulator, I always had a difficult time getting my face angle to square.   I would occassionally be able to do it.  The reason for that, is that the dragging effect I talked about above, made it very hard to square the face.  Recently it’s gotten somewhat better, where I could keep the face in the +2 to plus 5 degrees open.  With a path enough from the inside these allow for little draws, or baby fades.

With the changes that I made last night, and this morning, I was able to keep the face 0.0 to 0.7 degrees open, consistently.  This is essentially a square face.  That is a dramatic improvement.  You can imagine how shocked I was when I was able to do this 20 times in a row.  But I didn’t just want to take the simulator’s “word” for it.  So I went to the driving range to see if the results held up there too.

They did.  I don’t remember ever hitting the ball as straight as I did this morning.  And it just kept happening, ball after ball.  I believe that I will be out of my slump soon, and in a weird way, I have the slump to thank for this.  It got me to the point where I knew that what I was doing before, just was not going to work in the long run.  I knew I had to get to the root of the major flaw and fix it.  So, thank you Slump, you’re a great teacher in disguise.

Sometimes in golf we need to unlearn before we can learn

The Golf Brain

The last couple of weeks have been up and down in terms of my scores, but I have learned some very valuable lessons along the way.

In my last five rounds I have two of my best scores for the season, two of my worst, and an average round.  What does that tell you?  It tells me that golf is a game of patience.  You can’t control the outcome.  You can only control your process.

Golf is interesting because you can’t force a good shot, you can only let it happen, but you can definitely do a lot of things to create bad shots.  The opposite of that is what I think sports psychologists call “getting out of your own way”.

Over the last few weeks I’ve kept plugging away and practicing what I learned from my coach Eben Dennis.  What’s interesting is that little by little the pieces are coming together, but only because I’m still working on them.  Most golfers, when they take a lesson, or try to make a swing change, take a short term approach.  I don’t think they do it on purpose, but I think they get frustrated when they are not getting results.  So they start to think that what they were learning doesn’t work.  It might be because they tried to take it to the golf course and when it failed there, they assumed the idea or concept is broken.  They dump it and start working on another idea, trying a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.  But what if it wasn’t the idea or concept that was broken?  What if they just didn’t take the time they needed to really get it?

You can’t become a better player if you’re constantly trying and throwing out ideas.  Some things take a while to learn.  And sometimes, we need to unlearn before we can learn.  Drop bad habits so that you can make room for good habits.

One of these bad habits I had, which I didn’t even realize was that I was re gripping my club during the swing. I’m not sure if it was on the back swing or on the downswing, but at impact, the club was in a very different position from where it started in my hands.  Here’s the thing though, I didn’t figure this out until a few weeks after seeing Eben.  And once I figured it out, I needed to unlearn this habit, before I could pick up the habit of maintaining my grip in the same position throughout the swing.

Now that I’ve worked on it, there is one less compensation to make and this has made a world of difference.  It has taught me to use the club as it was designed to be used.  Sounds like a simple and common sense statement doesn’t it?  Use the club as it was intended to be used.  But the truth is that few very few golfers actually do that.  They use it as they think it’s supposed to be used, not as it was actually intended to be used and there’s a big difference.  If you go to the driving range you will see golfer after golfer, chopping away at the ball.  You’ll see them get into all kinds of contortions as they make compensations to get the club on the ball.

But the truth is that the club was not designed to require all these compensations and extra effort at the ball.  It was designed for ease of use to let the ball get in the way, and to use the loft and the club head to do the work as the ball simply bounces of the club face.  Think about that for a few minutes.  Marinade your mind in that thought.  The ball bounces off the face of the club, no extra effort needed and no need to chop at it.

This morning’s round is a sign that I’m working on the right things.  I shot a 76, that could easily have been a 70 if only a few more putts had gone in.  This round simply ramps up my determination to continue to work with the concepts I’ve been learning.  Control, Vision and Dynamic balance.  Get Power Feel Golf to understand what these mean in the golf swing.

Asking the right questions

The Golf BrainI was reading Fearless Golf by Dr. Gio Valiante, and in chapter 4 he talks about the questions that guide us.  I’m reminded of that scene in “The Matrix” where Trinity and Neo are at the nightclub early in the movie and she says to him, “It’s the question that drives us.”  In his case the question was “What is the Matrix?”, but in golf the question is “What is my target?”.

Often though we get caught up in things like our score, our competitors, pressure, what I did on the last hole, or 3 holes ago and we get away from asking “What is my target?”.  But Dr. Valiante is right.  The questions do drive us.  Asking the right questions can help us play better, make better decisions and keep us in the moment, while asking the wrong questions, can quickly take us out of the moment and down that road we’ve been before, and we know where that road ends.

The wrong questions introduce fear and distractions, they make us focus on the past or on the future, and they take us out of the zone if we were in it, or more likely, just take us further away from being in the zone.

So how do we get to the point where we are asking the right questions?  One of the key ways I think is to think well about the strategy, the way we want to play the hole.  Thinking about strategy puts us back squarely in the present.  Asking ourselves the question “How do I want to play this hole?” is much more constructive than something like, “I usually hit way right on this hole, what if I do that again? Or worse, what if I hit it in the water?  What if I look like a fool?”.  One question gets your mind moving in a direction that allows you to marshal your resources, the other takes you out of the present, introduces fear and doubt, and makes it hard to focus on this shot right now.

This is where something like Game Sense is very helpful.  Listening to the program will teach you those strategies.  Then when you ask yourself “How do I want to play this hole?” you can pull up strategies that work.  Instead of focusing on useless, doubt creating questions, you can strategize and step up to the ball confidently because you know that with the right strategy, even if you don’t hit the perfect shot, you can get away with it and miss it good.  That alone can result in more confident and fearless golf.

So remember, it’s the question that drives us.  Choose the right question and you move in the right direction.  Choose the wrong question and it’s like trying to play with one hand  tied behind your back.

Gain more confidence by challenging your fears and doubts

Zen GolfA sure way to ruin a golf shot is to step up to it and hit without being fully committed to the shot.  There are a number of reasons that can cause us to not commit to the shot.

Sometimes it’s our equipment.  There’s a 4 wood in my bag that doesn’t fit my swing anymore.  My irons and driver have an x-stiff shaft and this 4w has a stiff voodoo SVS7.  It just seems and feels out of place now.  I feel like I need to make too much of an adjustment to my swing to hit it well.  So when I have a 235 yard show where it would be appropriate I hesitate.  This happened recently and I’ve decided not to repeat the mistake.

The hesitation is, I believe, my body telling me not to use the club.  Even on the practice tee it feels strange now and it really doesn’t feel like it belongs in my bag now.  I used to love hitting this club but as my swing has evolved, my equipment changes with it, and that’s what has happened with my irons and driver.

Not being comfortable with the equipment can cause hesitation.  The result of this is usually a less than committed swing that tries to compensate for the discomfort.  And this often leads to bad shots.  It’s what Doc Joseph Parent calls an “anyway.”  A shot that you hit “anyway” even though you feel uncomfortable about it.

One the other hand, I really love the way my irons play now.  It’s taken me a little bit to get adjusted to the stiffer shafts, but the ball flight and consistency have made it all worth it.  This gives me so much confidence when I get ready to hit a shot that it becomes very easy to see the shot in mind, and hit it.

There are other things that can cause less than full commitment to a shot.  This is not a complete list but I think these are some of the major reasons:

  1. Not knowing the right distances to play to, especially if the green or target is up hill or down hill.
  2. Not knowing exactly how to calculate the effect of the wind.
  3. Having a difficult or very long forced carry.
  4. Having a very difficult lie in the rough or even the fairway like when the ball is in a divot.
  5. Being unsure of the speed of the greens.

One of the best ways to eliminate many of these doubts is to practice hitting from difficult lies.  The more experience you get escaping from difficult lies the more confidence you’ll have in approaching those shots.

One of the things I see that I think really holds golfers from becoming better is when they improve their lies in recreational rounds and then go out and play a tournament.  If they don’t ever practice out of those difficult lies, they won’t know how the ball is going to react out of them.  So right away, they put themselves at big disadvantage in competition.

Challenging your fears and doubts

Learn to get excited about practicing the shots that make you nervous and you’ll become a better golfer.  Make a game of it.  See how many times you can get up and down from a difficult shot.

Try to eliminate the doubts and recognize why they happen.  Sometimes the doubts come from a lack of experience with a type of shot, other times they come because you’re body is telling you that something is not quite right, as when the equipment doesn’t fit you.  These doubts can be overcome but in either case it’s very helpful to deal with them.

McIlroy shoots course record to win the Quail Hollow Championship

Rory McIlroy put on an incredible performance to win The Quail Hollow Championship.

“I suppose I got into the zone, I hadn’t realized I was going in 9, 10 under. I just know I got my nose in front and I was just trying to stay there,” said McIlroy after the round.  In his post round interview he also said that he was really seeing his shots, and hitting them, and that he saw his lines much clearer.  He wasn’t being technical or addressing the ball full of swing thoughts.  He was visualizing and executing, and it’s a great way to play golf.

One of the amazing things about that round is that he stayed in the zone and in the moment.  He wasn’t trying to break the record.  He wasn’t forcing shots.  He recalled a similar time that he had been in the zone like that and it helped keep him going.

Most golfers whenever they’re close to a record, usually their personal best, they end up sabotaging themselves.  One of the things that separates tour players from almost every other golfer, besides their sharply honed skills is that they are not afraid to go low.  Many golfers have a fear of success and is one thing keeping them from playing their best.  We can all learn from and be inspired by young McIlroy’s achivements.  He’s got a great mind to go with a great game, and I’m sure there is a lot more we’ll see from him.