Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Golf tips from me to help improve your game.

Golf is a fantastic game for those that enjoy it. Most games you get some great scenery good company and depending on ability a few good shots. You can play alone. Or you can play with up to 3 others. It doesn't matter what ability the group has as handicaps can still add interest or a competitive edge.
How does one go from the centenarian to a low handicapper? It's a road much traveled and their are many ways to arrive at the station. I played a few rounds with an elderly man when i was about 17. The man was just shy of 80. He was a member at Greenacres where I was the assistant professional under Brian Dowell. Any way this chap could hit the ball about 150 meters maximum yet he was so good at the short part of the game including putting that he regularly beat his age sometimes by a lot. He practiced the same way he played 10 wedges  2 bunker shots and 5 minutes on the putting green.
I learnt a lot from watching him play but I learnt more watching him practice. He played every shot like it was his last. He spent the same time over every putt. He played balls out of divots balls out of fluffy lies every practice shot he gave the same care. Before I knew him I had been wasting hours hitting as many balls as I could thinking quantity mattered. It doesn't matter. Quality is what counts. Better to hit 20 balls with great focus than 200 without any.
What is important in golf and what isn't is negotiable.You only have to go to a golf tournament and watch the good players to see. There is more than 1 way to hit a golf ball. In fact there are many. Some classical,some almost robotic some so silky and some rough. Yet all of them can play. All of them can repeat what they do under pressure. The purist golf swing doesn't always prevail. There are intangible things like courage fear nerves will and focus that have an affect on any result.
Lee Trevino looked like he was swinging the golf club in a confined space yet he could hit the ball better than most. He could make a golf ball talk. Seve Ballesteros could hit golf balls with a blindfold I saw this once at Metropolitan Golf Club. He could hit a 3 iron like it was a wedge,an amazing talent. Fred Couple is still one of my favorite players, he is so relaxed when he swings and yet still powerful. All of the great players have there own way so will you.
I always say to some one starting out it's a good idea to start with a few lessons to get the fundamentals right.
Get a good grip good set up get your posture and alignment right and then let nature take its course.
The next thing of great importance to any golfer is your equipment. Make sure you get a golf club you like the feel of. It can be expensive so make it count. Get the clubs fitted and swing weighted. the grips can be altered if you are like me and have big hands. Get grips that you like the feel of I use cord lined grips as they are good in all conditions. Club designs have been revolutionized since I worked in the industry. Many sets have several recovery type fairway woods. They are fairly forgiving to use. Irons with peripheral weighting also have a larger sweet spot than the golf clubs of my time. You should make up your own mind about the gear just don't rush try before you buy. Even the type of balls gloves tees all your gear you should use trial and error until you work out what you like. Good golf shoes are very important. If your not comfortable you aren't going to be your best.
I think if your going to be the best version of yourself out on the golf course.You need to understand your own game. Keep all your cards. Analyse the data .Fairways hit . Greens hit in regulation. The number of putts you have. The number of bunker shots. How many up and downs you've had. How many pars ,birdies eagles bogeys double bogeys  & others. The more yo understand your golf the better placed you are to recognize your deficiencies . This information allows you to focus your practice on improving the areas you aren't so strong in. The worst part of your game offers the greatest scope for improvement so it should be your priority.
Golf Course management. I'm not talking about the running of a Golf Club. I'm referring to the way you play a golf course When you hit a golf ball you should hit it to ensure you leave yourself in a desirable position to play your next shot. This is a discipline that if you master it ,will see dramatic improvement in your game. It's a game plan and more. Thinking while you play is important. If you hit the ball left to right or right to left use the tea box to advantage,by doing this you maximize the fairway you have to play with.
Before you establish your own routine.I suggest you go to a professional event and see how the good players prepare for all shots. You can learn a lot by observation. Another suggestion if you want to model your game on some one on the professional circuit,it is a good idea to choose somebody with similar physical characteristics. It isn't a rule if your 6 ft 9' and you love Gary Player go for it.
Building a routine is an important part of your game. I always found it good to take in whats happening around you on the golf course. I found it to draining to focus on golf for the entire 4 hours. We are all different. Personally I developed my routine as the trigger for focus. My routine includes shot visualization. Relaxation,address and execution. Relaxation for me is triggered by  saying the words let go subconsciously. Through hours of meditation  and consultation with a sports psychologist I have trained myself to be able to release the tension from my body. This places me in the best state to be able to make my best swing.

 This is my routine. Stand behind the ball approx 4 meters . Visualize the shot I am about to play.As I approach the ball to address I use my word to trigger relaxation. I set up over the ball ,grip the club and swing away.
How does the relaxation work? It is pretty simple I find a quiet place and put on some relaxing music. While listening to the music I am lying down. Gradually as I feel calm I tense parts of my body starting with my toes working up my body slowly to my head. When i release the tension I say the words let go. From my toes my legs stomach all the way up I clench then let go .I feel the tension flow from my body. I do this over and over night after night until the words become the trigger. It took me a few months before it was what I consider a useful tool.Now it is something I go to to give me the serenity to make good decisions under pressure. 
Another thing that is very important on the golf course is concentration. Often when we fatigue we make poor choices.In an endeavor to eliminate this it is a good idea to eat and hydrate during the round .I usually have a banana or a chocolate bar and at least 1 bottle of water or energy drink.

Belief is a word that's used a lot in golf. It is something that is not really tangible.Yet it does exist.Where does it come from? I believe the origin of belief is attained through experience. One gains belief through executing under pressure. So you can practice and the more drilled your practice becomes the greater the chance you will be able to execute under the pressure of competition. Rory McIlroy recently led a tournament from start to finish. This takes a  lot of belief. To be able to execute for 72 holes without doubts and fear of failure playing a role is a wonderful achievement. You see a lot of people in majors particularly jumping out to an early lead and falling away. Often this is more related to mental strength rather than a lack of talent. Experience also plays a role .The more often you get to this point the more likely you are to conquer it. 
Putting plays a major role in your success or failure as a golfer.On a golf score card any golf score card par allows for 36 putts.The lower your putting average the better your scores will be.There are several keys to good putting. Ability to read the green both slope and speed.Imagination the ability to see the path the ball will take to get the desired result. Execution the ability to make a putting stroke that sends the ball on its desired line at the desired speed. Good technique is just as important with putting as it is with your golf swing. If you are able to repeat your putting stroke in any conditions under any pressure its a fantastic resource.It eliminates one variable.
I use a technique to aid my putting.Known as plumb bob I hang my putter vertically in front of my face in a direct line to the flag. It shows me the way a putt will borrow in its journey to the hole. The gap between the shaft of my putter and the flag tells me which way the putt will break it is also a guide  as to the amount. With experience should you choose to use this method  you will learn how to read the signs.