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Watching the 2014 US Open I found myself taking a huge interest in the race for 2nd place.
I found myself pushing for Eric Compton.
When I turned Professional I played on the Australian Tour and the Canadian Tour.
In 2004 we were playing a Canadian Tour Event called the E-loan Valley Classic in Stockton, CA
Playing in my 2nd event of the season I was 8 under par playing the final round, 2 shots behind the leader Eric Compton. At one stage he had a 5 shot lead with 9 holes to play and with 4 birdies I was 2 shots back with 5 holes to go and on a roll.
As a typical American he was very self-confidence and as I was closing the gap I was wondering how he would react.
As it turned out he would react well, the last 3 three were surrounded by water and he played some of the bravest shot I have ever seen, especially since he was leading. He was attacking flags and going for shot that had a lot of risk with all the water surrounding the 16th and 17th holes.
It was highlighted by on the 18th ( par 5) he still had a 2 shot lead, I drove it in the rough and couldn’t go for the green in 2 and hit it 40m short of the green. Eric has 225 yards to the hole with water all up the left side of the green and hits this perfect rescue, ( his go-to shot) fade from the left side of the green to 6 feet!! He two putted to finish 15 under and win by 3.
Now here didn’t need to do this and odds on he only needed to par to win, I said to him after he had played that shot and we were walking to the green, I thought you might lay-up the last to the green he replied “I had that shot”.
This assertive mind-set is what we all want especially when you have a chance to win.
It is not just golf you see this, this happens in every sport. How many times do you see a rugby team, basketball team cruising to victory and they start change their game plan because of their big lead, or they switch off for a moment. Then the other team comes back and the game gets way closer than it should.
Watching the 2014 US Open and to see Martin Kaymer stay aggressive and keep his game plan this reminded me of my experience.
It proves how important it is to keep pushing, keep playing your shots that you are good at (go to shots) no matter the situation you find yourself in. Martin Kaymer, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlory have done this in majors and produced some huge wins. The key for them and they say this after is I try not to focus on the score and stay aggressive. Because they know if they do not do this they will start focusing on staying out of trouble and playing shots to avoid (going long with their approach shot, or hitting away from the bunker). Remember if you are focusing on what to avoid, you can’t be focusing on what you want!!! Next time you are winning a match or playing a tournament with a big lead, keep playing with an assertive mind-set, remember this got you into this position in the first place and you can have an enjoyable stress-free finish to the game. The decision is yours!!
Mind Factor Coach
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Going into tournament golf, a lot people believe you need to focus for the whole round to play your best. Very few people have the mental power to do this and I would not recommend this.
Around 85% of your time on the golf course you are NOT playing golf!! We always talk about what we should be thinking over the ball, but what about the the time we are not playing golf!!
What you think about when you are not playing golf (85%) and do for the 85% has a huge impact on your score and especially your next shot!!
What if I told you only have 1.5 hours of mental energy per round!!! It time you started focusing on the missing 85%
If we can control what we are thinking about in between our shots, I can guarantee that you will have more energy to focus when you need it most(the next shot).
If you can do this well then you will be more refreshed after your round and more importantly have a sharper focus for your next shot.
Sadly most golfers walk around the golf course looking at there feet and focusing on the following
- Golf Swing
- Worry about holes coming up
- Focusing on your bad start
Generally this is what makes you angry, worried and frustrated!!
Now if you are thinking about the 3 putt you had on the 3rd hole as you are walking up the 5th hole or playing the 10th hole, worrying about the tee shot you are going to have on the 15th hole, this is wasting your mental energy and is this really going to help you hit the next shot!!
The key is turning OFF . If you think about other sports the players know when to focus of the game because there is a referee and a whistle.
I believe most players turn on their golf thinking , but very few turn OFF.
When you are is off mode ( this mean off, so no golf thinking for the 85% ) This sounds easy but this is a skill that must be trained.
Think about when you have a caddie and after your shot, your caddie wouldn't say , I cant believe you just 3 putted the last hole, or remember that last time you played the 10th you hit it OB. (if they did you would fire them) What normally happens and why we enjoy having a caddie is after your shot, you find it easier to switch off as you are talking to them in-between your shots and normally you are not talking golf!!
Non golf thinking in between your shots is the key to focusing on your next shot and getting a better scores.
The 10 step rule
This is a great way to create an off switch.!!
After you hit a shot ( good,bad, ugly) you walk and count 10 steps and then after the 10th step you make the effort to think anything but golf until you get around 20m from your next shot. Then it is time to start working out your next shot.
To reduce the likelihood of you dwelling and golf related thinking, a great technique you can use with the 10 step rule is ,after your 10 steps you MUST KEEP YOUR EYES ABOVE THE HEIGHT OF THE FLAG as you are walking to your next shot. Now if you can do this you will start walking with confident and if you are playing well isn't this the way you walk anyway??
Two important things happen when you walk with your eyes up
1) Negative thinking and dwelling only happens when your head is down, so keeping your head up reduces the chances of the bad emotion to kick in and this can have a massive influence on your 85%
2) It is something non golf that you can focus on , and turns your golf thinking off!!!
We want you to have limited golf thinking when you are walking in between your shots, even reducing this alittle bit each time you play will have a positive impact on your golf
Lets start taking control of your thinking for this 85% of the game and start to play your best and enjoy your game even more.
So next event have a look around when you are playing golf ( eyes up) and work on creating an off switch in between your shots which will reduce the golf thinking as you are walking to your next shot.
IF YOU WANT TO HAVE BETTER FOCUS FOR YOUR NEXT SHOT YOU MUST THINK LESS IN BETWEEN YOUR SHOTS!!!
You wont know what you having been missing out on!!!
NZPGA Golf Professional
Golf Performance Coach
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I recently asked the question, “What % of this great golf of golf is mental".
The answers I got ranged from 20% to 100%.
If the mental game is so important, the next question is “How much time, effort and resources do you spend on the mental game?
The answer is normally zero to 5%.
Now how can this be, why would me spend so little time and effort on area of our game that is by far the most important?
Over the next month I want to give you an insight of some of the important parts to develop a stronger mental game!!
The goal of this game is GIVE YOURSELF THE BEST CHANCE TO HIT A GOOD SHOT!!
Now how we do this is focus our energy into the things that you can control!!!!
- Preparation (types of preparation)
1) How you prepare for the events (Golf Coaching, practise schedule and training)
2) Building a game plan and creating yardage book for the tournament (homework)
3) Preparation for the golf shot - giving you the best chance to hit a good shot (pre-shot routine)
- Attitude (how we are going to act, your self-talk and how we talk to others about our golf game)
Now how you think about your game and how you talk to other golfers has a huge impact on your self -belief, which ultimately effects your confidence.
How many times have you heard that golf is a game of confidence. Your attitude and self-belief controls your confidence, so you control your attitude then you control your confidence!!
This say that your self-belief ( confidence starts at 10) , everytime you hit a bad shot and react you drop down one point, when you finish your round of golf and try everyone about the 3 putt you had on the 14th hole you lose 2 points. What you are doing pushing your self-belief down and down.
Solution - When you hit a good shot and tell yourself well done , this gains a point, come in after the round tell everyone about the great your tee shot was up 11th hole , gain 2 points. If you write down your great shot for the day and read them you gain 5 point!! The more you can remember and talk about your good shots and better you feel about your game and the greater the confidence you will have.
You need to decide how you want to feel about your game and it starts with attitude !!
My challenge to you is to start now. Take hold of your attitude towards yourself and towards your game!!
Sadly most golfers do the opposite they focus on things out of their control, such as
- score and positon
- Dwelling on past holes (cannot change what has already happened)
- What others think about your game?
- Course condition
- Playing partners
- Selections and how others are playing
Now looking at these lists, where do you spend most of your time???
Start focusing on your preparation and attitude. These things can be predetermined especially how you talk to others about your game and creating a game plan that promotes your strengths in your golf game.
One solution you can do is if someone asks you the commen question " how do you go", if you didnt play the way you wanted just tell them the facts. I had 78 and that is it!! Then you dont have talk about your round and explain and bad shots!!
An extreme way to deal with golfers talking about how bad they played or how bad they are at putting , is just walk away. If you want to become a better putter, start practising and playing with these players who putt well and listen to them talk about there putting!!
Remember the goal - give yourself the best chance to hit a good shot!! If you focus on the things you cannot control you will make this goal extremely hard!!
My challenge to you is to start now. Take hold of your attitude towards yourself and towards your game!!
Join me next week and we will look at the secret to staying focused for the whole round/event.
NZPGA Golf Professional
Certified Golf Performance Coach
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Being a Golf Coach I push the importance of the short game, especially for any golfer wanting to get the best out of their game.
I am not saying the Long game is not important,
If you are missing the fairway and putting for a 6, you can have the best short game in the world but you can’t be a good golfer. The long game is the part of your game where you are always looking for small improvements and is the part of your game that gives you the opportunity to have good scores.
But these small improvements don’t give you what you want and this is where the short game comes in. The short game provides you with the good scores!!
I was lucky enough to play alot of golf with Tim Wilkinson and travelled with him when we played in New Zealand Teams together and when we first turned Professional at the end of 2002.
A few years before this we were playing in the Tower Men’s Interprovincial in 1999 at St Andrews Golf Club in Hamilton, and I remember hearing a statement from Mal Tongue to Tim Wilkinson.
Mal at the time was the New Zealand Head Coach and he was never afraid of letting you know what he thought about your game. After watching Tim play one of his rounds, he said to him "if your long game was as good as your short game you would be a great player".
Now the thing was Tim was a good player then, and was playing No 1 for Manawatu/Wanganui but is small in stature and he was a very short hitter, so his strength and distance was holding him back!!
Over the next few years Tim worked hard at the gym to get stronger but he didn’t change his practise!!!
Before touring professional, Tim worked full time and only had 1 hour per day to practise (which he did in his lunch break) and he said to me he only practised has short game and this was from 60 m and in.
I have been watching what Tim has done this year and I was looking to see why he has been so well this year. The old saying stats don’t lie;
Tim is is No 1 in scrambling and No 2 in putting and is No 2 in scoring averages (68.80) on the Web.com Tour this year!!
Check out link below
Now the reason I am giving Tim as an example is that I want to show the importance of having a good solid short game. Everyone wants to be more consistent and the only way this is possible is with having a short game you can be confidence in!!!
Once you have this then it is all about maintenance and this is where your practise comes in.
If you feel like you are not getting the most out of your game, I would recommend you to look at your practise and the amount of time you are putting into each area. The golden rule is you should be spending 60% of your practise time from 60m and in. This includes putting, chipping, pitching, lob shot and bunker shots.
Let’s take the advice of the 2 of the greats, Sam Snead has most PGA Tour victories of all time said "if I could do it all over again I would only practise Tee shots and from 100 yards in, that is all that matters"
To quote Sir Bob Charles “the closer I got the hole the better I wanted to be"
I would have to agree.
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The previous 5 Open Champions
Looking at the history on the Open over the past five years, the interesting thing is the age of the winners. Louis Oosthuizen is the only player under 30 and an average age of the last 5 winners is 36.8.
Don't forget that Tom Watson should have won when Stewart Cink won and Greg Norman had a great chance to win when a Padraig won his second Open, so it could have been two players winning aged in their 50's.
The evidence of experience also shows up in the past 25 years of the Open winners. If you take Tiger Woods out of the equation then 4 players over 40 have won The British Open with only 5 winners being under 30. Average age of the winners including Tiger Woods for the past 25 years is 33.12 years of age.
There is all this talk about the young stars taking over the game of golf, but the truth of the matter is that they are great golfers but they don’t win!!!
Players like Angel Cabrera, Thomas Bjorn, Jim Furyk and Retief Goosen always come out of the woodwork and perform so well in Major Championships
It is one of only 4 events these days that you see players struggle under the pressure of trying to win a Golf Major.
Click on this link to watch some of that pressure
and Adam Scott is not on this yet!!!
The British Open is a very different major as the players must play very different shots and control their ball flight due to the fact the weather can play such a big part in deciding who plays well!!!
If the weather is windy but sunny then the better ball striker will come thru with the win, but if the weather has the combo of wind and rain, then this levels the playing field and then alot more players have the chance to win
Because of this here are my picks for 2013 British Open,
1) Ernie Els - by far and away he has the greatest record by a current player in the British Open
2) Tiger woods - Mentally he is the best (especially under pressure)
3) Thomas Bjorn - is in good form and has had some very good results in the Open
4) Henrick Stenson - is my dark horse (again very good record at the British Open and if the weather is poor could be a great chance)
I would also look at Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Adam Scott.
Let’s hope I am right and the statistics don’t lie!!!!
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What happened to Lee Janzen???
I was just looking to see how Danny Lee was going on the Web.com this week and I notice Lee Janzen was on the same score as him at 2 under. I thought to myself I haven’t heard his name for a while. I had a look at his results over the last few years and this is what I found
PGA Tour FedEx Cup Standings
Now how could a double major winner start have such bad results??? Yes he is getting alittle older (49 years old), but there must be a reason for this.
So I did some research and this is the reason why??
Driving the golf ball!!!!
Over the past 7 years it has been a horror show for him; his total driving stats( Total Driving is your ranking for distance and accuracy) are as follows
which means he is hitting it short and wide off the tee!!!
Being a Professional golfer I push players to work extra hard on the areas of the game which are most important. These being 100m in and Tee shots. Around 20 to 25 % of your game is tee shots and Lee Janzen is proving the importance of being good off the tee. You can be the best putter in the world but if you are putting for bogey or worse from missing fairways, you can’t play your best.
I don’t believe there should be any excuses for being a poor driver of the ball for the simple reason that it is the only part of this game that is a constant!!! The environment is the same for practicing and playing ,you are always on flat ground, the tee is the same height, no other area of the game has this!!
So if you are struggling with your driving I recommend you check your driver first. Get a fitting from a Golf Professional which will check you shaft flex and swing speed, I would guess that your flex will not be correct. Second you must always go back to the basics and look at set-up, grip and posture. 9 times out of 10 the problem in your golf swing comes from poor set-up!! If you are unsure go your local PGA Professional and get checked out. Do it now!!
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In the last 2 weeks we have had two great winners on the PGA Tour.
Golf victories are always special but the winners of the US Open and Travellers Championship have something special in common.
Their careers have not been plain sailing and both have had big hurdles to overcome to get to where they are today.
These victories show every golfer the importance of hard work, great patience and most importantly self belief!!!!!
How could Justin Rose continue on playing and thinking that he was good enough after missing his first 21 cuts in a row!!!
Thats right, 21 missed cuts to start your professional golf career!!! Justin in his first season as a 18 year old Professional missed 28 out of his first 33 events. I would have to believe that this must be the worst start to any golfers career that currently play on any of the Worlds Golf Tours. Anyone who plays golf can understand that this would have been extremely hard to take, so the mental toughness of Justin Rose for pushing through this is the REAL victory!!
Four years later he wins his first Professional title, and now 15 years later he won the 2013 US Open. The start of his career shaped his courage and self belief and made him the man he is today. He has been said to be one of the most likeable players on tour.
Ken Duke's victory in the Travellers Championships gives everybody hope, waiting 19 years and 187 events before winning on the PGA Tour.
After turning Professional in 1994, Ken Duke got on the Nike Tour (now Web.com Tour) in 1995, lost has PGA tour status till 2003, then he jumped from the PGA Tour and Web.com tour for the next 8 years.
''Yeah, it's been a long time,'' said Duke, who turned pro in 1994.'' I've been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them; Web.com, and it's just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour.''
If waiting for his first PGA Tour victories wasn’t hard enough, the agony of watching Chris Stoud chipping in to force a play-off must have been very hard to take. His self belief must have been strong and his second shot on the 2nd extra play-off hole to 2 feet proved this!!
You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do,'' Duke said. ''That's why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It's kind of one of those things once you finally do it might come easier the next time. That's kind of the way I feel.''
So when you think this game is getting to hard, I want you to remember what Justin Rose and Ken Duke achieved. You must continued to work hard, believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams!!!