Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Change is the only constant. – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

After a hiatus from blogging because of my move to Dallas, here we go again!  I am in Dallas listening to big, booming thunder.  It has been awhile since I have watched a big storm like this roll past and I again remember how the rain here just pours down for hours. 

As the title says, change is the only constant.  I am ready for this change and ready to start competing again.  In the past couple of days, I have heard things like "you have a mess here", but it is now my mess and we are in it together, so I don't want to hear that stuff anymore.  Two days of it was enough and now we turn a new page.  From today on, my focus will be to do all I can to help my team succeed, both on the course and off of it.  My blog will take on a different tone, but it should be helpful to all of you who play, practice and have a passion for the game.  As always, feel free to make suggestions about topics you would like to see covered in the blog. 

Today, we are going to talk about types of practice.  When you go to the course, you need to have an idea of what it is you want to accomplish.  First, what do you want to address?  Touch or feel, repetition, mechanics, shot making, routine, creativity, visualization, green reading, distance control, trajectory control, execution, competition, confidence or handling pressure?  Any of these things can be your focus and it might be possible to work on more than one thing, but be careful not to get too general.  For example, if you want to work on your routine and touch on the greens, you have to first understand how to do it, how to evaluate it and then how to take it with you on to the golf course.  Here is an example of a plan to practice those two things.

Today's Practice Focus:  Routine and Feel on the Greens
I want to feel like my routine helps me narrow my focus on what is important when I putt, which is where I start the ball rolling and my speed control.  This should also lead me into working on my speed control on the putts I roll and improve my feel.  Today, I will give myself 30 minutes of focused practice to accomplish this.
1.  Use only one ball and start close to the hole with each putt from a new spot.  Look at the putt from behind and read the speed needed and the amount of break to play.  Visualize the entire roll of the putt.  Commit to it and take a practice stroke from behind the ball.  Step into the putt and execute it.    If at any time, my mind wanders to mechanics or slips into doubt, recognize it and step off.  Remember to use the routine to prepare for success and go from beginning to end with total commitment. 
2.  As I move away from the hole, continue to visualize the speed of the putt from beginning to end.  Be an athlete and allow my eyes and visualization to speak directly to my hands. 
3.  Use my routine to get total focus, not to be mechanical or thoughtful, but to be an athlete and let myself perform. 
4.  Evaluate each routine on a scale of 1-5 for ease, visualization, focus on whats important, commitment and a successful bridge to execution. Work until all routines are at a 4-5 level. 
5.  Evaluate each putt's speed.  If the ball isn't falling into the hole with 1/2 of it below the back lip when it falls or if it doesn't go in and isn't within 2 feet, spend more time at that particular distance.  This is really important for me on putts from 5-15 feet.  Time putting = Success!
6.  The next time I play a practice round, I will evaluate each routine on a scale of 1-5.  If I am not at a 4 or 5 level, I will figure out what is getting in my way or failing in the routine and make sure to work on it next time I practice. 

Your practice needs to have that type of plan to be truly effective.  So many golfers commonly start off working on touch or any subject that seems important and immediately slip into mechanics or forget to think of anything at all.  If you know what you need to improve, give yourself a fighting chance to improve it by giving it 100% of your focus for as many practices as it takes to accomplish the improvement needed. 

This is a good shot of a golfer working on mechanics and focus. 

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