Monday, January 30, 2012

SMU Golf Practice Schedule #1 Spring 2012

SMU Mustang Golf
P.S. #1 Spring 2012

Live your life backward.  Create a vision of your future and live your way into it.

Jan. 28 – Qualifying #1 – Gold Course DAC 1:05 –Felicia and Elizabeth, 1:12 –Taylor, Jen, and Claire, 1:20 – Caitlin, Mel and Elena

Jan. 29 – Qualifying #2 – Blue Course DAC 1:05 – Caitlin and Taylor, 1:12 – Elizabeth, Elena and Claire, 1:20 – Felicia, Mel and Jen

Jan. 30 – Day Off
Jan. 31 – 6:00 AM – Team Workout
7:00 AM – Team Meeting: Compliance, Goal Sharing and Focus

3:00 PM -5:00 PM – Team Practice
Today’s Goals:  1.   Hit punch shots from the positions set up.  Learn to control trajectory, judge roll and control distance. 
2.  Bunker practice – distance control.  From the big bunker that is in the short game area, land one ball in each grid going out and coming back.  When you do it successfully you are finished.  Work on it for only 20 minutes total.
3.  Chipping – Chip in once with three different clubs.  You may use only three balls.  Move around!
4.  Putting – Daily Do It – 5 in a row from 3 feet, 4 in a row from 4 feet, 3 in a row from 5 feet, 2 in a row from 6 feet and finish with making one from 10 feet.  If you do it start to finish, you just made 15 putts in a row.  Do this for 20 minutes.  Let us know how you do.
5.  On the range with a partner, play par 3’s with each club in your bag.  You get one shot at the green you describe to your partner.  Tee it up, go through your routine, focus!  After your one try, your partner plays the par 3.  Switch back and forth.  Describe it in detail and pick a target (green) that fits the distance you want to hit it.
Please spend the rest of your time on lag putts, pitching and focus!

February 1 – 2:00 – Team Practice – Play at Lakewood.  You have three tee times starting at 2.  Playing a two person alternate shot tournament.  Please play as many holes as possible.  Alternate balls after each shot.  You will never hit your own shot.  The winner will be the team with the lowest score on the holes that everyone finishes.  Good luck!

February 2 – 6:00 AM – Team Workout, Practice OYO

February 3 – Qualifying #3.  Tee times and pairings tbd.
February 4 – Qualifying #4.  Tee times and pairings tbd.
February 5 – Day off
February 6 – OYO at Haney’s Range

“You can’t outperform your self image.” Dennis Connor

February 7 – 6:00 AM - Team Workout
3:00-5:30 PM – Team Practice
            Today’s goals:  1.  Distance control and learning to sync your swing.  Use each club in your bag and get one shot to stop on each of the three practice greens on the driving range.  If you can’t get a shot to the green with your shorter clubs, don’t use them.  Do it with a partner and have some fun with it.  Does shaping the shot or controlling your trajectory make it easier or harder?
2.  Find two holes on the practice green that are 15-20 feet apart.  Put a tee 12” behind the cup.  Goal:  Get 10 in a row to either go in or end within 12” of the cup.  Spend up to 20 minutes on this.  If you are successful, move to a longer putt.
3.  Long Lags – This game can be played by a crowd and the more the merrier.  Find a long putt.  The farthest from the hole after the first putt loses a point.  Anyone who 3 putts it loses a point.  The closest to the hole wins a point.  Anyone who aces it makes 2 points.  The first person to 10 points wins.  If you get negative 10 you are kicked out of the game.  This would be a great game for the big green by the pro shop.
4.  Play H.O.R.S.E. on the range.  Call your shot and if your opponent doesn’t pull it off, she gets an H.  You are the judge of the shots you call.  Winner calls the next shot.
5.  Play an up and down game with one or more teammates.  Use one ball, two clubs and a putter.  Winner calls the shot.  Up and down wins the point.  If two tie, no point.  First to 10 wins.  Find tough shots!  Drop the ball.

February 8 – Play day.  Place and tee times tbd.
February 9 – 3:00 -6:00 Team Practice at DAC
Play 9 holes in a twosome today.  If no one is behind you, choose your go yardage from inside 100 yards and drop a ball at that distance and play it along with your original ball.  Par for your second ball is 2.5.  In nine holes, if you shoot 22, you are under par and 23 or higher you are over par. 

February 10 – Meet at Moody at 12:45 PM for trip to Puerto Rico.  Team at home needs to get 3 competitive rounds in with teammates prior to Feb. 15.  Keep stats.

Are you getting outplayed?  Maybe it is because you are getting outworked.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How To Compete on the Golf Course

This is the third blog in a series of how to be an athlete on the golf course.  The first two were titled Are Golfers Athletes? and Practice Like an Athlete.  Today, we are going to talk about competing on the course.

For the past 20 years, I have spent countless hours observing golfers.  While recruiting I watch players aged 14-18 play the game.  As a college coach, I watch college players and as a personal coach, I watch top-level amateurs and pros play the game.  One thing that I look for in all of these players is the ability to compete.  It is a mindset that is rare, even at the highest levels. However, it is a mindset that can be learned. 

Patrick Cantlay is a great, young competitor who is successful playing at the highest levels of the game.

So, how can you become a competitor on the golf course?  Simple, by giving all you can to the shot at hand, no matter the situation, no matter what happened earlier and no matter the consequences.  Yes, it is a simple answer, but one that is very difficult to accomplish.  Here is what I believe must happen for you to compete every time you play golf.

Lose Your Self-Consciousness 
As a player, you have had to develop self-consciousness in order to improve.  There is a process of evaluation that takes place almost constantly as a golfer.  However, you need to learn to turn it off when you tee it up on the golf course.  On the course, it isn't your job to evaluate or even think about yourself much.  Instead, you need to think about what you want your golf ball to do.  Your awareness needs to be focused on the course and the conditions.  Great players feel the wind, judge the firmness of the ground, understand the slopes and check the lie of the ball.  If you are involved with why your swing isn't right or what happened five minutes ago, you will not be taking care of business.  Great players are over the ball seeing the shot in their mind's eye and visualizing the target or ball flight.  If you are over the ball fidgeting and working on getting comfortable, your mind is on you instead of what you need to do.  It is your job to score.  Evaluation and introspection will have a place in your improvement as a player, but not during the round.  Instead, place your attention on things outside of you and save introspection for the end of the day.

Let Go of Judgements
What is the difference between a judgement and an appraisal?  When you step up to the lie of your ball, do you notice it or do you judge it?  In other words, if you are in the deep rough, do you think about how tough it will be and how crummy it is or do you see it and decide what it will take to hit it well?  When you stand on a tee, do you decide that a hole doesn't set up well for your game or do you strategize how you will play the hole?  After you hit a long, lag putt, do you react at how far past the hole and berate yourself for your lack feel or do you watch it closely and prepare for the next putt?  Judgements busy your mind with unneeded emotions and excuses.  Appraisals busy your mind with strategy, adjustments and information. 

Arnie is the ultimate competitor.  He plays the game, he celebrates, his form isn't always pretty and he appreciates his playing partners.  

Play the Game
What is the opposite of play?  Work!  So much of what I see on the golf course, doesn't look like much fun.  I see a lot of players who walk with their head down and their thoughts inward.  I see players whose pre-shot routine could be programmed into a robot.  I see players who look at the target rarely, but stare at their ball.  I see players who rarely smile or celebrate.  If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, make a conscious effort to bring some joy, appreciation and naturalness to your game. 

Learn to Score Without Thinking About Score
If you want to compete at your highest level, you will have to be able to execute in any situation.  The important thing in the moment of execution is to have your mind on what you are doing, not on how it will turn out.  The approach you take to your routine, your self-talk and managing your thoughts should all be aimed at the process of the shot.  Here is an example:  On a five foot putt your routine helps you to choose a line, aim, visualize the speed and set up over the ball.  Your self-talk is geared toward simple things such as getting the ball rolling on line or having nice rhythm.  Over the ball, your focus stays clear on rolling the ball on your line.  Now take the same situation and make that five foot putt mean winning the U.S. Open.  Would your routine ramp up the pressure?  Would you think about making the putt instead of rolling it on line?  Would your self talk now focus on winning?  Can you see how you are now on the result of the shot instead of the process of rolling the putt?  If you want to compete, you will have to learn to stay in the process and let go of the result.

These are some of the ways you can help yourself become a competitor on the golf course.  Over the years, I have coached some gifted competitors.  They loved winning, weren't afraid of losing, understood how to be a good friend to themselves, let go of mistakes, had a lot of fun, understood risk and reward, maintained a level focus, understood the importance of momentum and appreciated other competitors.  These are the qualities that come to mind when I remember their play.  These are great qualities to develop in your game.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Homage to the Young Pros I Know

Golf is a game to be played.  I know I have blogged about this in the past, but I have had the opportunity to listen and learn from talented, young players.  They talk about losing and finding the joy of the game. They speak of the journey through the levels of success as sometimes torturous and pressure filled.  These are players who have had great success in the process of moving from junior golf to professional golf, yet they rarely see that as an accolade.  These players are working hard to reach their goals, which are lofty.  They work tirelessly until their goals are reached and they are certain they will get there. My role as a coach is to help them find joy in the process, see small successes along the way as important indicators and remind them of their gifts as players and as people.  My other role as a coach is to help them deal with obstacles they encounter, whether real or perceived.

Coaching isn't all about technique, mechanics and course management.  A lot of what we do or should do on a daily basis is help our players with their perspective of who they are, what they do and why they do it.  We need to support our player's emotional intelligence, both in and out of golf.  What is emotional intelligence?    If every serious player could sit down and answer the following questions it would be very helpful to their understanding of their relationship to the game of golf.  Here are the questions:
  1. What are the three most important things you can tell me about who you are?  (Do you bring them with you to the golf course?)
  2. What do you love to do?  If golf was one of the answers, make sure you include two others.
  3. Why do you play golf?  Give me three reasons?  Remember when things get tough.
  4. Who do you influence on a daily basis?  Who influences you on a daily basis?
  5. Why do you consider your closest friends special?  What is it about you that they appreciate?
  6. What would you consider to be the most important core value to you?  (Your core values say a lot about who you are and guide you in your decision making on and off the course).
  7. How important are other people's opinion of you?  Who's opinion matters most?  Who's opinion can you control?
  8. When you picture yourself in five years, what will life be like?
  9. What do you consider the definition of success to be?  Have you felt it?
  10. Is golf the most important thing in life?  If not, where does it rank?  Be honest!
Everyone I coach is unique.  No two people are motivated by the same things, have the same approach to the game, to their practice or to competition.  There is no right or wrong way to reach success or even define success.  However, the one common factor that seems to be needed to play the game at the highest level is a passion for the game.  Passion is a strong emotional tie to the game.  Even that passion is unique to each player.  Some players believe the key is preparation while some play with as much freedom as possible.  As a coach, I need to be able to help each person know what makes her tick and find ways to tap into that strategy or emotion when questions arise.

Players get lost.  By that I mean, no matter what the talent level or the dedication, things can get in the way of greatness.  For some, it is injuries, while for others it is personal problems.  There are a million reasons to get off track and something as simple as a swing change can do it.  If a golfer knows who she is and what is important to her, she can more easily right the ship and continue to make progress toward her goals.  However, if she doesn't understand why she is playing the game or why success is important to her or even what she would call success, she will have a tough time finding the will to continue to put forth the effort and attitude needed to beat top level players.

When you get to the course early, you will catch a lot of beautiful sunrises!

The path to success in golf must be among the toughest in all of sports.  The "tour" is a tough club to join.  The travel is endless.  There is no guaranteed salary.  There are no teammates to hold you up when you get down.  You are measured daily against par and your fellow competitors.  With all of the challenges you must face to reach the highest competition in golf, it is important to figure out how to enjoy the journey.  To face results as the only factor of success will make the beautiful sunrises meaningless.  To see your playing partners as only competitors will diminish the camaraderie you will feel with your fellow pros.  To see practice as a means to an end will take away the satisfaction of a hard day's work.  The true joy of golf lies in being totally absorbed in what you do at any given moment, no matter what your level of play.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Games to Play on the Golf Course

Great On Course Golf Practices
The first six practices don’t require a playing partner!  The next six are with a partner.

1.     Best Ball – Play two balls and choose your best shot and play from there. 
What will you learn? 
·      Can you hit a second shot after a mistake without thinking of mechanics?  Great goal for your mental discipline.
·      Is your visualization better on the first or second shot?  How clear is your picture of what you want?
·      Can you focus completely on multiple shots?
·      How low can you go?
2.     Worst Ball – Play two balls and choose your worst shot and play from there. 
What will you learn?
·      Can you handle adversity? 
·      Can you learn to hit any shot needed to score?
·      How is your short game? 
·      Is your putting solid so you still have tap ins?
·      See above under best ball game.
3.     Tee off with your approach club.  If a par 4 on your home course is usually played with driver then 7 iron, hit a 7 iron off the tee.
What will you learn?
·      You will face a lot of 3 woods into greens.  This is a great long club practice day.
·      Your short game will be tested.
·      You will look at greens a bit more critically and figure out where best to score from if you aren’t in perfect position.
·      You will learn to score when you aren’t in position A, which will come in handy many a day.
4.     Play 3 Balls – Play from the tee, play from the 150 yard markers and play from the 100 yard markers.  Play the Par 3’s from the tips and the forward tees.  (this is obviously a game to be played when you have the course to yourself).  Also, you can change the three yardages however you like.
What will you learn?
·      This is a great way to figure out your strengths and weaknesses if you see a difference in the number of pars made from different positions.
·      Do you attack the hole differently from each position?  What is your “go club”?

5.     A Day at the Beach – Hit a bunker on each hole.  Yes, aim for the bunkers!
What will you learn? 
·      First, hitting a shot into a bunker requires accuracy. 
·      Next, a great way to practice your fairway and greenside bunker shots while working on scoring.
6.     Options Best Ball – Play each shot you face two different ways.  Choose a different club, shot shape, trajectory or approach to each shot.  Play both shots and choose the best.
What will you learn?
·      This is a great game to open your mind to your options on the course.
·      You will often be surprised that your first choice of shots isn’t the easiest to pull off. 
·      Great for creativity and feel!
7.     Share and Share Alike – Play with a partner and switch balls after every shot.  Your goal as a twosome is to combine your score into the lowest possible score.  This is a great game when played against other twosomes. 
What will you learn? 
·      Emotionally, any trouble shot you face wasn’t your fault.  Are you more in the present than you are when it is your fault?
·      Do you play different shots (more risk or less risk) when you know your playing partner is hitting the next one?
·      Does your talk to your partner sound like your self-talk?
·      Can you play to your partner’s strengths?  Can he/she play to yours?  If so, what are they?
8.     Distraction Day – Play with a partner and anything goes!  You can walk, talk, sing, anything to distract your playing partner. 
What will you learn?
·      You will soon learn how mentally tough you can be.
·      You will learn to attach to your shot to avoid disruption.
·      You will learn the importance of your routine and the need to start over when distracted.
·      You will have a lot of fun!
9.     One Club Day – Play with a partner and move any of your playing partner’s shots one club length any direction. 
What will you learn?
·      You will learn to play from divots, deep rough, behind trees, bunkers, and possibly water. 
·      You will learn a mindset of playing to the center of the fairway and the center of the green.
·      You will have fun with adversity, both dealing with it and dealing it out.

10. Three Shots Per Club – You may hit any club in your bag no more than three times in 18 holes (putter isn’t included).   Choose wisely.  Keep track of your partner’s choices.  How far around the course can you go in those 39 shots?  Anytime you use your putter, it is exempt.
What will you learn? 
·      Strategy – Which tee shots require the driver?
·      Learning to chip and pitch with various clubs
·      Watch out for those bunkers!
·      You will putt from a lot more places than normal.
11. Trash – An old game that values scoring!  Here are the ways to get a point:
Stobbie – An approach within a flagstick length.
Pollies – A putt made from outside a flagstick length.
Greenie – First one onto the green in or under regulation.
Chipinskys – Name says it all.
Snakes – If you 3 putt, your opponents in the group get a point.
Birdies – Need it be said?
Sandies – Love the bunkers!  Make a par from the sand.  Up and downs don’t count if not for par.
Barkies – Make a par after hitting a tree!
You can be creative within your group and add ways to score!  Fun stuff.
What will you learn? 
·      This game rewards players who stay in every shot.   Giving up won’t cut it.
·      This game is geared toward scoring and not pretty play.  Get the ball in the hole!
12. 7/11 – As a pair, you get points whenever your combined score is 7 or lower on any hole and lose points whenever you score 11 or higher on any hole. 
What will you learn? 
·      Strategy and teamwork.  You will rely upon each other to lift the other with your score. 
·      Damage control.  Making big numbers hurt, but sometimes a bogey will work.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Practice Like an Athlete

Practice Like an Athlete
This is the second in the series of five blogs about being an athlete on the golf course.  The first was “Move Away From Comfortable” and in it, we talked about viewing a game of golf as a soccer player views a game or a baseball player views a pitch.  To be great, you need to learn to fit yourself into the situation, the golf course and the pressure instead of trying to fit those things into your game.  Today, we are going to talk about practicing like an athlete.  

Did you play other sports when you were growing up?  Did you play soccer, basketball or volleyball?  If so, what was the best thing that could happen at practice?  PLAY!  When Coach rolled the ball out and you slipped a penny over your t-shirt and scrimmaged, all was good!  You were instantly involved and part of the action.  Your goal was clearly to score or defend.  Compare that to running a weave drill or practicing serves.  In the drills, your goal was probably not to screw up, at least that was mine.  You were somewhat focused, but also a little chatting was going on.  It was fun, but not as engaging. 

Spin it forward and think about your golf practice.  If given the choice to roll the ball out and play or stand on the driving range and practice, many of you will choose the practice.  What causes this shift in what is considered fun?  Shouldn't golf be fun?  How in the world did American golf evolve into a range centered sport when most courses in Scotland don’t even offer ranges. How did your basketball coach know what drills to run at practice?  By watching your play in games and scrimmages.  How many golf pros out there watch their players on the course?  Only a handful! 

Would your golf game improve more quickly if you decided to play more golf?  YES!!!  Here is how you can do it.  Tee it up!  Keep score!  Play to make the lowest score possible every time you play!  That seems simple, but our mindset has changed so much that when not playing in a tournament or for money, many players discount the round.  They don’t play for a score or they don’t focus as they should.  Every time you step on the course, you need to play as you want to play when it counts.

The idea of turning it on and off doesn’t work.  Learning to score means that every time you are on the course, you are striving for that goal.  Golf needn’t be pretty to be effective.  That can only be learned on the course, where the goal is clear.  Golf is often pretty on the range, but that doesn’t always lead to effectiveness.  When you spend too much time on the range, your goals can become cloudy and you might get caught up more in pretty instead of effective, which is the essence of golf.

If you have an hour to practice, go play a short loop on the course.  Each shot in golf is unique.  When you play, you will face different conditions, lies, targets and slopes.  You will need to fit your game to the situation.  There is no way to simulate this on the range.  Get off the range and onto the course!

Enthusiasm or Dread

We had a great camp with 10 junior girls this past weekend.  We focused our time on how to practice, how to prepare for competition, how to ...