Friday, February 24, 2012

On Course Mental Game Practice

Here are two practices you can do on the golf course.  The first focuses on your pre shot routine to make sure that you are planning, committing to the shot, visualizing what you want and hitting the shot without interference.  The second is about dealing with adversity.  You can expect to have bad lies, so there will be no reason to be upset.  You will also get a lesson in course management and hitting to the biggest target possible in the second practice.  Being close to trouble will put you into trouble.  Enjoy!

Play nine with a teammate.  Call your shot prior to hitting it.  Call it as you see it!  Paint the picture.  After you hit the shot, report to your teammate if you did a good job of being in the play box.  The play box is where you see it, feel it, hit it without thinking of mechanics, what you don’t want or results.  Also, talk to your teammate prior to playing your round about how you will act.  If you react to a shot in a negative manner, your teammate can ask you for 5 up and downs on the spot!  Have some fun!

Play nine with a teammate.  You are allowed to move her ball one club length any direction.  She has to hit it from wherever you put it.  If she is within a club length of the water, toss it in.  It can go behind trees, into divots, in bunkers, anywhere you want to put it.  Keep score and turn it in when you finish. 
Have a good weekend off!  Make sure you hit the books!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Competitive Practice

We have a great amount of time in between events and as a coach, I am thrilled to have so many practices to get some good work done. Today's blog outlines how our practice time is portioned and what we focus on during practice. Included is one of our recent practices which was a day of intense competition.   This practice had everything you want as a coach.  Teammates were dependent upon each other, there was great focus due to not wanting to lose and a tough test of short game skills.   

The Mustangs!
It is tough to write a golf practice that develops the feel for team.  This practice managed it.  We also played an alternate shot round two weeks ago and that is also a great way to teach the team concept.  Getting players to truly focus on each and every shot in practice is also tough.  When you hold a competition and give consequences for losing, you stand a far better shot at doing it.  Finally, a focused short game practice is wonderful.  It is fun and it usually ends up inspiring the players to either recognize their strengths or get busy working on what wasn't good. 

We are also working hard on our mental game these days and hopefully that was a part of the practice also.  The next blog will  include some 9 hole rounds that we use to focus on mental game in very specific ways.  Finally, we are still on the golf course a lot.  When you have a lot of time in between events, it is easy to get caught up on the range working only on mechanics.  However, mechanics are only a small percentage of what we need to work on improving.  Here are the skills I address in our practice schedules:

On Course Competition:  30% of our practice time
Putting: 30% of our practice time
Chipping, Bunkers and Pitching:  20% of our practice time
Wedges:  10% of our practice time
Ball Striking & Mechanics:  10% of our practice time  

Caitlin hard at work on her chipping at Dallas Athletic Club

Within all of these areas, we work on our routine and our mental game (target choice, attachment, visualization, controlled focus, and commitment).  Some players need to hit more balls than others to feel confident and to allow for that, about 30% of all our practice time is for the players to work on whatever they want.  That 30% of the practice is also when they meet with us to work on things they need in their games.  

Here is our schedule for last Saturday's practice.  It was a lot of fun.  We still haven't had the losers give their pony dances, I am not worthies or club and shoe cleaning, but it will happen with the whole team together next week.  Can't wait!

Practice Schedule for Feb. 18
The 2nd place team will be required to do a pony dance around the practice green following practice.  The 3rd place team will also do a pony and then drop to their knees to the two teams who beat them and do an “I am not worthy!”   
The LOSERS will do all of the above and also clean the clubs of all of the teams that beat them.  Good luck!

Elizabeth won a contest and the team is clearly "NOT WORTHY"!

Seniors:  Elizabeth and Jen
Juniors:  Melanie and Felicia
Sophomores: Caitlin and Claire
Freshmen and Foreigners:  Taylor and Elena

Up and Downs – There are 10 orange flags around the far green.  Drop your ball and get it up and down from each flag.  If you are successful, you get a point.  If it takes you more than three, you lose a point.  Your scores will be combined.  A perfect score for your team would be 20!  You can use any club.  A chip in counts as two, so you could possibly have a better than perfect score! 

Putting – You have five putts from 5 feet, 10 feet, 15 feet and 20 feet.  You get one point for the 5 footers, 2 points for the 10 footers, 3 points for the 15 footers and 4 points for the 20 footers.  Your scores will be combined.  A perfect score is 100 for the team.
Bunkers – On the green by the maintenance fence, you will have five spots marked in the bunker.  You can bump your ball.  You must get all five up and down.  You must count how many attempts it takes you.  This is a team challenge, so one of you making an up and down counts for the team.  You must both hit shots until the goal is achieved from each flag.  Example:  From the first flag, if you both hit and neither gets it up and down, it counts as one attempt.  If one of you makes it on the second attempt, you were successful in two.  A perfect score here would be five.  The team with the fewest points gets five points, second gets 3 points, third gets one point.  Ties will be played off.

Putting – Round Robin – Challenge each team to a 9 hole match play worst ball scramble.  Both on your team putts, then choose the ball farthest from the hole.  If you both make it, you score a two, if not, the ball is still in play.  If you both make the first putt, you score an ace.  This is match play!  Keep track of wins and losses.  The team with the most wins gets five points, second gets 3 points, third gets one point.  Ties will be played off.

Wedges.  Each player gets 3 balls to hit to the closest practice green from 20, 40 and 60 yards.  The closest ball of the team from each distance is measured.  The lowest total gets 5 points, second gets 3 points, third gets one point and last gets nothing!  
Trouble shots – We will have a trouble shot set up on the right side to the middle practice green.  You get one shot each.  If you are able to get the ball on the green, you get five points.  If you get it within 10 feet, you get 10 points. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Give Yourself Power!

We had a great team meeting today!  Mostly, it was about MANAGEMENT.  As in, managing yourself, your game and the golf course when you play the game.
The Three Things You Manage on the Golf Course

We talked about how the top of this pyramid is the most important thing you manage:  YOU!  You are in complete control of your attitude and a big part of course management has to do with how you view yourself, your game and what is in your power.

How do you make choices?  If you feel pressured into making decisions based on fear, what you are avoiding or to prove a point, you are in the wrong frame of mind.  Do you have a fear of what lies over the green?  Does that cause you to under club?  Do you want to avoid the water on the right?  Does that cause you to tighten up and make a poor swing?  Do you want to prove you can hit a driver on a hole even though it sets up better for your 3 wood?

Every situation in golf is unique.  When you caddy, your job is to prepare your player to hit the best shot possible given the situation at hand.  You don't tell your player what you don't want her to do or mention how she didn't hit a very good iron on the last hole.  Instead, you paint the scene you want to see happen.  As a caddy, you also factor odds and help your player hit shots that will help her score as low as possible.  Caddies make their money from their player's scores.  They don't care how pretty a swing is if it doesn't make them any money.  They understand that "hero" shots will probably cost them $ at the end of the week.  They dole out a lot of medicine to their players and when the relationship is strong, both parties benefit.

Can you caddy for yourself when you play?  

What if you empowered yourself to make decisions on what is the best option right this moment?  Here is an example of someone who did:  Bill Haas on Winning at Riviera  If you go to 3:43 and watch, you will hear him explain how he aimed away from the hole in a playoff.  Instead of playing the hero, he took his medicine, as he describes it, and it paid off.  He didn't consider the playoff to be a factor forcing him to play an aggressive shot.  Instead, he did what he could to score as low as possible.

Bill Haas after winning the playoff with Phil Mickleson and Keegan Bradley at Riviera

The final thing we talked about today is the word and the emotion; frustration.  Frustration is a word that is powerless.  If you use it in a sentence, it serves to remove you from whatever problem you are facing.  For example, "I am frustrated that I can't read the greens at this golf course."  You have, in effect, closed the door on your ability.  Your frustration = powerlessness.

Here are the synonyms of frustration from
annoyance, bitter pill, blocking, blow, bummer, chagrin, circumvention, contravention, curbing, defeat, disgruntlement, dissatisfaction, downer, drag*, failure, fizzle, foiling, grievance, hindrance, impediment, irritation, letdown, nonfulfillment, nonsuccess, obstruction, old one-two, resentment, setback, unfulfillment, vexation.

Wow, these are the things your emotions pick up on when you mention to your self, your coach, your caddy or anyone else how frustrated you are about something on the golf course.    What if you turned your statement around said one of these things instead of "I am frustrated that I can't read the greens at this golf course."  "I am determined to figure out these greens." "I am motivated to learn to read these greens."  "I am positive I can read these greens."  Imagine the power you have just received from yourself!  You now have the green light to have determination, to learn something or to have a positive view of what you are doing on the greens.

As you manage yourself on the golf course, it is up to you to figure out what makes you tick when you play well and what patterns or spirals of thoughts or actions bring you down.  It would be great if you wrote in a journal all the stuff that helps you.

Here are some examples:

Feb. 12, 2012
"Today, I misread my first three putts, so I decided I was going to play everything within 10 feet inside the cup and see if that helped.  It did!  I was playing too much break for these greens.  I am really happy I made an adjustment and I am even happier it was the right adjustment."
Feb. 12, 2012
"I learned the hard way today that I can't think about my stroke when I putt.  I was really working on mechanics before I went out to play and I took it with me to the course.  I forgot about thinking about making putts and sometimes I even forgot about speed.  I left a 10 footer short.  From now on, I am going to focus on making putts on the course by rolling the ball on the line I want and the speed I want. PERIOD!  I am a great putter when I do this, so I need to make sure I do it all the time."

Enjoy your play on the course and remember to be your own best friend and caddy out there.  The game is a lot of fun when you harness the power of a positive and confident attitude!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Short Game Practice for February

SMU Women's Golf
This is a 2 hour to 2 1/2 hour short game practice.  It is a good one to do with a tournament coming up!

Up and Downs 
Use one ball and attempt to get it up and down 25 times.  When you are finished, multiply your success rate by 4 and you will know your up and down percentage.   
  • Please drop the ball, use your pre shot routine and verbalize where you will land the shot.  If you are working with a teammate, challenge each other with tough lies.  You can work out of a bunker, hit pitches and chips.  Make sure you short side yourself on some of the shots and see if you notice a difference in your success rate. 
Putting – 
Make 20 putts in a row.  5 from 3 feet, 5 from 4 feet, 5 from 5 feet, 5 from 6 feet.    
  •  Use one ball.  Go through your routine.  You can start at any distance.
Play 18 holes of match play on the green.  

Lag Putts – Lay a club down 2 feet past the hole.  Putt 3 balls from 25, 35 and 45 feet until you either make 3 or get 3 past the hole but within the 2 feet mark.  

Hit from a great lie, a semi buried lie, an uphill lie, a downhill lie, a ball above feet and a ball below feet lie, and finish with a good lie.  From each situation get 3 balls within a club length of your hole.  From the good lies, get 5 balls within a club length of your holes.  If you did this drill perfectly, it would take you 25 shots. 

Find your “go” distance with each of these clubs: sw and gap or lob.  Hit until you get 5 balls within a club length of your goal hole.  Now go ten yards closer and do the same.  Did you change your swing length, tempo or grip down?  Learn how varying your trajectory will adjust your distances. 


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