Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ya Gotta Love College Golf


Today is the first day of off-season for the SMU Mustangs.  Beginning today, there aren't any daily practices, morning workouts or team meetings.  The girls will have more time to study, sleep, socialize and be students.  The coaches will have time to catch up with paperwork, communicate with recruits and prepare to be better in 2012-13.  It should be a day to take a deep sigh and relax a little, but instead, I, for one, am a bit sad today.

College golf offers so much to all of us.  First, it offers friendship.  We really get to know one another in our daily activities and our travels and in that knowledge, we learn to love one another.  We spend time talking, teasing, pouting, smiling, laughing, crying and just being together.  We sweat at workouts and practice and lift each other up, only to walk to the first tee and work to beat each other.  We learn the importance of our words and actions and how they in turn earn us trust and respect from one another.   We come together as a team in a sport that from the outside looks as though it belongs to individuals.

College golf might seem like a vehicle to the tour or a way to earn a scholarship, but it is so much more.  If you can play college golf, you will spend four years learning valuable lessons in work ethic, friendship, commitment, balance, leadership, and teamwork.  As a bonus, you will have a blast!

In honor of my seniors at SMU, Elizabeth Wells and Jennifer Hooper.  We got a lot out of one year together!



Monday, April 16, 2012

Do You Feel It In Your Gut?


Gut

The final area of intelligence is your gut.  I think of the gut as the glue that holds great players together.  It provides the fiber that connects your head and your heart.  How?  By providing you with intuition to help you as you move through your golf round.  

This not only applies to society, but to our golf society also.  It is refreshing to see competitors who have the gift and honor it, such as Bubba, Phil and Lorena.  When I think of these three great players, I think of golfers who play using their true personalities.  
As you walk the fairways, chatting with your playing partner, your subconscious is taking in a lot of information.  If you are walking on a slope, it knows.  If you are feeling wind on your left cheek, it knows.  If you are pumped up with adrenaline, it knows.  Our subconscious gives us as much information as our conscious brain provides, even though our focus seems to be distracted.  This is how we are wired and how we survived in the days when we were either hunted or hunting.  If we pay attention to our intuition, we are simply giving our subconscious awareness credit for doing its job.  By doing so, we are learning to trust our gut. 

Players are often taught to do just the opposite.  In todays world of computer analysis, laser yardage finders and trackman-measured club fitting, there is little attention paid to the gut.  If you laser a flag at 150 yards, you automatically pull a 7 iron.  The act has become automatic.  When the ball comes up well short of the hole or flies past, it then becomes a mechanical problem.  I blogged about this in an earlier blog and in that blog, I talked about how so many juniors make the very same error given the same situation, but when asked, most will tell you they mishit the shot.  Players need to understand that their gut has wisdom and if they have the feeling they should hit more club, it is probably for a good reason.  Here is how your gut works for you on the golf course.

1.  Connectedness
Have you ever felt like a hole didnt set up well for you?  Have you ever been over a shot with no confidenc you could pull it off?  Have you ever been in a pairing that made you uncomfortable and got in the way of your focus?  All of these are examples of not being connected to what you were doing.  Your head is telling you what to do, your heart might even be in it, but your gut is telling you something isnt right.  This is when you listen to your gut and adjust what your head had in mind.  Find a different way of looking at the hole, the shot or the people you are paired with.  Your gut is asking you to change your approach and if you listen to your intuition, your decision-making will benefit from this new view.  If your connectedness extends to more shots, more holes or a lot of your pairings, you probably need to take a look at where your heart is on the golf course. 

2.  Decision-Making
There isnt much more to say about this that hasnt already been said earlier, but your gut is a crucial component in your decision-making and that is a good thing.  Listen to it! 

3.  Feel
When you size up a shot, your eyes take in the situation along with your other senses, including your feel.  Great young players are often not great putters.  They spend the hours needed to hone the skill and they have confidence in their stroke, yet they do not putt as well as tour players putt.  Why?  Because they havent developed their feel for greens as the pros have.  Many think green reading can be boiled down to a science and while more information, such as fall line, can help, it cannot replace the intuitive knowledge that comes from trial and error.  That is how feel is developed.  Feel understands how much the grain will affect the speed.  Feel tells the player that the wind will hold down the speed of the putt.  Fell helps to combine all the factors a great putter considers and condenses it into a simple read.  Since so many of these factors are not thought of consciously, but instead, enter the process through the subconscious, they are reliant upon the gut.  Once again, the gut is the glue that puts things together for a player.

4.  Trust
Trusting yourself is a big task on the golf course.  It means that you trust your decision-making, your ability to hit the shot, your readiness to perform and your resiliency when things go a bit wrong.  Trust is rarely visible when it is in place, but a lack of trust can be seen in body language, reaction to shots and self-directed anger on the course.  A player who misses a breaking five footer can often be seen reacting as soon as the club hits the ball, not when the ball misses the cup.  She is not reacting to the miss, but instead to the lack of trust. 

Every time you set up to hit a golf shot, you have a simple choice of trusting or not trusting yourself to hit the shot.  It rarely feels that easy after a few wayward shots, but often a lack of bounceback on the golf course is more a result from choosing not to trust instead of poor swings.  One thing doesnt have to lead to the next, but if you have a habit of allowing it, you need to stop that cycle.  What is in charge of trust?  Your gut! 

If you are the first person who comes upon an accident, you will most likely stop to help.  Your gut tells you to do it.  People are heroes every day because they listen to their gut and run into a burning building or reach into a shattered car.  There is no trust that all will go well and there might be a thought that it might not go well.  However, the gut wins and the hero often prevails.  Can you play golf like a hero?  In other words, can you trust that what you are doing needs to be done and consequences be damned?  That is the mindset needed to win tournaments.  Trust on the golf course comes from knowing in your gut that what you are doing is the right thing and the consequences dont matter, even though we both know they do.  Thinking of consequences during a planning stage is okay, but after choosing a shot and committing to it, there should be no consideration of consequences.  Lack of trust is when the gut tells you yes, but the head stays with the consequences of the shot. 

5.  Calmness
When all of your intelligence sources are lined up, you will have a calmness that will comfort you.  That isnt to say that you wont be nervous, pumped up or distracted.  What it means is that you will be able to set those things aside, make a clear decision, commit to it and hit the golf shot with confidence.  Your gut knows intuitively that you are doing what you were meant to do.  Calmness is a by-product of being in touch with your head, your heart and your gut.  It is a wonderful feeling!  



Hopefully, this three part blog helps you find that calmness on the golf course.  Can you put your head where it needs to be, fill your heart and listen to your gut?  If so, you will be a competitor at whatever level you play the game.  In the years I have spent in coaching and teaching golf, I have found that many people simply dont know how to approach the game in a way that helps them find success.  They think they are supposed to fix their swing during a round.  They get angry because they see their role models on tour act that way.  They hit shots that they know they cant pull off, because they dont understand that its okay to be great at what they can pull off.  If anything, this blog gives you permission to have fun with golf and what you personally bring to the sport.  When that happens, I bet your scores will reflect your new found state of being.

This blog post was the second in a series of lining up your three areas of intelligence to play better golf.  If you want to read the first, which introduces the premise of the blog, you can find it here.  The second blog can be found here.








You Gotta Have Heart!



That quote by Picasso sums up what your heart's role is for your game.  Your head is often telling you what isn't possible, but it is your heart's job to invest in what seems impossible.  That is your hearts work during a round of golf.  Your heart makes great golf possible.  Your heart also makes the game enjoyable.  When your heart is in use, you see the beauty of the course.  Your nose likes the smell of the grass.  You notice how blue the sky is or how much you enjoy laughing with your playing partner after a funny shot.  Your heart also keeps you engaged and working for the best score possible.  It is where your pride resides.  It is what leads you to focus on what is important on every hole.  Your heart gives you your rhythm and leads you to stay in the moment.  Your heart is where joy originates and it is what leads you to feel grateful.  There is no doubt in my mind that there is a connection between Bubba Watsons win at the Masters and having a new son two weeks prior to the Masters.  His heart was full of gratitude and joy and his persona on the course was calm even though he was nervous.  His heart kept his focus on the game and didnt allow him to get caught up in negatives, what ifs or unneeded emotions.

Bubba Watson shows his emotions after his win at the 2012 Masters.  His heart was full!




When can your heart lead you off track?  Whenever golf seems unfair or leaves you feeling betrayed, your heart will feel the pain.  Even though you do all you can at practice and in preparation to play great, you will still fall short at times.  On those days, your heart will hurt.  Anger and sadness are emotions that the heart produces when you have a passion for something that doesn't seem to be working, but you can't allow your heart to go there while you are playing the game.  You have to actively get the heart involved in the five areas it controls. Here are the ways to do that on the golf course.

Heart
1.  Focus
Your heart is the center of your focus.  You might think that focus is your heads job, but go play a round of golf that is unimportant to you and you will find that when your heart isnt in it, your mind wanders.  Rarely does the order go the other way.  We have all heard it said that a player has a lot of heart.  When I hear that, I know that the player focuses on what is important throughout every round she plays.  She doesnt allow distraction or negativity. 

Your heart is the center of both your emotions and your rhythm.  Many young players have the belief that emotions just happen and that rhythm is a mechanical facet of the swing.  Neither is true.  When you feel a negative emotion taking hold of your heart, you can learn to change it and instead fill your heart with a positive emotion, such as appreciation.  There has been a lot of research about your heart and you can find it at www.heartmath.com.  I learned about this through Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, golf professionals who use this in their teaching.  Laird Small, another great teacher, also uses Heart Math in his golf instruction to help players control their state on the golf course.

2.  Fight
What is fight on the golf course?  In my opinion, it is the art of staying in the moment.  How is that related to your heart?  Being in the moment on the course signals a commitment to doing the very best you can with what you have.  Your heart must stay attached to your task and your focus must be complete to have great fight.  How can you see fight?  Have you ever duffed a chip and then chipped the next one in?  That is a common example.  Instead of lamenting the missed shot, you are even more committed to hitting a great shot.  Your heart is in the shot.



It is possible to fight the wrong stuff on the course.  If your heart is worried about things other than your score, your focus will follow it.  This sort of fits in with the blog I wrote about the five deadly sins of course management.  If you are paired with a long hitter and your goal is to hit it as long as him, your heart is wrapped with envy, not scoring.  If you think you are your score and cant separate your ego from what you do, your heart is involved in pride, not scoring.  Make sure that you are fighting to hit good golf shots and score, no more.

3.  Attitude
Attitude is the reflection of what your heart is busy with on the course.  It is one of my keys for recruiting, because it is tough to fake a great attitude.  Players who look angry, sad, distracted, frustrated, impatient or disinterested on the course reflect what their hearts are feeling.  There is an old adage in coaching, fake it til you make it, which means:  you should act the way you want to feel.  This is a good start to choosing an attitude that helps you play well.  However, I think you need to go a little deeper and figure out how to get your head, your heart and your gut to all be lined up with playing the game.  I rarely quote from scripture, but the power of positive thinking was written long before Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins or Dr. Phil and here is a great example of how your attitude is from the heart:  Above all else, guard your heart, for all you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Keegan Bradley in a joyful moment on the golf course.

4.  Joy
Your heart is the source of joy.  This has been known since ancient times.  A happy heart makes a face cheerful. Proverbs 15:13 This idea is of great importance for golfers.  Many players think good play brings happiness.  But does good play come first or does happiness?  How can you be happy when you arent playing well?  That is the first question whenever this concept is brought up.  Putting a golf score in perspective is a tough chore for young players, especially when they feel as though they have invested so much to produce it.  First, it must go back to the fight you have on the course.  Are you committed to doing the very best you can on every shot you face?  If you are in the moment, you arent thinking about happiness or sadness, you are simply focused.  Second, there are many things about playing golf that can give you joy.  The physical pleasure in hitting shots and walking the fairways; the camaraderie you feel with your playing partners; the beauty of the course, the sky, the colors, and the singing birds; all of it can provide joy if your heart is open to it.  The trick is keeping your heart focused on the right stuff on the golf course and allowing it to lead your head and gut to keep you going the right direction.

5.  Gratitude
I am not sure if gratitude should get its own category in the Heart section of this blog, but it seems to me that it is the hearts best asset for a golfer.  If you have a grateful heart, you will view your mistakes as opportunities to learn.  You will seek help when you need it and give help in return to others.  The game will seem to give you a special path in life that allows you to meet fantastic friends, see beautiful places, apply lessons learned on the course to what you face in life and get lost in the moment whenever you pick up a club.  Gratitude will help you see the positive in any situation by putting it into perspective.  It is one of the most powerful emotions you can feel and it leads to all the other positive emotions you want to encounter on the golf course.  

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all others. Cicero

Can you learn gratitude?  YES!  There have been studies that show the power of keeping a gratitude journal.  These have been for life, but what if you did one for golf?  After every round you play, jot down in a notebook or on your smart phone or ipad what you are grateful for that day.  It can be one thing or many things, but it has to be from the heart.  You cant fake it!  If the habit takes hold, you will soon find yourself noting experiences to jot down later.  As soon as your focus begins to look for what is good, you have become more grateful.  Once again, getting your mind and your heart aligned is a powerful thing for golfers.  This is a great first step to get them not only aligned, but moving the right direction.




This blog post was the second in a series of lining up your three areas of intelligence to play better golf.  If you want to read the first, which introduces the premise of the blog, you can find it here.  The third and final blog can be found here.


Line Up Your Head, Heart and Gut


 
Today's blog is about learning and playing golf with all of your modes of intelligence.  If you want to be great, you have to use your head, your heart and your gut.  Too much time spent in only one area will cause problems and not learning to use all three will make you less of a player. 

Yesterday, I watched a player cry because she was so sad with how she was hitting the ball.  Before I arrived at the driving range, I read an impassioned email from a recruit who had just played a tournament very poorly.  Both of them mentioned self-doubt as the reason for their imagined failures.  I use the word imagined, because failure is only real if it signals the end of your quest for greatness.  Otherwise, it signals the need and opportunity to learn.  How can you seemingly be so far from what you believe you can do and still be on the right track?  That seems to be the question that comes to mind when things go wrong on the golf course.

Even the best players in the world feel far from their goals at times.  This is Rory McIlroy during the final round at The  Masters in 2011.  His collapse on the back nine was memorable.

Golf is a sport that requires you to be in charge of your own momentum.  A teammate cannot pick you up when you are down.  An opponent won't give you a point by making a mistake.  There are no time outs or substitutions.  It is simply, you, the ball and eighteen holes.  Your task is very clear, yet it can seem so complicated.  If you can learn to tap into all of your intelligence and power sources as a person, you can learn to avoid things like self-doubt, anxiety and anger on the course. 

Just a few short months later, Rory won the U.S. Open.  His resilience and tenacity was what marked his year, not the collapse at The Masters or even his win at the U.S. Open.
This blog entry could easily become a book, but we will talk only briefly about each area and how to use your intelligence and power as a golfer.  Everyone who plays this game is unique and every time you step on the course, your experience is unique.  That means that each of you will use your intelligence in different ways and probably not the same way every time you play the game.  We will also talk about how each area of intelligence can be misused to not just take away its power, but to lead you in the wrong direction. 

First, you have to figure out how to best use each area of intelligence.  Here is a list of what each area is in charge of during a round of golf:

Head
            1.  Planning/Strategy
            2.  Analyzing
            3.  Decision Making
            4.  Calculating
            5.  Judging
Heart
            1.  Focus
            2.  Fight
            3.  Attitude
            4.  Joy
            5.  Gratitude
Gut
            1.  Connectedness
            2.  Decision Making
            3.  Feel
            4.  Trust

Head
           
1.  Planning/Strategy
Okay, lets start with what your head does for you.  Before you tee it up on one, you have hopefully already formulated a plan.  Your game plan is your map to take you from the first tee to the eighteenth hole in as few shots as possible.  It is an important tool to playing great golf. There might be some detours, but you start the day with your goal in mind.  While you are playing, it is actively engaged in your strategy.  It weighs odds and helps you decide what you want to do.  It is important at this point to remind you that your head works with your heart and gut in all things, especially when it is at its best. 

How can your head be misused when it comes to planning?  If your mind is too busy with planning while you are on the course, you are in the wrong frame of mind.  An example of this would be how you approach a really windy day.  Every club choice is agonized over and every aim point is second-guessed.  Your mind spins and it feels as though everything is going too fast.  You are over the ball and hitting the shot before you ever committed to any shot.  Give yourself some standard practices for windy days, such as, today, I am going to take ¾ swings and keep spin off the ball on my irons. Or whatever I face today on the course, I am going to trust my gut and go with my first instinct and keep my head clearly focused on executing the shot that my instinct tells me is right.

2.  Analyzing
On every shot, you need to analyze your lie, the slope, the wind, the distance, the spot you need to land the ball and how you feel about the shot.  This analyzing becomes second nature to experienced players, but the process is an important one, whether done consciously or unconsciously. 

If analyzing leaks over to you thinking about your game in terms of success and failure, you are in trouble.  This is a trap that many young players fall into and it leads to loss of focus to the task of ball and hole and introduces self doubt.  Even if you are having a great day, if you analyze your play as being great, you will relax and lose your edge that day.  Mostly though, it happens when a shot or two doesn't go as you hope or plan. Your head gets busy with what your swing is doing, why it isn't working, what needs to change and how you can "fix" it.  When your head is busy with analyzing your body motion, your golf swing or what is going wrong, it isnt busy with your goal of getting the ball in the hole.  

Is this you on the golf course?


3.  Decision Making
When you make a decision on the golf course, does your head check in with your heart and your gut?  If so, you are managing your intelligence centers very well and if not, your head is doing too much.  Have you ever stood over a chip shot and knew that you were going to make it?  Then, you step into the shot and darn it if it doesnt go in.  That is an example of your intelligence centers all lining up together.  Your eyes see the shot, your head knows where to land it and how it will break, you feel it in your gut and your heart attaches itself to the picture so perfectly that it becomes reality.  Those moments seem to make time stand still for their beauty.

What is the opposite of not aligning all of your intelligence for a shot?  We have all been there over a shot when we know it isnt going to go where we want it to go.  Instead, it is going to follow the sick feeling in the gut and go straight into the water or woods, or bunker, or whatever trouble you perceive is insurmountable at that moment.  If your head was in the right place, it would say STOP to your actions, and start over and line everything up.  Your head would choose a shot you feel in your gut and commit to in your heart.  There are so many reasons that this doesnt always happen.  You might be thinking about what you SHOULD do instead of what youre capable of at that moment.  You might be pressing due to mistakes or thinking about your score.  You might be playing for someone else and working to impress or do what you think he would want you to do.  The why doesnt matter, but what you need to pay attention to is your discomfort over a shot and let it be a signal to you that your head just took over from your heart and gut.

4.  Calculating
This is a simple task for the head.  This is also one that gets botched when the head is busy with other things.  We arent going to talk too much about this, but the next time you play and you get a wrong yardage, subtract when you were supposed to add or take the yardage to the hole instead of where you should land the ball on the green, ask yourself what your head was REALLY busy with at that moment.

5.  Judging
Judgment is an important tool for golfers.  It is also the most dangerous tool of the mind.  Judgment is how you weigh risk and reward, how you decide how much wind is up there, and what effect the slope will have on your putt.  Judgment is critical to your play, but is as much of a culprit for poor play, as it is a guide for good play.  If you use your judgment to help you with decision-making, it is doing what it should be doing.  If, instead, you use it to consider how you are playing, how you are swinging the club, or how you did with your last shot, your head is busy with the wrong stuff.  Here is an example of what I mean.  Lets say you are just off the green, with a perfect lie (an unneeded judgment) and a simple (another unneeded judgment) chip shot.  If your approach is that this is easy and you then leave it six feet short, you will be very disappointed.  Since you approached the chip shot with a lot of judgment, you will probably also judge your efforts and decide you did poorly.  Sure, that might all be true, but the time to think about it is after the round or the next time you have a chipping practice.  It also puts you into the wrong mode when you approach your six foot putt.  Since your judgment is that you just blew an easy chip, the pressure to make this goes up.   Your head is probably busy thinking about how you just chipped and that adds to the problem.  

Tiger seems displeased with his play in this shot.  Even though you are on the golf course for four hours, is there time for your head to go here or can you keep it focused on what is important?
 When you judge a shot, simply see it for what it is, not how easy or hard it is.  Judge what effect the lie will have on the shot, but not whether or not it is a good lie or a bad lie.  When you hit a shot, you have to play the result, so there is little need to judge yourself or your effort in between.  Some people are so ingrained to judge their every move on the course that they think this is just spin or a form of self-talk that is meant to pump you up.  True players of the game manage their golf ball around the course and judge the results of their game following play.

The main message is, your head needs to work during a round of golf, but it needs to work on the right things and in the right way.  How is your head working?

This blog post was the first in a series of lining up your three areas of intelligence to play better golf.  If you want to read the next one, which talks about using your heart on the course, it can be found here.
The third and final entry is about trusting your gut and it can be found here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Feherty on Tiger

I transcribed this answer that David Feherty gave to Williams and Kusilias on the Morning Drive on Monday, April 9th. This man is wise and while this was commentary about Tiger, I think we could all use it as food for thought.

Kusilias: "What did you see with Tiger and what are your impressions leaving Augusta National?"

Feherty: "Um, you know, you know me, I'm the biggest Tiger fan in the universe. I've been there for I don't know how many of his major wins and how many wins in total and I've seen him do things that no other human being thats played the game has even thought about doing.

I would just love to see him toss everything that he has, um you know, all his toys out of the cot, all the teachers, all the gurus, whatever, and just go and ...you know.... He's making the classic addict's mistake and I know about being an addict, and that is confusing fun and happiness. Thinking that they are the same thing. They're not. They are entirely different.

He's just not, you know, having any fun on the golf course and that, you know, is making him unhappy. Um, you know, he thinks he has to win in order to be happy. No you don't. You have to go out and have fun and see what happens after that.

Even at Bay Hill it sorta concerned me a little, just you know, his body language and all the rest of it. The Tavistock Cup he looked the best I've seen him in years. I talked to him and he seemed genuinely happy. Um, its just a matter of getting your priorities right. You know you've got to go out and play. Sometimes you just have to be a little boy and go out and play. Its too much work for Tiger at the minute. You know its all work, no play."

I love Feherty. He is honest and he deeply cares about the guys he covers. He can see their mistakes for the mistakes he has made and we can all learn from his take on things. Thanks for being one of the true great commentators in the media today David!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wedges

Here is a simple wedge challenge:

Put 10 balls in a pile 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards from your target.  Get at least 5 of each pile within 10 feet of the hole.  Go through your routine, don't drag the ball into place and hit.  Visualize your trajectory and execute the shot to match your vision.



There is a lot you can learn from this simple exercise.  You can a towel down 5 or 10 yards short of the hole and focus on an intermediate target.  This is very good for your discipline when you're on the golf course.  You want to learn to choose and focus on where the ball should land to get it close to the hole.  So many times, our focus becomes the hole, the ball flies to the hole and we are off the back chipping back to the hole.

When you hit a low shot that releases to the hole, where do you land the ball?  How much swing do you need to make it happen?  Now, hit a high shot to the same hole.  Does the length of your swing need to change?  Does your landing point?  Are you matching your vision of the shot with the swing and landing spot on every wedge shot you hit?  Work on this in practice and it will become second nature to you when you play.  This is one reason why it is so important to go through your routine in practice and truly have a clear vision of the shot you want to hit.

Can you hit wedges that release and wedges that check?  Learn to rotate your arms through the shot to hit a runner and hold off your hands to hit a check shot.  Now add spin to the above equation and visualize how the ball reacts when it hits the green.

Finally, have a standard distance with each of your wedges.  Take the opposite approach to the challenge and hit 10 balls with a 1/2 swing with each wedge and then walk to the center of the cluster.  Now do the same with a 3/4 and a full swing.  Let's say you hit your SW 50 yards with a 1/2 swing, 75 yards with a 3/4 swing and 100 yards with a full swing.  If you have an 80 yard shot, you can hit your 3/4 SW and have a 15 footer.  As you get better with repeating these swings, you will be able to add a little or take a little off of each of the three distances.  Now do the same with your lob wedge and pitching wedge.  Hopefully, you now have 9 standards for distance control and from there, you can make small adjustments to dial in a perfect yardage.  

I like the idea of laying up to a perfect distance and when I caddy, I know what the player wants to hit on her par 5's or if she needs to get out of trouble to a perfect distance.  However, great players can score from any distance and while they all have a perfect distance, they score from every distance.  

Have a great wedge practice!  Take your time, learn from the session and walk away with confidence you can carry to the course the next time you tee it up! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Putters and Wedges - Practice for the Important Tools in the Bag

As I have told you in the past, Tuesdays are our day with a lot of structure.  We start the week off by focusing on what we need to do to lower our scores.  Here is today's practice schedule.  We are working on making putts today.  Last week, we spent a lot of time hitting long lags.  While that is a good way to learn to control the pace of your putts, it is equally important to control the speed of shorter putts also.  If you want to be great at reading greens, one of the first steps is to be great at controlling the speed of any length of putt that you face.  Every putt you read will react differently to varying speeds. This practice is about making putts, not simply lagging them close to the hole.

We are also spending a lot of time with our wedges.  As we near post-season, we want to be able to score on short holes, par 5's, after punching out of trouble and whenever we miss the green.  Everyone is able to score on days when you are hitting it well and hitting fairways and greens.  However, on days when you just don't have it, your wedges and your putter will be your best friends.  The key to winning championships is making sure you can score on any kind of day!


Finally, we are continuing to improve on our routine, commitment and focus as we execute shots.  Today, we are working on accountability in those areas by talking about what we want to do prior to doing it and then rating our effort following the shot.  This is a good two hour practice for you and if you focus well for the whole time, you will improve skills that are important for scoring low!


SMU Women’s Golf


Tuesday – 

 Make putts from 5-15 feet using the following challenges.  Make sure you are focused on hitting your putts at the proper speed.

1.      Annika Drill – Put five tees down between 5 and 15 feet.  Putt from each tee until you make 3 of 5.  Find a hole with a lot of slope to add challenge.  

2.     30 Putt Drill – How Many Can You Make?  Put 10 tees down from 1-10 feet.  Start at the closest and putt from each tee, return from the farthest and then go to the end again.  If you make fewer than 22 putts, do it again.

3.     Mustang Drill – Put 5 tees around the hole at 10 feet.  When you make a putt, move the tee back a putter length.  Continue around the circle until you have drawn the putter back 2 times.  It will be a total of 15 made putts.  

4.       Play Horse with a partner.  Keep the putts within 20 feet.  Find big breaking short putts to make it fun! 

 Continue to dial in your wedges.

5.      Lay down a towel on the green and choose a full yardage for each of your wedges.  Land 5 balls on the towel before you finish with a club.

6.     Put 5 balls down 15 yards from the towel and see if you can pitch them all to land on the towel.  Move to 20 feet, then 25 and finish at 30.  Stay focused and match your trajectory to your idea for the shot.

7.      Play an up and down game with a teammate.   Play to 5.  You get a point when you get an up and down, but your opponent doesn’t tie you.  If you don’t want to finish out your shots, play to 10 and you get a point for the closest shot.  



Ball Striking
8.      Work on the driving range or play nine.  With a teammate or coach, talk through your routine and the shot you visualize.  After you hit the shot, rate your routine, commitment and trust on a scale of 1-10.