Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Goal Today

Can we, as a team, get the best of ourselves?  That is our goal for this tournament.  How can we accomplish it?  By using a lot of things that are heard so often, they have become cliches and discounted.  We will be in the moment, play with freedom and let go of thoughts that aren't needed, wanted or helpful.

Your thoughts are under your control.  When your mind races, its up to you to put on the brakes.  How can you do that?  By employing some simple tasks.  One is, keep track of your breathing.  Feel the breath go in and out.  See your belly puff and your chest rise.  Hear the sighs as it moves.  Another is to replace an unwanted thought with a different thought.  Can you take away the fear of the water and replace it by thinking of your Grandma or your dog or anything that gives you good feelings and calms you?  When you worry about your score, can you instead think about your trip to the beach?  Finally, connect with your senses.  Feel the wind on your face.  Smell the grass.  Taste the sweat on your lips.   Hear the birds chirping and singing.  See the colors of nature.  Get completely into it and let it absorb you.

Finally, when your thoughts are quiet, focus on the shot at hand.  See it in your mind.  Feel yourself hitting it deep in your gut.  Trust in your heart that you will hit it.  Hit it!

Briggs Ranch is a beautiful golf course and a great place to connect with nature.

All in all, your focus needs to happen from the time you start your pre shot routine until the time the ball is flying or rolling.  Your routine starts as you approach the shot.  If you are clear minded and your awareness is high, you will see all that is important to you.  You will feel the wind and the slope.  You will see your target.  Your eyes will remain soft and take in your surroundings.  You will calculate your yardage.  You will trust your gut with club choice.  You will aim with surety.  You will swing freely.

Play great today!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Learning From the Best! Tommy Gainey

Great stuff in this AP article from Doug Ferguson.  First, I love the sportsmanship shown by two guys who suffered defeat.  Both Furyk and Love III could have easily hoisted the trophy, but both set their disappointment aside to applaud Gainey.  Mickleson was recently ripped in the press for cheering for his opponent in the Ryder Cup, but the people who play the game at the highest level recognize greatness in the moment. 
The next thing that is good for young players to read is that Tommy is self taught and trusts himself.  He was told by Furyk to keep doing what he does and not try to be more than he is or someone else.  That has to be the best advice for any young player, but especially for a guy who is constantly criticized for his swing.  Furyk knows what that feels like.
Toms admitted getting out of the moment.  At the highest level, the same things need to happen.  Figure out how to stay in the moment no matter what is happening around you.
Finally, going through Tommy's round, there are two things that jumped out.  He could of, should of, would of, scored lower if he had made a 6 footer and birdied the par 5.  Instead of worrying about what didn't happen, he just kept chugging along.  If he had stepped to the tee with "should of" in his mind, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to shoot 59, because he would have been in mourning over missed opportunities.  Next, Tommy scored with his putter and his short game.  He didn't stuff every shot, but made putts that were 15 and 20 feet.  He probably had a game plan for each hole and hit the ball where he could have a good roll at birdie.  
I love guys like Tommy Gainey!  They epitomize my idea of playing with heart, not just for a round, but for a lifetime.
Oct 22, 4:49 AM EDT

Gainey gets his 1st PGA Tour win at Sea island

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) -- Moments after Tommy Gainey narrowly missed his putt for a 59, he walked off the 18th green at Sea Island with a two-shot lead over Jim Furyk and Davis Love III, who still had 10 holes to play in the McGladrey Classic.
"Got a long way to go," Gainey said.
More than two hours later, after Furyk needed a birdie to force a playoff and instead made bogey, he walked over to Gainey in the scoring area and gave him a hug. It was a reminder to the 37-year-old Gainey just how far he had come.
Gainey twice worked on the assembly line for A.O. Smith, wrapping insulation around hot water tanks until a downturn in the economy cost him his job. He played mini-tours that no longer exist, and made a name for himself on a Golf Channel reality series for wearing two gloves. He fashioned his own swing from his days playing baseball.
It was Furyk, of all people, who pulled Gainey aside last year and told him he was good enough to win.
"I played nine holes with him and he just told me, `Tommy, when you were on the mini-tours, you were kicking their tail, and now you get out here and you struggle a little bit.' He said, `Man, don't change your game. Just keep going at it. You got the game to be out here and to win. Just keep your head up and just keep trying, and sooner or later it's going to happen.'
"Who knows what would have happened if we didn't play nine holes together, or even had a talk?"
Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey couldn't have imagined winning like this.
Seven shots behind going into the final round, Gainey came within one putt of a 59, and then had to wait more than two hours as David Toms, Furyk and Love - who have combined for 49 wins, three majors and 17 Ryder Cup teams - tried to catch him.
None of them could.
Gainey broke the course record at Sea Island with a 10-under 60, which carried him to a one-shot win over Toms. He became the fourth player this year to rally from at least seven shots in the final round to win, helped by seven straight 3s on his card on the back nine.
"Oh, man," Gainey said. "I tell you, you're out here on the PGA Tour. You're playing with the best players in the world. Ninety-nine percent of these guys have already won, and won majors, big tournaments. The only show I can say I've won is the `Big Break.' Now I can sit here and say I've won the McGladrey Classic here at Sea Island, and I'm very proud to be in this tournament and very proud to win. And wow, it's been a whirlwind day.
"I didn't know having 24 putts and shooting 60 would be like this," he said. "So I'm pretty stoked about it."
Furyk was pretty bummed.
He went 55 holes without a bogey, a streak that ended on the 18th hole when he needed a birdie to force a playoff. From the fairway, Furyk pushed an 8-iron right of the green and had to settle for a 69, a sour end to a season filled with bitter moments.
It was his fourth time with at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He lost in a playoff, made bogey on the 16th hole at Olympic Club that cost him a shot at the U.S. Open, and made double bogey on the 18th hole at Firestone to lose the Bridgestone Invitational. Furyk had said going into the week that even a win wouldn't erase memories of those losses, along with losing a 1-up lead to Sergio Garcia in the Ryder Cup.
This time, someone went out and beat him with a record score, and Furyk couldn't catch him.
"I think what I'm most disappointed about is when it came down the stretch, hitting the ball pretty much as good as I can, I made really, really poor swings at 17 and 18 with a 7-iron and 8-iron," Furyk said. "So to play those two holes and not get one good look at it for birdie was disappointing."
Love's hopes of winning before the home crowd - he has lived at Sea Island since he was 14 - ended with a tee shot into the water for double bogey on the 16th. He was trying to become the first Ryder Cup captain since Tom Watson in 1996 to win on the PGA Tour.
A gracious host even in defeat, Love recalled his last win at Disney in 2008, when he didn't look at a leaderboard until the 18th hole and saw Gainey making a run. Love held on with pars. This time, he saw Gainey's name appear out of nowhere again, and couldn't do anything about it. He closed with a 71 and tied for fourth.
Toms, who closed with a 63, also needed a birdie on the 18th hole, but he pushed his drive well right into the bunker and had little chance of reaching the green.
"I was thinking about what kind of putt I was going to have before I ever hit the fairway," Toms said. "You get ahead of yourself and that's what happens."
Gainey's round was about 9.4 shots better than the average score in the final round. He had a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th to become the sixth player in PGA Tour history with a 59 and narrowly missed it.
He started his round with a 31 on the front nine, despite missing a 6-foot birdie putt on the second hole and failing to make birdie on the reachable par-5 seventh. Starting with his 10-foot birdie putt on the 11th hole, he put together seven straight 3s on his scorecard. His 20-foot birdie putt on the 14th tied him for the lead. He holed out a bunker shot from about 40 feet on the par-5 15th to take a two-shot lead, and then holed a 20-footer on the 16th to bring golf's magic number into view.
Gainey hit wedge into about 20 feet on the 18th hole, leaving him a birdie putt for a shot at a 59. He ran off to a portable bathroom before the big putt and gave it a nice roll. The pace was just a bit off and it turned weakly away to the right.
"I wasn't thinking about 59," Gainey said. "See, all I did all day was just try to make birdies - and a lot of birdies - because when you're seven shots back, your chances of winning a PGA tournament with the leaders, Davis Love III and Jim Furyk ... it don't bide in your favor, man. I'm in this position, and man, it feels like I'm in a dream. I'm just waiting for somebody to slap me upside the head or pinch me or something to wake me up."
Instead, he went over to the volunteer tent for a champagne toast. Gainey raised a bottle of beer.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Excuses are Sexy

When you give an excuse to yourself or others, you make it easy to avoid the truth.  Avoiding the truth leads to a lack of accountability.  It will be tough to reach your goals if you aren't accountable to yourself.  It will be tough to be dependable if you aren't accountable to others.
Eleanor Roosevelt didn't say this to a golfer, but she could have!  It is true.

Here are some common excuses used on the golf course:

1.  "It's hard."   This is a very common answer to many questions.  Questions such as, "How did it go today?"  "Did you focus on the right stuff today?"  "Did you stay in the moment and focus on your shots?"  "Did you let go of your mistakes when you put the club in the bag?"  "did you have fun playing golf?"

2.  "I tried!"  This is also a very common answer to the same questions listed above.  #1 is an answer that mean's I failed because the task was too hard for me.  This answer means I failed because I wasn't up to the task.  All in all, these are the same answer and often interchangeable by the golfer who will answer, "It's hard and I tried."  Both answers clearly say NO, but with an implied effort.

Ok, I hear you out there, saying those aren't excuses.  They are just answers.  Both of those responses relate an attempt to succeed, but ultimately these answers offer an apology for failure.  They are used to shift blame from the golfer and place it on the hardness of the task.  These are excuses.

There are also a lot of excuses for poor play or loss of focus.  No matter what they are, they signal a lack of accountability by the golfer.  Here are some popular ones in college golf:

3.  "I have a test later."  "I had a test earlier."  "I failed a test." "I don't want to fail a test."
All of these excuses mean that as a golfer, you aren't focused on golf.  There is little you can do about a test unless you sneak your books onto the course in your golf bag.  (Yes, I have seen that! ) Otherwise, if you are on the golf course, you have the ability to focus on golf and nothing else.  Letting your mind wander to what is awaiting you when you leave the course is simply letting your mind wander.  You control your focus!

It is sometimes hard to remember that you choose what you think and your attitude.  Choose wisely. 

4.  "I was put on the clock."  "I was paired with the slowest player on earth."  "We were two holes behind."  "I felt rushed."
Time is always a stresser.  As a golfer, you need to practice a routine that is consistent in its timing and puts you in the zone.  Your routine should be 40 seconds or less.  If you have this in your game, none of the earlier statements will cost you a shot unless you forget that your preparation and pre shot routine are all you need to think about when rushed or slow.  Your routine is your best friend and takes away the opportunity to rely on the above excuses as valid reasons for dropping shots.

5.  "The greens were too fast."  The greens were too slow."  You can put any part of the course in the beginning of the sentence and any descriptor in the end.  Your job as a golfer is to play whatever course you find when you step on the first tee.  It is not your job to judge the course, but instead to score on it.  You cannot wish for different things and successfully adjust to what you are facing.  You can either wish or you can adjust.  Reality doesn't allow for excuses.

6.  "I don't play well on this course."  "I didn't have a good warm up session today."  "I didn't feel comfortable over the ball."  "I didn't see the line on the greens."  "I didn't hit it well today."  These are so commonly used, they are barely recognized as excuses.  They are excuses!  History doesn't matter to today's score.  Unless you let it.  You don't keep score when you warm up, so it is impossible for it to effect your score.  Unless you let it.  Your comfort shouldn't be a factor.  What sport is played in comfort?  Get over yourself and focus!  Not seeing the line means you weren't in the right state of mind.  It doesn't mean you simply get a pass for a bad day of putting.  Not hitting it well means you better have great course management and some short game to back you up.  Everyone has good days and bad days, but you keep score on both.

7.  "I'm tired."  "I'm sore."  "I'm sick."  "I'm hurt."  There is a little box for your score and there is no room for pity in that box.  No matter what is going on with you, if you are playing golf, you will have to post a score.  That's the bottom line, so you might as well get over whatever complaint you have and play.

8.  "I suck."  I'm not good at (insert skill here)."  "I can't (insert skill here)." "I never (insert skill here)."  "I always (insert lack of skill here)"  These are my least favorite excuses, because they suck the will to play right out of a player.  This is a player with a bad caddy in her head.  These excuses are like closed doors to players.  Once they are on the other side of the door, you can't get to them.  The room they are in is dark and very lonely.  All excuses are problems, but these chew away a player's confidence.  Seen for what they are, simply excuses, they are surmountable.  They are the excuses that lead to an attitude of "whatever".  They lead to letting go, giving up and giving in.  Beware of these!

What will you do when you use or hear an excuse?  Will you recognize it?  Will you rephrase and reframe?  Can you script success?   These are the three steps you need when you use an excuse.  If you hear yourself make an excuse, stop it!  Recognize, reframe, rephrase.  Give yourself an automatic response so you can easily move past your excuse.  Here is an example:  "I always make bogey when they put our group on the clock."  Recognize your thought or statement by hearing the words always, or they.  Both are red flags.  No one but you can truly effect your score unless you allow it.  Always and never are cop outs.  If you hear that go through your mind, script a comeback for yourself.  State what you want to happen and how you are in control of how you think of it.  "I don't like being on the clock, but I know my routine is rock solid and only 40 seconds long.  I will trust it and focus on it."  Or.... "I have a test tomorrow."  New script: "I have a test tomorrow, but I can't do a thing about it on the golf course, so I will enjoy my time here and focus on my golf."  Or...."I don't feel good and I can't focus."  New script: "I don't feel good so it will take all of my effort to focus on my golf.  It doesn't matter how I feel right now so I won't spend any time thinking about it today."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Perfection vs. Learner's Mindset

Perfection is the state of completeness and flawlessness.  As a golfer, you can have perfection on a shot.  You can hit the shot you see in your mind's eye, it can react as you believed it would and you can hole the shot or have the result turn out just as you wanted.  You can not, however, have perfection as a golfer. 

A great example of a golfer working toward perfection.

Working toward perfection gives golfers an idea that their technique can be a finished product.  Think of your golf swing as you think of your gait when you walk.  It is something you learned.  There was some pain involved.  Luckily you had a fat diaper to fall back on when you were learning to walk.  Your gait adjusts to slopes and surfaces as does your swing.  There is little thought to your gait, but you can easily adjust to obstacles, such as a hole or a discarded wrapper on the ground.  When you learn, you create an inventory of motion or movements to create a basis of knowledge. That basis allows you walk with little or no thought of the movements needed.  Your eyes see where you want to go, your perception judges distances, slopes and obstacles in a glance and your body reacts.  There is no perfect step, merely a step that allows you to move from point A to point B.  That is the idea that needs to be adopted by golfers. 

Your job as a golfer is to develop your swing to produce any shot you want to hit under the most intense pressure.  Think of how easily you walk down the street.  Now, imagine that the sidewalk is a tightrope suspended high between two posts in the circus.  Does your walking need to be refined?  Must it hold up under pressure?  Yes!  The same skills need to be developed;
Focus, balance, emotional control, target orientation, body control, centeredness, etc.  

High wire walker, Nik Wallenda

Your golf swing isn't a motion that needs to be perfected, but instead a motion that needs to be developed.  You need to learn to hit high shots, low shots, curve shots and straight shots.  Then, you need to learn to do this under pressure.  Great players who can perform when it counts are the same as great walkers who can perform high above the ground with no net.

The root of the word perfection comes from the Latin word perficio, which means to finish or to bring to an end.  Aristotle wrote the following definitions of perfection in Metaphysics.

1. which is complete — which contains all the requisite parts;
2. which is so good that nothing of the kind could be better.
3. which has attained its purpose.[4]

If you want to be a great player, you must have a learner's mindset.  You must think that talent is something available with hard work and tuning.  Great players are constantly in the process of greatness and understand that their golf skills can either be developed and honed or they can be ignored and rusty.  Being a great player is never a finished process.  It is never at a state where it couldn't be better. Your ability translates to a purpose that is fleeting and ever changing.

Golf, as Bob Rotella told us, is not a game of perfect and neither is your golf swing!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Freedom vs. Pressing

What is a "Try Scale"?

Grit your teeth and try as hard as you possibly can to make a 5 footer.  You will be at 10 on the scale.  Now, lazily swing the putter and hit the ball toward the hole.  You will be at 1 on the scale.  Most golfers play somewhere in between those two extremes.  If you take a survey of great players and ask them where they are when they are playing their best golf, most will answer between 3 and 6.  There is a recognition that trying hard isn't the answer to great play.

Instead of playing with effort, great play seems effortless.  Effort, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing.  It is a what makes great players great.  It occurs in practice when things are going the wrong way.  It occurs when its raining and you have to drag yourself to the first tee.  It occurs when your core needs strengthening and you're sweating in the gym.

Increased effort on the golf course can turn into pressing.  Pressing is simply the adding of pressure to a situation.  Some pressure is a good thing.  It reminds us that what we are doing is important.  It creates heightened focus.  However, there is a balance to achieve with all things and too much pressure can take you away from your natural game.  Achieving the balance of playing with freedom instead of pressing is a competitive skill that all players should focus on learning.  The ability to dial in your "try scale" is the ability to get into the zone.

The first step is to think about where you are when you play your best.  Put a number on it.  Define it.  What does it feel like?  Do you breath hard or fast?  Do you walk with rhythm?  Do you see the trees and talk to your fellow competitors?  Notice what it feels like when you are in the zone.  These clues and cues will be what will help you get into your zone when you slip away from it.  When you crank up the try scale, what happens?  How do you press?  Do you change your posture?  Do you drop your head?  Do you quit talking?  Does your grip tighten?  Do you walk faster?  Does your routine slow down?

Trevino was known for looking loose and talking a lot when he played his best golf.  He used his time between shots getting energy from the crowd, joking with his fellow competitors and laughing.  This helped him keep himself in his zone.

Pressing isn't the only thing that can happen to your "Try Scale".  It can go the other direction, too!  You can lose interest in a round, even when its important.  What changes when you lose focus?  Do you shut down?  Do you talk more?  Does your routine change?  What triggers the interest dropping?  Are you disgusted with mistakes?  Do you feel bored?  What will it take to get you back into your round?  Can you find a new challenge?  Can you forgive yourself and start over? 

In coaching, we see trying too hard more often than giving up.  Pressing can be caused by a lot of things.  Hitting into trouble can cause a player to make decisions based on "have to's" and attempt to hit hero shots through forests.  Playing smart golf is often making decisions with the best option in mind instead of your score.  Another example happens on the greens.  Standing over a 10 foot putt that you really need and want can cause pressing.  Standing over a 10 foot putt that you want to see, feel and roll with trust is completely different.  The first mindset is being in the future and thinking about the result of the putt while the second is being in the moment.  Pressing is often the result of being out of the moment.  Can you let go of past mistakes or bad holes so they don't effect future decisions?  Can you focus on the task at hand vs. the results of your shots so you aren't jumping into the future?

Figure out what you need to do to put yourself in your zone!  Recognize it when you get over or below your best try number.  Find some little cues that will put you in your best state of mind.  Play golf with freedom by trusting the effort you put into your preparation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SMU Practice Schedule

There has been a lot of writing going on lately, but not much publishing.  Here is our practice schedule for the week, followed by a few days of mental and emotional game goals we are working on as a team.  The game goals will be published in the days to come.

P.S. Schedule
Week of Oct. 8

Monday –             Workouts at 3.  Pony Up!
Tuesday –          
Team make 100 3 footers in a row and then one on one time in short game area.

Wednesday-            18 at Lakewood.

During today’s round, keep track of your state of mind.  Put yourself in the zone.  If you feel pressing, find some looseness.  If you feel unfocused, snap back into the present.  Help each other if you see a difference in your teammate’s routine or try scale.  Ask them where their state of mind was. 

1.  Make 25 in a row from 4 feet.  When you have made 22 putts, stop, call your teammates over and then make your last three!
2.  Put a towel down on the green that is folded to be about a foot wide and square.  Now put 10 balls down at 10 paces from the towel off the green.  Land your balls on the towel with the total shot in mind.  In other words, put it in line with the shot needed to hole it and hit it the trajectory you picture.  Can you hit it?  Did you pick the right place to make the shot?  Now move back 10 paces and do it again.  Move all the way back to 50 paces from the towel.  When you hit shots around the green, are you getting yardage to the hole or to the landing point for your shots? 
3.  On the range, work with a partner and call the shots your partner hits.  Call the starting point, the spin or curve and the ending point.  Call the height.  Use your aiming sticks to force starting point.  Pick out fairways.  Make it a game!  Talk about changing your stance (open or closed) to start the ball in different directions.  Talk about ball position to change the height of the ball flight.  Talk about moving closer or further away and learning what that does to your ball flight.

Have a great practice!

Friday-            Play at least 9 holes at DAC with a teammate and practice what you need.

Saturday-        We leave at 3:00 from campus.



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