Wednesday, July 31, 2013

College Golf Camp Presentation

Yesterday, I had the honor to speak to a room full of great young men and young women at the College Golf Camp in Euless, TX.  Check out their website to learn more about the camps!  My subject matter for the talk was to Play With Freedom!  I wanted to share the talk with those in the camp so they can reference it when they need it.  Good luck to all of the aspiring college players.



Play With Freedom

Story:  You are on the first tee in an important tournament round.  There are a lot of spectators.  You want to play well, but right now, you just want to get off the tee well.  You top the ball and it dribbles about 20 yards in front of you.  What emotions do you feel?



Story #2:  You are on the first tee in an important tournament round.  There are a lot of spectators.  You want to play well, but right now, you just want to get off the tee well.  You top the ball and it dribbles about 20 yards in front of you.  You go on to shoot a 68 and win the tournament by two shots.  What emotions do you feel after your tee shot knowing what you know?

The point is, you are in charge of how you act on the course and you don't have to react to the situation or the result of the shot.  All the emotions that flooded in after the first story, such as anger, embarrassment, surprise, shame or disappointment are not automatic.  They depend upon you and the choices you make.  You can decide prior to a round that you will have a calm demeanor no matter how many butterflies are flying in your stomach.  You can choose to see any problems you face as your Challenge of the Day and rise to it and gain confidence from it.  You can choose to keep track of how well you bounce back after a bad shot or a bad hole and take pride in your big bounces.  If you have a plan for how you will act, you will often be in stories like the second one instead of the first.



Next, we talked about the "Try Scale".  I asked the group where they were on a scale of 1-10 when they played their best golf.  I heard a lot of 3s, 4s and 5s.  A couple of 6s and one or two 2s.  Then I asked where they were on the first tee today and I heard a lot of 7s and 8s.  Once again, as a player, you have to understand that it is up to you to recognize where you want to be on your try scale and find a strategy to get there and stay there.  If you find you are starting to press and try too hard, can you imagine your favorite place or talk with your playing partners?  Can you look for birds or sing your favorite song?  Do something, anything, to take your Try Scale down to the level that allows you to play with freedom.  Here is a link to a past blog about Pressing.

Here is an example of the many ways you can approach a putt.  Choose the circle you want to be in on the green.


We then talked about the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses and how those things play into your try scale.  If you are great at bunker shots, you step in with confidence and a low try effort.  If you haven't gotten it up and down from a bunker in weeks, you try harder, press, see less of the green and tighten up.  As you prepare for tournament play, understand your strengths and weaknesses.  Have a plan for adjusting your goals.  An example might be, if you are struggling from bunkers, spend a little time in the warm up hitting some shots from the bunker to lessen your anxiety and on the course, have a simple goal, such as get it out and on the green.  Keep your try scale consistent no matter what skill you are faced with.

From this discussion, we moved into talking about what it takes to be great.  The pros who win at the most important events understand that they need to have a balance between their mental game skills, their physical game skills and their emotional skills on the course.  Using Phil Mickleson's performance at the British Open is an example of this balance.  His family was with him and he seemed happy and content with his life.  His mental approach was simple and clear, "to do the best with each shot I'm faced with all day long." His physical game was on point.  Contrast his play with Tiger's play and you come away with two great players in very different places.  Tiger spoke of how well he hit the ball, but continually pointed to the slow greens as a reason for his poor scoring.  Instead of adjusting his mental and physical approach to the greens, he used them as an excuse and blamed them for his lack of scoring.  Tiger is probably the best putter I've ever witnessed play the game, but his triangle of balance was skewed at the British Open.

To play your best golf and to experience freedom, you need to be secure in all three areas of the triangle.  If one area isn't strong for you, you can increase your focus in the other two areas.  For example, if you aren't driving the ball well, your mental game can step up with expert game plans and staying focused on what you can do instead of falling into the trap of what isn't going well.  Your emotional can also be strong with staying positive and calm on each shot you face.


If you want to win tournaments, you can do it with a weakness in one area, but never two.  You can have a virus and feel poorly, but your mental and emotional game will need to be strong to play well.  You can have a poor mental approach and feel a lack of confidence, but strike the ball well and overcome it physically.  The toughest one to overcome is the emotional factor.  If you aren't yourself on the course or you're sad or angry with life off the course, it is tough to be strong mentally and focus on your physical.

We went on to talk about your strengths and to write a letter to yourself.  Here was the exercise:
1.  Write down two or three things your best friends would say about you.  What are your good characteristics from their perspective.  It's better to think of non-golfing friends to get a clearer idea of who you are away from the course.
2.  Write down two or three things you would call your mental game strengths or "go-to" characteristics.
3.  Write down two or three things you are good at physically in the game.

4.  Now, write down one thing that bugs your friends.  Think about how it affects you on the course.
5.  Write down a problem you recognize in your mental game.
6.  Write down a physical weakness you have on the golf course.

Go ahead and channel your inner super hero!  Flex your strengths!


Using these six things, figure out how you can use your strengths and your personal characteristics to help you be successful.  Also, figure out a strategy to offset your weaknesses and game plan to avoid their affect on the course.  Write yourself a letter and tell yourself who you are, what your strengths are, how they serve you on the golf course and how you will strategize to improve your weaknesses and not allow them to ruin your day on the golf course.

Finally, we talked about how great players act and think on the range, versus how they act and think on the golf course.  On the range, they work hard to perfect their craft.  They use training aids, pros, mirrors and deep analysis to have good mechanics and learn more.  On the course, they think about and talk about what the ball does and sometimes what the club will do.  They rarely, if ever talk about what their body does.  To play with freedom, you need to understand how to be into what the ball does and how it will fit the golf course.



Good luck playing with freedom.  Be yourself on the course.  You are unique.  Don't compare yourself or model yourself so closely after another that you lose your sense of self.  Take total responsibility for your score.  Don't blame your score on others, conditions or make excuses for it.  To play with total freedom means to be your best self!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Is Your Mental Game Independent?

That's a funny question, isn't it?  How can your mental game be independent?  The answer is by not relying upon your ball striking, your putting, your start, your warm up, your opponents, the conditions, the tournament or your physical state.  Your mental game should stand up to any and all challenges.

So many golfers have a great mental game when things are going well.  They speak of being in the zone and having a game that flows.  They often have a good warm up and get off to a good start.  They feel confident and the game seems easy.  However, can you find flow and ease when you have a rough start?  If you hit a few hooks during warm up, does your focus remain the same?  If your ball striking is a bit off, can you still find the zone?  Most players would answer no to these questions.  Their mental game is dependent upon their physical game, the conditions they face and other factors.

One indicator of a dependent mental game is by looking at the quotes of players who occasionally find themselves in the zone.  Here is a quote from Russel Knox after shooting 59 yesterday in the Boise Open, "That's the way this stupid game works," Knox said. "You have a day like yesterday and hit nice putts, and they just don't go in. Then the following day, they go in."  This quote is typical of many young players.  They are working hard to bring the same attitude and mental game to the course each and every day.  Some days things go well and some days they don't and while young players might have a bit of control over this, most of the control is dependent upon outside factors.  There seems to be a bit of magic at work when they get in the zone and that magic thinking means the zone is a sometime thing, not a consistent mindset. 


The pros who get into the Hall of Fame take more control over the intangibles, such as attitude, plan, mental game and focus.  Here is a quote from Phil Mickleson following his win at The Open, "....Because I just thought if I made it, it would give me some momentum, get me to even par for the championship, a score I thought had a good chance of being enough. And that putt went in and it just gave me a nice momentum boost, because it's very hard to make birdies out here. You're not going to hit it to tap-in distance. You're going to have to make some good putts. And that was as close as I thought I would have a chance at birdie coming in. And I ended up making it. It was a critical putt. I came right back on 14, where I had a good opportunity to make another one and I did."

Today's blog is illustrated by using old covers of Sports Illustrated.  All of the greats of the game were on the cover often over the years.
Mickleson's mental game was based on understanding what he needed (even par), what he could expect (long birdie putts), the importance of momentum and the opportunities he was presented with during the round.  Great players don't shy away from numbers, because they understand that their process is intact no matter what number is needed to win.  They also understand what to expect from the day and rise to provide it, no matter what it is.  Here is a quote from Jack Nicklaus that illustrates that mindset, "Some people say it's OK to lose if your opponent has a hot round. Phooey on that. I hate to lose -- period. If a guy is going to shoot a 10 under par, I am going to shoot an 11 under par.
[Sports Illustrated, 1960]  

Look at those eyes!  Great players have focused eyes and use them to play athletically.

There are no timeouts or substitution in golf, so great players are in charge of their own momentum.  Mickleson obviously understands how important that is for him in the heat of competition based on using the word twice in his quote as he reflected on his day.  He had a plan prior to the round and that allowed him to play the game.  Tom Watson once said, "Sometimes thinking too much can destroy your momentum." 
Watson took on Nicklaus with no fear.  Something done by only a few, including Trevino.
Finally, Mickleson spoke of opportunities.  Great players see opportunities.  They never consider themselves done until the ball drops on 18.  Arnold Palmer said, "I've always made a total effort, even when the odds seemed entirely against me.  I never quit trying; I never felt that I didn't have a chance to win."

You can somehow see Arnie's determination in the set of his mouth.  He was not going to give up!

Great players create their mental games and keep them independent of their physical games.  They do what they can with each shot.  As Sam Snead said, " Nobody asked how you looked, just what you shot."  Decide prior to your round what you will focus on, what you can expect from the conditions and competition and then see opportunities in front of you throughout your round.  All of these things are choices you can and should make.  Do all you can do with each shot as you face it and then move onto the next shot.  When you learn to do this, your mental game will stand on its own.  If you continue to let one shot effect the next, your mental game will always be dependent upon other things.  The mental game you bring to the course is just as important, if not more, as all of your physical skills.

Sam might have said it wasn't important how you looked making your score, but he always looked dapper on the course.





Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fred Shoemaker and Morgan Hoffman

One of my favorite people in the business of training golfers is Fred Shoemaker.  His book, Extraordinary Golf, is one of my favorites.  We had the opportunity to work with Fred while I was coaching at Texas A&M and I can honestly say, he made a huge difference to our team that year.  He told us a story that went something like this;

Fred Shoemaker Photo from shivas.org


"You are on the first tee of a big tournament.  There is a gallery and you are nervous.  You step up to the tee, go through your routine and top the ball into the rough in front of the tee."  He then asked, "How do you respond?"

The team answered with the usual responses, such as embarrassment, more nervousness, fear that you will do it again, anger, and dread for the day.  Fred nodded.  He then told us this story;

"You are on the first tee of a big tournament.  There is a gallery and you are nervous.  You step up to the tee, go through your routine and top the ball into the rough in front of the tee.  You go on to shoot 68 and win the tournament."  Again he asked, "How do you respond?"

The team answered differently.  First, they asked, "I win?" and Fred answered, "Yes, you win."  They then answered with responses such as refocus, laugh it off, deep breath and find a target, smile, bear down and get determined. 

If you knew that one shot had no effect on any other shot in your round, would that shot bother you?

Would you go into a "fixit" mode and start thinking mechanics?  Would you beat yourself up for not making a good swing?  Would you abandon your game plan?  Would you walk with your head down?  Would you give up on yourself?  Probably not.

This bears the question, can you choose how you want to act on the golf course instead of being reactive to results?  YES!

Morgan Hoffman had that experience yesterday.  Here is his card:


Morgan started on the back nine on day two and made an 8 on his second hole.  At that point, he was +6 for the event on a cut day with the number at -4.  He was 10 shots off the cut.  He followed his quadruple bogey with a par, probably got himself together and then shot -10 on his next 15 holes to make the cut on the number.  Morgan obviously held to Fred's belief that no shot or no hole needs to have an effect any other shot or hole, UNLESS YOU ALLOW IT TO AFFECT YOU!

Morgan Hoffman at the Walker Cup


The tours have countless examples of this competitiveness weekly.  Rarely is it this dramatic, but it serves to prove a point that to make it to the highest level of the game, you must be more than a ball striker and a great putter.  You must be a competitor.

The next blog is going to talk about competition on the golf course.  I am halfway through it, but I was so excited for Morgan Hoffman's ability to compete that I had to stop and blog about it.  There are a lot of examples of players getting out of their own way lately.  There was a 59 by a young man (I'm not allowed to mention the name of a student-athlete) at the North South.  There was a 60 in Utah by Chad Collins.  Lucas Glover shot 62 yesterday at Deere Run and barely got a mention.  Michael Allen shot a 63 at the U.S. Senior Open yesterday.  Fuzzy Zoeller had some advice for Allen going forward in the tournament.  He said, "Go play like you're broke."  In other words, go out there and compete! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Is Your Golf Warm Up Actually a Warm Up?

You have an important round today!  It might be an AJGA event, a qualifier to get in the lineup or the first round of your club championship.  Whatever it is, it's important and you want to do well.  The scene is set and it's one hour until your tee off time.  How will you warm up?

Your warm up should do a few things for you.  It should get your body warm, loose and moving.  It should get you in the right frame of mind to play the game.  For most players, this means focused, visualizing and observant.  It should also serve as a time to get you excited for the day.



Your warm up shouldn't be a practice time.  How many of you go to the range with the best intentions to simply warm up, but then become reactive to a bad shot?  After just a few swings, you are working on your swing instead of warming up.  This seems normal to you, because you spend most of your time on the range working on mechanics.  You move from the warm up stage to the searching stage.  You are looking for a move or a feel.  You file through the swing thoughts that have worked in the past.  You are trying things and hitting balls quickly.  STOP!

Instead of spending your warm up time practicing or searching for answers, simply warm up.  A bad shot on the driving range doesn't have any effect on any other shot unless you allow it to do so.  First of all, in a perfect world, there wouldn't be any judgment on the range when you are warming up, but we will start with a simple strategy for your time.  If you hit a poor shot, simply take a break.  Clean your club, tie your shoe, talk to a buddy, walk away and stretch or find something else to take a mental break.  You can begin your warm up again when you are over your poor shot.  When you start over, remember to focus on what you want with your shots.

If you need a mental break to let go of a bad shot during warm up, take time to stretch.  Here is Natalie Gulbis getting warmed up for her round.  Photo credit: David Cannon


When you warm up, warm up your mind, too.  Choose targets, visualize shots, commit to them and hit them.  Hit some draws and fades.  Hit some low runners and some high, soft lobs.  See it, feel it, trust it on the range.  Use your pre-shot routine and match your warm-up to what you want to do on the course.  Be decisive, be clear, be simple, be creative and be visual.  In other words, play golf.  A great way to end your range session is by visualizing and playing the first hole you will see in competition. Make sure you note the wind and your lie.  Use the same skills you will use on the course.  This will help you focus your thoughts on the outside world instead of the world of your body's movements or your brain's thoughts.

"Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head. You've got to believe you can play a shot instead of wondering where your next bad shot is coming from."

Jack Nicklaus


Now you are ready for a short game and putting warm up.  If you don't hit chips, pitches and bunker shots in warm up, you are missing out on the most important part of your game.  In the short game area, you will learn what the sand feels like and the shots it produces.  You will figure out if chips bite or roll out.  You will figure out if the greens hold your pitch shots or if they release.  Most players miss 30% to 50% of the greens during a round, so your preparation shouldn't be focused on being perfect with your 6 iron, but with your ability to score.

One ball and one goal is a great way to prepare for your next round of golf.


End your short game practice with one ball and your putter.  Give yourself three or four up and down opportunities and work to make them.  Don't fall into the practice trap by giving yourself a "do over".  Focus on what you want to do with the ball and execute the shot.  Use your routine and incorporate visualization and commitment.

When you get to the putting green, your goal is to be observant of the speed and any local knowledge you will need.  Are there features that cause break, such as slopes, grains, wind or water?  Get a feel for the impact they will have on your roll.  Spend your time watching the ball rolling and matching your feel to the speed and breaks you see.  So many players warm up with three balls and putt the second without watching the first roll.  They are clearly practicing instead of warming up and preparing to play.  End your time on the putting green with one ball, a pre shot routine and the goal of making putts.

You can begin your warm up in any of the three areas.  There is nothing wrong with ritual in your warm up routine as long as you don't get lost in the ritual and go through the motions.  Remember what your warm up is for; preparation.

Our team warm up at SMU starts with some football in the parking lot.  It sets the tone for our day.  We are together as a team, our bodies are getting warm and loose and we are laughing and having fun.  Getting excited for your day is a big part of your warm up.  If you are on the range searching or becoming frustrated and angry, then you are setting yourself up for dread and disappointment and your excitement will be gone before you play one hole.

Take the time to come up with a plan for your warm up.  Pay attention to what you are doing with your time, your focus and your game before you go to the first tee.  Prepare for playing a great round and get ready for greatness.






Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Daily Do It #11 - Shotmaking ----> Learning

Today is about hitting shots and then moving to the putting green and playing a bit of croquet.

This is a bit like Dr. David Cook's 88 Shot Drill, but I can't find it so this is a new version.

NO DO OVERS!

Warm up.  Don't practice, just loosen up.

You can do these shots with any clubs.  Pick 3 clubs each day to get connected to creating shots, feeling your balance, feeling your tempo and learning how to use your tool, the golf club.

Make adjustments to create the shots.  Learn how important it is to change ball position, how close you are to the ball, where your weight is centered, what the club face looks like at address or the shape of your swing. 

1.  Hit a really low shot.  If a gopher sticks his head up, make him duck again.
2.  Hit a shot at the horizon.
3.  Flight a shot normally for you.
4.  Hit a really high shot.  Bring the rain!
5.  Hit a draw.  Make the ball fall gently left (for right handers)
6.  Hit a hook.  Make the ball go hard left.
7.  Hit a fade.  Make the ball fall gently right.
8.  Hit a slice.  Make the ball go hard right.
9.  Hit a shot with your feet together.
10.  Hit a shot standing on your left foot only.
11.  Hit a shot with your right hand only.
12.  Hit a shot with your left hand only.
13.  Hit a shot with your eyes closed.
14.  Flip the club upside down and hit a shot left handed.
15.  Hit a standard shot at a target using your routine.


Here is a good and simple video with Ricky Fowler's caddy, Joe Skovron, which talks about adjustments you can make to hit it high or low.


Here is a quick tip from Jack Nicklaus on how he hits a fade.  Pay attention to his adjustments with the face of his club and his stance.  Learning to change your ball flight with set up adjustments instead of swing thoughts make it a lot easier.


Putting. 

1.  Use long tees to create a path to the hole before you hit the putt.  Put them into the green like wickets for croquet.
Find a 10-15 feet breaking putt to begin with.  Put at least 5 sets of two tees on the path of your putt.  Have 2 tees creates a wicket within 6" of the ball and 2 within 6" of the hole.  Now, putt the ball.  Did you choose the right path?  Did your path match the speed needed?  Make adjustments to both your path and speed until it is just right.  Take note of the first and last gate.  The first represents your aim point and the highest point of the putt.  The last represents the true center of the hole and where you need to visualize the ball entering.

Now do the same thing with a longer putt.  Find big breakers to make it more fun.  Choose both uphill and downhill putts.  What are the differences between the paths?

Take it a step further and have a friend time how long it takes the putt to roll from your putter to the hole.  What differences are there in the times between uphill and downhill or breaking vs. straight.  Does this help you visualize your speed and match it with the break?

2.  Set your phone timer to 3 minutes.  Putt as many 3 footers into the hole as you can.  Now do the same thing from 10 feet.  How many did you make?  What did you learn when you putted quickly.

Don't forget to celebrate your shots!


Short Game

1.  Use one ball, one wedge and your putter.  Drop the ball at least 10 paces from the edge of the green and get it up and down 10 times.  Putt everything out.  Chip ins are worth 2 points.  If you make a 4, take 2 points off your total. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Do You Need a "Play" Intervention?

No offense to all the swing gurus out there, but there is more to the game than how you swing the club. To play the game of golf, you need to play!  You don't need a perfect swing, you don't need perfect shots, you don't need to be perfect at all!

If I asked you what the word "play" means in any regard, what would your definition be?  Here is what dictionary.com has to say:

PLAY
verb (used without object)
45.
to exercise or employ oneself in diversion, amusement, or recreation.
46.
to do something in sport that is not to be taken seriously.
47.
to amuse oneself; toy; trifle (often followed by with  ).
48.
to take part or engage in a game.
49.
to take part in a game for stakes; gamble.
Compare what you are doing on the golf course to that definition.  I know you are a serious golfer.  I understand that you want to be the best and compete at the highest level.  I totally get that you can't go out there and lollygag around the course.  I get it.  BUT, you might be too serious.  You see grinding as a way to manage the bad stuff.  You think about mechanics ALL THE TIME.  You expect perfection and get down on yourself when you don't live up to it.  You are constantly judging yourself when you play.  You aren't excited to do what you love.  

Simply stated, you have lost the ability to play.  
You need an intervention.  

Interventions aren't easy.  They require hurtful honesty.  They require giving up your way of doing things.  They require change.  OUCH! 
 
When you get to the first tee, do you see the shot you want to hit?  Do you connect to your target?  Is the shot you chose easily within your grasp?  Does it suit the wind, the shape of the hole, the best place to land and how you like to hit it?  Now, can you see it in your mind, trust that its right and commit to it? Can you hit it?  If you can do all of that on each and every shot, you are playing golf.  It is that simple.  

Play means to do what you can in an enjoyable manner and to get lost in the action.  If you walk to the first tee and you are thinking about the competition, the pressure, the outcome or the gallery, you are not playing.  If you tee it up and think about not hitting it right into the trees, you are not playing.  If you force yourself to hit a draw because that is what good players hit, you are not playing.  If you feel the need to hit a driver because you don't want a long second shot, you aren't playing.

In other words, if your focus is on anything other than simply doing what you are capable of and good at on the first tee, it is in the wrong place.  Feeling pressure to choose a club or a shot shape when you aren't comfortable with it means you aren't listening to your inner voice.  That voice might say, "Hey, you can hit a sweet 3 wood right down the gut.  So what if you have a 6 iron in, its a big green."  Instead of, "You really need to hit a driver here.  You should get the ball down to 8 or 9 iron distance, because you need to put your approach close to score and start off well."  

Can you see the difference in the self talk in those two instances?  Words like sweet, so what and big are pressure relievers and words like need, should, score and well are pressure adders.  If you are in a playful state, you can relieve pressure from yourself with a simple bit of self talk. 

If you focus on results, you are in the wrong state of mind.  Results are in the future or the past and don't have too much to do with a playful state.  Results are consequences.  Heavy word, eh?  True play happens in the moment.  Does this sound too light and happy for a round of golf?  Do you have the idea that you need to walk determinedly, with a serious face and a straight back bone?  If that is how you normally walk through life, then by all means, that is the right way to be on the course.  Be yourself, but remember to be your playful self.  Take a minute and think about what you look like when you are playful and lost in the moment.

Remember, you can't control what others think when they watch you.  Let it go. Don't be Charlie Brown!

If you are worried about what other people will think of your decision to hit 3 wood, you are thinking of things outside of your field of play and things outside of your control.  Figure out what you can and can't control and let go of all the silly stuff that you can't control.  Especially during play. 
 
Are you thinking about what your right arm is doing during your swing and how your swing looks and feels?  Play happens outwardly, not inwardly.  In other words, your concern needs to be focused on what the ball is doing on the contours of the golf course.  As soon as your thoughts become focused inwardly, you are out of the state of play and into self analysis.  There might be times on the range when self-analysis is a good thing, but it is never a good thing on the golf course.  When you are in the state of self-analysis, your goals become based on your mechanics or movements.  You begin to judge a move, react to it, adjust it and perfect it.  Come on, don't tell me you aren't doing that!  I see you practicing out there.  Practice is different than play.  

When you play, you use all the same skills.  You analyze, judge, react, and adjust.  (We never work to perfect, because this is play, remember?)  You are analyzing your lie, the grass and the distance.  You are judging the wind, the slopes and the firmness.  You are reacting to how much the ball bounced on the last green or how much your last downhill putt rolled out.  You are observant of the golf course and how your ball is traveling around it.  It is up to you where you place your focus and if it is focused inwardly, you will miss out on all that is happening around you.  That is a tough way to play golf.  Sure, you might see stuff happen, but are you really paying attention?  

As Ty Webb told us so eloquently in Caddy Shack, "be the ball"  Change your perspective or you will land a future in the lumber yard. 

Finally, evaluate yourself based on how well you do playful things.  For example, decide that you will track how well you do it after every hole.  You can think about connecting to a target on every shot.  You could evaluate how well you visualized the shot before you hit it.  You could keep track of your commitment.  Keep it simple.  Focus on one thing and one thing only.  You either do it or you don't.  There is no level of doing it.  You can't do it perfectly.  You can't do it poorly.  It is a simple yes or no.  "I connected to my target on that shot."  or...."I didn't connect to my target."  Forget the story telling.  If you are telling yourself stories on the course, you are simply giving yourself excuses.  For example, "I didn't connect with my target there, but it's because I have hit it in the water here for two days straight."  No one cares about your story.  It is a yes or no answer.  SIMPLE!
This might not sound playful, but you will get it as soon as you start doing it successfully.  You will enjoy the process of playing and time will fly.  You won't get all tired out from the grinding you are doing now trying to be mechanically perfect and grinding to control everything.  
Bottom line, GO PLAY GOLF!

Oh yea, one last thing; playfulness happens everywhere on the golf course.  Be a playful putter, too.  

Here is a great quote from In Bee Park after yesterday's U.S. Open win:
Q.  You said you were nervous last night, but you were not nervous.  You were calm on the golf course today.  Did you talk to your mental coach last night or this morning?  What was the key for you being really calm today?
INBEE PARK:  I think it's because I feel the happiest when I'm at the golf course.  And I feel calm when I'm on the golf course.  I think I'm just a much better person when I'm on the golf course.
Yeah, outside the golf course, I feel the pressure and I feel what everybody else is feeling.  But on the golf course, it's just the golf ball and clubs.  And when I have that, it just puts a lot of pressure off of me.  It just makes me very calm looking at it, yeah.
In Bee Park holding her U.S. Open trophy and signaling that it was her 3rd straight major win.  Photo from ESPN.com
 

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