Thursday, September 24, 2015

You Have Nothing to Protect

Golf is a funny game, as anyone who has played it already knows.  When things are going well and the ball goes where you are looking and putts fall, that's when you often tighten up.  Wait, I'm playing well, you think.  I need to keep going.  As soon as you have that thought, you've straddled the past and the future without dipping your toe in the present.  When you leave the present in golf, your game will suffer.

Sometimes, protecting happens in a big picture.  You're leading a tournament, you're on track to make All American, you're high on the money list or you're putting your game out there for coaches to evaluate.  The reality is, you have nothing to protect.  Imagine a horse race at the midpoint.  They've run one lap of the circuit and still have a lap to run.  Could the horse in the lead protect his advantage?  No, he needs to run and run hard.  In fact, chasers often have more motivation than front-runners, so the odds are good he will be run down by the finish line.  Just like the lead horse, you have nothing to protect.  Any competition that isn't finished needs to be played out and with total effort.  Golf is no different.

The minute your mind wanders to what you want, you've given power to what might be instead of what is.  The most important thing in golf is the shot at hand, whether it is your first drive on the first hole or the final putt on the 72nd hole.  They are both worth one and both worthy of your full attention.  In order to protect what you have, you need to focus on your past and your hopes.  Neither is worth your time on the course.

If you need protection, that probably means you're afraid of something.  To protect means to defend or secure.  There is no defense in golf, only offense.  That means that you're either working to score or you aren't.  If you go into a protection mode, you will quit working to score.  You play safe and start guiding your shots.  Before you know it, you've lost track of the target and instead you're playing away from trouble.  You begin to make your goals based on what you don't want instead of what you do want.  You're protecting something you don't actually possess.

Imagine the horse race once again.  If the horse in the lead decides to protect the lead, he will start to expend energy working to keep other horses from passing him instead of running his race.  That energy could have gone to running, but instead it's going to the stress of protecting his position.  Your golf is much the same.  Ask yourself this; what do you give your energy to when you're playing well?  Can that be protected?  When you are in the zone and things are flowing for you, it is simply you in the moment, doing what you've trained to do and letting it happen.  That can't be protected.  It is a matter of being in the moment and trusting yourself and your preparation.

The next time you feel like you want to protect your score, your standing or your game, remember, there is nothing to protect. Competitions are ongoing and if you are mid-race, you need to keep running.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Bottom Line

Tonight, I have the chance to speak to junior golfers and their parents at the Lone Star Girl's Invitational. Even though I didn't like my econ classes very much when I was in college, I guess I took something away from them.  We are going to talk about some economic principles in terms of golf, recruiting and education.  Those concepts are bottom line, market economy and zero-sum economy.

Golf is a bottom line sport.  It starts on the first tee.  If you have an 8 AM tee time and you're late, you will be penalized or disqualified.  If you have 15 clubs in your bag when you hit your first shot, you will be penalized.  Every time you swing the club, you count the shot.  At the end of the day, they put a number next to your name.  Golf without a score isn't really golf, is it?

I hear a lot of stories about golf.  They go like this:  The winds were high.  The greens were bumpy.  I didn't feel well.  She played well except for those two doubles.  She hit it well, but the putts didn't fall.  The girl I was playing with was slow.  My all-time favorite is I played great, but didn't putt well.  While all those things are probably true, the score is the bottom line.  If you didn't win the tournament, that means someone else handled the winds, putted well enough on the bumpy greens, didn't make doubles, did enough well in her game and most importantly, didn't equate good play with poor scoring.  The farther along you go in life, the more you will understand that if results matter, then the bottom line is important, not the story you tell about coming up short.

Thinking of the bottom line while playing the game doesn't work very well.  Instead, you have to focus on the process of playing the shots, not on the results of the shots.  This is an important lesson you can apply to so many things in your life.  You will almost always be responsible for results in some way, but getting caught up in them as you go along won't help you.  If any of you have a math test next week, remember not to worry about your grade while solving your algebra problems or your brain will quit working.  If you make a poor grade, it means you didn't work hard enough in preparation.  It isn't the teacher's fault if you didn't understand the questions.  The bottom line is, you're responsible for your grade in math, just as you're responsible for your golf score.

How hard you work and how well you prepare is usually the key to good results.  That seems pretty obvious if you are talking about your math test or your golf score, but not as obvious when you talk about the recruitment process.  The reason coaches call it a process is, we hope to use our time wisely and learn as much as possible about our recruits prior to offering them any opportunities.  Your work and preparation needs to be based on what you think is important, what your goals are and the relationships you build.  Even though a school might need only one or two players per year, the recruiting process isn't a zero-sum game. Zero-sum means someone has to lose for you to win.  Everyone can be successful if you do your preparation correctly.

One high school golfer I knew wanted to go to medical school.  She wasn't wealthy, so her goal was to find a full ride so she could start med school without loans.  She ended up at UMKC.  Yes, she was a Texan and she went north to play college golf.  She went to a school that was nowhere on her radar when she started the process.  The school she chose fit her criteria.  She wanted a school that had a strong science college, where she would play right away, where she could balance school and golf and where she would receive full aid.  With that list in mind, she went to work to find a school that fit the criteria. The reason that recruiting isn't a zero-sum process is, there will be a place for you.  Someone doesn't have to lose for you to win.  There may be limited spots at a few schools, but there are hundreds of schools that compete in golf.

Your other role in your recruiting process is to build relationships with coaches and future teammates.  Whether or not you choose school A or school B, you should walk away with strong relationships with both coaches.  That means you have the responsibility to communicate, to ask questions, to provide them with what you'll offer them, and to make or accept the tough call with the coach who doesn't sign you.

The process doesn't owe you anything, nor are there any guarantees.  You have to jump in and do a lot of work.  If you approach it with your bottom line in mind, you will have a chance to find your place.  However, you have to understand the final principle in recruiting, which is much the same as golf, it's competitive.

That brings us to the next economic concept. Recruiting is a market economy.  There is supply and demand, it's competitive and it is a free market.  You want to play at the best school or the most competitive school.  You want as much scholarship as you can get.  Coaches goals are to sign the best possible candidate for their team while spending the least money possible.  The budget is six full scholarships to build a team that wins.  Coaches carry their bottom line into the process just as you do.  Some use rankings to determine it.  Some only sign AJGA winners.  Some look for power, some for consistent scoring and some for potential.  Most won't sign players who don't measure up to their bottom lines.  Bottom lines can include grades and intangibles, such as attitude or character.

 When I address a group of young players, I'm not allowed to talk about our own school, nor do I want to, but I will tell you that my bottom line in recruiting is completely different than when I was a young coach.  Character might have been second or third on the list then, with winning and scoring number one and two.  Now, I choose players with character and trust that the goals of winning and scoring will be reached through the process of hard work and our shared belief.  It takes more risk and more patience, but both those are two traits I possess.  Since you're going through this process once, hopefully, you will have to figure out what traits will be important for you to embrace and think of whether or not the amount of scholarship, the competitiveness of the program, the coach, the teammates, the reputation of the school, the proximity to home or where your friends are is the most important thing to you.  Once you decide, accept it and go to work to find it.

Good luck tomorrow.  Remember, no one wants to hear your story, they just want to know the number you shoot.  If you play well, be humble.  If not, decide to play better by working harder.  Pay attention to your preparation, your attitude, your strategy and your focus.  Learn and adjust after every tournament round.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

One Down, Three to Play

SMU Women’s Golf
Team Notes
Marilyn Smith/Sunflower Invitational

Positive Notes:
  • Our first event of the season
  • We won!
  • We recorded the low second round of the tournament with a 284.
  • We recorded or tied the low individual score of every round
    • Katie Page’s 71 in the first round
    • Brigitte Dunne’s 68 (tie) in the second round
    • Lindsey McCurdy’s 66 in the final round
  • We had the following players in the top ten in scoring:
    • Par 3’s 1st -Rossi (-3), 2nd -Page (-1)
    • Par 4’s 1st -McCurdy (-2), t10th - Dunne (+3)
    • Par 5’s 5th - Page (-4)
    • Total Birdies: t1st - McCurdy (13), t3rd - Dunne (12), 8th - Page (11), t9th Rossi (10)
    • Total Pars: t2nd - Tygret (36)
  • SMU lead the field in par 3 scoring at +4 and in the birdie count with 48.
  • Rossi had a MFR in the first round.  MFR = mistake free (no 3 putts, nothing over bogie)
  • Rossi had 100% Bounce Backs in the second round and added a ball to the Ball of Fame for her under par round.
  • McCurdy had a MFR in the second round.
  • McCurdy’s third round included a Hat Trick (3 birdies in a row), 100% Bounce Backs, it was MFR and added two balls to the Ball of Fame (Low personal round + under par round)
  • Dunne had a Hat Trick and 100% Bounce Backs in round two.  She also adds two balls to the Ball of Fame.  One for an under par round and one for a personal best round.
  • Tygret adds a ball to the Ball of Fame for her personal best round.

Stuff to Improve:
  • Our Par 5 Scoring was poor.  We were over par as a team and gave up 10 shots to Middle Tennessee and 8 shots to TCU on par 5’s.  We need to play better strategic golf, improve our wedges and improve our putting from 15’ and in.  We also need to weigh risk and reward better by assessing the size of our targets and hitting into the big areas to avoid penalty shots.  On par 5’s, we counted 9 bogies and 3 doubles.  
  • We lead the tournament in birdies, but gave up a lot of shots when failing to make par.  That means we are taking advantage of our opportunities well when we hit the greens, but not chipping and pitching as well as we should when we miss the greens.  
  • Finally, we want our attitudes to be confident, loose, focused and positive no matter what the circumstances.  Results don’t matter more in the third round.  The shot you hit after a poor shot doesn’t have to be perfect.  Missing a putt means add one, not the end of the world.  The answer to these things is to keep yourselves in check for patience, acceptance, staying positive and staying in the moment.  I had more than a few conversations about what had happened in the past or wondering how we were doing, which made me think you were thinking results in that last round.  Do your best on every shot.  Look to pump up your teammates around the course at every opportunity.  Carry the best attitudes of any team on the golf course.  

Get with David and me for individual feedback and plan to spend time with us on Thursday morning to work on specific things we saw that can be improved.

Hit 10 balls from 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70  yards or you can choose the 5’s.  If you miss the green, add 5 balls.  If you hit it within the flagstick, take 2 balls off your pile.  Pick up after each set of balls.  If you weren’t pleased with a yardage, repeat it and make an adjustment.  Either take more club and smaller swings, lower your trajectory or change your set up.  We need to be great within 100 yards and this is a good drill for sharpening that skill.  You may take up to 40 minutes on wedges today.

Please do Casey’s Drill on 3 holes on the front green.  Go through your routine, visualize the putt in real time so you pay attention to the speed chosen and match it to the situation and slope.  You may spend 20 minutes on this drill.

Please do the Mustang Challenge:  Put 5 tees down around the hole at 10 feet for each tee. Putt from each tee.  When you make a putt, move the tee back one putter length.  When you have moved a tee twice, pick it up when you make the 3rd putt.  Play for no more than 20 minutes.

Play a game of Drawback with a teammate.  Play 9 holes.  If either of you finish over par for that 9, you both must play another 9.  Continue with this challenge  Play for no more than 20 minutes.  

I’ve scheduled 100 minutes, but you will probably gain at least five or 10 minutes somewhere along the line.  If it is over our agreed 90 minutes split, it’s ok, you need it.  :-)

Workouts: 5:30 PM

Qualifying is two rounds this week playing from the very back tees.  I want to put pressure on your management skills, your wedges and your short game. There will be six players for one spot. Lindsey earned an exemption for the fall semester with her win.  Katie earned an exemption for the Match Play Challenge with her finish in the top 10% of the field. Congrats to them!  I will have two picks and will consider the two qualifying rounds as well as the tournament rounds played.  Everyone, whether exempt or not will play at least one of the qualifying rounds.   Here are the tee times:

Friday:  Blue Course 1:32 Jenny, Rossi 1:40 Dole, Celli 2:50 Dunne, McCurdy, Tygret

Sunday:  Gold Course
11:58 Tygret, Dunne  You two have Ponies to Stangs at 5:00 PM, so you need to leave and go directly there when finished.  They are serving you dinner there.  You will be out between 6:30 and 7:00 PM. 2:30 Dole & Rossi 2:40 McCurdy & Jenny 2:48 Page & Celli


“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

Mark Twain


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Practice Schedule #1 Fall 2015

Just in case you'd like to see a typical week at SMU, here you go:

P.S. Week 2, 2015-16
Monday, Aug.31
3-4 PM Weight Training/Conditioning
4-4:30 PM Meeting with our Nutritionist Christine Strudwick about nutrition on competition days, especially 36 hole days.  
Tuesday, Sept. 1 Off
Wednesday, Sept. 2
7:30 AM Weight Training/Conditioning
2:00-5:00 PM Play 9 at Lakewood.  Before or after you play, spend at least 1 hour on long lag putts. Use different tiers.   
Thursday, Sept. 3
7:30-10:30 AM Please do the following today.  Each area has 20 minutes to accomplish the goals, with an extra 10 minutes for picking up and fixing ball marks. 90 minutes of goals and 90 minutes for you to play or practice on your own.
Putting:  Start on the big green up front.  Do these two challenges:
Casey's Drill:  Put 5 tees in around the hole at distances of 8-15 feet.  The game starts when you make one.  You must make 3 of 5.  3 in a row is a hat trick!  Every other is leap frog!  When you make 3 of 5, pick up the tees and move to a new hole.  Work for up to 20 minutes on this drill.  Pay attention to your speed control to help with your reads.  Each putt that doesn't fall should be about 6-12" past the hole to assure consistent reads.
Cha Ching:  Play against at least one teammate.  Pick long lags.  Closest ball gets 3 points.  If you 2 putt, you get 2 additional points.  Any 2 putt gets 2 points.  Play to 30 or over.  Spend 20 minutes on this or long lags.
3 Ball Game - You can play with a teammate or alone.  Drop and chip or pitch 3 balls.  Pick up the best and worst shot and putt out the middle ball.  You must get 10 up and downs.  Choose tough shots.  Choose long shots and use lower lofted clubs such as 9 or 8 irons to run the ball.  Spend 20 minutes on this drill
Wedges: -
Darts - Choose a wedge and go to your full distance with it.  Hit 10 balls.  Now move 10 yards closer and hit 10 more.  Do the same one more time.  Which group of 10 were easiest to control?  Pay attention to landing area, spin and trajectory as you work.  Spend 20 minutes on this drill.
Friday, Sept. 4
2:00-4:30 PM  Play or work on what you need to prepare for our upcoming event.  It is windy in Kansas, so spend some time flighting your shots and hitting pitch shots at lower trajectories.
Saturday, Sept. 5
7:00 AM Travel Day.  We will eat some lunch and then go to practice when we get to Kansas State.  Please make sure you travel in SMU gear appropriate for the golf course.  Remember my rule of no flip flops.



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