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The philosophy of this lesson:
We are going to teach you how to play golf and be a winner.
In previous lessons we have stressed the importance of mind set, no negative thoughts.
Your mind set is enhanced when you play well.
To play your best you need confidence, complete trust in your own ability.
If you have read the lessons and taken time to practice, you should have developed a swing that has all the 7 key elements, that generates power but above all you now have a golf swing that is second nature and you can repeat every time.
It will include: Pre-shot routine, correct set up, solid base, perfect posture, stance, alignment, grip, correct upper body turn, club taken back in line with the target, eye on the ball, head down, pull down with the left arm, wrists cocked until they are below your belt line, hit through the ball, and follow through. (All must be done with: Perfect timing, rhythm, tempo, balance.)
To win all you need to do is play to your handicap or a little better, if you are playing with a low handicap player, yes chances are he will drive longer and hit more greens in regulation than you.
Do not try to raise your game to his or her standard of play, or you will really upset your rhythm. You MUST play your game – stay focused and in the zone, your handicap gives you the advantage, think in the correct way if you have a handicap of 18 – then a bogey is in fact a net par.
Yes you are intent on winning, but that does not mean that you start trying so hard that you become tense. The last thing you need is tension in your muscles, your body needs to be flexible, relax and produce that perfect natural swing. Do not force the shot.
This is all you need is a nice easy smooth swing that you can repeat every time. Do not change your swing all you need to do is select the right club for the distance you need to play.
You need to prepare and be ready to win. Always start with a warm-up before the game.
You need to be at the clubhouse early; Begin your warm-ups slowly stretching, and aerobics once you feel your muscles are supple, you are ready to for something a little more strenuous: Take two clubs and swing them in circles above your head. Do this ten times with each arm to get your shoulders ready. Then, do ten squats to warm up your knees, calves, and hips.
On the range: Hit a few shots, say 5 with each club. Start slowly with three-quarter length swings, and then build up to full swings. This drill will help stretch your arm, leg, and core muscles. Your main objective is to hit straight and to the correct distance for each club.
We do not normally recommend making any changes to your swing just before or during a game. However if you are slicing your practice shots then the simplest fix for a slice is in the grip. By having a weak grip, one that is turned more counter-clockwise, the club face may open at the time of impact. Therefore, turn your grip slightly to the right in order to give you a stronger grip. Also ensure you are not casting the club, creating an out-to-in swing, this WILL impart spin on the ball and you will slice the ball.
On the putting green: Your main objective will be to get the feel for the speed of the greens, start with long putts from all around the hole, finish with putts that are closer to the hole, strange as it may seem when you hear the ball dropping in the cup it has a positive effect and gives you the confidence you need.
You should have read the lesson that goes into detail on how to prepare for your golf day.
Go over your check list. Tick off every thing. Having read all the other lessons you will be up to speed on etiquette, rules, you will have marked your ball and can easily identify it on the course, and you counted your clubs – you are only permitted 14 clubs.
Let’s assume it is just a two-ball game and the guy you are playing is a good player, handicap 6, while you are playing with a handicap of 24. Are you intimidated by this? No, you are happy because you have a real advantage. For him to win he would need to beat you by more than a stroke on every hole.
First mind set you need is to say play the course, DO NOT even think about changing your game plan, you are playing the course, you are going to play a thinking game, avoid the hazards, water, bunkers, deep rough, trees. Golf becomes much easier when you play from tee to fairway – fairway to green, on the green you really do need to focus, on speed and weight of your long putts, take into account all the factors on the green. Again we stress once you are standing over your putt NO negative thoughts, shake the tension out of your arms, have a practice swing, then trust that swing. (One rule that always applies: never up, never in) to leave a putt short is always a disappointment.
The strange things that makes golf the game it is:
There are times when you need to be fully focused, with a high level of concentration.
Golfers with a strong mental game realize that the present is all that they can control.
(Forget your bad shots)
Learn to play in the present without dwelling on the bad shots.
Realize the power of just being in the moment with the full intention and expectation of playing a good shot. You have gone through your pre-shot routine, and then you still have the vision of your shot in your mind, the trajectory and target area. You step up take your practice swing, and then you address the ball, one last glance at your target area. Now you need to concentrate for just 10 seconds, eyes fixed on the back of your ball. Maybe just a little waggle of the club to send a signal to you brain that you are going to start your back swing, you switch to a natural swing, one you use every time for that shot, then you are playing on instinct and trusting your subconscious and muscle memories to make it happen for you.
Learning to play in the present on instinct requires time and effort. That is why experience is such a priceless commodity. Because when all else fails, the truth emerges from one’s experiences if you are honest with yourself. By training your mind to play in the present, you can shorten the time required to experience the power of being free to play on instinct and in the zone. Unfortunately, many golfers never learn to stop dwelling on their past and future outcomes.
The trick to being in the present is to allow yourself to learn from the feedback each shot provides without your ego being involved in the outcome. By being honest about your present mechanical, strategic, physical and mental limitations, you will increase your awareness of what you can do to improve your present abilities. Then, it becomes a question of how strong your desire is to make the necessary changes or adjustments to improve.
This is not about how to swing – you should have learnt all that in the previous lessons. This is the tactics you need to be a winner.
From the minute you tee off – you stay in complete control of your game, you have studied the course map, you know where the hazards are, so no reason why you can not land your ball in the centre of the fairway on the nice short grass.
You next shot is just as important (every single shot you take is important) so you must bring your course management skills into play. First the distance to the flag, if it is over 200 yards then you need to consider where to land your next shot. (That does NOT mean hit the ball as far as you can) you select your best distance from the green. We recommend you leave your self a full wedge shot into the green. (You should know from previous lessons and your practice session that you consistently hit 80 yards with your pitching wedge-three quarter swing.)
If that is your favoured distance then select your long iron that will land your second shot eighty yards from the green.
We will assume you are 210 yards from the flag, you have a shot of 130 yards, wind behind, that should be an easy eight iron.
Do not rush; do not let any thing distract you, go through your pre-shot routine, select and visualize your target area, take a practice swing that is needed to simulate your intended swing.
It’s your standard routine – every time you must pay attention to every detail, your stance, alignment, grip, posture, make sure that club face is square and in line with your target area, one last look at your target, take that club back in line, commit to the shot, trust your club, do not look up, that club is going to return on the same line as your take away approaching the ball on a level plane, DO NOT HIT THE GROUND BEFORE THE BALL, your divot is after the ball, not before it reaches the ball. Your club reaches impact exactly the same as it was at address. Hit through the ball, not at it, follow through. KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN you should see your club impact with the ball. You will have plenty of time to see it land on target.
(Your playing partner will have gone for the green, because his drive would have been longer than yours and he would expect to reach the green in two on a par four. When you see his ball on the green that’s fine, you just focus on your next shot. )
Your ball is on the fairway sitting up nicely, with the same routine just think about where on the green you are going to land the ball, check all the contours and if the ball is going to run off, most greens are guarded by bunkers, and the second cut of rough will be 2” deep so you need to be on the green. So if the flag is located close to the fringe or has a slope that runs off to the hazards’ then your safe play is to play into the centre of the green leaving an uphill putt, do not be tempted to shoot for a flag that is in a difficult location. (Remember you only need to play bogey golf to win)
Take your wedge, adjust your stance, make sure the ball is back in your stance, most of your weight on the left foot, all the same swing rules apply. Trust your club, it will have the correct loft to float your ball into the air and land softly on the green. (Assume you have read the lessons on chipping and pitching – if not then you are too far ahead of yourself, go back and read the lessons and put in hours of practice)
You are on the green 20 feet from the flag, slightly downhill putt, your opponent has taken his putt from the edge of the green leaving himself a tap-in putt – so he will par the hole.
Stay cool; you still have two putts for bogey – one putt for par. Do not rush, take a look at the putt from both sides of the hole, look for the break point and make your decision. You are sure it is a left to right putt, speed and weight are paramount; if you have been practising you know what to do. Tick tock, practice swing. Pick you line, aim just 3” left of the hole, you want the ball to roll all the way, yes you make the putt.
Great, in match play you would be one hole up – in stroke play with your handicap you will be one stroke in the lead.
The moral of this lesson: play your own game and use your handicap advantage: Your objective is to win over 18 holes.
Above all your mind must stay in control; stay in the zone – YOUR ZONE, no distractions. Your brain has two sides; one for deep concentration, the other side is “set it loose, mother goose”. Over the ball it is deep concentration on the back-swing, it switches over to natural swing, TEE it HIGH LET IT FLY.
This is clarification: We do say in this lesson that your divot is just under and after the ball, (Do not hit the ground before the ball. Well that is correct for 99% of all your shots. With the exception of tight lie shots in thick grass around the green, your divot on these shots should always be in front , before your ball.
Set-up slightly open with your stance… 70% of your weight on your left foot no leg movement.
Have the ball back in your stance so the shaft naturally leans forward with your hands ahead…
Look at the FRONT of the ball and just turn back and through. You will be surprised to discover that the ball will pop off the club-face with the proper spin on it. This is the shot that will land your ball on the green and near the hole, often saves par, and on the old occasion gives you a birdie.
And of-course bunkers shots where you are aiming to hit the sand 2” before the ball and send the ball floating out on a cushion of sand.
These shots are covered in previous lessons – but worth a mention here before you e-mail me saying that’s not right?
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The Truth about Putting
Focusing on making a perfect putting stroke will inhibit feel and take your mind of the main objective… which is the target!
“A good stroke is the result of a relaxed body joined to an attentive mind following a dependable pre-shot routine.”
What do you think a hunter is thinking about when he throws a spear at an animal? Do you think he is
thinking about taking is elbow back above his ear, making a 35 degree angle between forearm and bicep, whilst rotating shoulders 90 degrees, before releasing the spear and making sure his weight is transferred onto his front foot, whilst holding perfect form?… …If he thinks like this, he and his family will starve. I think not, he is totally focused on lining up the animal and throwing the spear at a precise spot on the animal; end of story, B.B.Q dinner here we come!
Same with putting; if you think too technically, you are not going to hole many putts.
To be a winner you need to sink putts. NEVER three putt.