Coaches Corner is where we provide tips, lessons learned and advice based on observations made during tournaments.
Including warm up and the round, in the world of tournament golf, you are out in the elements for about five hours at a time. It is important to keep your energy level constant over the entire five hours.
To do so, you should sip on water throughout the round. You also need to snack on food. Rather than eat one big portion during the round, space the food out into snack sized portions so your body has a more constant level of energy to draw from. My general practice "back in the day" was to drink several swallows of water every other tee box. Every third hole, I ate several bites of food as I walked down the fairway after my tee shot. Sometimes it was half a peanut butter sandwich, sometimes it was several bites of trail mix. Find what works for you AND put it into your bag. Don't count on the coaches to bring the team snacks, sometimes we forget or we run out.
The goal is to spread out the eating and drinking so you keep your body at a near constant level of output. Avoid foods and drinks that spike and then crash your energy levels. In competitive golf, it is important to keep your mind, emotions, and energy levels as constant as you can.
All putts are important
During a recent tournament a player 3 putted when he should have had a 1 or 2 putt. Basically putt 1 was about a 5 or 6 footer. He missed it but was only 6 inches away for putt 2. He flipped his putter backwards and putted left handed on one foot rather than walking around the ball and putting it properly and guess what, he missed the 6 inch putt. He then made the 3rd putt properly.
Stay focused and don’t take shortcuts when putting. Every putt is critical, the 6 inch putt is as important as the 5 footer and just as important as the tee shot, it deserves a proper stance, focus and attention.
Improve your scores by making smart decisions instead of lazy mistakes.
“Success in golf depends less on strength of body more on strength of mind and character”
- Arnold Palmer
Golf is not a reactionary game where you hit a baseball. The game starts on your command with the ball on the ground waiting to be hit. Take time and study each hole and shot carefully before making your move.
As you walk to your next shot, visualize yourself hitting that shot. This is not about expectations but allowing yourself to feel like a champion.
Imagine the feeling of hitting the ball from the fairway, getting it close to the pin and making the putt for a birdie.
These positive thoughts, feed your subconscious mind which in turn conditions your conscious reality to succeed while playing. Visualize, Believe and Commit to the shot before you hit it and the shot will be what you envisioned.
When giving your score at the end of a hole to your playing competitors, take the words "birdie, par, bogey, double bogey…." out of your vocabulary. Give a NUMBER. Say the number "three, or four, or five." (Another quick side note, record your score and everyone in your groups score after every hole, do not get 3, 4, or 5 holes behind and then try to catch up. That habit promotes cheating and/or incorrect scores turned in – which ultimately leads to being disqualified.)
When you ask a playing competitor to tell you what he/she had on the hole (you should already know their score, you are asking from a position of confirming rather than inquiring – but more on that in other Coaches Corner) if your playing competitor tells you that they had a par, your response should be – "so a four." It may take 5 or 6 holes, but you will eventually train them to give you a number as well.
This will eliminate most chances of any discrepancy on a scorecard.
Learn to use different clubs around the green
Do you putt with a lob wedge? No. Why not? It is much easier to control the distance, direction, and spin rate of the ball when it remains low to the ground. Why then do 90% of youth players I watch always pull out a lofted wedge anytime they are within 100 yards of the green? Personally, and I played professionally for several years, I use anything from my hybrid to a 60 degree wedge when I am around the green. I chip with a 7 iron as often as a 9 iron as often as a 60 degree wedge.
What shot do I typically choose to play? Imagine you are given 10 balls. With which club will your overall shot group of ten balls be closest to the hole? That is the club you should play for that particular shot. When you hit a lower lofted club, it is easier to control spin and distance. A good guideline is to get the ball on the ground as soon as practical.
Get out there and learn to chip with your hybrid, 6 iron, 8 iron, PW, SW, and LW. The more shots you have in the bag, the better. When in doubt, choose the lower loft and watch your scores improve. Golf is a game of probabilities.
My Favorite Quotes
Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course... the space between your ears.
The real way to enjoy playing golf is to take pleasure not in the score, but in the execution of strokes.
It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.
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 .
Nobody ever remembers who finished second at anything.
Professional golf is the only sport where, if you win 20 percent of the time, you’re the best.
A good golfer has the determination to win and the patience to wait for the breaks.” -Gary Player