100% Mental Golf: Round 2

Played the second round of the year on Friday, under similar conditions with temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s with a little more wind this time.  I shot 79 but this was a totally different round than the last one.

The Good.  Ball striking was good again although not quite as good as the first round and I solved the pitching problem  with some alignment adjustments and a grip change.  When I line up for a pitch shot of 20 to 40 yards I feel that I am aiming about 4 to 6 feet left of really where I want to go.  Probably I am aiming right on, but this is my perceptions of things and I am fine with this because the results were great.  In fact I pitched one in the cup for a birdie on the 11th hole which really jumped started the round.  I got it up and down numerous times during the round. I went to my putting grip for these shots and this seemed to help. I have done this in the past with good results.  My putting was better especially the short putts.

Problems:  A horrendous start to the round.  I hit a beautiful drive off the first tee but then from there it was one thing after another.  A four putt on the first hole and then one mental error after another led to double bogey, bogey, double bogey, bogey start.  Then I slowly but surely righted the ship and even though I missed 2 rather short birdie putts on 9 and 10, the pitch in birdie on 11 got the round going, to be able to shoot one over on the last 14 holes.  One of the problems all day even as the round improve was to visualize the shot.  I could not draw the ball all day.  Early in the round this got me in trouble but then I tried to do it later where there was no trouble on the right and I still could not do it.   My mental process improved during the round as I did not make or look to make any swing changes and I started to play better.

Round 2 is in the books and it was kind of a strange round.  The wind was a factor but overall it felt good to right the ship.  When I was 6 over after 4 holes I thought maybe I was headed for a round that might not break 90.  As we were going  over to the 5th tee I was thinking, wow, this is really going to look good on blog.  100% mental you betcha, baby. There might be a possibility for a round this week but it is a toss of the coin.  See you next time.

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100% Mental Golf: Round 1

This was my 3rd round of the year but the first round where I felt totally committed to  Golf is 100 % Mental.  First let me tell you what these posts will be about.  They will be description of the rounds on a very basic level.  I find that reading about or listening to shot by shot descriptions of rounds to be very tedious and boring.  The round will be divided into two parts.  The first part will be the good. The second part will be labeled problems, those things that kept the round from be being better.  I will not elaborate much on the  problems or what I think caused them.    I plan on making these posts be very positive.   I may go into a little more depth when I find the solution to the problem but until I do, I am not going to go into the why of the problem.   I played last Tuesday and the conditions were coolish but calm,  with temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s and the course was  very damp and muddy.  The greens were pretty good considering the time of the year.  I shot 80 which at Scenic Valley is 8 over par.

The Good.   My ball striking was very good considering I had not played for a solid month.  Out of 14 drives I only hit three that got me into trouble and my recovery out of the woods was so good on one particular hole, that I birdied it.  I had three birdies and the putting was good as two of the birdies putts were  between 20 and 25 feet.   My iron game was good along with my chipping. My visualization process for the long game worked really well.  I will elaborate more on this process as the season goes on, when I think I have a process that really works.   For this Round number one I was seeing the shots very well especially off tee.

Problems.   Putting, yes the putting was good and bad.  I three putted twice from inside 30 feet, and missed 2 really short putts after some pretty good chip shots.  The thing though that kept this round from being a mid 70 round, which would have been  pretty remarkable considering the time of year, was the failure to execute the 25 to 45 yard pitch shot.  Twice it took me not 2, not 3, but 4 strokes to get down from approximately 25 to 40 yards, which led to 2 of  3 double bogies.  These negated the 3 birdies, to say the least. The mental process failed me for these shots and I will see if I can correct this miserable problem.

So round one is in the books.   I did not have any swing thoughts, made no swing adjustments during the round, and was happy with my mental process for  putting even though I had my ups and downs on the greens.  There may be a chance to play at the end of the week but not too sure.  See you next time and happy golfing.

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Golf is 100% Mental

If you have a single digit handicap and you want to bring that handicap down significantly, then this is the mantra that you have to live by.  If you have a handicap in the single digits, you have a basic and functional  method on how to swing a golf club.  What is keeping you from getting down to the ultimate goal of scratch is your mental process on the golf course and looking in the wrong places to improve your game.  I made a commitment, to Golf is 100% mental, around May of 2018, and did my handicap go down. It did not.  So what happened.

I feel there was two reasons my handicap remained basically unchanged during the 2018 season.  One was a minor reason.  We had a horrible year of weather.   The golf courses were saturated and muddy almost the whole year, especially from August until the end of the year.  This led to a lot of unpredictability all how the ball would react off the clubface from the rough and even the fairway.  This made the courses play a lot  longer than usual.  There was no question this was a factor, so keeping my handicap the same, may have been a victory, instead of it going up.   The main reason I did not see a drop in my index, was that even though I was “committed” to 100% mental process, I am like everybody else, and brain washed by the “normal” way to improve, by changing something, or finding something wrong with your swing.  In other words the physical side of the game.  Let’s face it, this is way it was been for well over 150 years.  Even when I started this year I was going with a new swing.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  I quickly forgot about it on round 2 of 2019.    Even though this sounds so simple,  100% mental, it is difficult to do.  I hadn’t planned to do this blog this soon, and even though right now it is snowing and yesterday it was -3 degrees, there is a good possibility that I will be playing golf by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.   I wanted to write about the 100% mental concept before I played my next round of golf.   Every bad shot and I mean every bad shot is caused by some kind of dysfunction of the mind.  This dysfunction then manifests itself in some kind of bad execution of the swing.  Depending on the type of shot the possibilities can be endless.   This of course results in a bad shot.  Then the chatter starts.  I swung to hard, too fast, bad aim, did not stay down, dipped, came out of it,(my favorite)and the list could go on and on.  All of this is caused by mind dysfunction.   As I wrote in my last blog, I will be writing after ever round or two of golf I play this year to see how I progress or digress, applying this concept.  The other big factor in trying to lower your index is putting, a whole different animal  all unto itself.  That will be for a later blog.  One of keys to success in playing this game is the art of visualization.  How should you visualize and what should you visualize, which will be another blog.  One clue, you should visualize things you can not see.  Tricky, huh.

So, next week may be the next blog, if I make it to the golf course.   I will incorporate some of the above subject matter into the next blog depending on how the round goes.  Its snowing right now but by Monday its going to be in the mid 50’s and Tuesday and Wednesday in the upper 40’s.  Welcome to Pittsburgh.

 

 

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

I was a little undecided as to what the next blog would be.  Originally I was going to defend my views on practicing and lessons, but instead I think I will cut to the chase.  In order to improve your handicap significantly,  you have to do two things.  Believe that the your game is 100% mental and you must improve your putting.  This is for golfers who have single digit handicaps, but I am not too sure if it might not be a little higher.  Regardless we have to start somewhere and single digits is as good as any. So what does this really mean.

First, lets start with the statement your golf game is 100% mental.   If you are a single handicap player, you have a pretty good idea of what the golf swing is all about and you strike the ball pretty well, with some consistency. When things go wrong on the golf course and you are going through a bad spell,  you immediately look for a part of your golf swing to correct.  This is a mistake.  You can not be criticized too harshly for this process, because you read about someone on the PGA tour who does essentially the same thing.   They correct something they think was a bad habit so to speak, that crept into their swing, and sure enough they are again in the top ten or even winning a tournament. I maintain that bad shots on the golf course are caused by a faulty mental process, which causes the bad swings.  The possibilities here are endless, but I will list a few of many.  Taking the wrong club,  not evaluating the lie properly,  playing a shot beyond your capabilities,  not evaluating the slope of the lie,  playing the wrong type of shot, not taking in consideration of the conditions, and unsure of course lay out.     All these things will contribute to a bad shot if not properly addressed, and this leads to a bad swing. Bad swings are created by bad planning or lack of awareness of the conditions of the shot.  This will also lead to more bad shots, because you are looking in the wrong place to correct the problem.  Here are some big mental do’s and don’ts over this past year, that I learned .  You must have a good mental picture of the shot you want to play.  There are so many ways to do this, that this can be a blog all by itself, but you must find a way to visualize the shot.  No two shots are ever alike.   A huge mental trap is trying to repeat a mental feeling or thought process for what you feel is a very similar shot that you had success before.  It will not work.   It’s like trying to duplicate signing your name exactly the same way every time.  It’s not going to happen.  It’s easy to forget the bad shots,  but you must forget the good shots also.  Every shot, you must start from scratch to try and hit the proper shot.  You must have a feeling of comfort before you hit the shot, or that tension will creep into your swing and a bad shot will result.  So forget about your swing.  Its your brain that is keeping you from getting to scratch.

Putting, oh yes, speaking of 100% mental.    This must improve dramatically if you are going to have big drop in your handicap.   You must find “your” way to putt.  As long as it is within the rules, go crazy.    Forget any so called fundamentals of putting, there are none. Stand, grip, and stroke any way you want.  Experiment, Experiment, Experiment.  Your putting must improve dramatically and if you do not think this, then your handicap will not go down, no matter how well you hit the ball.  You may think you are a good putter, but if you are not scratch, then you are wrong. That’s all there is too it.  What ever you are doing putting right now, it’s not working and go back to drawing board.  All I can say is find a way.

I will expand on the mental process in future blogs as the blog will take a new direction this year.    This will be a diary of my golf year as I will write after every round or two. We will see if I make any progress on trying to get my index down from its current 4.7. I have already played a couple of times this year but now it looks like winter has set in for the long hall in the Burgh.  I will elaborate on some more mental pitfalls in the coming weeks.  Happy New Year and good luck on the course.

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

The subject of today’s blog is the swing thought.   Why does it work, and why does it stop working.  We have all been there.  The only thing more seductive than a swing thought is a beautiful women in a low cut dress that stops at mid thigh.  It causes the golfer to think, I’ve got it.  This is the magic bullet.  Swing thoughts are many.   Slow down at the top, take it back low and slow, slide the hips,  hold the finish, and I could go on and on.  They can be pre swing thoughts like stand closer to the ball,  grip to the right, weight on the heels, and again many more.  They are brought about by desperation. The round is going horribly.  You may have even tried to use various thoughts to turn around the round with no success.  But then it happens.  You come up with a thought, and you hit a gorgeous shot and the  thought continues to work during the round.    This thought may even work when you start the next round.  It won’t be too long though, around the 4th or 5th hole, that the game will break down again and the thought will disappear into the vault of about 100 other swing thoughts that you were going to do the rest of your golfing life.

Swing thoughts are nothing new. Bobby Jones wrote about swing thoughts in the mid 1930’s.   “Sometimes by remembering to start the downstroke by shifting and turning the hips, highly satisfactory results may be obtained. While this continues, we are enjoying one of the peaks of our chart. But soon, either because we begin to exaggerate this one thing, or forget entirely about something else, the whole thing goes wrong and we have to begin over again. Again we set out to find another thought that will set things right”.   This was written in the 1930’s but if this same statement was in the latest issue of Golf Digest everyone would still be shaking their heads in agreement.    Jones even has an explanation why they stop working.     The point is this has always been accepted in golf practically forever.   You find the “magic ” swing thought, it works for awhile, and then, just as suddenly it stops working.     As much a I respect Bobby Jones as a golf writer and instructor,  I have to disagree with him on why these swing thoughts stop working.  Plus he gives no explanation why they start working.   I believe that this is what ties in to why they stop working .

So why does a certain swing thought seems to work?    It is a distraction as to what is going on, on the course.  This could also explain why you don’t find THE swing thought on the first try.  It is not enough of a distraction.  Do you ever noticed that the “right” swing thought is often easier to find on the practice tee.  The success of the swing thought has nothing to do with what the swing thought is but when you are thinking of the swing thought.  Let’s move back out to the course.   You start your round out and the ball striking is lousy and the score is going up and up and  by the 4th hole, you are in desperation mode.    The 5th hole is a difficult driving hole and you come up with your first new swing thought of the day.  But pow, off the ball goes into the woods.    Your second and third shots are not much better, and another bad score results.  But now you come to the 6th hole and easy par 3 with little trouble and a big green and today the pin is in an easy spot.   Now you go to a new thought, and you hit a very nice onto the green. The shot makes you feel good and the next hole the same thought gets you a drive right down the middle and you’ve got this game solved.  The first swing thought would have been just as good, if you had decided to use it on the 6th hole for the first time.  When you used it on the more difficult driving hole,  the trouble and the type of shot still had your mind occupied.  The sixth hole being much easier, your full attention was on the new swing thought and the result was great.  Maybe the results were  good to excellent even for the rest of the round, made a few birdies and salvaged the round with a mid 70 score.   Through the week you made it to the driving range, a couple of times, and this thought continued to work great through both practice sessions. Next blog I will write about why practice is a waste of time but to proceed.   Now you are at the course and you are brimming with confidence and ready to shoot a great round.   By the middle of the front nine you are 4 over par and looking for it again.   So what the hell happened.   Well that thought became so ingrained in your brain that it stopped being a distraction and all those little nasty places that your ball could go came back to the fore front.   So forget about swing thoughts and play free, at least from swing thoughts, you will probably have to pay.   Next blog,  practice, save your money and your time.

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answe

Well, its been four months since the last blog, which is one of the longest periods in awhile that I have not blog.   I really do not have any good reason that I have not written anything for a long time.  I have been playing golf like I usually do, as this past Monday I just completed my 112th round.  My play as been ok.  In Western Pennsylvania, the handicap season ended on November 14th and I finished the year with a 4.7 index.  Which is not bad but no major improvement.   I really did not prove some of the concepts that I wrote about on that blog 4 months ago.  So today I thought I would review the last year and the last 4 months in particular.

The one constant over these last 4 months was that the weather was lousy.  In 112 rounds of golf I would say I saw the ball roll any amount distance in only about 15 rounds.   This was by far the wettest most humid year of golf I have ever played and I have played for 50 years.  You rarely could play the ball down and course conditions suffered mightily.  If fact one course, Village Green closed down permanently and the weather contributed to it’s demise.  It was difficult to evaluate one’s game under those conditions. The weather just got worse as we headed into fall, which most of the time is fairly dry.  In mid September we got about 20 plus inches of rain over about a 7 day period. I have come to detest the word mud.

I could not quite grasp the concept of golf being 100% mental when you are a single digit handicap.   I still believe this, but it can be very difficult to put into practice, because I feel we are brainwashed into thinking that bad golf play can be fix with some physical correction.   This can be ranging from anywhere to “fixing” your grip, stance, transition, swing plane, weight distribution, and anything you can think of about the physical execution of the golf swing.    Part of the problem is that you hear every week on the PGA tour that a player is working on some part of his swing and it is helping him.  I think this is wrong.    Having  problems with your golf game at that level and I believe at the level of the single handicapper  is strictly mental and any physical correction is only temporary and in the long run no help at all.   However this is so much easier said then done.  I will elaborate more on this in future blogs, and yes, they are going to be more frequent than one every 4 months.

The albatross in May was the highlight of my season and was easily the shot of the year and probably in my life.  I did not have an even par round this year and had only 2 that were one over par.  I was consistent and had a pretty good putting year and have putted very well the last couple of times out. I am determine to prove the 100 % mental theory. One of the best things that I have done over the past year and half is that I have played golf with no swing thoughts.  It has freed up my game and has made golf so much more enjoyable.     Developing my own putting style has contributed to my overall good scoring and was the main reason that I came out of an 18 month slump from the beginning of 2016 to the end of June  2017, which saw my index climb to 6.9.  My index would have been even higher if there was not a limit on the strokes you could take on one hole for handicap purposes. I had some really high numbers during that stretch, where I proved the axiom, its not where your good shots go, but where your bad shots wind up.   So my game is where it’s mostly been over the last 30 years when I started to play a lot of golf again, between a 3 and 5 handicap.  Next blog will be about swing thoughts, why they work and why they stop working.  The amazing thing is golf instructors were writing about swing thoughts in the 1930’s.  See you then.

 

 

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The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

It’s been a while since the last blog, about 2 months, but I am still playing and still searching.   I have taken a totally different tact in trying to find the answer, and even though it has not improved my game by much, it hasn’t  made it any worse, and I am enjoying the game more than I ever have.  My index is 4.5 right now and is much better than it was about this time last year when it was about 6.5.  I feel I have learned more about the game in the last 6 months, than in any other time period of my life.  Today I will write about what I have learned in a series of statements that will express what I feel works to help improve one’s golf game, and what does not work.  Most of this will go against the grain of current golf thinking, and in this blog I am not going to defend these positions.  I will defend them in future blogs.  The following only applies to golfers with single digit handicaps that are looking to bring that handicap down to the holy grail of scratch.  This like everything else is an arbitrary number, which could be argued in either direction, that for this to be applied your handicap could be slightly higher or lower. But we have to start somewhere so single digit handicap is where this shall be. These are things that you need to do and not do in order to get that handicap down to zero.

I use to feel that golf could be divided into 50% Mental and 50% Physical and wrote a blog about it, stating that I felt too much emphasis was put on the mental aspect of the game.  Boy, was I ever wrong.   At the single handicap level the game is 100% mental.

Practicing is not going to get you down to scratch.  I have never been a big advocate of practice but I know positively that it is a complete waste of time. Sorry range owners.  Hey if you enjoy hitting balls and practicing other aspects of game go for it.  Just realize that it’s not going to lower your handicap.

Lessons are not going to bring your handicap down unless a psychologist is on hand. Instead of paying a pro for four or five lessons go see a shrink once.

I have learned why a new swing thought works and then why it stops working.  This was huge for me and now I play with no swing thoughts .

Accept the fact that putting is the most important part of the game.  Yes it is wonderful to hit that beautiful drive right down the middle, and watch that ball reach that apex against that perfect blue sky. Some may feel it’s the solid iron shot from 160 yards that ends up 4 feet from the pin that is the greatest  thrill of the game.   But the fact of the matter is, putt well and you score. Don’t putt well and you do not score.  Accept this and find a way to putt, even if this means sticking your putter up your ass.  If the ball goes in its worth it.

The swing is not the thing.  This is an old one but still is one of the most important.  IT IS NOT YOUR SWING THAT’S THE PROBLEM.

Learning what really causes bad shots and bad putts.

So there you have my holy grail for the moment.   My game has been more consistent than it has ever been and I feel I make progress almost every time I play.  More important I am having one hell of a good time.  My next blog will be about this idea about trying to limit the distance that the golf ball can go.  See you then.

 

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