The past few days we had our section championship for the South Texas PGA Section. The winner of the event gained exemptions into the Valero and Shell Houston Open, while the top 7 earned a birth into the PGA National Championship in Sunriver, Oregon, which is hosted live on the Golf Channel.
The biggest myth is that golf professionals like myself get to play and practice golf all the time. Truth is, all of my students and recreational golfers play much more golf than I do. Golf professionals are business leaders in the golf industry. We work long hours just like any other business professional would, not leaving much time for practice on our own game.
Leading up to the tournament I played 9 holes in the past 2 weeks. But what I did do, is rarely done by the average golfer. It is simple and effective, most importantly time efficient. Here is what I did:
I analyzed my previous full round in tournament play from August 15-16. Going into the event I was number 1 on the South Texas PGA player of the year points list (player of the year gets PGA tour event exemption). I played terrible and shot 76-76. I could’ve beaten myself up about it, but instead I chose to get feedback and ask myself what was different from the previous 3 events that got me to number 1 on the points list? Here is what I found:
Calm my mind
I was uncomfortable over the ball. When I had time between golf lessons and office work, I would hit a couple balls into the net in our golf school, only focusing on my breathing routine and being 100% comfortable before swinging. I did this with my putting as well. I hit putts indoors on the carpet and made it to the practice putting green 1 time between tournaments. Although I didn’t do much physical practicing, each putt had a purpose and I was training my mind effectively for results when on the golf course. See the video below, Saturday night I spent 5 minutes hitting balls on Flightscope with our FocusBand. FocusBand is a device that tracks your brain activity and you get feedback on if you have a calm mind or thinking too much over the ball. When I achieved a calm mind on FocusBand, I was able to remember that feeling and incorporate it throughout my tournament under pressure.
Back to the basics on putting
I went through Aimpoint training for green reading prior to the event. I believe Aimpoint is a great tool to help people read greens, but it is not an “end all be all” green reading tool for me. I am a creative, feel player that does not focus much on analytics, numbers, physics or mechanics. How I used Aimpoint in my last event took away from my creativity and feel.
I asked myself “What was I doing, when I was putting well?” It was simple, I focused on the last 3 feet of the putt, and where the ball would start dying into the hole. I would use a line on my ball, but it was just for general direction. I then found a small spot to focus on when setting up to my putt and would place my focus on hitting a solid putt over that spot.
I went back to this putting style for this tournament and my putting was what saved me. I had 29 putts each of the 3 rounds, which is pretty good considering I hit 14 greens per round, which tends to make your putt count go up since my proximity to hole was over 30 feet on average. (I will explain how to track proximity to hole later, which is a very important stat rather than just tracking greens hit in regulation)
Own my driver
My driving was inconsistent. I naturally hit a fade off the tee, but I had been working on getting my club face more shut at the top to create more distance and reduce the left to right side spin. This made me uncomfortable because I rarely think about mechanics in my golf swing when I play. My main swing thought is tempo and transition from back swing to downswing.
The first round, I hit my first 3 drives perfectly, but then when I got to the 4th hole, I hit a huge push slice to the right in the trees. This caused me to to self correct on the next hole and hit a huge pull hook left into the hazard. This took my score from -1 to +2 very quickly. Luckily I was able to scrap it around for a +1, 73 so I still had a chance with 2 rounds remaining.
The second round was similar to the first round, hitting it both left and right off the tee, which is the worst combination a golfer can have. My putter saved me time and time again, and I got to -4 under with 2 to play only 1 back of the lead for the tournament. But on the last 2 holes I hit the pull hook of the tee finishing, bogey-bogey and in a tie for 11th place going into the final round.
On Tuesday night I was talking with one of our director of instructions and he told me its time to “practice what I preach everyday at the golf school”, which is OWN YOUR GAME & PLAY GOLF. My game is a power fade off the tee. I only hit 10 balls to warm up and 3 drivers. With those 3 drivers, I made sure to set up properly, have good transition and swing confidently aggressive. The outcome was my natural power cut.
I went to the first tee and hit my natural ball flight, I played that way all the way around. I hit 11 fairways and 15 greens in regulation. Although I was hitting it better, I was even par through 13 holes after hitting it into a hazard and making double bogey. I knew this took me out of contention for the top 7 and a spot in the PGA National Championship. Instead of getting frustrated, I was able to get focused. I had not made any putts and was even par, after only missing 3 greens so far that day. The next 5 holes, I was determined to make birdies. I went on to birdie 3 of the last 4 holes, finished with a downhill 5 foot breaker through spike marks in a must make situation. The birdie on the last hole secured me a spot in the PGA National Championship this coming June!
This was only possible because I got feedback from my poor performance at the previous tournament. Although I didn’t have much time to practice in the 6 weeks in between, I did something more important and focused on what I could control. Too many times, we go to fixing another piece of our golf swing, rather than figuring out what has worked for us in the past, and practicing that for a couple minutes each day when we have time.
I plan to put together a training program leading up to the PGA National Championship and make it available to golfers that want to follow the plan with me. This will hold me accountable to practicing as well as giving you an opportunity to follow a structured golf training program that is time efficient with your busy schedule.
I hope this helps you figure out what you can change or go back to in your game to see positive results. We all have our own way of playing the game. Find what has worked for you in the past and refine it to see positive results!
My golf coaching is based around performance. I use teaching software that allows me to work with golfers all over the country. If you need help with your game, email me and we will figure out a game plan for your improvement!