After many years of working with numerous golfers who have achieved success at the elite level I believe that mental toughness training has to be introduced and developed at an early age.
I have seen many young golfers look like potential world beaters in their teenage years but sadly not go on with it. My observation has been that it was not their lack of technical expertise that held them back, but their lack of mental toughness that finally was their stumbling block.
If you have any interest of seeing first hand the impact of mental toughness (or the lack of it) in sport, attend a major tour qualifying school such as The PGA, LPGA, European, Japanese or Asian tour school.
Most of those that have better mental skills are the ones that we find succeed every time. And the others unfortunately are left trying to explain why they failed with "I tried too hard" or "not being able to let it happen out there" or "played too
So what are the key mental skills that a young junior golfer needs to learn and develop, that will hold them in good stead when they turn professional?
They are listed below and are all important for juniors and their parents / coaches to understand and put into practice.
Key No 1: You Are Not Your Golf Score
This is such a critical thing for a young junior golfer to learn that his score for the day does not reflect what his personality is. Meaning the score he has does not make him a better or worse person. It is just a score, end of story.
A young junior that gets loads of praise from parents/coaches when he does well, and then made to feel bad when he scores poorly is destined to hate the game and drop out at some point.
A junior who can play without having to please someone else will play freely and not be afraid to make mistakes or try to protect their rankings.
Key No 2: Learn To Breath For Peak Performance
Breathing is the first thing we learn to do instinctively at birth. But learning to breath properly for peak performance needs to be learned as early as possible rather than later.
The harmony and coordination required to ignite billions of cells, fire synapses that activate the muscles to fire in sequence is mind boggling. Yet the core of that coordination and sequencing is in breathing correctly.
By teaching juniors how to develop awareness to focus, and also develop the potential of their breathing to control their mind and body when they are out of their comfort level especially in competition is vitally important.
Good breathing techniques allow the lungs to provide more oxygen to the blood which slows the heart beat rate down and makes the brain more alert. All things needed for the golfer to make good decisions and maintain good rhythm and tempo throughout the eighteen holes.
A simple breathing exercise for the junior to learn is divided into three parts. Before starting this exercise understand that a complete full breath is the critical foundation for doing it correctly.
The best place to learn is when walking between shots.
1st part: Inhale for 2 steps
2nd part: Hold for 2 steps
3rd part: Exhale for 4 steps
The other benefit is that doing this exercise also reduces the internal dialogue or self talk and helps the golfer stay in the moment. Which takes me to the next key.
Key No 3: Don't Be A Time Traveler
What I mean by this is that your body cannot go into the future or past but you certainly can with your mind! The quicker the junior accepts the past and is not afraid of something that hasn't happen yet (the future) the better chance he/she will keep their mind/body in the same place.
This key skill needs to be learn't before they develop bad post shot routines that "anchor" negative emotions. The junior who does not learn this skill will be limited in their ability to perform well when it counts the most to them.
Key No 4: You Cannot Control The Outcome
You have probably heard this cliche many times before but every round that a golfer plays unexpected "Things" happen like a bad bounce, a missed short putt or a perfect drive finishes in a divot! So what should you do when these circumstances occur.
PTGC co-director Lawrie Montague has the perfect answer. The only things you have complete control when you play this game is your preparation and reaction to each and every shot you execute and nothing else period! Accept the outcome and move on because you don't have any other choice.
And if you think you do you will be signing for a higher score than you wish for. Teach the junior this and he/she will achieve their full potential
Key No 5: Play To Succeed
This is an important point that many parents/coaches fail to instill in juniors. Instead of encouraging the junior to play to succeed the junior is guided to avert failure.
This miss-guided thinking is to protect rankings and take the safe route and not take risk. These juniors are the ones that end up at tour school and will be quoting the "I tried too hard", or "not being able to let it happen" or "trying to hold on" as that is what they have practiced throughout their developing years.
If you are working with a junior golfer, or have a child that loves the game, teach them the above 5 keys that will guarantee mental toughness.
With these 5 keys they will ingrain the habits that will allow them reach the ultimate goals they strive for.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
The vast majority of advanced and elite golfers at some point of time in their golfing life will attempt to change some aspect of their golf technique, and sadly most will fail to actually make the change they desire.
And it’s not because they don’t have the ability to make the change to their technique, but more because they don’t fully appreciate the scope of the task they are undertaking.
So how will they fail?
Most likely they will give up well before the change process has had a chance to develop into a habit, and after all, that’s what we’re talking about; creating a new habit or changing an old one.
You see, changing a golf stroke pattern is a highly complex endeavour that requires an enormous amount of determination and patience as well as the knowledge of how to go about it so that you actually create lasting change.
Typically a golf stroke change for most golfers begins with a visit to your local golf professional where he or she identifies a flaw in your golf technique and suggests a method of change (like a practice drill) that usually revolves around you hitting lots of golf balls to facilitate the change.
You then go back for regular consultation with the golf instructor, and your instructor keeps adjusting the stroke pattern and you go away and practice some more, and you come back again and again and somewhere in the future (hopefully) the golf stroke pattern changes and you play the golf of your life or something like that.
Question: How many golf lessons do you think you need to have - and how many golf shots do you need to hit to change your golf swing? You should consider this before you take the plunge.
It is a lot more than you think. We suggest that what ever you think the answer to the question is, double it and you'll be half way there.
Changing a golf swing pattern is also called ‘motor skill acquisition’ simply means a relatively permanent change in technique bought about by practice and experience.
When we change movement patterns, golf strokes can become smoother and more precise, leading to more accurate outcomes.
We have found that golfers experience more success changing their techniques if they can understand do these three things.
1. Performing one component of your stroke at a time
Isolate just one component of your golf stroke pattern that needs attention, and carefully practice that part of the skill until you have improved its value to the whole.
By performing more than one part of the stroke at a time you increase the complexity and decrease your competency.
Keep it simple; practice one part at a time.
2. Monitoring your ongoing performance
Meaningful feedback is the breakfast of champions. Every successful golfer has a useful feedback system in place to guide the direction of the momentum they’re creating from practice effort. The type of feedback I'm talking about is that of an expert teacher or instructor, someone who can, and has done it at a very high level in their own right, and can show you exactly what to do.
Carefully monitor your progress with the help of your golf instructor and also use feedback devices such as video play-back and ball flight monitors. Careful monitoring of your change process will help you to make minor adjustments that will keep you close to the cutting edge of your skills development.
Remember, you simply can't improve some aspect of your technique if you can't measure its current position relative to where you want it to be.
3. Determining how to do it better
The whole purpose of golf practice is to continually get better at the game of golf. By now you realize that practicing consistently won't automatically improve what you do.
You really need to think about your practice methods carefully and thoughtfully before you apply yourself physically to the demands of changing your technique.
Many of the golfers we've worked with over the years have a strong desire to get better at the game, but they don't really know how to. Information is useless until you understand how it can help you.
Practice is helpful for habituating a new pattern or changing an old one, but you must understand one important thing; change is a biological process first and foremost, and no amount of frustration and anguish will change that fact.
You cannot speed up the process of swing change; you can only ensure that you do it carefully and thoughtfully.
Successful changing your golf stroke pattern starts with the vision of what’s possible, followed by a deliberate process that introduces the change components carefully, methodically and spaced over a lengthy time period.
You simply can’t speed up the change process no matter how hard you try; you can only do a great job of using quality information and instruction from a competent and experienced golf instructor, and lots of carefully executed golf strokes until your new stroke pattern emerges from the land of uncertainty into the land of certainty.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
Whenever article’s talk about feet in golf, invariably Jack Nicklaus is quoted as saying “All timing, distance and direction comes out of the lower body with the feet leading the way.”
This shows us how important Jack feels the feet were to the golf swing, but what should we or can we do to maximize the performance of this body area to golf.
To start with you should actively be looking after our feet. With noticeable signs of tightness, particularly in our calf and pre-tibial muscles, as well as the plantar fascia, you should look at stretching and self massage (spikey ball, foam roller etc.).
If tightness remains, or a more serious injury then seek professional advice (podiatrist, physiotherapist).
At this stage, as well as other strategies, the use of orthotics may be suggested as a form of management . So what are the issues here?
The biggest issue is that golf has two vastly different facets to it that involve the feet. Firstly it is there considerable involvement in the swing. Secondly it is their need to allow ambulation around the 18 holes of the golf course.
Now to walk around the golf course we do not need speed, power or ‘maximized performance’ from our feet. Rather we simply need to adequately perform the task with minimal risk of injury or fatigue.
With this in mind golf shoe manufacturers are as advanced as in any sport with force absorption and foot support well catered for.
However, due to many factors this is not always enough and the use of orthotics may seem the ideal remedy.
But how will these orthotics effect the feet and their role in the swing? Lets have a simplified look at the movement patterns of the feet in the golf swing:
- In initial stance, weight is close to even, right to left, with more pressure directed towards the inner heels.
- In the backswing weight is transferred to the right foot (right hander), with pressure even more to the inner heel.
- In the downswing, with a general lateral weight shift, weight moves over to the leading left foots heel. The pressure in the right foot moves to the big toe.
- At impact and follow through, the right foot pronates and comes up onto the big toe. The leading left foot, continuing the lateral weight movement, inverts with pressure rolling onto the outer/lateral side.
So this is a vastly different pattern of movement to that which our feet experience with walking. If orthotics are to be prescribed for the elite golfer they must allow for this movement to be adequately performed.
This may be achieved if custom-made by a podiatrist knowledgeable with golf bio-mechanics. There are also some ‘over the counter’ orthotics which through claims hopefully address this dual movement quandary.
Whatever management is chosen, be sure you actually require them, trial their potential effect on your swing first (maybe with investigatory foot strapping to mimic the orthotic) and make sure that your golf ‘feels’ are not being interfered with too much.
"These two factors are critical for the junior to maintain interest and not drop out of the sport. Dropping out in any junior sport is unavoidable as not all kids like golf! But in a lot of cases of juniors dropping out can be traced back to parents putting too much pressure on the child in many different ways".
From Arnold Palmer, to Jack Nicklaus, and on to Tiger Woods, all these great golfers had parents that were a huge influence in their developing years in sport, and especially introducing them to the game of golf.
Deacon Palmer, Charlie Nicklaus and Earl Woods were the coaches for their children when they first started out. I don't mean just in teaching the game, but instilling the values that the game of golf represents.
Good sportsmanship, playing by the rules, and keeping a lid on temper tantrums on and off the course were traits that were expected of young Arnold, Jack and Tiger.
The majority of golfers were introduced to golf by one or both of their parents, or grandparents, and some of the first things they do is to make sure the junior golfer receives a certain amount of self confidence and development of their self esteem.
These two factors alone are critical for the junior to maintain interest and not drop out of the sport. Dropping out in any junior sport is unavoidable though as not all kids like golf! But in a lot of cases of juniors dropping out can be traced back to parents putting too much pressure on the child in many different ways.
Parents mostly want and wish the best for their children but don't always know how to go about giving them this. Getting over-involved or being over protective is not recommended as the junior never learns to be responsible for his actions.
It is also natural for parents to sometimes to live vicariously through the child, and when the parent's goals and expectations exceed the child's, added pressure is inevitable and the chance of the child dropping out increases dramatically.
Listed below are the Do's and Don'ts that will help guide you as a parent in nurturing your child's golf development.The Do's
- So what are the things that a parent have to be aware of that will help their child grow as a person, and also reach their full potential as a golfer?
- And the opposite, what are the things you don't want to do that will turn your child away from playing golf?
- Stay involved and interested, and if you do play yourself to spend time with your child practicing or playing a few holes whenever possible.
- Take off the pressure of winning as the sole purpose of playing the game.
- Always be supportive, interested and encouraging. Be there for them when they lose or have a bad day. You can't always be there at each tournament but be prepared to listen to how they played after.
- Be tough on sportsmanship, play by the rules of golf and not accept bad temper and vulgarity on and off the course.
- Teach them that their golf score good or bad is not "them". This will ensure their self esteem is never on the line.
Always look supportive, relaxed and comfortable on the course. This is really hard to do and takes a lot of practice! I had a father that hid behind trees because he believed that when his son saw him on course a bad hole would follow!
Make sure your child's ego does not get too big as it's a recipe for disappointment when they have a bad day on course.
And it will happen!The Don'ts
- Put pressure on winning as the sole purpose of playing the game.
- Get too excited when the child win's or even worse get emotional when they lose or play poorly.
- Show negative emotion, fear or nervousness while the child is on course.
- Golf is an individual sport so refrain from saying things like "we're playing great today" or "We won".
If the child is in a junior program or taking individual golf lessons don't give feedback to the child that is in conflict of what the professional is teaching.
Don't use love to get the child to work harder. This does not work as the child is doing it to gain your attention not because he wants to improve his/her golf game.
If you are really serious for your child to enjoy and improve their golf game you have to learn to be involved in the right way. This means to always show interest in your child and constantly encouraging, them regardless of how they perform.
Providing emotional support is without a doubt the single most important aspect of a parents role.
Be prepared to take an active interest in your child's junior program at the club, and develop a relationship with the golf professional running the program because your understanding of the objectives of the golf program will help you and enrich the experience for everyone.
You have every right to get feedback from the program professional, and if he/she doesn't, then go find another professional that will.
Always check that your child has built a rapport with his/her professional, as this relationship is critical for the continued development and enjoyment of playing golf.
So whether your child excels in golf, or just plays the game for the simple joy of it, you will know that you played a major role in it and also helped make them a better person because of it.
And that's a win/win situation for all.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
"Remember this because it's very important. Score comes first, strategy comes second, and effort comes third. If you want to become a much better golfer than you currently are, then you need to define exactly what that means to you, rather than wandering through the golf wilderness waiting for your success to come to you. Believe me, you will be waiting a long time and you will be disappointed".
Can you imagine just for a moment what it would be like to practice golf every day without a clearly defined goal?
Imagine putting continuous effort into your golf without a clear idea of why you’re doing it. Your best answer to someone who asks you why you’re practicing so much is that you want to play on the pro tour one day.
Believe it or not there are lots of golfers doing precisely this, and setting themselves up for failure!
Anything worthwhile requires a big goal and a way of getting to it. It doesn't have to be complicated, just a simple map that gets you from A to B with a minimum of fuss.
For instance the golfer that is practicing to play on a pro tour has a worthy goal. The key is how to get there, and once you’re there, to stay there.
As you would know by now if you read our blog posts, we study the successful golfers and those that are trying to be to try and identify what the difference is that makes the difference in professional golf.
Now as you can imagine this opens up a can of worms with the different golf improvement camps jockeying for position to promote their way as the best way to achieve success in golf. You have the golf instructors, the psychologists and the sports scientists who want you to adopt their way, and the media to add their bit to the puzzle.
That is why when all is said and done, success in golf gets down to a simple fundamental of golf - the score.
Golf has always involved a score, and yet the crazy thing about golf today is that many young aspiring golfers are told not to focus on the score as it distracts you…
Soccer or football wouldn’t be much of a game if no one scored a goal. The goal of golf is to produce a golf score on each hole, and a score after 18 holes that ultimately leads you to the success you are striving for.
Why is this so hard to understand?
I think the reason is that there is so much noise from all the camps vying for your business. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with this, if you can get to your goal right?
You have to decide if your destiny is to perfect your golf swing technique or your golf score. It is that simple.
And one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other, so you better make sure that you choose wisely, because once you start on the path, it's difficult to find your way back to the start.
Golf is a game of score first. To my way of thinking the reason a team goes out onto a field to play football is to score more goals than the other team, and so the key to achieving this is two things; a goal and a strategy to achieve it, like I said earlier.
Jack Nicklaus said to Lee Trevino before the 1971 US Open at Merion that he thought a score of 280 would win it. As it turned out Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus played off for the title after both scoring 280 over four rounds at Merion, with Lee Trevino winning in the play off.
The goal was 280, and the strategy was how they went about achieving it. That is the basic facts behind playing golf competitively.
Score = strategy x effort
Remember this because it's very important. Score comes first - your goal, and strategy comes second. If you want to become a much better golfer than you currently are, then you need to define exactly what that means to you, rather than wandering through the golf wilderness waiting for your success to come to you.
Believe me, you will be waiting a long time and you will be disappointed.
On numerous occasions I have heard Tiger Woods talk about his goal score for the week when interviewed prior to a tournament. And even during the tournament he will talk about where his score is compared to his goal score for the week.
Remember; Score = Strategy x Effort
Now let’s talk about the score that will give you all the success you desire in golf. We call it The Golf Score Success Code and this number just keeps popping up as we carefully analyse successful golfers from those that are not.
Remember we define success in professional golf as making a lot more money than you spend, which is easier to do when you reach or get close to the golf success code standard.
When we talk about score we define it as your actual score average against par.
Not an adjusted average, but your golf score against par. So when you play competitively over a year on par 70, 71 and 72 layouts, (or others) you take your average score for the year and compare it to the average par.
This is your true golfing standard – no handicaps or adjustments, just a competitive score average against par. This is the mind-set we want you to adopt if you have desires of becoming a successful amateur or professional golfer.
...Score = Strategy x Effort
Matt Kuchar has developed into one of the best golfers in the world and I sat down and had a good look at his performances since he left the Nationwide Tour (now Web.Com tour) to identify some of the key performance indicators that might be influencing his improved play.
The first thing to understand is I looked at his results over the period of 1998 to 2013 - 15 years which straight away should tell you that he has been hard at it for a relatively long period of time.
This is consistent with the studies on developing world class expertise in your field or domain as most of the research points to periods over 10 years to achieve this exalted level of performance.
I split the period of Matt Kuchar's PGA Tour performances from 2001 to 2006 and the period after 2006, from 2007 to 2012. The reason I did this was to show you how much improvement he has made after 2006 when he started working with Jim Hardy of The One Plane Swing fame, and now with Chris O'Connell who teaches Jim Hardy's philosophy.
It is interesting when you look closely at the numbers, which I have summarized in the table below for you. I urge you to carefully look at the numbers before 2007, and those after, because you will learn a lot about why Matt Kuchar is playing so well, and this will undoubtedly help you and your game.
Tee to Green Skills
The first thing to notice is that his tee to green performances from the first period to the second period don't show a lot of difference which I think many golf swing coaches would find interesting.
It you look at the numbers in the table below, he hits it 2.4 yards longer on average in the 2nd period to the first (280.0 yards to 282.4 yards) and misses 1.3 percent more fairways.
His greens in regulation in the 2nd period has improved slightly, by 1.59 percent, from 64.2 percent to 65.79 percent, again not a big difference.
So at face value it doesn't look like a lot of difference does it?
Greenside Skills and Birdies
So I looked at his green-side skills and his birdie average to see if there was a noticeable difference that would explain his success, and again I was surprised to see just a little bit of improvement in his green-side skills, but nothing like I expected.
- Sand Saves up from 51.2 to 57.69 percent (Improvement of 6.49 percent)
- Scrambling up from 59.88 to 63.51 percent (Improvement of 3.63 percent)
The combination of sand saves and scrambling (within 30 yards of the edge of the green) netted a 10 percent improvement in these par saving skills which is actually a lot better than it looks on paper.
Matt's birdie average improved from 3.3 birdies per round for the first period to 3.61 birdies per round for the next period.
This was an improvement of 0.31 which definitely translates into a lower golf score average.
Score Against Par
So I went further into the numbers (there are lots) and started to notice a lot of improvement in the his scoring ability from the first period to the second period. There is a definite shift in Matt Kuchar's performances when you look at them over 12 years (Big Picture View) and even though he has played a lot more tournaments in the 2nd period to the first, the one standout statistic is his competitive score average. 71.5 to 70.16
Matt Kuchar improved his competitive score average by 1.34 strokes in the 2nd period from 71.5 to 70.16. So the work that he has done with his coach Chris O'Connell (Score = Strategy x Effort) has translated into a lower competitive score average, which is the bottom line in professional golf, and also the bottom line responsibility of your golf coach/instructor.
Now here's where it gets interesting; notice the improvement in his par 3, 4, and 5 averages from the first period to the second, and you'll understand why it is so important to start with the numbers as your goal, and then build your strategy for improvement from there.
- Par 3 average from + 20.8 strokes over par to + 13.5 strokes over par (Improvement of 7.3 strokes)
- Par 4 average from + 32.5 strokes over par to + 22 strokes over par (Improvement of 10.5 strokes)
- Par 5 average from - 53.5 strokes under par to - 98.3 strokes under par (Improvement of 44.8 strokes)
So Matt Kuchar is playing more competitive rounds in the 2nd period but has found a way to improve his scoring average by 1.34 strokes playing more rounds of golf.
Now look at his 'against par performances' and his average for the first period is 51 under par for an average of 57 competitive rounds played on the PGA Tour.
Pretty impressive until you look at his improvement in the 2nd period where he improved by 30.1 strokes against an average of 87 competitive rounds per season.
In-fact if you look closely at the numbers you see that he has done exactly what you have to do to become a successful professional golfer; he has played the par 5's a lot better and amazingly he improved by 44.8 strokes for the 2nd period as compared with the first.
So even though we don't see much improvement in his tee to green game, we see that he has improved his scoring ability, which is the most important factor. His long game and green-side skills are similar to the first period, but his scoring ability has gone to another level.
We find this continually as we study the top golfers; they find ways to lower their score average even when they are already very fine golfers. The lesson we learn from this is not only do they have the goal of improving their score average, they find the best strategies for achieving this goal, and then go to work on them.
Remember; Score = Strategy x Effort
Have a look at the image above showing Matt Kuchar's earnings for the 2nd period including 2013 after his win at the Memorial Tournament. He has earned nearly 20 million dollars in prize money since 2007 and the one common denominator is that his actual score average (against par average) is right around 70.00 across the 7 years.
Now compare that to the 2001 to 2006 period.
He is playing at this level because he has learned and applies the golf score success code:
Score = Strategy x Effort
12 Pars - 4 Birdies - 2 Bogeys
Our studies of top class golfers keeps highlighting this 12 - 4 - 2 standard for success in golf at amateur or professional level.
You will find that by beginning with the end in mind (your score goal) and then developing the most effective strategy with the help of your golf coach, and then putting the work in that's required, that you too can achieve your goal of improving your competitive score average, and obtaining the success that you desire from this great game.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
Think about your current practice habits. When was the last time you gave your training regime a check-up?
As the half way mark in the calendar year approaches, it’s all too common for elite players who practice multiple hours on our daily basis to revert to amateur patterns of practice that prevent them from getting the most out of their training time mentally and physically.
Even if you are not at the elite level of play, if you have aspirations to take your game to new heights, follow these steps to revolutionize your training habits and the results you can achieve. First assess your current focus, actions, and attitude toward training by answering the following questions:
- Do you have the same focus in most of your training sessions?
- Do you find that your focus is drawn to technical work and corrections in all areas of your game?
- For most training sessions, is your key mental approach to “focus well” or “stay focused” as best as possible
- Would you use the words “there abouts” , “around”, or “approximately” to describe the number of balls you hit or number of shots you create in all areas of your game during training?
- Do you expect to “grind” during every practice session to reach your goals?
- If your coach asks how your training was today, do you typically respond with either “good, ok, or not so good”?
- Are you convinced that past failed attempts to achieve your target scoring average were due to a lack of or drop in motivation?
If you answered YES to these questions, then it’s time to give your practice habits an overhaul.
There are many different types of focus you can apply in training (e.g., technical, tactical, or high pressure focus).
However, your focus is directly dependent on your plan and goals you set to achieve for training.
If you do not set specific goals, then it’s all too easy to revert to the same technical focus for every training session and your default aim becomes about “perfecting” swing changes.
A sole focus on correcting your technique, without tangible markers for a successful practice session is a recipe for disaster.
You are more likely to judge your success or failure based on “feel”, how well you strike “each” shot, or worse; you only recall the few shots you strike poorly relative to the 30 effective shots you created. Such dangerously vague indictors of good verses poor practice does not help you build confidence and instead facilitates an unhealthy, perfectionistic attitude toward your game as there is no room for error in your analysis.FOCUS! On What?
An aim to simply “stay focused” in training is not specific enough. You must define what it is you will focus ON “specifically” in training. When you are fully aware and committed to performing a specific task, you can then immerse yourself into training and ultimately achieve “fearsome focus.”Close enough is NOT good enough
The art of excellence in golf training is being able to set clear, measurable goals for each segment of your training and hold yourself accountable for every shot you hit in training. This is no easy task, it takes discipline and focus, but all great players know that the pursuit of excellence is not an easy journey. Grinding does not characterize quality training
Quality training aligns your drills and training activities with your performance plan. Repetitious drill work, “grinding”, and long hours of training should only occur in your “technique building phase” of your annual performance plan. Your performance plan should also include a pre-competition phase and a competition phase. Quality practice in the pre-performance phase should include target practice, pre-shot routine work, and high pressure drills that simulate on course play.A clear training focus builds confidence
Confidence building must take place in the practice setting first before it can translate into success on the course. To build confidence you need to first set specific goals to measure your success in training, provide base-line statistics, and to show concrete evidence of your progress. All the motivation in the world will not translate into meaningful training without a clear plan.QUICK TIPS FOR CREATING QUALITY PRACTICE HABITS
- As part of your warm-up time, take time to write down your training plan including your set drills, goals, and time frame for each.
- Set clear goals for each drill and exercise you perform that allows ROOM FOR ERROR.
a. For example;
3. Allow time to review your training session and pin point your current strengths and weaknesses.
4. Use a training diary to set goals and track progress.
The MNC Training Diary is an essential tool for anyone who wants to gain the most they can, both physically and mentally, from their hard work. The MNC Training Diary is an excellent way to log your training, track your progress, monitor your improvement, and stay motivated.
Order online: http://mentalnotesconsulting.com.au/shop/training-diary
In our last lesson we discussed how important it is to lower your high score average to be successful in amateur and professional golf.
It is a common misconception in golf to believe that you can be consistent at golf scoring.
You can have a score average that would give the impression that you are consistent at golf, but your competitive score average - your B game is always a product of your A, and C game scores.
Top level professional golfers will have a score variance of at least 10 shots from their best scores to their worst over a season, and in elite amateur golf it can be as much as 20 shots and sometimes more.
The most successful professional golfers are really good at keeping the high scores off their score card.
In contrast, go to any advanced amateur event and you will always find a percentage of the field that has really high scores that are not nearly consistent with their stated handicap.
In fact is not unusual to see golfers with 1 and 2 handicaps scoring in the mid 80’s or higher in some tournaments.
Now this doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is a reality of amateur golf.
The reason is that their golf handicap is not a true reflection of their golfing ability, because if they were to submit every golf score they had in amateur golf tournaments, for many amateur golfers they would have a much higher handicap than is stated.
Why do they do this?
Well, for a variety of reasons but one of the most likely is simple peer pressure. They want to feel like they’re part of the low handicap crowd and as such they put their best cards in to get handicapped and keep their bad one’s out.
So they create a false impression of their golfing ability because they basically only submit their A and B scores and eliminate the C and D scores. D scores are the really bad scores.
Now you will never become a successful amateur or professional golfer with an attitude like that.
You have to accept the bad days with the good ones and learn how to lower the bad score days and make them better ones.
That is the real skill of an elite golfer.
Even the great professional golfers have higher scores than they want to at times. Take Adam Scott for instance.
In 2012 have a look at his first 30 rounds of the PGA Tour season (excluding the Accenture Matchplay and Tavistock Cup).
Notice how little consistency there is from one round to another against the par of the courses he played.
You’ll notice in the example below that the only thing that is consistent is the par of the course he plays each day, and for the 30 rounds he played the par averaged out at 71.00. What’s interesting though is that Adam Scott’s score average (B Game) averaged out at 71.03.
He missed just one cut in the 30 competitive rounds but earned US $1,135,899.22 dollars for the period. His highest score against par was a 76 against the par of 70 (+6) in the US Open, however this is not surprising to see higher scores posted in the US Open as the USGA sets the golf courses up so they are really tough, consequently the scoring averages of all the professionals competing in this event is higher than normal.
The other high score was 77 (+5) in the Memorial Tournament, where with a closing 77 and 74 he finished the event in a tie for 46th place.
So the key to understanding this variability in score is that your C Game scores are balanced with your A Game scores.
Think of it like a see-saw, with high score sitting on one side and low score sitting on the other, and when high score goes up, low score must push it back down below B Game average.
That is how the game is played.
This is the only real consistency you can strive to create in competitive golf; when you have high scores you must have the ability to produce a low score to balance the B Game average.
Your attitude to achieving this goal is the most important trait you can develop to become a professional golfer. Drive your C Game scores down and it affects your B Game average. And you can’t have a low B Game average without the ability to have a good A Game.The Golf Performance Model
Every golf score you produce is a product of a whole range of variables that effect your performance from day to day. It is futile to attempt to produce consistent scores when you consider the factors that will influence the score that you produce.
You can see in the model below that from day to day your A, B and C game score is being influenced by some of the following:
- The weather conditions
- Your level of fitness
- Your technical and strategic competence
- Your mental skills.
Not to mention the degree of difficulty of some golf tournament layouts you play. This is why it is difficult to achieve a linear style scoring consistency.
It’s not going to happen, so focus more on developing your golf scoring skills and ability to have the flexibility to bounce back from C Game scores with A Game scores by playing the par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s better.
Par is the Standard
Your golf scores are a product of how well you play the par 3’s, par 4’s and par 5’s, so it makes sense that you understand how effective your scoring average is playing these holes.
Here is a quick quiz:
What is you scoring average on par 3's, 4’s and 5’s for this season?
Do you know?
Which of the par zones affect your C Game score the most?
How about you’re A Game?
When your score in the A Game zone which holes do you tend to play the best?
Do you produce more birdies on the par 5’s or the par 4's?
These are important questions when determining how you will improve your scoring ability.
You should now understand that just practicing your golf skills in a random and haphazard way is not the approach to take if your goal is to play successfully on a professional golf tour one day.
In-fact, it is much easier to extract the improvement from your game that you are looking for when you target the par zones first. Determine which of the par zones is your weakest and then work out what you need to do to improve your zone average with the help of your golf coach / instructor.
In the example below Brandt Snedeker had a par 3 average of 3.01; a par 4 average of 4.02, and a par 5 average of 4.59 for 78 rounds of golf on the PGA Tour in 2012.
From these simple statistics you can see that it is easier to understand how Brandt Snedeker played the par 3, 4 and 5 holes, and when you consider that the 78 rounds he played were played in all types of conditions, and on all types of golf course layouts, it is a fine example of how he has developed his scoring ability to produce a competitive score average for the 2012 season of 70.10 (actual). (Click on the images to make them larger)
In contrast take a look at Matt Bettencourt’s results (above right) for the 2012 PGA Tour season. He played 6 rounds less than Brandt Snedeker and his score average was 72.9 for the 72 competitive rounds he played. He scored 2.8 strokes per round higher than Brandt Snedeker’s score average of 70.10.
Now you can see that the explanation is quite simple on the surface. Brandt Snedeker played the par 5’s better and kept the bogeys and worse from his card better than Matt Bettencourt. Now I know that there’s a lot more to it than this, however you have to start somewhere and determining how many pars, birdies, bogeys and worse you make on average is a great start.
Too often we see advanced golfers going straight to the common statistics of greens hit etc. when they produce C Game results without really looking at what we call the golf score code.
The Golf Score Code
What's you golf score code for last season?
Every time you play a round of golf a percentage of your round score will be made up of par’s, birdies, bogeys, double bogeys and worse. Sometimes you’ll even have an eagle or better.
Your golf score therefore is simply a reflection of how skillful you are at producing scores equal to the par of the hole-better or worse.
The amount of pars, birdies etc., you produce is the substance of your score. You improve your golf skills only so that you can make more pars and birdies, and less bogeys and worse.
Tiger Woods was ranked third in the category of ‘Bogey Avoidance’ on the PGA Tour in 2012 (which is calculated as the percentage of times he makes bogey or worse), and he produced only 171 bogeys or worse for the 1206 holes (14.18 %) he played on the 2012 season.
When Tiger won The Players Championship in 2013 all we see on the scoreboard is the final analysis - the total score for 72 holes (- 13 275). What we don't see is his golf score code. The golf score code is the average score for the percentage of pars, birdies etc., that he produced over the tournament, which is his formula that made up his winning 72 hole total.
His golf score code for the week was: 11.75 - .25 - 4.5 - 1.25 - .25
The Golf Score Code
What is Your Golf Score Code?
In our experience elite golfers don't look at their golf score code to determine the strategy required to improve their competitive score average. As I mentioned earlier they will focus on how many fairways, greens and so on without determining which skills have the most influence on the amount of pars, birdies etc., that they make in a golf tournament.
By analyzing your golf score code carefully you can make better strategic decisions regarding your golf improvement pathway.
And if you want to play successfully as a top level amateur golfer, or you want to play successfully on a professional golf tour then you simply have to improve you golf score code.
Next week I'll share with you how to determine your strategic direction with your golf improvement and the next level beyond the golf score code - The Golf Score Success Code.
This is the expert golfer formula you have to know and develop to become a successful golfer - whether amateur or professional.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
I have just spent 10 days conducting a Pro Tour Golf College junior golf camp in Yangon, Myanmar. The six attendees ages ranged from a 11 year old to seventeen years old and represent the future of golf in Myanmar.
Two of the young golfers are from the city of Mandalay (445 miles from Yangon) and made the trip to attend the camp. All the juniors were the hardest working golfers I have had the pleasure of working with.
The work ethic of these young golfers to make improvement and willingness to learn new things were exceptional.
My last trip to Myanmar was in 1969 and the country has gone through many major changes since.
This is a nation that won independence from the British in 1948 and enjoyed democracy until a successful military coup in 1962. The result was the nation being closed off to the western world until 1988. Since then there has been slow progress toward free elections which finally happened in 2010.
With the country now opening up and starting to trade with its neighbors and the rest of the world the game of golf is flourishing. New courses have been built and many more resort style courses surrounded with housing are in the pipeline.
This year in December, Myanmar is the host country for the South East Asian Games which is held every two years. Golf is one one of the participating sports. The S.E.Asian Games will be conducted at the new national capital Nay Pyi Taw which is 320 km from the main city of Yangon.
You would think that with all the recent history that it would be impossible for any golfer from Myanmar to succeed as an amateur never mind as a professional! But that is not the case.
The first golfer from Myanmar to make a name for himself was Mya Aye who in the mid 1960's was the first Asian to qualify for the US PGA Tour through the tour school.
He only played part of the season and returned home and the reason being is he could not get use to the food in the USA and missed not having rice with all his meals! This was confirmed to me by Stewart Han who was studying in the USA at that time and caddied for Mya Aye.
Mya Aye went on to be a winner on the Asian Tour (Indonesia / Singapore Opens) and the Japanese Tour (Shizuako Open / Pepsi-Wilson Tournament). He also played in the 1980 British Open.
He was an extremely accurate ball striker and his iron approaches were struck with such precision and had very little curvature. Unfortunately he suffered liver disease and passed away prematurely.
In 1980 a young nineteen year old by the name of Kyi Hla Han turned pro and started to play on the Asian Tour and other major tournaments in the region.
At the end of his goolf career in 2004 Kyi Hla had won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 1999 winning the prestigious Volvo china Open during that year.
He also during his career won the Malaysian PGA (1983, 85), Hong Kong PGA (1993, 94), Thailand PGA (1989) and Singapore Open (1994).
Kyi Hla also earned playing rights to the European and Japanese Tours until a hand injury restricted his playing after 2000.
He was instrumental in the players taking over the Asian Tour in 2004 and is currently the Executive Chairman of the Asian Tour. I met with him on my recent trip to Myanmar and he is optimistic about the future of growing the game in Myanmar and the rest of Asia.
The next golfer from Myanmar to make a name for himself outside his country is Zaw Moe.
After fininshing his university studies and a proven track record as an amateur in South East Asia he sold all his posessions for US$700 packed his suitcase, golf bag and headed overseas to play professional golf.
He based himself in Malaysia at the Royal Johor Golf Club where Kyi Hla's brother Chan Han was the resident professional. His accommodation was a small room at the back of the pro-shop which Zaw shared with three other young hopeful professional golfers dreaming of making it big on tour.
One of the other three was a young Fijian by the name of Vijay Singh who was struggling to make ends meet playing professional golf.
We know that he has now made close to US$70 million career earnings and won two majors! (US Masters and the PGA)
During that period the TDC Tour in Malaysia was a stepping stone for young professionals who could play four round tournaments.
Although the purses were not great, between US $50,000 to US $100,000 the expenses were small and this attracted players from not only Asia but also Australia and New Zealand.
Players like Jeev Milka Singh, Greg Chalmers, Arjun Atwal and most of the Thai's cut their teeth on this tour.
Zaw within a short period started to contend and eventually learn't how to win and won four times on the TDC Tour in 1992. Had his biggest win when he won the 1997 Singapore Open on the Asian Tour.
He had earned a tour card on the lucrative Japanese Tour in 1996 and until a major back operation in 2004 had retained his playing privileges. Never won on the Japanese tour but had numerous 2nd place finishes and had a career high of 29th on the 2002 Order of Merit.
He still has a full card on the Asian Tour and has not lost the enthusiasm to get better each year. He mentors many of the young Asian professionals playing on the Asian Tour and helps them not make the "rookie mistakes" of playing professional golf on and off the course.
For a country that has not had the best environment to develop professional golfers.
Myanmar has a better record then some of their neighbors who have had everything going for them with regards to the countries economy, high quality golf courses, facilities and coaching.
Just from working with the small group of juniors at the camp, watching, observing and sensing their hunger to learn new things I can see the future of Myanmar is bright.
From the Yangon Golf Club which was built in 1907 to the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club (both have hosted the Myanmar Open on the Asian Tour) and those on the drawing board will provide the next generation that will make their mark in International golf.
Now the Myanmar Golf Association together with the PGA of Myanmar (in the process of being formed) need to get together and put in place a Long Term Player Development Pathway that will all guide the present young golfers to following and achieving their dreams like Mya Aye, Kyi Hla Han and Zaw Moe did.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
In most sports the knee joint ranks as the first or second most afflicted region. Due to this it’s injuries, their management and rehabilitation, be it invasive or conservative, have been extensively researched.
In golf the occasions of knee pain are a lot less. For sure osteoarthritis of the knee joint can limit the more elderly golfer, but this is predominantly not singularly caused by golf and also generally the walk (over undulating terrain, bunkers, carting a bag etc.) is more of an aggravating factor than the golf swing.
In the elite golfer studies tend to show that the knee joint is the affected joint in only about ~ 5-10% of injuries. Much less than the back, elbow, shoulder or wrist.
However the trouble that Tiger Woods sustained with his left knee certainly brought the knee into the spotlight and the maybe debilitating effects that the forces produced in our modern swing can cause.
The right knee experiences the largest of its compressive forces at the end of the backswing where-as the left knee maximal forces occur just before impact and into the follow-through. For both the left and right knee these maximal forces occur with tibial on femoral rotation.
With this can come injury to both the medial and lateral joint compartments, including the meniscus.
So how do we protect the knees from these injuries? At both positions of the swing we must ensure physically and technically that we are not putting more than the necessary forces through them and that these forces are received in the best positions possible.
For example; in the back-swing, if the player is lacking internal rotation of their right hip joint (<30 degrees) then to attain the adequate end of back-swing rotation the knee tends to extend (straighten) more.
Either this or they can weight-shift laterally and/or posteriorly which brings on more problems (particularly in the back!)
This knee extension, added with tibial rotation, increases the risk of injury. Similarly, the left knee extends with tibial rotation at impact and into follow-through.
Here the forces are about ~50% greater than the right knee experiences in the back-swing. So not surprisingly it is in the left knee, and at this point in the swing that more knee injuries occur.
Apart from compartmental and meniscal type injuries, the elite golfer can also suffer from patellofemoral joint syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, bursal and fat pad impingements.
As always, if you suffer from knee pain get it firstly assessed and treated by your relevant medical professional. If caused by golf then once settled or controlled you will need to attack the cause, and probably both physically and technically.
Martin McInnes - Physiotherapist
I recently sat down with one of our students in our Tour Golfer Bridging Program (he's 16 years old) to discuss his goals with his golf.
Like many young golfers we work with his major life goal is pretty simple, straight forward and to the point;
“I want to play on the pro tour in 4 years” was his answer.
“Great I said, that is an admirable goal that many before you and after you will have but it doesn't tell me much does it?”
“What do you mean?” “Well, of course I know what you mean when you say that you want to play on a professional golf tour however it’s a little vague don’t you think? I mean after all there are many golfers playing on pro tours around the world and most of them are broke or going broke!”
“In other words, they spend a lot more money than they make trying to play golf on a pro tour”.
“They also had the goal of playing on a pro tour just like you and when they got there they had achieved their main goal, but then what?”
“You see it is not enough to just want to play on a pro tour I think you have to have a bigger, richer and more specific goals than that”.
“You need to prepare your game in such a way that when you do get onto a pro tour you will be ready to make a high percentage of cuts and finish high enough up the money list to make a lot more income than you spend after expenses and taxes.
You see the reality of professional golf is that you are using your golf skills and playing ability to play good enough to make money from the game of golf.
Many young golfers just like you want to play in the big tournaments you see on TV and earn the big money playing on a major golf tour, but it takes more than a phenomenal shot-making ability to make it on the pro tour.”
“How many golfers tee it up in a pro tournament? “I don’t know, about 150?” “Yes 150 to 160 players will tee it up in most professional golf tournaments, and how many golfers are left in the field once the cut has been established?
"I'm not sure?"
"About 60 professional golfers get the opportunity to make a check in the tournament after they make the cut and they can make a good check if they finish high enough up the money list”.
“So out of 160 golfers who tee it up in the tournament every week in smaller pro tournaments about 20 will make a good check for the week which is about 12.5 percent of the field”.
“I never thought about it like that”.
“It is no small matter making a decision to become a pro tour golfer and if you want to play on the pro tour by the time you’re 20 years old then you have got to understand the professional game – which is a very different game to the amateur game”.
“So let’s discuss the facts that should influence the way you go about achieving your goal of playing successfully on a pro golf tour.
"Firstly you should realize that the main difference between the amateur golfer and professional golfer is that their attitude to producing score is quite different. If you don’t play well or up to your expectations in an amateur event you can chalk it up to experience.
In other words it doesn't matter too much that you didn't play so well because there’s always another tournament to play in. Now although that level of thinking is also consistent in professional golf, the real difference is that you cannot afford to chalk it down to experience on the pro tour because it costs you lots of dollars every time you tee it up.
In pro tour golf the formula for success is actually quite simple to understand:
expenses - income
= LEVEL OF SUCCESS
In pro tour golf your level of success is equal to your ability to make a lot more money than you spend. And to make cuts and make money you have to learn how to lower your high score average".
Lower Your High Score Average
“The key to understanding pro tour golf is that you have to build an attitude of never giving up on score.
You simply cannot let yourself have scores above 2 over par on your very worst day on the golf course".
"Why so low?"
"It’s simple really; if you score + 2 on the first day of a tournament you can come out the next day and produce an under par score that will help you to make the cut.
If you have higher than this score then you will miss the cut most of the time. Think of this as the ceiling of your golf scores".
“Let me give you a good example of what I mean. Andy Bare a pro tour golfer playing on the Web.Com Tour in 2012 was ranked 100th in score average (actual) with a competitive score average of 71.22 from 59 competitive rounds.
The par average for the 21 tournaments he played in was 71.21, so he was .1 under par for his 59 competitive rounds".
“That’s a pretty good score average isn’t it?”
“Par golf for 59 rounds of golf is a good average in amateur golf, but as you’ll see it is not nearly good enough to make a good income on the Web.Com Tour, or for that matter any of the professional golf tours.
Here's a profile of his scores for the 2012 season for you to study".
"Andy Bare made 43 percent of cuts for the tournaments he entered and earned $28,585 for the 21 tournaments he played in. So if you think about it, he competed for 21 weeks and let's say that with travel, accommodation, transfers, meals, caddy and so on he would have spent a minimum of $1500 dollars per week on average for the weeks he competed on the Web.Com Tour, and based on his earnings of $28,585 less his expenses of $31,500 he would have made a loss of just under 3 thousand dollars for the season".
31,500.00 (Less Expenses)
"That's not a lot of money for the effort. I mean he had a pretty good average for the season"
"You're right, its not a lot of money for the effort, and don't forget he needs money for the next season."
“In contrast another Web.Com player Matt Weibring also played 59 competitive rounds of golf on the Web.Com Tour in 2012 and his score average (actual) was 69.87 for the 22 tournaments he played in.
The par average for the 59 rounds was 71.16, so he was 1.3 strokes under par on average.
He made 61 percent of cuts for the tournaments he entered (20 percent more than Andy Bare) and he earned $130,239, or about 100,000 dollars more for the same amount of rounds of golf.
You can see from this that 1.3 strokes per round difference makes a BIG difference to your bottom line".
31,500.00 (Less Expenses)
"Wow! that is a big difference".
"Remember there's just 1.3 strokes difference per round".
A, B and C Game
“Now this is where you learn to understand the importance of lowering your high score average”.
Think of your high score average as any score that's 2 strokes higher than your competitive score average. We will call this your C game.
Your B game is when you score around your competitive score average and your A game is when score 2 or more lower than your average ok?”
“Both of these Web.Com players are really fine tour golfers however Matt Weibring had a lower high score average for the season.
Matt Weibring had 11 C Game rounds (+ 2 or more above average) with a high score of 75 in his 59 rounds and a high score (C Game) average of 74.45 for the season.
Andy Bare had 13 C Game rounds with a high score of 78 and a high score average of 75.61 for the season”.
"But you said that you shouldn't have more than plus 2 for your C Game rounds?"
"That's true, in pro tour golf you shouldn't if you can help it, because when you do, you will more than likely miss the cut and make no income for the week.
Have a look at the illustration to understand what's really going on here".
"What do you see?"
"Well the most obvious thing is the variance in scores with Andy Bare compared to Matt Weibring. Even though his high score average is only about 1 stroke higher, he's not as consistent as Matt at keeping his high score average down".
"That's correct, Andy's high scores are higher, which means that he'll miss more cuts over a season".
"And if he misses more cuts he can't make as much money because he gets less chances to do so, can he?".
"You see this is a really important lesson in understanding pro tour golf. You have to develop an ability to keep your high score average down to be successful".
"So your C Game is the key to lower golf scores?"
"Well yes and no. It certainly helps you because it helps you keep your competitive score average down over a season.
Andy Bare had 19 scores under 70 which is 32 percent of his scores better than 70, and an A Game average of 68.1.
But because he shot some bad C Game scores he missed more cuts and made less income".
"Matt had 29 scores lower than 70 from his 59 rounds which is 49 percent of his rounds below 70. His A Game average was 67.1 which again is only 1 stroke better than Andy.
You can see that keeping the high scores off your score card is the key to producing results that you get paid for in professional golf.
These two guys are just two of many highly skilled professional golfers who want to make big incomes from playing golf on tour and by lowering your high score average you make it just a little bit easier".
"I can see that now, I would never have thought about it like that. So my goal should be to work harder on my scoring ability so I can keep my high score under control?"
"That's right, you have to develop your high pay-off golf skills. All these guys and gals playing on tour can shoot the low score.
That is not the problem for them, they have great A Games, but its their C Game average that affects their competitive score average, and that will decide how successful they will be at earning income in professional tournaments.
Next week I'll show you the next step in building your goal plan for transforming your amateur game into a pro level game".
"I can't wait to find out what it is".
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business