What Every Golfer From Novice to Tour Level Needs to Know to Learn Faster and Play Better Using This One Simple Strategy
"Everyone has his or her own unique map or model of the world, and no one map is any
In the past we have discussed the importance of having a personal guiding philosophy to help you define what's important, and what isn't, in terms of how you practice and play golf. We shared with you that in many ways your personal guiding philosophy is like a kind of internal road map or model that you follow to help you get to where you want to go.
To expand on this, your perception of the world around you--that's all the 'stuff' that goes on around you we call reality, and the way you represent it to yourself--that's the 'stuff' that goes on inside you, is organised like a unique kind of map.
When you are interacting with all this 'stuff' on the golf course and elsewhere, you use your words, which is a language model you use to describe your perception of events taking place.
This is how you make sense of the things you interact with in your environment.
Therefore, what you specifically say to yourself, and when you say what you say to yourself, depends mostly on the language map you use for the situation at hand. This language map will influence the type of your feelings you have, and also how you behave.
So when you compete on a golf course it would make sense to use the best language maps or models right?
These models should ideally offer you better choices for playing the right shot at the right time--which would seem to be a lot better situation than having a map that guides you to play the wrong shots at the wrong time--which would not only be influencing higher scores, but also restricting your future choices, resulting in further problems down the track.
So, it will be helpful for you to understand the maps and models you use, and realise that you can change any unhelpful or destructive map or model with a more useful one.
In this article I'm going to give you a crash course in understanding how to learn aspects of the game faster and better by constructing more effective and useful maps and models.
So let’s take a look at how your mental model is constructed by breaking the process down into 5 simple stages, which will help you to positively influence the change process.
Stage 1. Come to Your Senses
Ok, so you are out on the golf course enjoying your day playing with your friends. As you walk towards your ball eyeing off your second shot on the straight-away par four you're playing, you can see the flag flapping from left-to-right in the wind on the green about 130 yards from you.
As you approach your ball, you become aware that you can feel the cool breeze tugging gently at your left shirt sleeve whilst at the same time you notice the smell of freshly cut grass from the greens mower that drives past you 20 yards away.
You also just became aware of the taste of that ripe banana you are munching on as you hear your playing partner call out to you "it’s your shot." You see, you are involving all your senses all the time, as you play golf, although most of the time you are unaware or unconscious of this important process that's taking place.
It is my goal for you to come to your senses to change this lack of awareness, so that you not only become more aware of your sensory experience, but that you value it highly, relying less on your hallucinations that many times get you into trouble on the golf course.
Your sensory experience is the main way you obtain new information about your reality, and yes you add some of this sensory experience to existing mental models and maps, and you also create new ones as well.
It will be helpful for you to think of sensory experience as the raw material you use to construct your maps of reality.
These 5 senses tune you into your environment, help you to make sense of it with the use of your language, so you can manage what you do in it.
Language is a process of free creation; its laws and principles are fixed, but the manner in which the principles of generation are used is free and infinitely varied. Even the interpretation and use of words involves a process of free creation.
Stage 2. Your Filters
Now as you go to play your golf shot several important and natural processes are taking place. Since there is just way too much information--which is the raw material of reality for your brain to handle at any given moment, your brain has a very clever reality filtering system that slices and dices the information up, coming in from around you through your five senses.
Filter 1. Deletion
Much of the information coming in is deleted, freeing up your mental hard drive so it doesn't take up space that it needs for storing more important experience.
In other words, there's a lot of stuff going on around you all the time that you'll never know about, unless you tune into it, by focusing on it, in which case you will selectively filter it for its usefulness.
Filter 2. Distortion
The other thing that is happening to the information coming in through your senses is that some of it is distorted—which means that you might use your creative ability to imagine the shape or curvature of the shot, even change the color and content of the landscape, or the shape and dimension of the images.
You can even add elements to the landscape that weren't there, or change the content completely.
That's one pretty powerful filter!
Keep in mind though that many golfers don;t understand the potential of this amazing creative filtering ability (our imagination). However, when you use your imagination properly, you can literally change any and every aspect of your performance on the golf course by filtering content in a more useful and productive way.
Filter 3. Generalization
Since many of the experiences you have on the golf course are similar in nature, your brain generalizes one experience to next so you don’t have to keep learning the same (or similar) lessons over and over. Think about opening a front door for instance. If you can open one front door, you can apply the same rules to open many front doors.
If you can putt on one green, then you can put on any green. If you can hit a drive down the middle of one fairway, you can hit it down many. You can do this not just because it is a habit, but also because you have generalized an experience so that in the case of the putting experience, applying a given a set of rules means that you can putt on any green anywhere.
So, when we generalize experience, it helps us to establish consistent rules and routines from context to context that helps us to cope more effectively, and learn more effectively, to make progress in our world.
Now Be Careful What You Generalize About...
Can generalizing become a problem for us? Yes it can. Let me give you an example. I'm sure you will agree that it will be useful for us to generalize from the experience of being hit by a golfer swinging a golf club on a driving range, because we were too close to them, to a rule that you should never stand too close to any golfer, when they are swinging at a driving range?
This would be a useful generalization (rule) right? Getting hit once is definitely enough to create a rule. You don't need to test the theory out more than once.
But what if you were to generalize this dangerous experience to a perception that all golfers swinging golf clubs at all driving ranges are dangerous, and that you should never step foot onto any driving range for fear of being hit?
This level of generalization would be limiting yourself unnecessarily wouldn't it? After all, you can safely go to any driving range without fearing that you will be hit by a golf club.
People with phobia's tend to take an experience and add a set of rules that turns something into an extreme generalization. This reduces their choices greatly, and restricts their lifestyle--which can also impact on their health too.
Do golfers have phobias? Yes, some do, but more often than not they simply develop a fear associated with playing certain shots on the golf course.
You would be surprised how many golfers generalize all types of experiences around the learning and playing of golf, which restricts them from making progress on their game.
Here's another example, but from outside golf.
We have all had the experience of being burned by touching a hot stove (or something on it), and you learn quickly that you will not do it again (again, a good rule to follow).
Getting burned and representing it as something to simply avoid is much better than representing it as a life and death moment that leads to you never going into any kitchen ever again.
Generalising the experience the right way means that you can go into any kitchen (or on any putting green), cook and prepare a meal without the fear of being burned.
That reminds me of a quote from Mark Twain that clearly explains this...
“We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” - Mark Twain
Model 3. Your Programs
Ok, so these three filters are a BIG deal to golfers, and they have a huge influence on the information you encode into your memory, like your beliefs and attitudes etc.
This stored information then acts like a kind of program that can be triggered by a certain stimulus or switch--which for instance might turn on an internal dialogue of self-talk that communicates to you that playing this shot from this place is not possible.
Conversely, it might trigger a belief that you are very good at this shot, and that the likelyhood of it finishing close to the flag is almost certain.
These 'programs' and are mostly unconscious programs which repeatedly filter your experience, guide and direct your thoughts towards different types of shots you wish to play from situation to situation.They run in the background 24/7 and in many ways are like psychological shortcuts that guide your choices, actions, activities and exchanges on and off the golf course quickly and efficiently.
They are internal representations (think re-presentation) of your external experience (your reality) that come into your mind through your external senses and govern how your brain pays attention, as well as what it pays attention to.
In many ways, it’s like a type of pattern recognition, where your brain sorts the experience from your senses, classifies it, and then runs a program that is useful or helpful to you in some way--or not.
Model 4. Your Feelings
The golf shots you produce on the golf course essentially start with you being presented with information from the outside world through your 5 senses, which, with the assitance of your 3 filters, is transformed into a feeling of how to play the shot.
This is YOUR way of playing golf. (Read that again slowly)
In other words, you take the information from the golf course in through your senses, make an internal representation of it into a map or model that consists of pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells and/or self-talk.
From here you move on to generating some type of behavior or action that either moves you in the direction of what you are want, or, moves you away from it. These internal representations often display themselves to you as thoughts or feelings.
This all happens in miliseconds.
Now these internal thoughts or feelings you generate affect your whole body, influencing the way you hold or compose yourself in different contexts. This is called your physiology.
Model 5. Your Behaviour
This physiology affects the way that you feel in the moment, which is described as your state. Your state as it is referred to here, means your emotional state, such as; an excited state, a frustrated state, a motivated state, an angry state, a relaxed state, and so on.
Now here’s what you must remember about this important process. I want you to think of these 'states' as I have mentioned as your mental strategies or programs that help you to move towards something, or away from something.
In other words, they become an action or behaviour that either helps you accomplish a task such as generating a skill like hitting a relatively short putt into a hole, or, they can generate an experience that creates a fear response which leads you to missing that relatively short putt.
Now because there's a cause and effect relationship involved in playing golf shots, you are offered a short space of time to recognise your thoughts and feelings prior to, and after the shot, to respond in a useful way. We are talking about a time gap of no more than a second or two.
There are many states that you go quickly into and out of throughout the day and the words you use to describe your state are not the state itself but your best choice of words to describe how you feel in that moment. Words will never adequately describe the experience you are having, because words are not the reality, they are just a representation of it.
Think about it like this; the menu is not the meal...The menu simply describes the food available at the restaurant, but not the experience of eating the food, which is totally different.
So, it will be helpful for you to learn how to carefully manage the information coming into your mind through your 5 senses and how this information is translated into your behaviour. The words you use to describe a shot for example, can and will change your state, so be mindful of your responsibility to choose words that allow you to make better choices before you hit a shot, or, after your shot has been played.
Therefore, your primary goal as a golfer should be to build a better language model and use words that are more positive and specific to the particular context, to get you into an optimal state before you hit each and every golf shot.
Your key to unlocking more of your potential lies in using your language more effectively so you can access better and more useful states that help you produce behavior that generates the right shot at the right time.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College for Serious Amateur Golfers
Sleight of Mouth - The Magic of Conversational Belief Change, by Robert Dilts, 1992.
Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson, Vol 1 by Richard Bandler, John Grinder, 1975.
Frogs into Princes by John Grinder, Richard Bandler, 1979.
Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming by Joseph O'Connor, John Seymour, 1991.
The Structure of Magic, Volume I by Richard Bandler, John Grinder, 1975.
Trance-Formations by John Grinder, Richard Bandler, 1981.
How a Wise Old Golf Coach Taught a Frustrated Golfer the Value of Sticking with his Original Golf Swing Rather than Struggling to Change it
“Hi John how are you hitting the ball today?”
“Arrrrrrr, like shit!! That’s how coach. I can’t hit the ball to save my life. It doesn’t matter what I do, or how many lessons I take, I hit way too many bad shots, and it’s driving me crazy.
So, don’t start on me with your positive philosophical bullshit because I’m not in the mood for it.
I know I’m an idiot and I don’t need you to tell me otherwise.”
“Yes you are an idiot John. I agree with you.”
“I just said, you are an idiot, I’m agreeing with you. If you are someone who acts in a self-defeating or knowingly counterproductive way, then you are right, you are an idiot, by definition."
“Hey! Wait a second, I’m not asking you to agree with me here. Can’t you see I’m struggling, and all you can do is agree with me that I’m an idiot. What kind of golf teacher are you!”
“I’m the right kind for you John.
I know you are upset with your golf, it doesn’t take an Einstein to work that out John, but the way you are going about improvement needs a rethink.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, what I mean is that you will never, and I mean never improve your golf going about it the way you are. What you will get is more of the same, and eventually you will walk away from the game, like many others who, like you, tried to improve their golf by going about it in a similar way.”
“How am I going about it in a similar way?”
“John, let me ask you this question; do you think you are going about it the right way?”
“No, I guess not…well, I mean, I’m trying to do what I was taught in my last lesson coach, but I just can’t do it.”
“You can’t do it? Or, you can’t do it yet?”
“Well I guess I can’t do it yet.”
“And what is it you are trying to do John?”
“I’m trying to fix my backswing, because my teacher says it is too upright, and he wants me to flatten it so I can hit the ball more from the inside.”
“Ok, I think I understand. You are saying that your backswing is broken in some way, and that it needs to be fixed, is that correct?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"So, how flat does he want it to be compared to what it was?”
“About this much.”
“So, John, how will you know when it has flattened that amount?”
“Um, I guess he will tell me?”
“You guess? Ok, fair enough John you don’t know. So, you will practice flattening your backswing at the driving range and at some point of time in the future it will be the right angle of flatness.
Does that sound about right to you?”
“Well, yes it does coach, when you put it like that it also sounds to me like it’s a little open-ended”
“A little open ended…what do you mean John?”
“Well coach, in thinking about it, I’m trying to flatten my backswing with no real idea as to when it will be right for me without relying on someone else to tell me.
I’m standing here on this range mat most days for at least an hour practicing my new backswing and hoping it will eventually go into place, but I’m not sure when that will happen.
Shish…no wonder I was getting frustrated and angry.”
“John, had you ever hit really good shots with your original backswing? I mean, had you played rounds of golf where you hit a bunch of good shots that you were more than satisfied with?”
“Yes, I’ve hit plenty of good shots, and also played some great rounds of golf.”
“Might I ask why you decided to take some lessons to change the way you were doing it?”
“I just wanted to get better, that’s all coach.”
“That’s fair enough. So, you were not happy with your performances on the golf course with your original style John?”
“Well, I just kinda went through a period of playing some really awful golf, so I decided that I needed a change.”
“And John, you decided that changing the angle of your backswing would help you to play better?”
"Well, actually, the golf teacher I went to said that by coming more from the inside on the downswing I would hit the ball better, and more consistently, and to do that I needed to change my backswing angle for this to happen.”
"Ok, and how long did he suggest you practice flattening your backswing angle before it would be in the correct position?”
“He didn’t say specifically, just that if I kept practicing on a regular basis that it would change. He said that he would monitor it and let me know.”
“Have you ever had a headache John?”
“What…, yes…, of course I have coach, what’s you point?”
“No point John, just asking whether you have ever had a headache. You know some people get terrible headaches John, brings them to tears you know. They have to get out of the daylight, go into a dark room, take some strong medication and let it pass.”
“Really, it’s that bad with some people?”
“Sure, headaches can be terrible afflictions you know John, but they come, and they go—that’s how they work. They don’t last, which is a good thing John, like a lot of things, they don’t last long.”
“I’m confused coach, what are you saying?” I’m saying that headaches don’t last long for most people, they come, and then they go.”
“So, your backswing angle will get better by practicing regularly you say?”
“Yeah, like I said, that’s what he said coach…Hey coach I’m wondering whether I should just stick with what I know, so that I don’t have to go through any more of this struggle?”
“John the struggle is necessary for something, or someone to change; you simply can’t change something like a golf swing without feeling the struggle that comes with uncertainty.”
“What do you mean by uncertainty coach?”
"Well there are things right now that you are certain about, and there are things that you are not certain about, and you feel very different from one to the other.
John, you are practicing your swing on the driving range with the hope that sometime sooner than later your backswing angle will change from its original angle to something else, and finish up in the perfect position for your downswing to come into the ball more from the inside than you currently do,
and that everything about your golf will be better than it was. John with great respect, you got it way wrong when you said you were an idiot. You are insane!
The question confronting you John is a much simpler one. It is whether you need to change the angle of your backswing, or just change your attitude to deal with the inevitable headaches which are a certainty in golf, that come and go, and sometimes stay for a while…
Take an attitude pill John, deal with the headaches, and stick with what you know that you are certain about.
You will enjoy your golf more, and you can improve your game without going to the trouble of letting someone take a scalpel to your backswing."
“I think it will be easier to deal with the ache that I know coach, than with the uncertainty of changing my backswing for another one with no assurance that I will be better than I am.”
“That sounds like the right type of medication to me. Enjoy the rest of your day John, it was good talking with you.”
“Thanks for the advice coach, I appreciate your time.”
“You’re welcome John.”
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Missing Golf Fundamental You Need When You Face Uncertainty at the Crossroads of Your Golf Career
Imagine that you are at the crossroads of your golf career and you meet a stranger there who has the power to grant you the ability to ‘clean the slate’ so you can start playing golf all over again from tomorrow with a different perspective.
Knowing what you now know, what (if anything) would you do or change about your game?
For many, this is an interesting and thought provoking question, and the answers we hear often revolve around these 3 answers:
1. Practicing more often than usual
2. Playing more often than usual
3. Practicing more effectively than usual
Would you spend more of your available time on the practice ground, or on the golf course?
How about on the putting green?
Would you focus more on improving your physical skills than your technical skills, or vice versa? Would you spend more time improving your mental skills?
Would you take more golf lessons, or would you take less?
There are so many possible questions that arise when you start to think like this.
So, what exactly would you do?...
These questions (and the way you answer them) reveal much about the way you think about your golf development, and the way you apply yourself.
A Paradigm Shift is Taking Place, Finally!
We have noticed that over the past couple of years a paradigm shift of sorts taking place with golf teachers and coaches spending less time working on swing mechanics with their players, and more time teaching them how to practice effectively to lower their scores.
They've concluded that to advance their students skill development and golf course performance, they need to 'clean their slate,' and change how they go about teaching their players.
Many of these teachers and coaches are looking towards the sports science community to answer the numerous questions that crop up that relate to how to practice effectively to generate improvement--which is a great idea.
Take a Breath and Wait a Second...
Now if you are a relatively serious amateur or professional golfer who wants to clean your slate and change the way you go about improving your game, then before you go any further, let's start with a golf fundamental that you more than likely haven't practiced.
This missing fundamental of golf is not a physical action, it's a simple question.
This question--rarely if ever considered in golfing circles, is a very important starting point before you spend the time, effort and money cleaning your slate to change the way you practice and play.
The question is this; what is your personal guiding philosophy as it relates to learning and improving your golf game on the practice range and the golf course in tournaments?
Your personal philosophy is a guiding principle or set of principles—much like your motto in life (you probably have more than one).
Some even call it their personal mission statement, either way, when you are at the crossroads of your golfing life, to define the direction you wish to go in, developing your personal guiding philosophy will help.
Steven Covey in his book 'First Things First' states that developing a personal mission statement is “connecting with your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it.”
If you are someone who enjoys posting certain types of quotes and memes on Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms that you believe are useful, then you are paying attention to things that are supporting and influencing your personal guiding philosophy.
Maybe one of your personal guiding philosophies is practicing hard for long hours, because you believe that doing this will accelerate your improvement. Or, you believe that talent is only helpful when you practice hard and often.
How about this popular quote that many sport people use as part of their personal guiding philosophy; 'practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice make perfect.'
It will be helpful for you to formalize and adopt a set of guiding principles that helps you make progress with your golf, mostly on your terms and by the end of this article you will be able to do that.
Jim Rohn's Personal Guiding Philosophy
To help you gain clarity to define what your personal guiding philosophies are, following is the personal guiding philosophy of the late business and motivational speaker Jim Rohn.
Jim Rohn’s personal guiding philosophy 'Do the few things that make the most difference, and spend most of your time doing them.' makes a lot of sense because it helped him to narrow his focus down to a few key principles that influence accelerated improvement.
Do you know what your personal guiding philosophy is for continuous improvement in your golf? Is this even important to you, and have you ever thought about it this way?
Could you write down a personal guiding philosophy like Jim Rohn's right now?...
The Law of the Vital Few
Jim Rohn's adopted personal guiding philosophy as taught to him by his mentor Mr Shoaff was built around a principle called the Law of the Vital Few.
The Law of the Vital Few (also called the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule) states that for many events in your life, roughly 80 percent of the affects you produce or generate come from just 20 percent of the causes.
Now think about this principle for a moment and ask yourself if there are some skills in your golf game that carry a much higher scoring value than others.
Are you practicing the wrong skills the right way, or, the right skills the wrong way?
Can you think of 3 golf skills that when practiced with a deeper level of focus and commitment would guarantee a lower competitive score average?
The Power of Putting Prowess
How much is putting better worth to you? Well, let’s take a look at it.
Let's say that your competitive score average for the past 20 rounds was a neat 75.0, and your total putting average for those 20 rounds was 30 putts. In this simple example fully 40% of your score average (75.0) would come from the way you use your putter on the greens.
Now let’s take a look at some other skills. If you were to add up the shots played inside of 100 yards, you will see that green-side and your approach wedges account for another big chunk of your score average.
In this example you can see that putting, bunker shots, chip and pitch shots, and approach wedge shots account for 45 of the 75 strokes (60%). Tee shots on par 4 and 5 holes, approach shots into the green from outside 100 yards on par 4 and 5 holes, and par 3 tee shots account for 30 of the 75 shots (40%).
Now it might be that you need to focus more on the skills outside of 100 yards to lower your scores in tournaments, but either way you look at it, this is precisely why you need to define your personal guiding philosophy for practicing and improving your golf skills.
You need to know specifically what you should practice more often to play better more often.
Remember this; it is a small number of high pay-off skills that you practice deliberately and consistently that will influence lower scores more often on the golf course.
Jim Rohn was smart to change his ways, and it was because he was at the crossroads in his life and looking to clean his slate, that the simple philosophy presented to him made so much sense. So he adopted it and began practicing it daily, and this day-to-day action built around a simple and timeless principle literally changed his life for the better.
The 13 NLP Presuppositions
One of my personal guiding philosophies that I adopted to help guide me as a professional coach is this one:
The meaning of my communication is the response that I receive.
This guiding philosophy presupposes that I take complete responsibility for how I communicate, and that if I share my message in a thoughtful and meaningful way to my student, then the feedback I receive should be that they understood the nature of the message, in which case they can make progress because they can access more of their potential to learn faster.
Another of my favorites is this one:
People work perfectly, they are not wrong or broken; it’s simply a matter of finding out how they function now, so they can effectively change how they function in that environment to something more useful or helpful.
You are practicing and playing with the knowledge and resources you have available now, today--not yesterday, or tomorrow. If you are not playing the way the way you want, it doesn't mean that you are 'broken' or that you need 'fixing.'
It's a simple matter of increasing the options you have available to you in the environment where you notice you are struggling, and adopting more useful and helpful strategies or models.
And finally this one is my core coaching philosophy that all my philosophies fit inside of:
The best way for me to get what I want out of my life is to help as many others get what they want out of their life.
All people helpers can relate to this one and it doesn't need further explanation.
Many of my personal guiding philosophies have been profoundly influenced and shaped by the 13 NLP (Neuro Linguistic Program) presuppositions. http://www.nlpco.com/2014/10/presuppositions-of-nlp
These 13 NLP presuppositions (you presuppose that they are true for you) lead me to make better choices about where I wish to go, what I wish to do, the people I wish to work with and help, and the people I choose to associate with.
They can do the same for you too.
Are You Ready to Develop Yours?
So what about you? Are you ready to develop your personal guiding philosophy now? If you are, then that’s great, and if you don’t know how to do, that's no problem because the following exercise will help you to define and create your own personal guiding philosophy.
So, go ahead right now and complete the following exercise. Take your time and answer the following six questions without overthinking them. Using the attached PDF below you can print out and write your answers to the 6 questions.
1. When you get up each morning what is the most consistent thought you have about your golf?
2. What guides your actions and decisions—especially the impulsive ones when you are competing on the golf course?
3. What is it that gives you the strongest sense of satisfaction after you play a good round of golf?
4. What feelings or emotions are undeniable whenever you think about your golf game?
5. Why are your beliefs about achieving success in golf important to you?
6. How does your philosophy about how you practice and play golf measure up to your higher standards or ideals?
When You Are at the Crossroads, Your Personal Guiding Philosophy Will Help You
Thinking through the 6 questions has helped you to define and verbalize your guiding personal philosophy for golf.
This process helps you decide which road to take, instead of just winging it (guessing), which many good golfers do without really knowing it.
Now you will discover after completing this exercise that your personal philosophy really underpins 'the why' (your beliefs and values) of what you do when you practice, and greatly influences 'the what and how' (your behavior and capability) on the golf course when you compete.
So now that you have completed this exercise, you will come to the understanding as to why you practiced and played the way you did, and more importantly, you will now know who to talk to to get the guidance to choose your right path when you are at the crossroads of your golfing life and need to make the right decision about which way you should go.
We wish you the very best on your journey to a new golf game.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College for Serious Amateur and Professional Golfers
How a Wise Old Golf Coach Turns Around an Over Critical and Overbearing Father of a Talented Junior Golfer
“Hi John, how are you today?”
“Hi Coach I’m really great thanks. Hey Coach, this is my dad, and he wants to meet you.”
“Hello sir, nice to meet you finally.”
“Yes, it’s nice to meet you too Coach, and please, call me Tom.”
“Ok, Tom, sure, and how are you on this fine day?”
“I’m well thanks Coach. John, I’ll meet you over at the practice bunker in 15 minutes, I want to have a word with Coach.”
“Ok, dad, I’ll see you there.”
“How can I help you Tom?”
“Well, Coach, I wanted to talk about John, and specifically, I wanted to talk to you about his lack of progress actually.”
“Oh; Ok, Tom, I’ve got some time now, before my next lesson arrives.”
“Coach I have to be up front with you and say that I think that John’s progress since having lessons with you is much slower than I would have expected, and I wanted to know what the problem was?”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘much slower’ Tom?”
“Well, Coach, John’s best friend Tim has been having lessons for about the same length of time as John with another coach, and has made a lot more progress than John.”
“Are you talking about scores on the golf course in particular Tom, or something else?”
“I am talking about his performances playing the local junior tournaments Coach. I’m sure you know that he is not performing anywhere near as well as Tim.”
I’m sorry, did you say Tim? Tom I wasn’t aware that you were using Tim as your yardstick for how John should perform in tournaments.”
“Huh, w-what do you mean? No, I’m not, it’s not like that at all, really.”
“Can I ask you Tom what level of progress would be acceptable to you by this time?
The reason I ask is that by the sounds of it, you think that John should be learning and improving at about the same rate, and in the same way as Tim?...
Tom, do you mind if I ask what you do for a living?”
“I’m not sure what this has to do with anything, but I’m a VP of sales for a local drug company with around 100 sales managers and staff under me.”
“It sounds to me like you have a very responsible position Tom?”
“Yes, Coach, it is, and it certainly has its moments.”
“As a manager of sales teams Tom, I imagine that you set benchmarks for your staff that you expect them to achieve?"
“Yes, of course we do Coach, that’s pretty much the modus operandi of the sales game.”
“What do you base your benchmarks on Tom?”
“Well, mainly we base our benchmark on the sales made in the previous quarter, and then increase the benchmark for that quarter by 2 to 5 percentage points.”
“How do you arrive at your numbers Tom? I mean, where does the 2 to 5 percent come from.”
“We believe this range is a reasonable goal for our sales teams to achieve based on historical data.”
“I see, and what sort of training do your sales staff receive when they join your company?”
“They go through an orientation and sales training program for a full week. Then we give them a probation period of 6 weeks, and if they achieve the minimal targets we set them, then they can start working with one of our sales teams.”
“Ok, I see. So Tom, in your experience, what do you believe the main difference is between one of your sales champions—say someone who is making a lot of sales working with the same products in the same region, as compared to someone who is struggling to achieve the benchmarks you establish?”
“It’s based on sales performance Coach—the amount of sales they make over the quarter.”
“So it’s based more-or-less on the quantity of results?”
“Yes, it sure is. It’s the game we are in, like I said, you either make the cut in sales, or you best find another job.”
“Ok, Tom, thanks for that. One last question if you don’t mind?”
“Sure, what is it?”
“Tom can you tell me specifically what you believe the difference is between your sales champions and your sales strugglers? Specifically, what do they do that makes them perform better?”
“Look Coach, it’s a simple 3 step sales process. It’s the one they are taught during their orientation and training week. They make as many sales calls as they can between 9am and 4pm, book a full day of appointments for the next day, and then convert as many of those appointments into sales.”
“Ok, I see Tom, then if they all basically do the same thing, then how is it that some of them make a lot more sales than others given that they are using the same sales process?”
“Well, it is in what they do within the sales process that makes the difference. You see our sales champions for one thing don’t take rejection personally. ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘No,’ it means maybe, or not now.
Our champion sellers believe that a ‘No’ is just feedback, that it’s not personal. So they can make a lot more calls during the day, and the other thing is that they use persuasive language patterns to get the prospect to stay on the call for longer.”
“That’s interesting Tom.”
“Yes, we know that if we can keep prospects on the line for even one minute longer, our chances of booking an appointment and making a sale has a much higher chance of success.”
“So Tom have any of your sales champions been strugglers who turned their performances around?”
“Sure, plenty of them have over the year’s Coach.”
“So they make mistakes like not getting the process right Tom?”
“Sure, they do, and our sales managers just keep providing positive feedback and guidance, to continually help them to adjust their process until they can turn their performance around.”
“So Tom help me to understand something that I’m a little confused about.”
“Sure Coach what is it?”
“Well, when John is having lessons with me he tells me that you are very hard on him, and are constantly scolding and criticizing him for even the smallest mistakes he makes on the golf course.
He also says that you get angry with him if he hits bad shots or makes bad scores on holes, and that you often say that he is nowhere near the golfer that Tim is.”
“Really, he says that Coach?”
“Yes he does quite often Tom, He feels under constant pressure to play well in front of you, and to live up to your expectations of him. He says that you hover over him like an eagle at junior tournaments, and he feels he can’t be himself around his friends.
He says he doesn’t want to look you in the eye when he’s playing in tournaments because your expressions are mostly negative.
Tom this seems to be inconsistent with what you have just explained to me about how your sales managers manage your sales strugglers, because you seem to fully support their development by nurturing their potential to become sales champions.”
“Tom understand that I’m doing the same thing. I never compare one of my junior golfers to another junior golfer because that would be totally unfair. Every junior golfer I work with learns in his or her own best way, and in their own time.
Just because there’s a performance gap in 2 students of the same age doesn’t mean that I have to do something special to even up the gap.
I simply work with what I have, and I patiently develop their skills and confidence with no particular time line, as they are growing and developing their skills. I let Mother Nature determine their rate of progress.
My role is to nurture their nature, and their golf game.
When or if they get to a playing standard where they are scoring around par or better often, I might introduce some benchmarks or targets to help them make progress, but each situation is unique Tom.
“By any chance have you ever heard of a Confirmation Bias Tom?”
“No I haven’t Coach, what is it?”
“Basically a Confirmation Bias is a type of selective thinking Tom, and it’s something that I see exhibited by many parents at junior tournaments.
Tom, a confirmation bias is a type of bias that involves favouring information that confirms your existing beliefs or prejudices about something.
So it’s a tendency to gather, interpret, and recall information in a biased way, confirming your pre-existing views about something, while at the same time limiting your ability to consider alternative possibilities.
So for example Tom, you are displaying a confirmation bias when you compare John’s scores just to Tim’s, without ever considering other junior golfers competing in the event. Your tendency to remember specific information about John’s performances—such as particular scores on holes, certain shots he hits that turn out poorly—without remembering all the good shots he hits is a Confirmation Bias.
It’s a very selective observation and interpretation of John’s results communicated in a biased and unfair way Tom.”
“Gee Coach, thinking about it, I do tend to just see things just the way I want them to be, without considering other possibilities. You are right, I am always talking about how Tim hit this shot or that shot, or how he played a hole, and I always compare his results to John’s.
I think I’m actually more focused on Tim’s play than my son John’s and come to think about it, I rarely if ever talk about other junior golfers results in a tournament. Man, I feel like a real ass, I’m ashamed of myself and really feel bad for doing that to John,
“Tom, I imagine you can understand then how this might be slowing down John’s progress some, because he is trying to do everything he can to be as perfect a golfer as he can be, because that’s what he believes you expect him to be.
He’s trying so hard to not hit bad shots that he can’t focus on all the good things he has been learning that would actually make him play better.
This extra layer of interference he experiences, gets in the way of him developing his potential as a golfer, and also a young human being.
It has been my experience that this is one of the big reasons why so many talented junior golfers give up playing the game by about 18 years of age, because they are often victims of their parent’s Confirmation Bias.”
“Wow, I never thought about it like that Coach. So what should I do?”
“Tom, it’s simple really. Let John play the game to enjoy the game. Don’t compare him to another junior golfer, and especially don’t compare his results to other junior golfers. He is a great kid Tom, he’s a very good listener, and has tons of ability.
If you can back off with your pressure and expectations, I know he will respond by playing much better in no time. There is no reason in this world why he can’t play competitively in junior tournament, but just like your simple sales process, I want to share my 3 suggestions that will help John to make progress Tom.
Thanks so much Coach for helping me to understand this problem. I truly want John to enjoy his golf, and the way I was going about it, well, John would most certainly have become another casualty of an over-zealous parent wanting a perfect golfing kid.”
“Here are my last thoughts on this Tom, for what it’s worth.
Confucius once said that life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Like I said earlier Tom, we seem to be better at adding more and more complication to the game, rather than reducing and simplifying it.
So make it simple for John to play the game to enjoy the game by removing the roadblocks and interference.
And after all Tom, isn’t that really what it’s all about?”
“Yes Coach, I believe you’re right; simplify it by playing the game to enjoy the game, I won’t forget that.”
“Well Tom, my next lesson has arrived, so I better get over to the practice tee to sort out his pesky slice.
Enjoy the rest of your day and thanks for dropping by."
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Pro Tour Prep College for Serious Amateur and Professional Golfers
How a Wise Old Golf Coach Taught an Angry Golfer The Tao of How to Play Golf by Liberating Him from his Ego
“Hi Coach, how’s it going today?”
“Hi ya Danny, I’m fine thanks, how could you not be on such a perfect day?”
“Coach, it’s pouring rain out there!”
“It’s only rain Danny, not the end of the world.”
“That’s what I love about you Coach, you seem to always see the bright side of everything…”
"Ha ha, thanks Danny, yes, I work hard to see the good in nearly everything—and it takes daily work to do this, because it’s a constant challenge to manage the good thoughts, feelings and emotions because they are woven within a negative energy field.”
“What do you mean Coach?”
“Well, you see Danny I believe that positive and negative energy are not polar opposites, but complementary to one another in nature, and part of the same dimension. There’s negative energy present in positive things, and there’s positive energy present in negative things.
They are not separate from us, but part of us and part of the same system. For example, a shadow needs light to become a shadow. A shadow cannot exist without its partner light—they complement each other."
“Wow that’s interesting Coach, I never thought about it like that before…”
“Ultimately Danny, you need to have—or at least be practicing and developing an awareness that you are not a victim or slave to this negative energy field.
You respect it, and even use it sometimes, but, you see yourself more as the bright light that casts the shadow, and not the other way around.”
“I’m not sure what you mean Coach?”
“Danny, do you ever get really upset with yourself on the golf course?”
“Sure Coach, you know I do at times. In-fact, sometimes it feels out of control to me. And it can be over the smallest things.”
“Are you the shadow or the light when you get upset Danny?
In other words, do you see yourself as the shadow of your potential, or do you see yourself as the light of your potential?”
“I’m not sure exactly what you mean Coach, but I guess in thinking about it I’d probably say that I’m the shadow of my potential. I’m focused on my mistakes when I hit bad shots—or when I play badly, and that makes me feel angry, frustrated and disappointed.”
Is that the shadow of my potential Coach?”
“Yes, it is Danny, as you are not in a state where you can access more of your potential to succeed, but instead, you will access more of your potential to not succeed. And when you get like that Danny, I’m sure if you are completely honest with yourself, you find it difficult to see the light of your potential?”
“I can’t see the light at all Coach, come to think about it.”
“Danny why do you get angry when you make mistakes?”
“I’m not sure Coach, but I guess it’s because I’m not getting what I want or expect.”
“Yes Danny, it’s true that you probably get angry because you see yourself as failing to get what you want, as if you should get what you want because it is your right. It’s kind of like a child at a supermarket not getting a sweet from their mommy or daddy when they ask for it, and they react by going into a tantrum.
Danny is it possible that you are seeing your golf performances as being either good or bad, instead of seeing them as being complementary, or part of the same system?
Could there be good in all your bad shots, and bad in all your good shots, rather than seeing them as being diametrically opposed to one another?”
“How do you mean Coach?”
“Well, let’s say that you are trying to perform a golf shot perfectly, as if it was possible to do this?
Danny, what would make you believe that you can have the result you want if you haven’t hit the shot yet?”
“I guess it’s because I’ve hit perfect shots before, so I believe I can do it again?”
“OK Danny, that’s fair enough, but how do you know that they are ‘perfect’ shots?”
“That’s easy Coach, they come off exactly as I want them to.”
“So Danny are you saying to me that they all go into the hole, or, that they land on the exact piece of fairway or green you aim at?”
“Well, no, of course not Coach, but they go close to the target I’m aiming at, I guess.”
“So they weren’t perfect shots then?”
“No, I guess they weren’t perfect coach, just much better shots than most of the others I hit.”
“So Danny, how often do these ‘much better’ shots occur during a round of golf, on average?”
“I don’t know; I guess maybe 20 to 30 percent of the time Coach”
“So Danny are you saying that 70 to 80 percent of the time they are not perfect then?”
“Well… sure Coach, I guess that’s right, that’s what I’m saying.”
“So could we say Danny that in those nearly perfect shots, or much better shots, that since the result is not exactly as you planned, that there’s some bad in the shot as well?
“Sure Coach, that’s reasonable.”
“Can we agree then Danny that sometimes there’s more bad in your golf shot than there is good? And conversely, sometimes, there’s more good in your golf shot than there is bad?”
“I have never seen it that way before Coach, but again, it seems right.”
“Can you see that they are one and the same, there’s always bad in good, and vice versa? It’s just how you look at it?”
“I never thought about it like that before Coach, but I’m beginning to see it now.”
“Danny, every shot you hit can be a good shot if you can accept this as your reality. Sometimes your good shots will have a little bit of bad in them, and sometimes your bad shots will have a little bit of good in them—sometimes there will be a lot of one or the other”
“So are you saying that I just have to see every shot I hit as a good shot?”
“Yes, just like I see each and every day as a good day—rain, hail or shine. This is easier to do when you don’t try to hit perfect shots Danny, because if you try to do this, and you don’t get what you want, you might easily see the situation as a failure on your part—like saying, ‘I failed to hit my shot perfectly, or, I was not up to the challenge, or, I’m not good enough, and so on.’
Seeing a little bad in something is not the same as someone thinking that ‘I have failed.’
When you see a little bad in a shot, it’s not nearly the same as owning the problem; ‘I have failed’ or, ‘I’m a failure.’
‘I’ is a personal pronoun Danny, and can only be used by you.
So you need to be very careful how you use the ‘I’ when you are performing.
You have probably heard other golfers you’ve played with exclaim things to them self like, ‘I can’t putt,’ or, ‘I can’t hit,’ Danny.”
“Coach, I have done that myself plenty of times during rounds. Boy, I’m starting to see it now coach. I have definitely been owning those failed ‘perfect shots,’ whereas I think what you are saying to me is that seeing a little bad in every shot I hit just balances my thinking to help me manage my emotions.
Is that right Coach?”
“That’s right on the money Danny.
“So I have a challenge for you Danny the next time you go out onto the golf course to play golf. Are you up to the challenge Danny?”
“You bet I am Coach!”
“I’d like you to play all your shots from now on without using ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘my’ or ‘mine’ when describing your shots to yourself, or to others. I don’t want you to own the shot—just play the shot.
I want you to observe the behavior of the ball with a sense of fascination and wonder Danny.
Hit your shots with full commitment, then watch the ball carefully as it travels away from you, towards your target, and then comes to rest.
Now this is important Danny; put your club back into your bag without attaching negative emotion to it—just attach satisfaction and joy to it only if you hit the shot with a lot more good in it than bad.
Then move on to the next shot, and do it again.
Do this until there are no more shots left to play.
Do you understand Danny?”
“I do Coach, I really do!”
“Now Danny, in-between the shots, enjoy the walk by breathing the fresh air deep into your lungs, and feel the grass beneath your golf shoes.
If it’s raining—enjoy the rain. If it is sunny—enjoy the sun. If it is windy—enjoy it.
Enjoy the walk Danny!
Now when you walk up to your ball, start imagining the shot you wish to hit knowing that you have the ability to hit the shot the way you want, but in the event that you don’t get it, you will completely accept it and move on.”
“Coach, it seems so simple when you think about it like that.”
“Yes, it’s simple to understand Danny, but remember what I said earlier, you have to practice behaving this way every day for it to become a habit for life.”
“I will Coach, I can definitely do this, and I can clearly see that it will really help me. Thank you Coach for the great advice, I can’t wait to start applying it.”
“It’s my pleasure Danny, and there’s no time like the present to start doing it is there?”
“No there isn’t Coach, so I’m going out to play right now.”
“So what about the rain?”
“What rain Coach, like you said, there’s always some good in the bad, and some bad in the good, so I will accept it and play.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself Danny.”
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
The Pro Tour Prep College for Serious Amateur and Professional Golfers
The 4 Harsh Realities That Explain Why 95 Percent of Amateur Golfers Won’t Qualify for Tour School and What You Can Do to Change it
"Maybe you feel you can justify your actions by saying to yourself, your friends and your family that you are going to tour school to “gain tour school experience.” If this is the case, then you will quickly discover that tour school is a very expensive form of experience to be had."
We speak to numerous golfers (and quite often their parents) via email, Skype, or face to face on a monthly basis about what the minimum requirements are for an amateur golfer to successfully make the transition to a professional golf tour through a tour school.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there’s predominantly no shortage of male and female golfers very interested in this subject, and they are investing a great deal of effort in preparation to go to tour school, getting a card, to play on a professional golf tour.
Maybe you are one of them?
Now if you satisfy their very reasonable entry criteria (I have a lot more to say about this later on), tour schools will open their doors to you with welcoming arms, inviting you try out.
But before you sign on the dotted line to commit yourself to the tour school process, there are some things--we call ‘Harsh Realities’ you absolutely must know about, before you invest the time, effort and money to take the plunge into professional golf via a tour school.
The First Harsh Reality
The first thing you must understand (and I do mean understand) is that being a top ranked amateur golfer in your region, or even at national level doesn’t guarantee much of anything when you go to tour school as there are literally hundreds and hundreds of amateurs (and professionals) also teeing it up who can play just as well as you, and some, much better.
Where you might have been the big fish in your little pond in your home town, District, State or Province, now you will be a minnow competing in a massive ocean of golf talent.
Now believe me when I say that this comes as a big shock to many amateurs when they realize that their game is nowhere near good enough to qualify--let alone compete on a professional golf tour.
The Second Harsh Reality
Earlier I mentioned ‘reasonable entry criteria,’ and for many tours this means that if you possess a low handicap (under 2), or the equivalent playing standard, then you will be able enter tour school.
Now here’s the thing you need to pay attention to regarding this.
To get through any tour school it is very likely that you will have to produce a scoring average for the tournament of better than par over one or two golf courses that the tour uses for their tour school.
Now if you enter the tour school with a handicap of scratch to 2 it is highly unlikely that you will earn your card as this standard of golf simply won’t be good enough. Now ask yourself why a professional golf tour would invite low handicap golfers to enter their event when they aren’t good enough to qualify?...
Tour schools love rookie pro's who are of the mind-set; “I want to try tour school out to see if I’m good enough.”
You NEVER ‘try’ tour school out!
Golfers who are good enough to get through the tour school process and get their tour card, quickly realize that they are competing in pro events where the standard of competition is way better than what they have ever faced as an amateur, regardless of the tournaments level of importance.
Tour schools want the best of the best, but having said that, if you are naive enough to enter a tour school with a golf game no where near good enough, then understand that you will simply be donating your hard earned cash (or someone else’s), to their cause.
Maybe you feel you can justify your actions by saying to yourself, your friends and your family that you are going to tour school to “gain tour school experience.” If this is the case, then you will quickly discover that tour school is a very expensive form of experience to be had.
The entry fee’s, the transport costs, meals, caddie fees, and accommodation costs to stay in a foreign location for at least 2 weeks add up. I guess the one consolation of this is that you will start to understand just a small part of what self-employed professional golfers know all too well, that being a professional tour golfer is an expensive exercise!
At the end of the day all tour schools are nothing more than tour player boot camps that put you into a pressure cauldron with hundreds of other hopefuls, test your mental toughness and scoring ability, and squeeze out the survivors
Think of them like expensive turnstiles that let hundreds of hopefuls in, keep just a few, and let the rest exit out the other end—less your entry fees and associated costs.
Tour schools are first and foremost a business, and the business community would describe them as ‘cash cows,’ which is business speak for a business that generates a consistent return of profits that far exceed the amount of cash required to start it.
The tour schools know that when they market new tour school dates that literally hundreds of hopefuls will enter their school, and they receive a literal dump truck full of entry fees. However, since (in most cases) less than 5 percent of the of all the golfers competing will actually earn a card, the rest of the entry fee's is a windfall for them.
The bottom 95 percent that don't get a card will go back home to their clubs with their tail between their legs trying to work out what went wrong, and what they need to do to get one of those tour cards next time.
Many won’t ever go back.
The Third Harsh Reality
OK so let’s assume that you were good enough to get a card to play on a pro tour.
The challenge you now face is playing well enough in a limited number of events to finish high enough up the money list to keep your card for the next season--or in some cases to continue playing that season.
Now this is not nearly as easy as it sounds, let me explain.
You see depending on the tour you qualify on, as a rookie you will not be eligible to play in the biggest and most lucrative events on the tour, which basically means you sit out for one or more weeks at a time, with no events to compete in, until an event you are eligible to play in comes around.
(*If you have a card on one of the major golf tours you can usually play on their secondary tour if an event coincides with the event you weren’t eligible to play in)
So even though your tour might have an advertised schedule with 22 events, you might be only eligible to play in 15 of them. This means that you only get 15 chances to make enough income finishing high enough in the tournaments you can play in to keep your card.
So let’s say for example that you need to earn a minimum of $150,000 for the season to keep your card for the next season. You will have just 15 chances to make the cut and play well enough over the final 2 days to earn a cheque that on average must add up to 10,000 dollars or more, to come back next season.
Now how good do you think you would have to play in those 15 events? In other words, ask yourself what your round 3rd and 4th round scoring average would need to be to earn 10,000 dollars--15 times over the season?
“It is an odd juxtaposition for a player to be rated in the top 500 golfers in the entire world (remember, that means he’s better than and ahead of millions and millions of others) and yet that is nowhere near good enough.” – Ross Biddiscombe (Author of Cruel School)
The Fourth Harsh Reality
I looked up the progress of a very good young professional golfer in his mid-20’s who, as an amateur was the best golfer in his state, and was also one of the top 5 ranked amateurs in the country.
This young man would score in the mid 60’s often in big amateur tournaments, and he even won a state level pro event over 4 rounds with a double digit 4 round total.
Now as a professional he has gone through the process of making it onto one of the PGA Tour’s secondary tours, and nearly 4 years into his pro tour internship, his world ranking (at the time of writing) is 895, just 5 places lower than he was when he turned professional.
Now, like I said, he is a really fine golfer, and can really play, and I’m sure he can go on to have a great career as a professional golfer, if he can make it through his pro tour internship.
It just goes to show you that being a top gun amateur with a very low plus handicap (i.e. – 3 to – 6 against scratch) doesn’t guarantee much of anything in the pro game, except that you have more chance of making cuts and making cheques because of a proven low scoring ability in tournaments, than amateurs with low handicaps of scratch or above.
So the big question you need to ask yourself is this; are you really (truly) good enough to go to tour school, or are you kidding yourself?
However, don’t despair, it’s not all bad news.
No one likes to waste their hard earned money, and yet many tour hopefuls are doing just that by investing in something they are just not ready for.
So how do you know whether you are ready or not?
So How Good Do You Really Have to Be?
When you decide to go to a tour school, our advice is that your scoring average is at least 2 strokes better than par in top amateur tournaments over at least 2 seasons.
You should be regularly scoring in the mid 60's and it should feel relatively easy to do.
If you played 100 competitive rounds over 2 seasons as an amateur, here's the minimum performance level you would need to be able to achieve before you sign up to a tour school.
Level 1) ...5 rounds would be 60 to 65
Level 2) ...55 rounds would be 66 to 70
Level 3) ...35 rounds would be 71 to 75
Level 4) ...5 rounds would be 76 to 80
Level 5) ...0 rounds would be above 80
At the very least, 50 percent of your competitive rounds would be under 70. You will also have scored under par over 3 to 4 rounds multiple times, and ideally you would have scored 10 under par or better at least once.
This level of scoring should not come as a surprise to you if you simply study the results of professionals in tournaments from the minor tours to the major ones.
To make cheques in professional tournaments, there are 2 stages.
This might look to you like it’s exaggerated, but it isn’t, it’s the reality of playing successfully as a professional golfer.
Unless you can score like this, you simply won’t make cuts, and if you don’t make cuts--you don’t make cheques and if you don’t make cheques, your expenses will outweigh your income, and in no time at all, you will go broke!
So take the time to set up a table like the one above, track every score in the tournaments you play in, fill in the blanks and see whether you really have enough game to go to tour school and get your card.
We sure hope you do.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Perth / Jakarta
"Despite being based in Sydney where many of the tournaments are held and being able to minimize a lot of my expenses through billeting with amazing host families in other states I still lost money in both seasons as my golf expenses (flights, hotels, hire cars, caddie fees, tournament fees etc) were around $6,000 for the 2 month periods."
Like a lot of aspiring female professional tour golfers, I have dreams of mixing it with the world’s best on the LPGA Tour and winning big tournaments along the way. I’m a self-confessed golf junkie, those who know me will testify that I literally live, breathe, eat and sleep golf and always need to ensure I keep things in balance.
I’m addicted to self-improvement and have a love of numbers and statistics, sometimes to my own detriment in tournaments, as I start focusing on scores and scenarios instead of staying in the present.
The excitement that comes with competing can be quite exhilarating and what I love about the game of golf is that for the most part, I’m the one in control of my success and failures. I really enjoy playing in front of crowds, it seems to help me sharpen my focus and there is no better pressure than having lots of eyes on you whilst you try to execute and pull off a difficult shot.
It’s often said that the career of a professional golfer is a marathon, not a sprint and in much the same way I view the journey of improving in this game similar to picking up a jagged, unshapely rock that over time is polished and sculpted into perfect form, function and appearance.
I turned professional in November 2014 at the age of 34. Whilst that is considered pretty late to be embarking on such an endeavour, I came to the realisation a couple years ago that life is too short to not chase your dreams because time is going to pass regardless, so I might as well get busy doing what I love.
As a player, I don’t have a stellar amateur career behind me but I do have a lot of life experience and belief in my ability to figure out the Rubix Cube that is professional golf.
To date I’ve played 2 seasons on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) circuit and the process of plying my trade for money been a real learning experience complete with lots of ups and downs.
The ALPG season typically spans a 2 month period with a mix of 6-8 Pro Ams and 4-5 major tournaments.
During my rookie season in 2014/2015, I finished 26th on the ALPG Order of Merit with earnings of $5,160 including a 2nd place finish at the Renault Ladies Pro am at Castle Hill Country Club. Having some experience under my belt led to higher expectations for the 2015/2016 season, but I performed poorly and finished 40th on the Order of Merit with earnings of $2,005 and a season best finish of 11th at the Anita Boon Pro Am in New Zealand.
Despite being based in Sydney where many of the tournaments are held and being able to minimise a lot of my expenses through billeting with amazing host families in other states I still lost money in both seasons as my golf expenses (flights, hotels, hire cars, caddie fees, tournament fees etc) were around $6,000 for the 2 month periods.
It’s important to note that other life costs such as rent, food, health and car insurance, gym fees etc aren’t included in those budgets and thus the total incurred loss is much greater. No one said professional golf was going to be cheap!
In assessing my performances, It became clear that there were 2 main reasons why I wasn’t competitive enough with the best players during our tournaments despite all the desire to be better:
It requires a full-time commitment to practice and playing because the talent pool is too deep and there are several hundred, if not thousands of girls around the world right now giving the game that level of commitment who are hungry and dedicated to reaching the top.
I did consider myself very lucky in that my employer at the time was very supportive and I had accrued enough paid leave to be able to actually have the whole 2 month period off to play both seasons.
There will always be a battle we face as professional golfers in that you require a lot of funds to chase your dreams and unless you have financial sponsors or other sources of income to assist with that, then you need to find the money to compete through working, often full-time, but just don’t expect to be overly competitive if you never get off this cyclic merry go round.
There has to come a point where you back yourself in with what you have in the bank or attain the funds some other way.
To give you an idea of what a top Australian female player looks like, I’ll reference Victoria’s Stacey Keating as she played in all of the tournaments on the ALPG 2015/2016 season. Stacey is a 7 time winner on the ALPG circuit, including winning 3 times this past season.
She has also won twice on the Ladies European Tour (LET) since turning professional in 2010. During the 2015/2016 season, in which she finished 2nd on our Order of Merit behind Karrie Webb, Stacey’s competitive score average was 71.68 against an average course par of 72.52, exactly 0.84 under par achieved over 25 rounds.
She finished par or better in 11 of her 12 tournaments and amassed $43,741 in prizemoney over the 2 month season.
Stacey plays full time across the ALPG and LET circuits and holds status on the American based LPGA and Symetra Tours. At the time of writing, she is currently the 7th leading Australian player on the Official Rolex World Rankings at 257th.
She is known for her work ethic and dedication to her craft.
Given the statistics I’ve just displayed, if you are serious about being a world class female professional, you can see why a fulltime commitment level is required to reach the top. Anything less than being “All In” and you might as well just enjoy the game for what it is, and lower your expectations.
If you’re thinking Stacey’s competitive score average is pretty good, you’d be right but what sort of score average does it take to be the number 1 player in the World? Undoubtedly the courses on the LPGA draw more difficult setups and thus the score average is even more impressive.
At the end of the 2015 calendar year, New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finished on top of the World Rankings, a position she still currently occupies. Her 2015 season saw her average 69.44 over 93 rounds which made her $2,800,802 in prize-money and resulted in 5 wins and 3 runner up finishes on the LPGA circuit alone.
It’s pretty clear that if your goal is to be the best player in the world, you are going to need to be able to average around 2.5 under par on tour course setups over the course of a year and almost a hundred rounds of golf.
"Anything less than being “All In” and you might as well just enjoy the game for what it is, and lower your expectations."
So knowing all this information and following my disappointing 2015/2016 season I made a decision that I needed to help create a better environment in order to be more competitive.
I relocated in March 2016 from Sydney to Perth which has great weather year round and much better practice facilities at most of the courses.
The move has allowed me to lower my expenses and invest more time in my game and work less in order to work on lowering my competitive score average and in turn earn more prize-money.
Whilst the move is only 3 months old, practicing full-time has proved an exceptionally good decision thus far as it has allowed me to work on the areas of my game that required the most work.
Comparing my statistics over those 2 seasons with the best players on the LPGA made the areas readily identifiable and I’ve been able to develop the right practice plans matched with far greater commitment to start attaining the required improvement.
Being able to practice full-time has also allowed me to fix some technical flaws in my swing that’s drastically improved my ball striking and come without the rushed feeling that sometimes comes with making changes between tournaments.
Whilst It is a relatively small sample size, since the relocation I’ve played 6 competitive rounds over 3 tournaments in Australia, China and Hong Kong for a competitive score average of 73.66 or 1.66 over par.
I also managed to cash my biggest cheque and have my best finish in a full field event of my professional career thus far – finishing Tied 19th and making $3,100 in Hong Kong which was a great experience played in adverse weather conditions all week.
Its been great to see the improvement take shape and with future goals to play on the LPGA circuit I know I’m finally heading in the right direction.
Whilst I can’t see what the future ultimately has in store for my golf career, I’m not going to be sitting on the sidelines half committed wondering what if any longer, I’m going to see this through to the end!
Breanna Gill - Instagram @breannagillgolf
How long does it take to reach some goals? Well, some are achieved relatively quickly, but others, well, they can take many years.
Take a look at the journey of Jason Day from starting out to number one in the world.
How many tournaments has he played in?
How many practice shots has he hit?
How many poor rounds has he had?
How many times has he wanted to give up?
How many miles has he traveled?
How many dollars has he invested?
How many years did it take him?
The road is longer for some, shorter for others. But whichever way you choose to look at it, it is not for the unrealistic.
However, if you are extremely determined, well funded, have a great team of experts around you, and you have the capacity to continually seek improvement despite constant set-backs--and you can really play, then there's nothing really stopping you from chasing your dream.
Just remember that it is a very long and winding path, and most travelers will give up along the way.
That's why there's so few at the top...
But don't let that stop you.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
As a psychologist to amateur and professional golfers, part of my day job involves walking the course analyzing their habits and response patterns to situations during tournaments.
Caddies would agree that you can see a lot as a quiet observer, the things that player’s themselves under-estimate as the real causes of a great day on the course or a poor result.
My on-course analysis work has confirmed what I believe to be the one mental skill that can make all the difference in the outcome of your game and ultimately your fate in keeping your tour card at the end of the season.
Some will argue that the most important mental skill has to be confidence.
My question would be, confidence in what?
In a previous article you can read here, I discussed the danger in relying on ball striking and scoring as your primary sources for confidence.
Ball striking and scoring are results-focused and inconsistent, and therefore can leave you feeling a high level of uncertainty going into most rounds.
A results-only focus will set you up to believe that ‘you are only as good as your last result’, and after a poor round this leads to the process of hitting the range to perfect your swing mechanisms and questioning your talent, rather than objectively looking at the finer process of your game.
The one mental skill that connects you to the finer process of your game is emotional control.
Most tour players know they should have self-control on the course, but it is rare to actually see, and I witness a lot of talented players missing cuts when they are hitting it well enough to finish in the top 10.
This scenario might sound familiar: A minor unforced error is made such as, a 3-putt on the first par-5 after a solid shot to the green in two. There is a moment in which the player has a choice to respond effectively, OR carry that frustration to the next tee, complaining to your caddy down the next fairway and suddenly your attitude toward the round is altered.
Mediocre shots follow, more unforced errors, and finally the resounding statement that “nothing is going my way today.”
"The one mental skill that connects you to the finer process of your game is emotional control."
You rarely see negative players get lucky breaks, you have to open yourself to the positive possibilities and that only comes with self-control and understanding the art of letting go of an error before your next shot.
Consider Dustin Johnson’s superb display of emotional control on the final day of the 2016 US Open at Oakmont.
How might the closing holes have turned out if he had allowed the distasteful announcement of his penalty on the 12th Tee to affect his subsequent holes?
He remained composed and hitting the 6-iron of his life on the final hole — from 192 yards out to 3 feet, says it all.
Regardless of whether you have a right to be frustrated over uncontrollable events, you always have a choice to respond differently in the moment. You can take the path of least resistance and let your instinctual brain take over with negative emotions, OR you can choose the higher-order, mindful approach to remain focused on the task at hand.
It isn’t the easy approach, it does take deliberate effort, but it can create the massive contrast between winning and losing, failing or succeeding with your goal.
Excellent emotional control takes planning and practice. A lot of player’s expect self-control just to happen when they need it, but it doesn’t work like that.
When I work with an golfer, we spend time creating a strategy that fits them, and it involves ONE key action and ONE thought reminder to help them process the mistake, let it go, and focus quickly on the next shot.
This specific strategy is then deliberately practiced and reviewed.
A simple but powerful technique to get started with your emotional control strategy can involve this process:
Commit to working on your emotional control this season and I guarantee you will see some good changes take shape in your overall performance.
Dr. Jay-Lee Nair
How a Wise Golf Coach’s 9 Simple Lessons Stopped a Young Amateur Golfer from Giving Up on his Dream of Playing on Tour
“Hey coach can I talk with you for a second?”
Sure John, I’ve got some time right now, what’s up?”
“Well, I’m thinking of giving up on becoming a tour player.”
“Really, wow, that’s surprising, what bought that on?”
“Honestly coach, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, I've just about had enough of the high scores in tournaments, playing badly, and how golf is making me feel.
I have tried so hard to get good at this game, you know coach I practice long hours, but it seems like it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m not making the progress I thought I’d make by now.”
Lesson 1. Don't Give Up, Get Better
“John, I can understand how you feel, there’s a lot of very good amateur and professional golfers just like you who regularly suffer from similar feelings of frustration, anxiety, annoyance and a whole range of other emotions that get in the way of them playing closer to their potential.
They are trying so hard to improve and play golf like the great golfers they see on TV. The tragedy John is that nearly every one of them will not make it to their goal—or even get close to it.
And they won’t make it to their goal not because they don’t have the ability, or the potential to get there—because they do!
The reason they won’t get to their goal is a lot more fundamental than you might think.
Maybe you know some golfers struggling with their game, that are experiencing similar emotions to you?”
“Yeah coach, actually I know a few guys who are currently struggling with their game, and I also know of some who have walked away from the game.
I don’t want to walk away from the game coach, I love it, and love playing it, but I feel like I’m at the crossroads and not sure which way to go.”
John the bottom line is this; don't give up, get better!
Lesson 2. Develop a Higher Tolerance for Accepting and Managing Hardship
“Look John, no one is going to deny that golf is a difficult game to get really good at, but if others have got to a place you would like to go, then it’s possible isn’t it?
“I guess so, at least I used to think that way”
“Anything you do in life where you aim for the top branches is going to mean that falling and failing regularly is absolutely normal--
especially for really determined human beings who are attempting to achieve more from their potential.”
“What do you mean coach?”
“Well John, those who try harder, and more often, also fail more often."
“OK, so are you are telling me that failing often and the feeling of stress you get is good?”
“Well yes, in a way I am, but I wouldn’t say failing is good so much as it’s an absolutely necessary function of developing a higher tolerance for accepting and managing hardship.
But let me explain it to you in a way that I know you will understand.
John would you agree that generally speaking the highest branches of a tree are thinner and more bendable compared to the branches at the bottom?”
“Well, yes I guess I would.”
“So John, we could say that if your goal was to climb to the top of the tallest tree that the higher you climb the more adaptive and flexible you would need to be?”
“I’m not sure how climbing higher requires more flexibility…”
Lesson 3. There's More Than One Way to Achieve Your Goal
“Well, sometimes the route to the next branch or step requires you to go a long way out of your way just to get to that branch.
There may be obstacles or challenges that require a change in strategy, or possibly even to start again.
It's normally not as simple as going from A to B John, it’s never as simple as that when you are climbing to the top of your profession.
Also you will need to build a lot of trust in your skills and ability along the way.
“Ok coach, I get it. I think what you are saying is that there’s more than one way to do it?”
“John, that’s right, you see we live in a sea of potential with endless possibilities for becoming successful.
There's no "One Way" or "The Way," to get to your destination, there are many.
Lesson 4. Thrive in All Types of Challenging Conditions
Now John, take a look at that big oak tree over there next to the 16th tee for a moment. It would have to be at least 50 feet tall, would you agree?”
“It certainly is a tall tree coach.”
“How did it grow so tall and strong John?
“I don’t know coach; I guess it has been well looked after over the years?”
Actually John, it grew tall and strong because of its ability to be resistant to whatever challenges it.
You see the winds have shown no mercy or kindness to that tree; the winds blow hard and move it violently in many directions at times, and will even try to blow the tree over if it wasn’t for its strong and well-grounded roots.
That tree has had to survive all types of weather conditions as it slowly grew taller, from the bitter cold, to hot and dry conditions, and everything in between--even disease.
You see the lesson here is that you have to thrive in all types of challenging conditions. You have to be resistant to whatever challenges face you…
The lesson about that tree is that Nature John, shows no mercy. It is always survival of the fittest and strongest.
It’s all about your resistance and your persistence. It’s about how much out of your comfort zone you are willing to be, and how you learn to adapt to continual change.
Lesson 5. Learn to Grow, Adapt and Change
Now take a moment to think about your climbing ability. Are you a skillful climber John?
Imagine for a moment that you are climbing that oak tree and you have made your way up through the low branches, through the dense foliage and onto the thinner branches.
It’s not easy an easy climb is it John?
And it can be scary—really scary because the higher you climb up that tree the further you get away from the security of the ground, and everything you know and are familiar with—your comfort zone.
The good news is that the person you are in the lower branches John is not the same person you will become in the higher branches. You will rely more on your instincts, and on your courage, confidence and belief in your capability to keep finding a way to push yourself upwards, branch by branch.
You will be constantly fighting against the forces of Nature, because they are ever present, continually testing your resolve.”
“Coach I think I know what you mean. Are you saying that as you make progress towards your goal you grow, adapt and change as you climb."
"That's right John, you will get better in many different ways as you climb higher. One of the ways you grow is by realizing that each step you take gets you closer and closer to your outcome.
You become less outcome focused and more process focused."
"Coach I think I understand your metaphor. I have gotten quite high up that tree in the past, to where I have experienced the expansive and majestic views, it was intoxicating, and I desperately want more.”
“I know you want more success John, and that’s what success feels like for many people. When they get closer to their goals and dreams, it’s like a drug, and they want more of it.
But it requires a strict focus on the process to access it more often John.
Lesson 6. When You Can See More You Can Be More
You also discovered that the outlook higher up is very different to lower down John.
You can see more, and because you can see more, you start to believe that you can be more.
“That’s true coach, there have been many times where I felt like I had all I needed to play golf the way I truly wanted.”
“That’s right, and you probably realize that that’s why top athletes and successful individuals from all fields of endeavor are motivated to climb higher and higher.
But success is fleeting John for everyone, it comes and it goes. Because climbing high and into the thin branches means you are risking falling more often.
Now because the fall is more dangerous, you have to continually devise strategies that manage the risk. You have to take your time, if you rush the climbing process you risk falling.
Now maybe you have been impatient at times, and you have fallen down into the lower branches once or twice, and maybe even back to the ground.
Maybe now is one of those times John. You have probably even had the wind knocked out of you, and maybe you have broken a bone or two. Maybe John you have simply had enough of falling and feeling like you are a failure.
Maybe you are thinking of giving up on your dream of getting to the top because you are starting to believe that you haven’t got what it takes to climb right to the top and to stay there.
Lesson 7. It's About Your Goal Not Someone Elses
Maybe you have been listening to the bottom dwellers, those who fear the climb, and who are telling you to give up on your climb—your dream—your goal.
Nevertheless, whatever your reason John, don’t make a decision that you’ll regret later on.
John understand that when you fall, and like I said, you will do this often, you must come to the harsh realization that this is simply Mother Nature doing her work making you a stronger and more resilient human being.
“So it’s not personal coach because it sure feels like it is.”
“No this is not personal John, so don’t make it so. It is the Nature of how you discover success in your life, purely and simply.
Nobody, and I mean nobody John is allowed to make progress, especially to the top of a profession, without a great deal of resistance along the way.
And where there is resistance John, you need lots of persistence.
“So coach for every action like resistance, there needs to be an equal and opposite reaction like persistence, right?”
“Now you’re getting the concept John!
Lesson 8. Attitude is Everything
You see Mother Nature is not concerned with who you are, or where you came from.
Her job is to toughen you up for the journey, and in this way she sorts out those who can climb high from those who can’t, or won’t.
John, your frustration and disappointment is a normal reaction, especially when you believe you are not getting your way sooner. You mentioned that you practice hard, like you are implying that this alone should give you success sooner.
But you need to accept that practicing hard has nothing to do with how quickly you can reach your goal.
It is always about your attitude to how you manage set-backs, challenges and your expectations, first and foremost.
You have chosen to pursue excellence in one of the most difficult sports there is, a sport that few people ever really get to the top of.
Many golfers before you have practiced hard and gone nowhere.
Why? In my experience one of the biggest reasons is that they are in a hurry and impatient. Understand that you grow your ability John, and your skills won’t grow faster just because you want them to."
"Coach I must confess that I have been impatient but I never considered that I was growing my ability. I didn't consider that it's a process of Nature, I expected that if I practiced hard that I should progress faster."
"John, If you want lower scores, then be patient, do a great job of improving your core scoring skills every chance you get.
Lesson 9. You Cannot Get to Success Via Easy Street
It is a long term process to climb to the top, over many years, and with many challenges and set-backs along the way.
This is the reality you must come to accept. There is no mystery to this John, it is the same for anyone who attempts to climb to the top.
But given the opportunity to get something without a lot of effort, most people will take the easy option.
Never forget that the path of least resistance is the most popular path John.
Many want the easy way out because they want to avoid the pain and stress that comes when persisting in the face of continual resistance.”
“So coach, I should just suck it up and keep pushing?”
“Yes John, that’s how you grow bigger and stronger muscles, you keep adding more resistance.
So just keep climbing, learning and adapting and let Nature take its course on her terms—not yours.”
“Thanks coach, I won’t ever forget these lessons.”
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College