“Golfers who keep working hard at their game in the stretch zone will achieve a higher level of success in golf in the long-term than those who might be better players at the same stage but who don’t practice in the stretch zone, and who lack the determination to keep finding ways to improve.”
Now they give up for a range of reasons but one of the most common is they don’t keep working hard at their game when struggling over a prolonged period.
They stop challenging themselves in their practice and stop pushing their skills towards the edge of their potential, and because their golf practice becomes boring they stop believing that they can keep improving.
At Pro Tour Golf College we remind our students that;
“no challenge equals no stress, and no stress equals no progress.”
Progress requires continual stress. Stress in this case is practicing in such a way that your golf skills are put under a reasonable amount of pressure.
We call this approach to practice "the stretch zone."
The rule of stretch zone practice is that you should always make your practice more difficult than what you are likely to face when you're playing.
When the challenge level is slightly greater than your skill level you are in the stretch zone where progress can be made.
The idea here is to practice challenging shots to condition your nervous system to accept this as normal.
Then as your golf skills improve you gradually increase the challenge level so you can keep a consistent level of discomfort (stress) when you practice, which is key to long-term improvement.
When you make your practice sessions too easy--that is you practice shots you are very good at, it becomes a boring and degenerative process and sadly without knowing it you're setting yourself up for problems playing the challenging shots you will always face on the golf course.
This is a BIG mistake made by many golfers.
Challenge and determination (response)--both mental and physical is absolutely necessary for growth and change in golf.
And here’s the thing we want you to remember, and it is very important:
“Golfers who keep working hard at their game in the stretch zone will achieve a higher level of success in golf (in the long-term) than those who might be better players at the same stage but who don’t practice in the stretch zone, and who lack the determination to keep finding ways to improve.”
Determination or grit combined with hard, consistent and challenging practice over a long time is the difference that makes the difference for every golfer.
You must develop your determination to overcome challenges like it’s a muscle. Daily focus and determination towards achieving challenging practice goals really makes the difference on the golf course.
History shows that some golfers who started out as average golfers turned themselves into very fine and successful golfers because they kept challenging themselves to improve--even when everybody around them told them to give up on their dream constantly.
These golfers were stubborn, very determined and exercised a high level of patience and tolerance, and they didn’t listen to their knockers and detractors.
They thrived on the challenge of improving themselves through their practice.
Two time major winner (79’ PGA and 81’ US Open) David Graham from Australia won 38 professional events on 6 continents and was one of these very stubborn and determined types who just kept plugging away at improving his game when many around him told him to give up.
In David Graham's case every set back just made him more determined to succeed and become a very tough minded and extremely successful golfer.
You see, some golfers just need more time to realize their potential than others.
Larry basically taught himself how to play from the famous golf instruction book written by Ben Hogan “5 Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.”
Can you imagine what people would have said to him when he told them he wanted to play golf on a professional tour?
You can bet that many would have thought him crazy, but it’s the crazy and determined types that change ‘the rules’ and do the unexpected.
Average to excellent is a state of mind that you turn into a habit; it’s not a gift from the Gods. The way you practice your golf skills and the determination you bring to it truly makes the difference in the long run.
Calvin Peete an African-American golfer took the game up in his 20’s and won 12 times on the PGA Tour during the 1980’s (and also won twice on the Japan Tour) even with a permanently bent left arm that he broke as a child he was the straightest driver on PGA tour for 10 straight years.
He was also the most successful African-American golfer on the PGA Tour winning the Vardon Trophy in 1984 for the lowest score average for the PGA Tour season well before Tiger Woods came along.
Challenge Level Plus Determination is the Key
All these golfers turned themselves into excellent golfers because they practiced their skills in the stretch zone and their challenge/determination time-line was long enough.
They kept looking for ways to improve over a long period of time and you can too.
When you practice in the stretch zone with a long challenge/determination timeline you give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals.
Today the challenge/determination time-lines of many younger golfers is simply too short. A big part of the reason for this is that information flows so easily and quickly today that they fall into the trap of thinking that getting good at golf should happen a lot sooner than later.
It's almost like you can Google golf improvement and you get it!
They don't practice in the stretch zone enough, and they don't practice and compete for long enough to achieve more from their potential.
It is admirable to want to learn something as quickly as you can but in our experience training many young golfers at our college we have discovered that their development timelines are too short placing added pressure on themselves to fast-track the learning experience which just makes the whole process harder and longer.
But learning and acquiring the experience necessary to go from an average golfer into an excellent golfer will always be decided first and foremost by the determination of the golfer to keep pushing forwards by constantly challenging themselves in their practice for as long as it takes.
You should stretch your idea of how long it takes to improve your golf game by at-least doubling the amount of time as a starting point.
Turn three years into six years and you will be amazed at what is possible in golf if you give yourself more time to learn and improve the skills in your game.
It doesn’t matter how good your information is because this has a lot more to do with how long it takes to learn to move your body correctly and then perform it skilfully on the golf course.
Acquiring information and translating it into a useful movement pattern are two quite separate things.
Practicing the hours in the stretch zone makes the difference. Yes, you need good information, but then you need to habituate it the right way.
Stay patient, work hard, challenge yourself continually and do what’s required to keep improving.
And just like David Graham, Larry Nelson, Calvin Peete and many other golfers before you, you can also transform yourself from an average golfer into an excellent golfer.
All you need to do is keep finding challenging ways to improve and do it for as long as it takes.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business