If you want to establish a career as a successful professional tour golfer when you graduate you need to know that there's a fast-track score improvement process and there's also a slow-track.
In today's article I'll show you the difference, and I'll also show you how you can work on certain types of golf skills that will fast-track your development.
Last week I discussed the importance of self-belief and confidence and I described the first of our golf success factors - The Golf Confidence Factor –the primary golf success driver for developing yourself and your game to tour standard in less time.
Anyone willing to climb to the highest level of professional achievement most surely works on their self-confidence more than any other factor, and the reason is pretty simple; there will be many many setbacks along the way to the top, so you need know how to manage and continually develop your self-confidence.
But that’s not enough, is it?
I mean it's not enough to just be confident and believe in yourself because I’m sure you know of golfers who are very confident individuals but they don’t seem to perform nearly as well as you would expect them to when they are under increased pressure.
Their confidence appears to erode quite quickly when they are faced with difficult shots at crucial times in a round.
So it’s one thing to have an abundant supply of self-belief and confidence, and another to have the type of golf skills that can back you up when you need them the most, under increased pressure.
One of the most common problems we see at Pro Tour Golf College, and which we believe to a great extent explains this common situation is what we call “majoring in minor golf skills.”
Golfers that major in minor golf skills have a tendency to practice the golf skills they are more comfortable with and easier to play.
They get locked into their daily routines of comfort practice—that is, they practice golf skills and shots they are good at, and that are low on the challenge and intensity scale, rather than practicing and developing the more challenging golf shots that would have a more positive affect on their scoring on the golf course.
You see the reality is that you have to practice a lot of different and varied golf shots to become a successful professional golfer, and you have to practice some types of shots a lot more often than others to influence a low seasonal competitive score average.
Think of it this way, producing low golf scores on a relatively consistent basis requires an ability to make par or better, or bogey at worst, when you are not playing anywhere near your best.
This is a simple fact of life for golfers who are successful on the pro tour.
Can you score your best when your game is at its worst?
When you go to the practice range and practice green do you practice most of your golf shots from near perfect lies, what we call princess lies, most of the time?
If you are given the opportunity to practice more difficult shots from challenging lies, or to play shots from relatively easy lies, which way do you go?
In our experience many young golfers are practicing from princess lies rather than practicing from pauper lies.
Here's some simple questions to find out whether you practice from princess or pauper lies.
- Do you spend your time practicing your full shots from level and perfect lies on the practice fairway?
What will you do when you are faced with a ball above or below your feet in a less than perfect lie?
- Do you practice your chipping and pitching skills to pins that are easy to get to?
What will you do when you are faced with shots where the pin is tight and surrounded by trouble?
- Do you practice bunker shots from flat and perfect lies most of the time?
What will you do when you get a downhill lie that is half buried, and you are faced with a high lip to hit your shot over?
- Do you practice hitting wedge shots from perfect level lies to a specific target distance on the range?
What will you do when you are faced with an important wedge shot from a downhill lie over a water hazard to a different distance?
And the one constant is that you have to keep scoring low in every round you play to make cuts and to make checks.
Have a look at the photo below of some of our students at Pro Tour Golf College practicing from pauper lies around the green. They practice like this way on a daily basis and over time and with lots of practice they learn how to get the ball closer to the hole.
If you are a high school or college golfer reading this, and you have your heart set on playing on a professional golf tour, and you want to be successful doing it, then you need to incorporate high pay-off golf skills practice into your daily routines, well before you get to play in your first pro tour event.
This is the second golf success factor, majoring in high payoff golf skills or trouble shot mastery. High payoff golf skills as you are learning are the type of golf skills that help you get you out of trouble to keep the momentum going during a round.
Think about a time recently where you were playing quite nicely and then you had trouble on a particular hole and it disrupted your momentum and led to a higher score for the round than you imagined you would have.
We want you to understand how important majoring in high pay-off golf skills is, when your goal is to play professionally.
The pro game is very different to the amateur game because even though they both require an ability to produce a score, ultimately the main difference between the two is the amount of low scores you must produce over a season on a pro tour to be successful.
Successful in this case means a high percentage of cuts made (more than 60 percent), and enough money in the bank after all the expenses have been paid to fund at-least the next season.
You can’t walk away from a bad score in professional golf. If you have a bad round or two in a junior tournament your parents or well-meaning friends will probably tell you that there’s always another day.
If you have a bad round in a college event, your coach will probably tell you that there’s always another day.
But in pro tour golf a bad score means a higher likelihood that you will miss the cut and not make a check—and that's a big difference!
And you don’t want to make missing cuts a habit.
So how do you change this situation?
At least fifty percent of your available practice time should be spent developing your trouble shot scrambling ability around the green, and also including your approach wedge shots within 100 yards of the hole.
The way we explain it to our students is to imagine that you are playing in a tournament and you are having a very bad tee to green day, and you have missed every green in regulation, and fifty percent of your tee-shots have gone into the trees.
Right now estimate the score you think you would you have in this example.
Score against par: ________
Now imagine that of the 18 greens you missed in regulation, you had
- 6 bunker shots from average lies
- 6 shots from down in the grass around the green to tight pin placements
- 6 shots from between 30 and 60 yards to the pin over bunkers or water hazards.
Now remember, the objective is always to make par or better, but how do you think you would do based on where your game is at the moment?
How many up and downs for par are you likely to make?
If you are like a lot of young golfers we work with, probably not that many.
Now imagine that 3 out of 4 days were going to be similar to this. In fact, imagine that this was normal rather than abnormal, how would you go about developing your golf skills knowing this?
Now you are starting to understand what professional golf is really like.
Sometimes what actually happens on a golf course in a tournament is much stranger and unusual than anything that you could ever imagine.
But if you believe that what they show you on the golf telecasts is true, then you will believe that professional tour golfers hit nearly ever green in regulation, and almost every fairway, and they hole lots of long putts, and they shoot 15 to 20 under every week.
When you see the leaders at 15 under for 3 rounds, hitting virtually every green in regulation and draining putts from all over the green, it would be easy to think that this is normal.
Yes it is normal that a few golfers every week will play golf like this, but this is far from normal over a season for the majority of professional golfers.
If you simply look at the example of a professional golfer who is 15 under par for the week (or averaging 5 under per round), and then you look at his or her score average (actual) for the last season, you will see that they do not have a seasonal score average of five under par, but actually it is much closer to par.
The truth is that if you are a high school or college golfer and you desire to become a successful professional golfer, then you have to develop the second golf success factor of developing your high pay-off golf skills, or trouble shot mastery.
This is the real skill of a successful professional golfer, the skill of salvaging pars or bogeys at the worst, most of the time, from trouble lies and situations.
Here's the Takeaway to Never Forget
You build your golf skills for the pro tour around the worst case scenario—not the best case. Work hard on your high payoff golf skills by learning how to master your trouble shot skills, and you will discover that turning tough days into better scoring days will happen for you sooner than later, and much more often.
See you next week for part 3.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business