Learning and improving your golf game is really about how you learn to construct useful habits. By useful I mean that these habits help you to move towards the things that you want or need.
Everything you do in your life is either an existing habit or is becoming one, and in today’s article I want to share with you the strategy you need to build new habits.
So let’s start with a simple definition of what a habit is: A habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that you become almost unaware of.
So habits are the things that you do every day that lead you in the direction of the things you want as well as the things you don’t want. Some you have more control over and others less.
The thing about habits is that many of them are learned naturally over time and as such are quite difficult to remove when you decide that they don’t provide you with the value you desire. This is the same of golf skill habits.
Many golfers struggle with golf skill habits that hold them back from making progress in their game and golf instructors have the task of helping the golfer to acquire more useful and helpful habits.
Quite often the first question that comes to mind for many golfers when learning to improve their game is how long it takes to develop a new habit. We always say that it takes a lot longer than you think.
There are quite a few references on Google search to habit formation and the consensus seems to be that it takes around 3 weeks or 21 days to change a habit.
But from our experience at Pro Tour Golf College this is a long way from what we have experienced.
The success of habit formation in golf depends mostly on the complexity of the skill being learned and how well you perform it each time. There is no fast-track, just repetitions correctly applied.
Some recent research on habit forming suggested that automaticity (doing without thinking) is reached at around 66 days. But this was dependent on the task being performed and who was performing it. (Lally et al. 2009). Read more about it here: http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/09/how-long-to-form-a-habit.php
Any serious golfer should understand that in any model of change time and repetitions are the key elements of the recipe if they seek continuous improvement. We have found that motivated ambitious golfers are not frightened to attempt change to improve their golf skills, it’s just that they quite often don’t realize the full extent of the change process.
How Do Tour Players Learn New Habits?
Like everyone else; slowly and steadily. One of the tour players we work with Brent McCullough has been going through a golf swing change with us at Pro Tour Golf College and we have been monitoring his progress closely over the past few months.
The change we are making is changing the direction of his hand path on the downswing to change the way his golf club releases through the golf ball.
To reach the stage of automaticity (Doing without thinking) he has been working on one drill routine for the past 16 weeks and only in the last 2 weeks is less conscious of the changes in his swing when he is performing under pressure. Video evidence has shown him that the change is part of his down swing (most times) however he realizes that he will have to continue practicing his hand path drill routine to keep his hands travelling on the path that leads him to more consistent shot-making.
The level of complexity of this change process would be described as moderate to high for a number of reasons-the main one being that he is playing full-time on a professional golf tour so incorporating this change has to be managed carefully and thoughtfully.
Brent acknowledged that the change was necessary as his golf shots under pressure were hooking more than he wanted and this was leading to a higher score average in tournament play. I explained that his old golf swing pattern was literally the product of thousands of repetitions and as such will be a very strong habit to change.
I suggested that the key to developing this new golf swing habit was to focus on changing just one important aspect of his swing at a time and in this case it was his hand path. We devised a simple but suitable drill using a simple alignment stick to move him through the the stages of habit development from the cognitive/associative stage and into the autonomous stage.
Brent is an extremely committed individual like most tour professionals we've worked with and knows that to be able to hit the shots he wants to under pressure requires thousands of golf swing repetitions. They know that there are no short-cuts to success in golf, just hard work continually over an extended time period.
The takeaway here is that you to should understand that repetitions correctly applied over time is the key to success at building lasting and useful habits.
If you want to develop useful lifelong golf habits then keep your change process simple. The more parts you try to incorporate into your golf technique the longer and more difficult it is likely to be. Add one part and take it to automaticity.
Then add another and so on. By applying effort carefully and deliberately you will learn the habits that will help you to be more competitive in golf tournaments. Especially the one's that matter the most.
Remember, there are no short-cuts; just lots of repetitions correctly applied is the answer to building great life long golf habits.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
You Success On Tour Is Our Business
There have been many golfers who have played on the PGA Tour who have had to overcome adversity to succeed at the highest level. But none in my opinion can come close to what Erik Compton has had to contend with!
Erik is literally on his third heart as he has undergone two heart transplants. In 1992 at the age of twelve and suffering viral cardio-myopathy he underwent his first heart transplant. As part of his rehabilitation he took up the game of golf.
He suffered a heart attack in 2007 and soon after had his second transplant in 2008.
The most amazing thing though is five months after the operation he was invited to play in the Children Miracle Network Hospital tournament on the PGA Tour and he made the cut finishing tied for 60th position.
Erik holds dual citizenship as his father is American and his mother is Norwegian. Six years after taking the game up Erik was the #1 ranked junior in the USA and won the 1998 Player of the Year in the American Junior Golf Association Rolex awards.
As one of the top juniors in the USA he received a golf scholarship with the University of Georgia where on two occasions he made the NCAA All-American Team.
This resulted in Erik being selected and playing for the 2001 US Walker Cup Team against the Great Britain and Ireland team, also made the Palmer Cup team the same year.
In 2001 he made the decision to turn professional and played the odd mini tour event, the Canadian Tour and had his rookie season on the Web.Com Tour in 2002.
In 2003 he won his first pro event on the Canadian Tour (Michelin Guadalajara Classic) and the next year followed it up with two more victories (E-Loan Central Valley Classic and MTS Classic). These two wins plus other high finishes
enabled him to win the Canadian Order of Merit in 2004.
Erik had playing privileges on the Web.Com Tour in 2005 and 2006 playing 19 and 21 tournaments respectively in those two years finishing 72nd and 88th on the money list.
In 2005 got an invite to play in the King Hassan Trophy in Morocco and won it plus a cheque of US$200,000.00.
The Golf Writers of America during the Masters week present the prestigious Ben Hogan Award and Erik was the worthy recipient of that award in 2009. It is to acknowledge a golfer who has stayed active despite a physical handicap.
I was fortunate to be at the 2010 US Open with one of my players (Michael Sim) which was played at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course and met Erik through his coach Jim McLean, and he came over as a regular guy excited to be playing his National Open at a course so rich in history.
He played behind us in the practice round and for a guy 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing in at 150 lbs he is long off the tee averaging 297.2 yards with the driver. This ranks him in 33rd place on the PGA Tour driving distance statistic.
Getting back his full playing card on the Web.Com in 2011, Erik started the season with a 4th position in Panama.
He built on that good start and when he won the Mexican Open by two shots he was on his way to secure a card to play on the PGA Tour for 2012. He finally finished in 13thplace.
Playing in twenty six tournaments and making the cut in sixteen this year he has earned US$359,765.00 and position 165. This means that he has to go back to Tour School and earn back his playing privileges for 2013.
Married to wife Barbara they have a two year old daughter Petra. During any tournament week Erik can be found volunteering his time promoting organ donation and transplant awareness to the public.
He also spends his spare time visiting hospitals meeting transplant patients and their families giving them hope of a better life.
This week Erik is competing at the toughest week in tournament golf.
It’s final stage PGA Tour School where 172 professional golfers play six rounds of golf to win their job back otherwise its back down to the lower tier tours for 2013.
He has started well with a five under 67 in the opening round and we wish him all the best. He is an outstanding example of not giving up, not making excuses, and playing with all your heart!
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour Is Our Business
With the most wins (15) and second in career earnings with nearly US $3.6 million (ranked 2nd) on the Asian Tour makes Thaworn Wiratchant the best golfer playing full time on the Asian Tour.
Sure there is compatriot Thongchai Jaidee who himself has won 13 times on the Asian Tour and other famous Asians who have won and made a mark on the European and PGA Tours.
But Thaworn is a veteran professional that most young Asian players look up to. The main reason they do is the 45 year old has been out on tour since 1987 (384 official tour starts) and has learnt how to do two things very well.
First he's a low scoring machine; he has lead the most birdies made in a year category in 2005, 2006 and the last six years straight, and secondly he knows how to win tournaments!
He has done this so effectively with arguably the most unorthodox looking swing out there on tour. Thaworn’s full swing has been described as having more “planes” than Thai Airways. So his swing is not aesthetically what most swing coaches teach but it produces a predictable ball flight and it’s repeatable.
But he doesn't win only because he is a birdie machine but because he is without doubt the best short iron, wedge and putter on the Asian Tour which makes him one of the best scrambler and low scorer on the Asian tour as well.
With US $628,131.00 in winnings this year and lying second to Australian Marcus Fraser (US $28,000.00 behind) on the 2012 Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, Thaworn is in line to win his second Order Of Merit.
He last won it in 2005 when he had four victories that year on tour.
He has already won three times this year and I wouldn't bet against him winning again especially when two of the last three tournaments are being held in Thailand.
The odds of him clinching the Order Of Merit title have come down when Marcus declared that he would be playing the major tournaments in Australia and not enter the last three tournaments in Asia as the dates clash.
The last three events on the Asian Tour are the Kings Cup next week worth US $500,000.00 followed by the Thailand Golf Championship US $1,000,000.00 and the season ending Iskandar Johor Open US $2,000,000.00.
Now with that much cash up for grabs it still leaves room for someone like India's Gaganjeet Bhullar ranked 4th and US $205,206.00 behind to mount a challenge.
In one of his interviews after winning the Queens Cup earlier in the year he said;
“I regard my golf career as a job and put my best effort into it”.
He also went on to say that when not on the tour he practices from dawn to dusk every day.
When asked why he never tried to change his self taught swing his comeback was “My swing served me well as an amateur (won the Thailand and Singapore Amateur in 1987) as it has during my professional career.
Why would I use someone else’s swing”? Hard to argue with that!
Have a look at how his statistics stack up below in the table and it tells you why he has been so successful for such a long time.
And guess what; they are so close to the Pro Tour Golf College Success Scoring Code of 12-4-2 (12 pars, 4 birdies, 2 bogies average per round) that all students at PTGC understand and keep moving toward at training every day.
Over the last ten years Thaworn has maintained his game by sheer hard work and sharpening his game so that in the last nine holes of the tournament he just hits the required shot and does not focus on how his swing looks.
PTGC Co-Director Lawrie Montague and I watched Wiratchant shoot 61 (9 under) in the 1st round of the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic in April and it was a “clinic” that he put on for the gallery that day.
It was the old adage of “Not how but how many” that came to mind as we watched a golfer who had supreme control of his golf ball.
If you get a chance to watch him play do yourself a favour, it will be entertaining for sure!!
Thanks for reading our blog and please like it and share it with your friends if you found it of value.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
How to Practice Golf: Build Your New Year's Golf Practice Plan Now to Shoot Lower Golf Scores in the New Year
Have you had a successful year on the golf course so far? Has your game lived up to your expectations?
Based on what you now know about your game what will you do differently next year?
Because if your strategy for improvement didn't work out the way you wanted it to, it will be helpful to start thinking about what you’ll do differently now. Then you can decide on how you will go about improving it.
We use a simple improvement strategy that will help you to start on the path to golf improvement in a simple-no fuss way.
Improvement doesn't have to be difficult and frustrating and with the simple structure I’m about to share with you, game improvement is more than possible.
Golf Skills Assessment
Start by adding up all your competitive rounds for the past year and work out your current competitive score average.
Make sure you add every golf score into the equation, not just the good ones.
What does it look like?
Next do a performance review of some of the areas of your game by looking at the basic statistics behind your golf score average. Work out your percentages for the following statistics over the past year to determine your current position.
You can work out which statistics are the most important for you. The image below is an example of some of the basic statistics you can look at in your game or you can add others.
What does it look like?
Crystal Ball View
Now make a prediction. Decide what you would like these areas of your game to be by moving each guide to a different place on the scale. Now be realistic about this because it’s important and the way we teach our students at Pro Tour Golf College to work it out is to apply the divide by 2 rule.
The divide by 2 rule say’s that you take your first prediction and halve it.
So if you wanted to improve your competitive score average by 5 shots in the next 12 months, then divide 5 shots by 2 and aim for a stroke average improvement of 2.5 strokes over 12 months. If you have a current competitive score average of 77 then your aim is to have a competitive score average of 74.5.
We have found that the divide by 2 rule helps to keep your predicted improvement levels in your game right on track. Remember improvement grows slowly and the motivation to try and achieve a big leap in performance usually leads to disappointment.
If you exceed your prediction by the end of 12 months great, but if you don’t you’ll be close using our strategy.
Ok so now you should have a pretty good idea of your performance targets for the New Year. The next step in our process is to work out how you will improve the skills that will enable you to reach your new performance targets.
The key ingredient here is time management. You need to determine how much time you have available each week to work on your improvement strategy.
Then you will have to decide which skills have the greatest influence on lowering your competitive score average and which will have less influence. You will need to prioritize your time so that your key skills receive the attention they need.
How do you do this?
Weakest Skill Ranking
Start by ranking your weakest most important skills to your strongest. Which skill once improved would make the most impact on lowering your competitive score average? For example, would you have a lower score average if you putted better?
Then again, what if you wedged your approach shots closer to the hole, would you have shorter putts therefore enabling you to hole more putts?
These are important questions that you need to consider as you develop your improvement plan.
Every golf skill you practice requires lot’s of repetitions to strengthen and reinforce it into a dependable habit. This is the basic requirement for improvement in golf and how the repetitions will be performed is just as crucial if you’re going to make steady progress towards your goals.
So let’s say that you have 15 hours per week available to practice your golf skills outside of playing on the golf course and golf lessons. You need to decide what percentage of time will be devoted to technical development of your golf skills and what percentage of time is targeting development.
One Master Not Two
When you swing your golf club you either have a focus on improving your technique or improving your ability to hit your ball to the target.
You cannot and should not focus on the two together. Golf stroke repetitions are either technical in nature or targeting in nature.
Now decide what percentage of your overall practice time during the next week will be focused on technical improvement and what percentage will be focused on targeting development in your short-game and long-game skills.
To perform optimally on the golf course you need a high level of target awareness - not golf swing awareness and the way you go about practicing your golf skills will determine to a great extent how successful you are on the golf course - especially when it matters.
There’s an easy way to slow your progress. Focus on your swing technique whilst you try to play. This is a guaranteed confidence destroyer that will set your development back months.
Keep your technical practice on the golf range or practice fairway and preferably practice hitting your golf shots into a practice net.
How do you determine whether a golf skill needs more technical work or more targeting work? When you perform a golf skill in a tournament your level of confidence in your ability to produce the shot is closely tied to your competence.
The more competent you are the more confident you’re likely to be.
Your skill levels will move from being very conscious of what you are doing in your technique in the early stages of development to not being very aware of your technique at all.
This is the goal and it is described as ‘unconscious competence’ and your practice should always have this goal in mind.
How do you get to this level in learning golf skills?
Technical practice will keep you in the 'conscious competence' stage until you have executed enough golf strokes that you make the shift to the 'unconscious competence' stage.
Remember this is the goal of practice.
One last thing. Make sure that you work closely with a competent golf teacher/instructor to help you to make the changes that will lead you to lower golf scores in tournaments. It is no point practicing to improve if you are using flawed golf stroke improvement strategies.
Your golf instructor can help you to develop an effective plan for improvement over the next 12 months that focuses on improving your weaker skills and keeping you motivated when you're going through the tough periods.
The long hours are necessary to develop strong dependable habits so it is vitally important that you stay the course and with a bit of luck and hard work you should be shooting golf scores that are on or even ahead of your prediction.
The best of luck with it and thanks for reading our blog and sharing it with your friends.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour is Our Business
" I don't care how good putting surfaces are these days, this is impressive, bordering on insane. Especially the inside 3' number." - Geoff Shackelford (Golf Writer)
We recently came across some powerful putting statistics that Luke Donald posted on twitter about his putting performances inside 10 feet on the PGA Tour this year and we wanted to share them with you.
These statistics break down his percentage of putts made from 3 feet to 10 feet putting on the PGA Tour this year. They are pretty impressive!
He's set the benchmark for what's possible so why don't you see how you putt through next year and then compare your statistics to these.
You might do better!
Please enjoy today's blog post.
How to Practice Golf: Swing Plane Drill is a short golf and tips video on how to practice golf swing plane for average to advanced golfers. Hosted by leading Australian golf teacher David Milne from the golf college www.protourgolfcollege.com this golf lesson video will show you how to practice golf to lower your golf scores by developing a consistent practice method that leads to lower golf scores through an improved golf swing plane.
How to Practice Golf: Pitch Like a Pro is a short golf and tips video on how to practice golf pitch shots for average to advanced golfers. Hosted by leading Australian golf teacher David Milne from the golf college www.protourgolfcollege.com this golf lesson video will show you how to practice golf to lower your golf scores by developing a consistent practice method that leads to lower golf scores through improved pitch shot skills.
How to Practice Golf: Wedge Shot Mastery is a short golf and tips video on how to practice golf approach wedge shots for average to advanced golfers. Hosted by leading Australian golf teacher David Milne from the golf college www.protourgolfcollege.com this golf lesson video will show you how to practice golf to lower your golf scores by developing a consistent practice method that leads to lower golf scores through improved approach wedge skills.
How to Practice Golf: Chip Like a Champion is a short golf and tips video for average to advanced golfers. Hosted by leading Australian golf teacher David Milne from the golf college www.protourgolfcollege.com this golf lesson video will show you how to practice golf to lower your golf scores by developing a consistent practice method that leads to lower golf scores through improved green-side scrambling skills.
How to Be a Professional Golfer: So You Want to Turn Pro - Does Your A, B and C Game Pass the Pro Standard Test?
It costs a lot of money to play full time as a professional golfer. I was discussing this subject recently with one of our students at Pro Tour Golf College and he explained to me that he read a tweet from one of the European tour players who had suggested that it costs him somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 pounds per year to play on that tour.
So we did the sums to work out where the expenses were and without too much trouble we got over 100,000 pounds for travel, meals, accommodation, caddy expenses etc. for just thirty weeks on the road.
Turning professional is a huge financial commitment first and foremost and shouldn't be taken lightly.
Turning Professional - Are You Ready?
Many amateur golfers turn pro when they think they’re ready because they have had a reasonable degree of success in amateur tournaments and basically had enough of playing the same amateur tournaments every year.
They are often encouraged to make the leap to pro golf by family and friends and for many young amateur golfers that turn professional this hasty decision can have dire financial and emotional consequences.
The golfers who turn pro are normally high ranking amateur golfers who have been travelling to amateur tournaments on the sponsorship of amateur golf bodies and/or their parents.
Rory McIlroy like many of the best amateurs golfers benefited from amateur golf associations paying for most of his travelling and accommodation expenses only after significant financial investment from his parents. This allowed him to gain experience playing in tournaments without the normal pressure of expenses that he would be exposed to.
When amateurs make the decision to turn pro they have to secure significant sponsorship from family or friends to help them to travel from one tournament venue to the next for the best part of a year.
We have known of quite a few male and female golfers who took the parents credit card on tour with them and racked up enormous bills as a results of not being able to make cuts and checks on a professional golf tour.
Even Justin Rose who as an amateur finished 4th in the 1998 Open Championship missed his first 21 cuts in a row as a professional!
So how do you know when it is time to make the leap from amateur golfer to professional golfer?
By now many of you who read our weekly blogs will know of our golf success formula at Pro Tour Golf College;
Well, we have a simple test based on years of studying the results from minor through to major professional golf tours.
You will need to pass this test if you want to seriously consider playing professional golf and succeed at it!
Before you decide to turn pro you need to look very closely at your competitive score average over the previous 12 months to determine whether your game is good enough to turn professional. What was you competitive score average in tournaments?
The Three Games of Professional Golf
At Pro Tour Golf College we teach our students to understand that on each of the 4 days of a tournament that their game could be rated A, B or C. Below we will explain what this rating means and how it relates to competing successfully on a professional golf tour.
We call this "The Three Games of Professional Golf."
C GAME STANDARD < 75
When you play what you consider your absolute worst golf, when nothing seems to be going the way you want and you just want to get off the golf course and go home with your tail between your legs, your golf score for the day shouldn't be higher than 75.
In pro golf you will play a lot of rounds of golf in a year in all types of conditions and on all types of golf courses and the likelihood of you scoring higher than your expectations is that it will happen more times than you will imagine.
We call this your ‘high score average’ and it is essential that you keep this score down to 75 or better if you want to be a successful professional golfer.
B GAME STANDARD < 72
B Game Standard is your average standard of golf and this standard will be 72 or better. This means that when you are comfortable and statistically maintaining your average level of performance you will play to slightly better than a par standard in golf tournaments.
You will need to achieve this standard 60 percent of the time over the course of a year. If your standard for your average game is higher than par then you should seriously consider staying in the amateur game for longer so you can develop your skills and experience further.
Since virtually every professional tournament you play in will have a cut of par or better, if you cannot achieve this baseline standard then there is no reason for turning professional as you will not make cuts and prize money. But you will spend money...
A GAME STANDARD < 70
Your A game Standard is the best golf you can play in a golf tournament and this doesn't happen very often in a year. This standard is the lowest score average you can produce over 4 rounds of tournament play and could conceivably be from 10 to 20 under par or even better.
When professional golfers win tournaments or finish high up in the money list they are not performing to their average - they are playing a good deal better than it. There is a misconception that the A Game Standard is the standard in professional golf and this is quite simply a long way from the truth.
The A Game Standard will produce low putting averages and high birdie averages and you will have fewer bogeys and double bogeys over 4 rounds of golf.
Luke Donald had just 14 double bogeys over 1,152 holes played on the PGA Tour in 2012, and nothing worse than a double bogey for the year.
Over 4 tournament rounds you might produce one or two rounds that are close to your average but it is likely that you will be playing a lot better than your average over the whole week.
Keep in mind that if you play in round one of a tournament and produce a C Game Standard, then you will know that in round two you will have to play to your A Game Standard to make the cut. No cut made-no money made!
Score Bounce Back Ability
This is the reality of professional golf. The trajectory of your golf score average is not linear but more like a wave motion. When you produce a high score average you must produce a low score average to stay in the game.
This is normal bounce back mentality of professional golf and one of the key mental skills that you must develop to be competitive on a professional golf tour.
Have a look at the graph (Below) of the first 6 tournaments Ricky Fowler played on the PGA Tour in 2012. You can see that he started with 9 competitive rounds that were around his competitive score average and then threw in a C Game score of 76.
Notice the very next round is back around his average which unfortunately in this case wasn't low enough that week to make the cut at the Pebble Beach Pro Am. Ricky played in 23 tour events on the PGA Tour in 2012 and made the cut in 20 of the events he played in (87 percent) and earned over 3 million dollars.
This graph perfectly describes the inconsistent nature of competitive scoring in tournaments and every professional golfer has a profile that looks similar to this. The only difference; how low your competitive score average is.
The Bottom Line
The professional game is very different to amateur life as many accomplished amateurs very quickly realize. Where they might have been in the top 10 percent of amateurs in their country, when they turn pro they will more than likely will be in the bottom 90 percent of professionals.
We have also noticed that the biggest difference between the amateur golfer mind-set and pro golfer mind-set is that when amateurs don’t play good enough in an amateur tournament they can forget about it and move on to the next event.
We call it the "Bad Score-Good Score Attitude." Professional golfers don’t have the luxury of forgetting about it this way because it always costs them money. When they have a C Game Standard they have to find an A Game Standard the next day to stay competitive.
This is professional golf and where you need to brutally honest about the standard of your game currently. Professional golf is business, and business is always about the bottom line. If you can't produce the standard required to compete, then you will go broke.
The following Pro Tour Golf College model describes what we call "The Pro Standard Test."
Using this simple model you can easily determine where your game is currently and it will help you to decide whether it is good enough now to compete in the pro ranks now or wait until you can play a little better in the three games.
Remember this is the minimum standard required to compete on a professional golf tour. When you watch golf on television you're watching professionals playing to their A Game Standard.
I hope this helps you to make an informed decision regarding a career as a professional golfer. If you have any questions about playing professionally then please feel free to contact us at email@example.com
And if you enjoyed the article then please help us to spread the message to serious golfers by sharing it with your friends via email, Twitter, Facebook and other medias.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
Your Success On Tour Is Our Business