I’ve never bought into the idea that amateur and professional golfers who are stuck on their handicap or score average can’t significantly improve it. I’ve had many golfers tell me that it didn’t matter how many lessons they had, or how many top line instructors they went to, they couldn’t seem to find a way improve their golfing standard.
Based on this knowledge, it would be easy to assume that there are golfers who will never get better than they are, and quite frankly nothing could be further from the truth. Every golfer from amateur to tour professional CAN improve their golf skills and golf score with a carefully thought out and carefully actioned strategy.
So if you want to really improve your performances on the golf course then the following question is the one you need to ask:
“What one skill if I performed it consistently and correctly would be the one most likely to improve my golf score?”
And your answer is? This is your starting point for golf improvement; not to book in for a series of lessons to try and fix your golf swing. First, you need to begin by asking yourself which of your key golf skills is the weakest-most important skill for improving your score on the golf course.
What is a key golf skill? A key golf skill is any golf skill that has a significant influence on your golf score. A key golf skill is a sub-set of a general golf skill.
Putting is a general skill but a part of putting would be putting from 20 feet down-hill for instance. Chipping is not a key golf skill-but chipping from long grass to a pin that is close to the edge of the green might be for you.
Driving the ball from the tee isn’t a key skill unless you find it difficult to hit your driver into a fairway twenty five yards wide - seventy percent of the time.
You see the problem is not the ability of golfers to learn and improve their golf skills; it is taking a general approach to golf improvement when really what you need to be is highly specific.
So the starting point for your golf improvement is for you to ask a good and highly specific question about the way you play. Pick one key skill that will definitely improve your golf score and start there.
Now go and see a competent golf instructor and find the best strategy for improving that key skill and between the two of you work out a suitable practice schedule that will help you to improve that skill and then move onto the next.
Do this and I guarantee that you will lower you golf score average and perform better on the golf course.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne
_ I know why the majority of amateur golfers play to higher handicaps and golf scores than they should. They shoot higher golf scores and have higher handicaps because they simply don’t have a better way to go about playing golf and producing lower golf scores.
They limit their potential for lower golf scores by basically playing the same way every time they play, which is to say, they think about their golf the same way every time and so their behaviour tends to reflect this through their scores.
_ Really the only way around this is to develop a different way of playing. I’m not talking about developing a different style of swing, just a different way to play.
When someone like me talks about learning a different way of playing golf, golfers usually think that I’m talking about changing their golf swing technique. I’m not, because that would be crazy considering that most golfers will never devote the time required to change their stroke pattern.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, if you wanted to change an aspect of your golf swing technique you would need to apply a minimum of one hundred and fifty hours to do it.
Now what golfer in their right mind would want to do that?
And here’s the kicker... there’s no guarantee that what you changed would actually make you play better. What a scary thought that is.
No, it’s much easier for you to just go about changing the way you go about playing. In other words change your strategy firstly in your mind by becoming more confident in your approach to hitting your golf shots by choosing to play shots that are well within your capability limits.
Instead of hitting a driver off the tee that rarely if ever goes where it’s supposed to go try your 3 wood or even your 5 wood from the tee. On your approach shot into the green take more club than you normally would. If you’re trying to force a 9 iron to the green, hit a smooth 7 iron.
If you’re trying to hit a delicate pitch shot over the bunker to a tight pin, pitch it well behind the pin and take two putts. I know you get the idea. Make golf easier rather than difficult. Choose the shot that for you works 7 times out of 10-not the shot that comes off 2 times out of 10.
This great game is so much more enjoyable when you leave the ego at the club and play well within your limitations. The next time you go to play golf, play with the 7 out of 10 rule and I guarantee you that in the weeks and months ahead you will play better, shoot lower golf scores and have a lot more fun.
Lawrie and David
_ Elite golfers who are training to perform to peak in their important tournaments need to learn more about the theory and practice of periodisation.
All golf training activities for any serious golfer should be organised and planned in advance of a golf tournament whether it's a minor event or a major one.
A periodised golf planning process considers factors such as the golfer’s potential, and his/her results in skills tests and tournaments during the year. A periodised golf training plan is simple to understand, and flexible enough to deal with the golfers up's and down's.
_In the following video David Milne Co-Director of Instruction at Pro Tour Golf College discusses the planning process with the students at PTGC. He describes the importance of building your tournament preparation around your year and your major tournaments, explaining the different types of golf practice and when you should be doing each kind.
_ I have just returned from Thailand where I caddied for fellow Pro Tour Golf College Student and good friend Rance de Grussa at the Asian Tour’s Qualifying School. For both of us, it was our first trip to Thailand and for me it was my first look at Q-School.
_ The Asian Tour’s 2012 Q-School was located in Hua Hin, Thailand, which has been the case for the past few years. Anyone can enter Q-School, provided you meet the 2.4 handicap cut off for amateurs and pay the US$1600 entry fee (any pro can enter). And quite literally you get anyone entering with plenty hoping of leaving Hua Hin with an Asian Tour Card. Rance played a 9 hole practice round the day before the tournament with a young fella from Pakistan and his Dad who was a dentist by profession and claimed to be the oldest competitor at Q-School by 11 years. Whilst comfortably missing the 1st Stage cut, he got to experience what it was like to compete at “Q-School”.
_ On the driving range, you see plenty of funky swings, flashy clothes and people from all over the world. Competitors from South Africa, the UK, Australia, the US, Spain, Japan and all parts of Asia come to try their luck at Q-School which is broken down into two stages; First Stage and Final Stage. The top 40 players and ties at Final Stage earn playing privileges for the 2012 season.
Most players have to start at First Stage with a small group exempt to the Final Stage such as former Asian Tour Players, Eisenhower Cup competitors and those who have won exemptions through regional feeder tours. With 599 total entries, those not exempt to Final Stage are allocated to 1 of 4 courses for the First Stage.
_ Rance was hoping to play either Springfield Village or Imperial Lakeview however he was allocated to Majestic Creek, which was about half an hour travel each day by shuttle bus. The top 20% finishers at each course qualify for the Final Stage and with 127 teeing up at Majestic Creek, Rance needed to finish in the top 25 to progress to Final Stage.
_ Our first day at Majestic Creek, was an experience in itself. We assumed that English would be extensively spoken at the course. We should have known better (especially after communication problems at Bangkok airport with taxi drivers). Booking an afternoon tee time proved challenging, as did buying range balls from the pro shop and ordering lunch. “Do you want to stay for 8 or 9 nights?” the girl at the pro shop asked. “No. We don’t need accommodation, we just need 2 buckets of range balls please.”
_ With Majestic Creek being a 27 hole course, the closing 9 was under renovation. This meant that one of the 9’s being used was far from the clubhouse. Each day, we had to take a 10 minute shuttle from the clubhouse to the 1st tee and then a shuttle back from the 9th green to the 10th tee. Similarly the driving range was a 5 minute cart ride away (which was not in fact an actual driving range but one set up on a hole being renovated). Each day, we had the problem of driving a cart to the range with the risk of someone else driving your cart back. Every simple task that week seemed to take a lot longer but that is part of the challenge of playing professional golf in the Far East.
_ Despite all the challenges, I was very impressed with the course and it’s condition. It played as a par 71 however the dryness and run on the fairways combined with a helping wind on most holes made the course play quite short. With two reachable par 5’s, a drivable par 4 and eight par 4’s with short iron approaches, the importance of a strong wedge game was apparent, something that we value and work hard at improving at Pro Tour Golf College.
_ Rance playing in the last group of the afternoon opened with a first round 73 (+2), which didn’t quite reflect how well he played considering he had the toughest of the conditions. His second round of 70 (-1) was much improved making plenty of birdies and keeping him in the hunt to qualify for Final Stage. He didn’t play his best during the 3rd round, with a bad finish leading to a 76 (+5). Outside the number, Rance needed to go low for his 4th round to be any chance. Another round of 76 (+5) for his 4th round left him outside the qualification mark of +1 and an early flight home.
_ Whilst Rance played plenty of good holes, I’m sure Rance won’t mind me saying that his swing is still a work in progress and probably another 6 months of training it will be close to where he wants it to be.
As a result of going to Q-School, he will now get a few starts on the Asian Development Tour; a Nationwide/Challenge Tour style development tour where the top 3 on the year end Order of Merit receive an Asian Tour card for next year.
_ For me personally, it was a great experience which reinforced a lot of the key principles and values being driven home daily at Pro Tour Golf College. The importance of scoring inside 100 meters, having a consistent attitude every time you tee it up and the 12-4-2 scoring code all areas that need to be proficient to play on the Asian Tour (or any professional tour for that matter). Just on the tour, I was impressed by how well it was organised and I see it as a great place to cut your teeth.
_ Finally, after winning 1st Stage at Springfield Village, it was great to see West Australian Darren Tan earn a card for 2012. A former State player, it has taken Tan a number of years to get onto a major tour but is proof of success not happening overnight (more evidence for the 10,000 hours theory perhaps).
*Special thanks to James Bates - Pro Tour Golf College student for compiling this report on the 2012 Asian Tour Qualifying School