When a living golf legend chooses to offer his golfing knowledge, it’s decidedly best to accept.
Tom Watson, an eight-time major champion and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, recently released Lessons of a Lifetime II, which introduces Disc Three to his Lessons of a Lifetime DVD anthology. While the first two discs in the series relay the fundamentals of the golf swing, the new addition provides golfers with 23 more advanced lessons including mental approach, handling pressure and practice techniques.
Lessons of a Lifetime, directed by Terry Jastrow, a seven-time Emmy Award winner, has sold over 70,000 units since its release in 2010, making it one of the best-selling instructional programs ever. It not only sells, but it works. In a survey of viewers from the first two discs, 88 percent of golfers said it helped improve their game. It has been sold globally in 40 countries and five languages including French, German, Japanese, Mandarin and English.
So what makes Watson want to share his extensive knowledge with the world?
“There’s a cloud over my head when I’m playing bad. Life isn’t as sweet. It’s a lot better when I’m playing well,” Watson told GolfWRX in a conference call. “If 10 percent of golfers improve from this, then I succeeded. I want to make you a better golfer.”
With positive feedback from the original release, Disc Three builds on the fundamentals established on the two-disc set, and includes even more stories from his golfing buddies.
Throughout the series, Watson consolidates knowledge that he’s soaked up from more of golf’s greatest minds including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, his late caddy Bruce Edwards and his long-time teacher Stan Thirsk. He even has a lesson entitled “Tips from Tiger’s Dad.”
“I’ve plagiarized from others… and these are what I consider to be the fundamentals,” Watson said. “I’m narcissistic in the sense that these are the fundamentals that have worked for me.”
Watson has been a sponge around his all-star cast of friends over the course of his illustrious golfing career. According to Jastrow, he’s one of the smartest golfers ever, comprehensively understands the fundamentals of the game and articulates them with supreme simplicity.
Jastrow has it right. Watson breaks down seemingly every aspect of golf with an unbelievably easy to retain approach. He communicates complex moves, feelings and thoughts that are valuable to lower handicap golfers, in ways that the beginner can understand.
The combination of Jastrow’s direction and Watson’s mastery creates entertainment value and a natural flow of content that is top notch. Watson breaks down each concept with a verbal explanation and demonstration, using simple graphics (lines, circles and even virtual goalposts added in post-production) to increase understanding. He reviews key points as the series moves along and provides a checklist for every lesson.
Commonalities throughout Lessons of a Lifetime are his emphasis on setup, ball position and most importantly, grip pressure. Nicklaus was a proponent of similar notions, who was known to say that he could teach someone with a good setup and good grip, but a golfer with poor setup and a bad grip was unteachable.
Watson relayed a story from when he was having dinner with Nicklaus the night before the final round at Turnberry during the 1986 British Open. Nicklaus called Greg Norman over to their table and told him, “Just be careful of your grip pressure tomorrow.” Norman went on to win the tournament, and Nicklaus’ advice illustrates that even the world’s top players should concern themselves with how they grip the club.
“Bad grip and poor fundamentals are more likely to fail under pressure than a good grip and good fundamentals,” Watson said.
To explain phenomenons like Bubba Watson, he tells golfers to “Do as I say, not as I do. His swing may work for him, but probably not for anyone else.”
Some of the lessons in the series delve deeper and display how the body and mind should work through the swing. In Disc One, he introduced what he believes to be “The Secret,” which simplifies how the shoulders work around a plane. His knowledge of this “secret” originally began when he analyzed Corey Pavin’s swing and pre-shot rehearsals.
In the newly released Disc Three, he delivers a sequel to “the secret” in a lesson named “The Secret: #2: Keeping the Hip ‘Crease’ at impact.” It’s an original take on a concept that others before him have tried to explain.
“No one has talked about hip crease before.” Watson said. “It’s a different way of thinking that may be easier to understand. It’s sometimes hard to take words and put them into action, but it helps getting you to your left side and creating acceleration.”
On the DVD, he shows how the “hip crease” maintains stabilization of the body throughout the swing and produces power and solid contact.
As for how amateurs can improve their equipment setup (WRX members ears perk up), Watson said in the interview, “A 60-degree (wedge) shouldn’t be in most people’s bag. It’s too difficult to control distance and takes too much skill.”
He also suggests that players opt for more loft in the driver, play the ball farther forward in their stance and add more hybrids to their bag. He admits himself that he will be gaming four or five hybrids in the near future, recognizing that his status as a “super senior” is approaching.
With inherent and professional ties into the golf industry, Watson also tackled issues facing the recent decrease in the population of golfers. He believes that the golf hole should double in size for the sake of overall enjoyment, but doesn’t think it will translate to more people playing golf. The biggest problem, according to Watson, is that golf has to compete with smart phones and instant communication.
An 18-hole round of golf may simply take too long. Nicklaus has been experimenting with 12-hole golf courses, but Watson says nine, six, or even three holes would be sufficient for people to get the golfing experience.
Another popular topic in current events among golfers is the use of Trackman. How does Watson, who preaches fundamentals, feel about the widespread usage of the technology? “I’m skeptical,” said Watson. “How accurate is it? How do you figure out how far the ball went? Maybe through mathematics. The way I use Trackman is to look at the numbers when I hit a perfect shot. Then wait until I hit another perfect shot and compare the numbers to 100 percent confirm it. That’s how you should use Trackman. You have to tell Trackman when you hit a good shot.”
Golfers and teachers across the world are accepting Trackman and similar technologies into their preparation and practice routines. Numbers, angles of attack, speeds and spin rates are useful to hone the swing and equipment, but fundamentals are the heart of a golf game. That’s where Tom Watson thrives.
The MSRP is $49.95 for the entire anthology of Lessons of a Lifetime, which includes all three discs and a 20-page booklet. If you want to purchase the third disc individually, it sells on retail for $24.95 with a four-page booklet. You can buy either, or both, at www.tomwatson.com or on Amazon.
As Watson puts it, life is sweeter when you play well. There’s no better way to learn the game, or improve on bad habits, than a comprehensive look into the knowledge that a living golf legend has acquired over his career.
Davies: The pitfalls of trying to generate lag in your golf swing
Alistair Davies shares with you how to get lag in the golf swing the right way. Many players go about it the wrong way causing other issues in the golf swing. All will be explained in the video.
What should your hips do in the golf swing?
If you want to become more consistent, a better ball striker and hit longer golf shots then this is the video for you. This video will show you exactly what your hips pelvis should be doing during your backswing, downswing and through impact. Having great control of your pelvis and it’s movement will help you have greater control over your golf swing.
Playing in your mind vs. playing out of your mind
Comparing the recreational beginner to the elite player
As a player, I know there are rounds of golf where I feel like I worked extremely hard to achieve the results and there are also rounds that are effortless and just plain easy. Why do we go through these peaks and valleys in golf?
As an instructor and player, I want to explore a deeper understanding of what it means to be playing out of your mind vs. playing in your mind.
I want to address both beginners and elite players on their quest for better play. All beginners and elite players must understand that, as players, we are all experiencing ups and downs. The bottom line is that some handle them better than others.
Why is this a feeling golfers have: “playing out of your mind”?
Well, it is pure relaxation. It is fluid, seamless, continuous motion. No hang-ups. No hiccups.
The next big question, how do we achieve this regularly?
We get to this without forcing it, by believing in our makeup. It is locked in our subconscious. It is a controllable, uncontrollable. Subconsciously, your nervous system is in the green light. You are just doing. This is peak performance. This is the zone. This is playing autonomously, out of your mind.
I believe that over time, a golfer’s game is compiled in his/her built-up expectations of the player they truly believe they are. Expecting to make a putt vs. just so happening to make it feeds two different minds. When you place an expectation on an action tension is created. Tension creeps into our nervous system and our brains either respond or they don’t. This is called pressure. This is what I call playing in your mind. You are in your head, your thoughts are far too many and there is just a whole lot floating around up there.
The more players play/practice, the more they will expect out of themselves, and in result, create that pressure. (ie. Why progress is difficult to achieve the closer you get to shooting par or better). The best players are better at responding to that pressure. Their systems are auto-immune to pressure. (ie. Think of practice like medicine and think of a pre-shot routine like the Advil to help calm the spiking nerves.)
- Playing in your mind = high tension golf… you might need an Advil.
- Playing out of your mind = low tension golf… you are in a good headspace and are doing all the right things before your round even started.
The key to understanding here is that we can play in both minds and achieve success in either situation. It is all about managing yourself and your re-act game.
Subconscious playing is beyond enjoyable. It is more recreational in style. I believe beginners are playing more subconsciously, more recreationally. I believe elite players can learn from the beginner because they are achieving superior moments and sensations more subconsciously, more often. All players at all levels have off days. It is important to remember we all have this in common.
The goal is always to play your best. When I play my best, there are no preconceived thoughts of action. It’s simply action. Playing out of your mind is an unwritten script, unrehearsed, and unrepeatable on a day to day basis, you’re living it.
Say you have that one round, that out of your mind, crazy good day. The next few days, what do you do? Do you try to mimic everything you did to achieve that low number? As good players, we take these great days and try to piece it together into a script of playing. We know we can get it down to almost damn near perfect. The more a player rehearses the better they get. Edits are made…knowing that things are always shifting. Visualization is key.
No doubt, it’s a huge cycle. Players are in a continuous race to achieve results in numbers. Players looking to reach great success should generate a journal/log and compile a record and playback method and revisit it repeatedly.
There is no secret or magic…it takes mastering the minds to achieve the best results more often. Most important, as players, we must recognize that during our amazing rounds…
- We are relaxed
- We are having fun
- We are just doing
In this game, the deeper we go, the more we propose to be there. It will always bring us back to the basics. One complete full circle, back to the beginner in all of us. So, the next time an experienced player sees a beginner on the first tee…take a moment and appreciate that player!
Remember to enjoy the walk and believe that hard work always works!
Please reach out to me at email@example.com to learn more about the zone and how to become accustomed to playing autonomously.
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