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Haime: Get back to your natural you

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I have the great privilege of working with some of the world’s leading athletes (including PGA Tour players and other professionals) in the area of mental and emotional development. When athletes, agents and coaches don’t know what’s wrong with a player, they call me to “fix” it.

It has been my experience that the mental/emotional capabilities are always the separator for golfers — surprisingly few spend adequate time developing the skills that will help them take advantage of physical abilities. There’s a reason why many very accomplished performers declare the importance of the mental/emotional “game,” often stating it accounts for a large slice of the performance pie.

And, it’s important to you.

If you want to jump to the next level in golf, it’s not a bad idea to understand what you can do to improve your mental/emotional game. It will directly impact your results and your enjoyment of the game.

During the coming months, I will coach you and provide you with tried and tested approaches — and real-world examples of how to improve your mental and emotional capabilities. You can tailor the approaches and examples to your game and apply the principles.

Let’s start with something simple.

When I sit with players for the first time — the discovery meeting — I try to find out what makes them tick and how well they know themselves. It’s important for the player (you) to intimately know your strengths, limitations, triggers and the source of your abilities. There are original qualities in all players that are the starting point of the development and these natural instincts are not to be tampered with. They are to be protected and built upon by skillful coaches with a solid, simple, fundamental approach.

Think about all the great players through the years and how original each player is — and how different they all are from each other. Willie Park, Hagen, Jones, Hogan, Nelson, Thomsen, Player, Palmer, Nicklaus, Ballesteros, Faldo, Woods. All of these players are completely different, but they all used their original tendencies and instincts to rise to the top of the game. As Arnold Palmer suggests in the recent Dick’s Sporting Goods commercials — all of these players “swing their swing” and carefully crafted their originality into a world-class game.

In my opinion, golf has become so overcoached that many golfers, perhaps you, get separated from their instincts and natural tendencies and the originality is lost. We are currently seeing this idea with Tiger Woods as he analyzes the game to such an extent and puts his trust in a line of coaches or “consultants” and his natural DNA has faded. The skinny, natural genius has become an overcoached, bulky veteran with eroded instincts. You’ve seen it in recent months where one of the greatest players who ever played has hit some shocking shots from inside 20 yards. That’s the result of far too much thinking and not enough playing.

So, like I would with a world-class player, let’s start there with you. What makes you original and what comes naturally to you? What are your tendencies? What are your restrictions? Carefully consider what you do well, your strengths, what you struggle with, your limitations, what might be a great target of quality, fundamental coaching and what might be something that shouldn’t be tinkered with.

As another exercise to start, consider what creates strong negative emotion in you when you play. What makes you hesitate on the course? What frustrates you? What makes you angry? These are all good questions to begin a self-examination to help you understand the player you are — leading to the player you can be. Self-awareness is critical for a golfer as it is for all athletes and performers. It is the first step in development.

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See www.johnhaime.com for more. Email: john@newedgeperformance.org

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Prime21

    Mar 3, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Swing your swing……love that one! For the general golf population, that means swing your arms and hands at the ball, powder puff your driver out their 205, & sign for that 95 you just carded. Oh wait, get in tune with your emotions and fine tune your mental approach and that 95 magically drop to 72? Not happening.
    Was Faldo’s “swing” #1 before he hooked up with Leadbetter? Woods won a Masters by 12 before he hooked up with Butch? If I’m not mistaken, 2000 was arguably the greatest competitive season ever recorded. But was he using “his swing”? Hogan…. well, he had Hogan. How many times did “his swing” change before he found his secret?
    If one lacks talent, the easiest excuse is a poor mental game. Now, I am by no means insinuating that the mental game is not important, but in no way can it override poor swing mechanics. Look at a Tour players stable and you see a trusted advisor in swing, fitness, nutrition, mentality, etc. Why? Because one better have each base covered to compete at the highest level. To believe that there are any short cuts is the quickest way to failure. But until your mechanics are sound or at the very least you are happy with your current distance and accuracy levels and your swing is repeatable, the mental fix alone will do you no good.
    While its easy to bash Tiger these days, remember sir, without him your company does not exist. While he may be guilty of taking his pursuit of perfection too far, this same desire created the blueprint for the modern day golfer, one who is strong across the board, not merely in one category.
    Though your article is well written, as I’m sure your additional ones will be as well. An offer for a quick fix is nothing more than a ploy to sell more books. In your next article can you answer a question for me? A chain is only as strong as its weakest ………?

  2. Philip

    Feb 28, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Very interested as these articles evolve. I have been focusing on “my” abilities and staying away from all the noise in the media and forums since last fall. It has been paying dividends this off-season. Know thyself has always been the wall between most people and success in whatever they desire to a larger degree than they would like to admit. As it is just easier to stick to what is visible to a video camera or recording device. Many seem to want to forget that everyone did pretty good long before our modern technological wonders existed. We don’t have to go back to the stone age, but keeping an open mind to simpler things can often result in quicker success.

  3. morty

    Feb 28, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I don’t buy it. Author is manufacturing a dilemma.

    How does one become “one of the world’s leading authorities in Emotional Intelligence” anyway?

    • other paul

      Feb 28, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      I would ask how his relationship is with his wife. If they have been married for 20 years, have some teenage girls and he still likes and loves her, then he might know a thing.
      Otherwise he might not be worth listening to.

    • John Haime

      Mar 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

      Many thanks for the comment and a quick reply …

      I believe you become one of the world’s leading authorities by working with the world’s leading performers and gaining their trust. A bestselling book also doesn’t hurt. Appreciate the comment – but let the work and writing tell the story – the bio is a result of my experience, my successes and my client list.

      Just curious – how is using one’s own natural tendencies a manufactured dilemma? Know thyself has been a critical philosophical fundamental from the beginning of time and it applies to everything – including the games we play.

      Thanks again for the comment and hope you enjoy the articles moving forward – and they add some value to your game!

  4. Kenny

    Feb 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Great article love the simplicity to it..I’ve been playing this game for over thirty years and I agree that the game is over analyzed you have so much information out there …companies coming out with different clubs claiming to do this and that …funny that all the hype doesn’t work. The biggest thing today is the golf ball and some of the technology. When I was coming up as a young golfer we had forged clubs and persimmon headed drivers and balata balls if we were lucky to find one…the pro showed you how to grip the club correctly and then said go play….today it’s not like that everything has to match up and in my opinion it has cost some players there career …The thing that I don’t like is that the people teaching the game today as far as swing coaches want to change what a person has and show him the method that they are teaching…wish my old pro was still around he showed you the fundamentals and that was it…we need people that can teach like the did in the old days…unfortunaley most have died off…

    • Snowman

      Feb 28, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      Does anyone realize how much better players are today than they were back in the days when everyone just “went out and played their natural swing” or whatever? Might work for Bubba, Phil, Palmer, and Trevino, but not us. It sounds great too — wack a couple on the range, play 18, grab a beer, repeat..But these days that’s a recipe for calling it quits and becoming a club-tec at golf galaxy..I don’t understand why people are so satisfied by picking on pro golfers for doing everything they can to get better..especially when the level of play is so much higher than previous generations

      • Philip

        Feb 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm

        What does maximizing your natural abilities have to do with being just plain ole lazy (though many do just want to hit a few on the range, play 18, drink some beer and eat and head home – doesn’t sound like fun to me, but to them maybe it is. We all have a choice after all). I tried the modern methods and nothing really clicked, went back to trying it on my own – golf isn’t rocket science – and it happened to click for myself. Now that I have a basic foundation that is working I can re-read all those books and watch videos, as well as see a new coach at a new course I started last fall. I’m always watching games on the tube and sometimes I notice something and run to grab a club and practice a few swings in my living room.

        For some it is doing it yourself, for others a coach, and even for others video and trackman – the trick is to figure out what is the most efficient and effective method for yourself. Horses for courses. Now if I can just get winter to end a month early……

  5. Gloover

    Feb 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Great, more inner child work. Someone get the empty chair!

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Instruction

Stickney: A dangerous trend is developing for top players

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As a teacher, I obviously have my own particular biases as it pertains to the different stroke patterns I teach to the random levels of golfers I see, however, one thing remains the same they ALL want a predictable ball flight in the end.

To me, it doesn’t matter if you swing it upright like Wolff or flatter like Kucher because they both work, as do all the swings in the middle IF they produce a consistent result under pressure. What we now understand with the advent of GEARS and Trackman is that everyone has their own individual motion and sure there are certain fundamentals that everyone great possesses but end the end we are all left to “find what works best” for us. And over time, the great players have gravitated towards the best and most desirable way that they swing the club without worrying what it looks like only what it produces.

However, I have been noticing a trend amongst the highest level of players that is disturbing…and this trend that we’ll be discussing in a second is beginning to filter down to the kids whom have ready access to launch monitors in high school and just entering into. This trend is the culprit of a two-way miss, albeit a very small one, but a two-way miss nonetheless all in efforts to try and hit the ball too straight.

First, let’s show you examples of some of the best players I have seen personally at the top amateur levels. Every one of these players shown below are proven winners and are ranked very highly nationally on the amateur and Division I college circuits.

I asked each player above what their normal ball flight was day-to-day and each replied, “mostly straight, but if I miss it then it tends to go X, but very, very slightly.” (For those Trackman users, these swings are “normalized,” which takes out the wind etc. for a touch more reality regardless of the conditions outside at the time.)

Now look in the left frame of each player’s swing, and you will see a blue line, and if you look closer, you will see that it is laying directly on top of a white line. The white line is the player’s target line—where they were trying to hit the ball. And the blue line is the PATH of the club for the particular swing shown.

What you will see is that the path of the club is basically “zeroed” out where the path and the target line are moving directly in the same direction. While this might seem like a great idea, in fact no one can play from this position because it’s impossible to zero out the path and clubface at the same time. No teacher in history has seen this consistently. We have seen very small face to path relationships but never 0 for the path, 0 for the face, 0 for the face to path, and 0 for the spin axis. We’re talking trying to manage a degree which is basically 1/6 to of a click of your second hand on your watch dial!

If you could play from a zero path and zero face, then this is what it would look like on Trackman. I have only seen 0 path and a 0 face just once in ALL the shots I have seen with Trackman, and the shot I am talking about curved way offline due to the fact that it was a longer club coupled with a faulty impact position (gear effect).

Now here is the key for people who desire a ball flight that curves as little as possible and zeroing out the path is not the answer! The key is to play with a face to path ratio that is very, very low which helps to lower the ball’s spin axis and thus the ball would curve slightly. If you have the path sitting a couple of degrees left or right of the path then you will be able to have some predictability of your curvature which will give you freedom when you don’t have our “A” swing working that day.

NOTE: Think about pro bowlers, how many do you see that roll the ball directly at the head pin?! Zero. They curve the ball to some degree for more predictability.

As we know, in order to hit the ball where we want, we need to have some consistent curvature and when the path is on top of the target-line a slight twist of the face right or left causes baby pulls or baby pushes.

The goal of ballstriking efficiency is to eliminate ONE side of the course.

Secondly, we know that the ball begins mostly in the direction of the face at impact and will curve away from the path with a centered hit. Therefore, regardless of the curvature left to right or right to left you must work in this order- PATH then the FACE then the Target (as shown below) if not then you will hit pushes and pulls, slices and hooks!

Let’s examine this player above, who moves the ball left to right. We see a path that is leftward at basically -3.0 degrees and the face is almost -2.0 degrees left of the target but only 1.0 degree RIGHT of the path thus the ball curved gently left to right. For players desiring a mostly “straight” ball without the danger of missing it both ways, then the path has to be just far enough left or right of the target line so that the face can fit between the path and the target so you can begin the ball in the correct direction before it begins to curve. This reduction in the face-to-path relationship is the forgotten fundamental of the straight ball hitters!

As you can see, this player has a path that is slightly leftward and the face is only 1 degree rightward of this causing a very low face-to-path, and from this point, he has a spin axis of 0.3 meaning the ball barely moved rightward. This is the key to hitting the ball straighter…not zeroing out the path but reducing the FACE-to-PATH relationship! This cannot be mastered with a zeroed-out path because the face won’t consistently have room to fit between your path and target line as discussed. Thus you will hit micro-pulls or micro-pushes giving you the dreaded two-way miss…all because you have the path working too much down the line!

Path, face, and target…in that order will help you reduce your face to path difference and this will help you to lower your ball’s spin axis and straighter but MORE PREDICTABLE ball flights will ensue. Anything else spells disaster for the people who desire a “straight” ball flight!

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Instruction

Clement: Stop hanging back

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Whether you are a beginner hanging back or an advanced player hanging back, there are very specific reasons for this as well as a very specific task to focus on to OBLITERATE this issue. You will CLEARLY see how this simple task will engage your machine’s hard drive And get you the action you need to hit quality golf shots; TODAY!

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Instruction

Clark: On learning golf

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“A true teacher will teach how to think, not what to think”

There are several versions of the above adage, but when you teach every day, you get to see this up close and personal. In my opinion, all a teacher can do is to guide you as to what happens when you hit a golf ball. The student has to discover what works for them to achieve better results. It is that simple. The internet is loaded with “how-to” info, and some of it might actually apply to your individual issue, but do yourself a big favor: Go beat some balls and see how it goes; try this, try that, repeat steps one and two!

Let’s take turning as a classic example. If someone were to ask a teacher HOW to turn, there could be a dozen answers. What the teacher, the data, video show is simply this: You are NOT turning. Let’s try this, let’s try that, no, how about this? There are an unlimited number of ways, but the student needs to: FIRST, realize the lack or incorrectness of turn, and SECOND, find a way to do it. Any way, YOUR way. This is called participating in your learning and discovering process. When Ben Hogan said: “the secret is in the dirt,” this is precisely what he was referring to. 

I have a short section each day in my golf school dedicated to the ballistics of impact. A student needs to know exactly what happens at impact. And when you know what produces good flight, then find what you personally are doing to violate those laws. How to correct an open and/or closed clubface means nothing to a student who doesn’t know what open or closed actually is, or does. Swing path and its relationship to clubface resulting in ball flight curvature is knowledge every teacher has, but is like rocket science to the student who knows none of this. I once had a student who thought his shanks were coming off the toe! When I told him that just the opposite was happening, he immediately moved away from the ball a little and stopped shanking (there were other reasons he shanked but just that much knowledge got him off the hosel!)

In order to correct anything, anything at all, it is first necessary to discover the problem and find a way, any way to correct it. No teacher, book, TV tip, or article can do what you can do for yourself. All the teacher might do is make you aware of the problem. But in the end, just go play and try this, that and the other thing. The answer is there, believe me, the answer is in you. You have to find it!

The problem, very often, is that golfers are looking for someone to offer them a light bulb moment, a flash of “aha,” the “I’ve-got-it-now” solution. The aha moment is the only way to get sustained improvement, but it must come from you, the individual. There is no universal “light-bulb moment,” it is uniquely-yours alone to discover.  As I’ve said before, “it’s not what I cover, it’s what you discover.” Discover what? That “thing” you can grasp and go hit ball after ball until you have, at least to a functional degree, internalized it!

Good luck on your personal journey!

On a personal note, this will be my final article for GolfWRX. I have written 100-plus articles over the last 10 years or so and I have thoroughly enjoyed helping all of you who read my articles.

If you read through them on some rainy day, you’ll notice a theme: “If this, then that.” Meaning: If your golf ball is consistently doing that, try this. The articles are all archived on this site, and I am writing a book about my life on the lesson tee. It has been a labor of love as my whole career has been. There is no greater joy in my professional life than seeing the look on a golfers face and feel the joy within them when they improve. The minute that slice straightens, or that ground ball goes up in the air, is a special bond and a shared joy in the student-teacher relationship.

But I’ve said most of what I think is pertinent and anything after this would be redundant. There is now a plethora of how-to info out there, and I personally feel the reader may begin to think he/she should do this or that as opposed to thinking “I should try to discover this or that through my own personal exploration.”

If any of you wish to contact me directly regarding help with your game, you know how to do so. But do remember this: You cannot learn golf from words or pictures. My advice is to get a good teacher to look at you a few times, then go out and find the answer in the dirt. Golf is a game to played. And in that playing, in that trial-and-error process, you will find things that will help you achieve better outcomes. No one owns this game: We only to get to borrow it from time to time!  

 

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