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6 ways to improve your self image as a golfer

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According to a ranking done by FanSided, The Ohio State Buckeyes are the current kings of Fandom! This ranking is not limited to sports; it also includes entertainment, celebrities and even different brands.

Growing up in Michigan, I certainly take exception to seeing The Buckeyes at No. 1, but that is certainly not the point here. I went to college with a few folks from Ohio, one who was an absolute diehard Ohio State fan. He grew up rooting for the collegiate program through both the ups and the downs. We often joked about how Ohio State could not beat Michigan when we were younger, and now the Wolverines can’t seem beat the Buckeyes. But outside of our differences, when he described every trip he made to “The Horseshoe,” you could feel his fandom. As he described the people, the food, the neighborhood and the history, you could feel the aura of “The Horseshoe.” This was a special place to him, as it is to many. Every time he left, win or lose, he could not wait to return. He was and still is a raving fan.

Unfortunately, on the lesson tee, I usually hear a different story. I rarely hear golfers describe their own game in good favor. Instead, I hear them talk poorly of every aspect of their game. I rarely hear anyone who is truly a raving fan of his or her own game. I am by no means giving anyone the green light to be arrogant, but to display confidence and develop a positive self-image. I hear plenty about how good other golfers are: Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, even some of their buddies or co-workers who shoot no better scores than they do! The best players at any level are raving fans of their own games. So how do we change our own self-image and fall in love with our own game?

The key is understanding our mental self-image. Many people want to change their strategy. “I need new clubs. I need a better swing. I need everything!” What I want you to do is change your story. I want you to realize that inside, if you can change your mental approach from “I’m a 100’s shooter” to “I’m a bogey golfer,” you can start achieving that goal. If someone asks me what I shoot, I’ll tell them between 69 and 76. Someone who shoots 110 will tell you he shoots between 105 and 110. How can someone be that consistent with that high of a score? It’s simple; that is the game that golfer plays. It’s his self-image.

So again, how do we change it? Here are six ways to get started. 

1. Visualize Your Game

Every day, I want you to write out a scorecard. I don’t care what you use: a piece of paper, on a scorecard, on an iPhone note. What I want you to do is visualize your round. Simply think of where you normally hit your drive and where you normally hit it on the green. Play each hole normally as you would on the course. What you’ll find is that you’re not going to make any double or triple bogeys, because you’re simply playing the holes the way you have before. That will add up to a score that is 5, 10, or maybe even 15 shots lower. It will also start to give you the understanding that to shoot those scores it isn’t about perfect shots, but solid rounds of golf. If you haven’t visualized it, how can you possibly achieve it?

2. Keep Your Commitments to Yourself

Make a game plan and stick to it, case closed. Be it instruction, fitness, diet, playing more… don’t cheat yourself, just do it. Keep a journal, as journaling helps you see growth and makes it easier to stay committed.

3. Educate Yourself

We live in an information age, so choose wisely. The internet can be hard to navigate, but follow trusted sources, read books, or pick up the phone and call someone who can answer your questions. As you learn more about your game, the information will become easier to apply and you’ll see growth.

4. Be Consistent

Commit to good habits and then consistently follow through. You will start to impress yourself when it becomes routine, and when it is routine is when you see results.

5. Acknowledge and Fix Problems

I’m not saying that you should be trying to fix every problem with your golf swing. If you are giving your golf game a true assessment, however, and you’re doing what you can to address issues, you will know that you are truly doing your best.

6. Deliver on Your Game Plan +1 Percent

Ask yourself what you could do to give it the +1 percent. You don’t need to be 50 percent better. Just 1 percent can take you from satisfied to a raving fan. Commit to what you want, follow through with the commitment, add the extra 1 percent and you will be well on your way to becoming a raving fan of your own game.

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When Matthew began teaching in 2008 at Oakland Hills Country Club, most of his students were asking for him to fix their swing. After fixing golf swings for nearly a decade, he noticed that scores didn’t necessarily improve with the improved golf swing. He knew what his clients really wanted was to shoot lower scores! As most pros know, the key to scoring well isn’t hitting the ball further. It’s learning the REAL game of golf with one simple idea… get the ball in the hole in fewer tries than the other players. Matt started his new philosophy by taking a group of players on the golf course, observing each player’s game and developing a specific improvement plan for them while teaching them how to practice. The results were phenomenal! His players always drop shots off their game, and Matthew guarantees the results! Currently, Matthew is the PGA Head Golf Professional at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club in Ashland, WI. He is also the founder of "Great Data Golf." Born in 2016, Great Data Golf carries the vision of developing programs that make it easier to improve at the game of golf.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Clark Williams

    May 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    solid recommendations, positive evaluation of your game and work on improving those areas that are a problem. track the results. have reasonable expectations. Watching the pro’s hit it 350 straight is probably the worst thing you can do.

    • ogo

      Jun 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      But ‘golfers’ are not great intellectuals and play golf seeking ‘fun’ with their social buddies who are usually total duffers too. Lindberg’s 6 recommendation sounds like a “mind over matter” solution… without paying the physical price to perform.

  2. shawn

    May 29, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    6. Put away your clubs for 2 weeks …. THEN SELL THEM ON eBAY ….!!!!

  3. ogo

    May 28, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    Buy a set of PXGs to improve your self image as a golfer… believe it

  4. Radim Pavlicek

    May 28, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Could you list some of those books you would recommend for an experienced golfer?

    • shawn

      May 29, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      Homer Kelley’s “The Golffing Machine”… best golf book ever written by a non-golfer!!! 😮

  5. Ryan Thomas

    May 27, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    Great article. The thought of just trying 1% more is completely actionable and will lead to positive results in golf, work, relationships, or anything else that matters.

  6. Acemandrake

    May 27, 2018 at 7:40 am

    Stop beating yourself up and start on a definitive path toward improvement.

    • bryce

      May 27, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      define what you mean by “definitive”…. be specific…

      • Acemandrake

        May 29, 2018 at 9:26 am

        Create a specific action plan. This is where professional help comes in as they should have this knowledge/info.

        Not knowing where you want to be or what you need to work on leads to frustration from chasing “tips”.

        Chasing tips did not help me. I’ve been playing for 50 years and my swing got so out of whack that I sought out help from my golf pro.

        He has me going back to work on fundamentals of setup & posture. From there we’ll move on to the motion of the swing.

        As he said, “You’ll start to remember your correct feels.”

        • ogo

          Jun 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

          So you started out with a ‘homemade’ golf swing… great! But was your body ‘golf-ready’… or were you decrepit and golf was your sport of last resort?
          Sounds like you had a non-automatic fully conscious golfswing and trying to remember all those ‘tips’… for 50 years… 😮

          • Acemandrake

            Jun 2, 2018 at 8:35 am

            • Never had a ‘homemade’ swing

            • Body is ‘golf ready’ (Has been for 50+ years)

            • “non-automatic fully conscious golf swing and trying to remember all
            those ‘tips’… for 50 years…”…..Probably 🙂

  7. ogo

    May 27, 2018 at 1:25 am

    7. Reduce your pot belly. It interferes with hip clearance and arm-hand path resulting in OTT swings.
    8. Get out of the cart and walk the course. Even if it means only carrying 10 or less clubs.
    9. Play a solo round. Eliminate all social chitchat and puffery. Focus on golf.
    10. Play within yourself. Don’t try to use a 7-iron when you know you need a 5-iron. Don’t delude.

  8. TexasSnowman

    May 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    “…. it isn’t about perfect shots, but solid rounds of golf”. That is the secret of (improving or playing your best) golf. I

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Instruction

How to eliminate the double cross: Vertical plane, gear effect and impact location

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One of the biggest issues teachers see on the lesson tee is an out-to-in golf swing from a player who is trying to fade the ball, only to look up and see the deadly double cross! This gear effect assisted toe hook is one of the most frustrating things about trying to move the ball from left to right for the right-handed golfer. In this article, I want to show you what this looks like with Trackman and give you a few ways in which you can eliminate this from your game.

Below is the address position of a golfer I teach here in Punta Mita; his handicap ranges between scratch and 2, depending on how much he’s playing, but his miss is a double cross when he’s struggling.

Now let’s examine his impact position:

Observations

  • You see a pull-hooking ball flight
  • The hands are significantly higher at impact than they were at address
  • If you look at the clubhead closely you can see it is wide open post impact due to a toe hit (which we’ll see more of in a second)
  • The face to path is 0.5 which means with a perfectly centered hit, this ball would have moved very slightly from the left to the right
  • However, we see a shot that has a very high negative spin axis -13.7 showing a shot that is moving right to left

Now let’s look at impact location via Trackman:

As we can see here, the impact of the shot above was obviously on the toe and this is the reason why the double-cross occurred. Now the question remains is “why did he hit the ball off of the toe?”

This is what I see from people who swing a touch too much from out-to-in and try to hit fades: a standing up of the body and a lifting of the hands raising the Vertical Swing Plane and Dynamic Lie of the club at impact. From address, let’s assume his lie angle was 45 degrees (for simplicity) and now at impact you can see his Dynamic Lie is 51 degrees. Simply put, he’s standing up the shaft during impact…when this happens you will tend to pull the heel off the ground at impact and this exposes the toe of the club, hence the toe hits and the gear effect toe hook.

Now that we know the problem, what’s the solution? In my opinion it’s a three stage process:

  1. Don’t swing as much from out-to-in so you won’t stand up as much during impact
  2. A better swing plane will help you to remain in your posture and lower the hands a touch more through impact
  3. Move the weights in your driver to promote a slight fade bias

Obviously the key here is to make better swings, but remember to use technology to your advantage and understand why these type of things happen!

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Master your takeaway with force and torques

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Most golf swings last less than 2 seconds, so it’s difficult to recover from any errors in the takeaway. Time is obviously limited. What most golfers fail to realize is that the force and torque they apply to the club in the initial stages of the swing can have major effects on how they are able to leverage the club with their arms and wrists.

Our research has shown that it is best to see the golfer as a series of connected links with the most consistent golfers transferring motion smoothly from one link to another and finally to the club. Approximately 19-25 percent of all the energy created in a golf swing actually makes its way into the motion of the club. That means the remaining 75-80 percent is used up in moving the body segments. This emphasizes the fact that a smooth takeaway is your best chance sequence the body links and become more efficient with your energy transfers.

In the video above, I give a very important lesson on how the forces and torques applied by the golfer in the takeaway shape the rest of the swing. There will be more to come on the subject in future articles.

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Learn from the Legends: Introduction

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There is a better way to swing the golf club. I’d prefer to write that there is a correct way to swing the club, but I know that really freaks people out. People love to talk about how everyone’s swing is different. “There are lots of ways to get it done,” they say. “Look at Jim Furyk’s swing – it’s not what you’d teach, but it works for him.”

To some extent, they’re right. Elite swings do have different looks. Some take it back inside (Ray Floyd). Some cross the line (Tom Watson). Some swings are long (Bubba Watson). Some are short (young Tiger). But these differences are superficial and largely irrelevant. When it comes to the engine – the core of the swing – the greatest players throughout the history of the game are all very similar.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me prove it to you. In this series of articles, I will do my best to show you – with pictures and videos and data – that the legends all move a specific way. Focusing on these elements (while ignoring others) and practicing a certain way is the surest path to improving your golf swing and lowering your scores.

So, let’s get into it. There are a number of important elements that all the legends have, but the biggest and most important of these elements is rotation. Every great player throughout the history of the game has had elite rotation. It’s the most important thing they do, and it’s easy to see. When you’re looking down the line at all the great players at impact, you’ll see hips and torso open.

This is what the legends look like at impact:

1Hips open
2Torso open
3Both butt cheeks visible
4Left leg extended and visible

And here’s what some very good players with less good rotation look like at impact:

These are very successful players (one of them is a major champion!), but they don’t move like the legends of the game.
1Hips and shoulders not open
2Left leg not totally visible
3Can’t see both butt cheeks

Now, there are plenty of nuances to how great players rotate. They do it while keeping spine flexion, for example, and they do it with very little (or no) lateral movement toward the target (lateral movement impedes rotation). I will discuss these things in detail. My hope is that at the end of this series you will have a much better understanding of what separates the legends from the very good… and from the rest of us.

You will understand their “engine,” and hopefully this understanding will help you begin to create your own legendary swing!

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