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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

Gabe Hjertstedt teaches Doc Rivers how to hit the lofted chip shot

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In the first episode of this instructional series with Short Game Guru Gabe Hjertstedt and NBA Coach for the Los Angeles Clippers Doc Rivers, Gabe teaches Doc how to hit the lofted chip shot to get the ball to stop quicker on the green.

Look out for more videos this week including more from Gabe and Doc’s short game session, their full lesson, and our interview with Doc.

Enjoy the first video below!

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WATCH: How to hit your driver more consistently

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In this video, I share two great drills that will help you improve your driving today.

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Instruction

3 keys for getting out of bunkers with soft sand

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One of the most infuriating things in golf is to land in a bunker that has too much sand, or sand with the consistency of a truckload of talcum power. Now, I am not picking on the Superintendents; they do have to add new sand from time-to-time, so no hate mail please! It’s my fault for hitting it in the bunker in the first place, and bunkers are supposed to be hazards; I know that.

The one thing we will assume for this article is that even though we are in soft sand, we will have a good lie, not a plugged or semi-plugged one. We are in a bunker that just has a bunch of sand, or it’s soft and fluffy sand. Everyone asks me what the secret is to handling these types of conditions and I’m here to help you get better.

1) Get a wedge with the correct bounce

Let’s consider that you play the same golf course every weekend, or that you mostly play on courses that have the same type of playing conditions mostly. When you have this luxury, you should have wedges that fit the conditions you tend to play. So, if you have a low bounce wedge with a sharp flange and you’re playing from bunkers with lots of sand, then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Why alter your swing if the wedge you have can help you? Use a high bounce wedge (9-12 degrees of bounce) for soft sand, and a low bounce wedge (6-8 degrees) for firm sand.

2) Control your Angle of Attack 

As with most things in golf, there are always things that you must pay attention to in order for you to have the odds in your favor. Simple things such as paying attention to the lie you have can help you save shots in the rough. In bunkers, you cannot test the surface, however, you can use your feet to feel the density of the sand. Pay attention to what you feel in the balls of your feet. If you feel a ton of sand below you, then you know you will have to alter your angle of attack if you want any chance to get out of the bunker successfully.

So what do I mean by this?

The setting of your wrists has a very dynamic effect on how much the wedge digs in or skids through the sand (assuming you have an open face). When there is a surplus of sand, you will find that a steeper attack caused by the maximum cocking of your wrists makes it much easier for the wedge to work too vertical and dig too deep. When you dig too deep, you will lose control of the ball as there is too much sand between the blade and the ball — it will not spin as much and won’t have the distance control you normally have.

The secret to playing from softer sand is a longer and wider bunker swing with much less wrist-set than you would use on your stock bunker shot. This action stops the club from digging too deep and makes it easier for you to keep moving through the ball and achieving the distance you need.

3) Keep your pivot moving

It’s nearly impossible to keep the rotation of your shoulders going when you take too much sand at impact, and the ball comes up short in that situation every time. When you take less sand, you will have a much easier time keeping your pivot moving. This is the final key to good soft-sand bunker play.

You have made your longer and more shallow backswing and are returning to the ball not quite as steeply as you normally do which is good… now the only thing left to do is keep your rear shoulder rotating through impact and beyond. This action helps you to make a fuller finish, and one that does not lose too much speed when the club impacts the sand. If you dig too deep, you cannot keep the rear shoulder moving and your shots will consistently come up short.

So if you are in a bunker with new sand, or an abundance of sand, remember to change your bounce, adjust your angle of attack, and keep your pivot moving to have a fighting chance.

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