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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: [email protected]

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

Clement: Load up the full power package in the backswing!

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This video is FUNDAMENTAL FOR POWER GAINS in the golf swing; the arm anatomy BEGS TO BE USED in this manner from casting a fishing pole, to serving a tennis ball to batting a baseball to driving a golf ball. YOU WILL LOVE how much SNAP you will get through the ball and the sound the ball will make coming off the club from the compression off the face. BLISS ON A STICK!

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive

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Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301

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In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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