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Game of the Weekend: A.C.E.

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Sports psychologists are constantly preaching to golfers to get into “the process” of hitting a shot. Jason Day has been discussing it in various post-round interviews, as have other tour players. But what is inside of that process? What should you be doing or thinking? This Game of the Weekend gives you a template and a game to use when you practice or play.

Game of the Weekend: A.C.E.

The goal in golf is to get the ball in the hole in the fewest number of attempts — obviously. Your personal goal, however, should be to do the best you can with every shot you’re faced with by staying in the present.

But how do you stay focused on each individual shot when the overall goal is record the lowest score possible? It comes down to the process, or your routine, for each shot. With so many tour players and great golfers talking about getting engaged in the process of each shot, there needs to be a way to measure the success rate in which you’re in the present and into the process; that’s where A.C.E. comes in. This game will help create a quieter, productive mind instead of being bogged down with a busy, congested mind.

Here’s what A.C.E. stands for:

“A”: Analyze

This is where you evaluate all of the factors that go into choosing the appropriate target, shot and club. Items you must thoroughly Analyze include:

  • How the ball lies
  • Yardage to pin, yardage to clear any trouble/front of green, yardage behind the pin
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Location of hazards and obstacles; the best place to miss
  • Elevation change
  • Temperature
  • Surface of landing area
  • Altitude

“C”: Commit 

This is the few seconds just before you hit the shot and where you need to create your own trigger that confirms you’re in a beneficial frame of mind and ready to swing. A commitment trigger helps fill those vital few seconds, assists with keeping the demons out of your thoughts and keeps things focused what TO DO instead of what not to do.

Visual examples:

  • “I see a runway leading from my ball to the target, then I swing.”
  • “I see the apex of the shot in the air, then I swing.”
  • “I burn a thin red laser line into the green on the trail that my ball will take to the hole, then I roll the putt.”

Verbal examples:

  • Say to yourself “This is perfect!” then swing.
  • Say to yourself “Right at it!” then swing.
  • Say to yourself “I own this!” then swing.

Feel/Sensations:

  • “I let out a breath, then swing.”
  • “When my feet feel grounded and solid, then I swing.”
  • “When I feel connected to the target, then I swing.”

Rhythm examples:

  • “I look at the target three times, then swing.”
  • “I count to four … 1) is positioning my club behind the ball, 2) is my feet getting set, 3) is when I look at the target, and 4) is my backswing begins.”

[quote_box_center]

A high handicapper will be surprised at how often the mind will make the muscles hit the ball to the target, even with a far less than perfect swing.

— Harvey Penick

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“E”: Execute or Exit

Execution is simply swinging the club. There is virtually no time that takes place between the time you become committed and the time you swing. The commitment trigger not only counters any negativity but also fills the timeframe when most negative thoughts creep into your mind. However, there are times when you need to back off (Exit) a shot and regroup. This would include:

  • Any negativity creeps in your mind
  • Your eyes drift to, say the pin, when your target is something else
  • You get distracted
  • Score comes to mind
  • The wind speed or direction change
  • You’re not really 100 percent committed
  • You’re thinking about what others might be thinking about you

No one else is to blame for the shots you hit — it is purely your responsibility. Back away and gather yourself if needed. The best level of commitment is one that engrosses you so much in your shot that you don’t even notice the distractions that are around you. Being so into the process of your shot allows you to disregard poor shots helping you to put them behind you and dramatically aiding your ability to bring a clear and focused approach to your next shot.

Rules

When using the scorecard for A.C.E. you can enter your percentage score for 9-hole or 18-hole rounds of golf into the website www.golfscrimmages.com. You earn dots for each shot based on the following:

  • If you correctly ANALYZE the shot, place a dot in the “A” box. If after hitting the shot you realize that you failed to Analyze a factor then you do not get a dot in the “A” box.
  • If you wholeheartedly go through your COMMITMENT trigger on the shot, place a dot in the “C” box.
  • You automatically get a dot in the “E” EXECUTE box unless you hit the ball when you should have Exited the shot (ie: score came to mind, wind changed, doubt, negativity, eyes looked at something other than your target, the result, etc.)

A.C.E. every shot and watch your scores go down and your enjoyment go up!

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Trent Wearner is the No. 1-rated teacher in Colorado by Golf Digest Magazine, as well as a two-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year (2004, 2014). Along the way, he has been recognized as a Top 20 Teacher Under Age 40 by Golf Digest, a Top 50 Kids Teacher in America by U.S. Kids Golf and a Top Teacher in the Southwestern U.S. by GOLF Magazine. Trent is also the author of the book Golf Scrimmages and creator of the website GolfScrimmages.com

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. marcel

    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    there is no confidence with no skill. you can only apply mental training to skills… or in another words you can be as cocky as Donald T. and it all goes away after a shank and no clue how to play 😉

  2. Trent Wearner

    Oct 18, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Hello OCD – I understand that a routine (A.C.E.) is not a traditional game but hopefully by turning it into a game at first, it will become more appealing to people, that they’ll begin to realize the importance of having one, that they’ll have some sort of guidance to its inner workings, and then hopefully it will become a more permanent part of all of their shots.

  3. OCD

    Oct 17, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Calling this fundamental routine a GAME is why most players fail.

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Instruction

Kelley: How to easily find your ideal impact position

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If you look at any sport, the greats seem to do more with less. Whether it be a swimmer gliding through the water or a quarterback throwing a pass, they make it look it easy and effortless.

In golf, there are a variety of distinct swing patterns to get into a dynamic impact position. I believe in efficiency to find that impact position for effortless power and center contact. Efficiency is defined as “the ability to produce something with a minimum amount of effort.” This can easily apply to the golf swing.

It all starts with the address position. The closer we can set up to an impact position, the less we have to do to get back there. Think of it like throwing a ball. If your body is already in a throwing position, you can simply make the throw without repositioning your body for accuracy. This throwing motion is also similar to an efficient direction of turn in the golf swing.

Once you set up to the ball with your impact angles, if you retain your angles in the backswing, the downswing is just a more leveraged or dynamic version of your backswing. If you can take the club back correctly, the takeaway at hip-high level will mirror that position in the downswing (the desired pre-impact position). In the picture below, the body has become slightly more dynamic in the downswing due to speed, but the body levels have not changed from the takeaway position.

This stays true for halfway back in the backswing and halfway down in the downswing. Note how the body has never had to reposition or “recover” to find impact.

At the top of the swing, you will notice how the body has coiled around its original spine angle. There was no left-side bend or “titling” of the body. All the original address position angles were retained. From this position, the arms can simply return back down with speed, pulling the body through.

The key to an efficient swing lies in the setup. Luckily for players working on their swing, this is the easiest part to work on and control. If you can learn to start in an efficient position, all you need to do is hold the angles you started with. This is a simple and effective way to swing the golf club.

www.kelleygolf.com

Twitter: KKelley_golf

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Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)

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In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill

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When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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