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5 things you can learn from 18-year-old major champion Brooke Henderson

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Copy Brooke Henderson.

No, don’t copy her swing or her putting stroke (but that may not be a bad idea either); copy her attitude, because the wonderful self-expression and joy she brings to the game is worth celebrating and showcasing for young players … or any player.

Young golfers today look to Jason Day, Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy (for obvious reasons), but they may want to model their attitudes after the 18-year-old Canadian on the LPGA Tour. Brooke Henderson seems to have a great recipe for both enjoying the game, remaining humble and playing some pretty spectacular golf that is generating great results.

In a time where everything seems to be overstated, Brooke Henderson won the Women’s PGA Championship in an understated manner. No fist pumping, no running around, no over-the-top drama: just hitting shots like she is capable of, enjoying the experience, connecting with the audience and matter-of-factly finishing at the top of the leaderboard.

No Fear

Brooke Henderson pic

Photo Credit: Joe McLean, Flagstick Golf Magazine/FlagstickGolf.com

Fear is a major interference in golf. We can look forward and consider all of the “what ifs” that could potentially happen, and most of the what ifs you might consider don’t have a positive effect on your game. Then there’s bringing the past forward. The tendency is to bring those things that really didn’t work out to the present moment, and those thoughts and feelings don’t help.

Brooke Henderson plays without fear. As an example, while most players at the recent Women’s PGA Championship highlighted the narrowness of the Sahalee fairways and that drivers wouldn’t be the play, Henderson stated to the media early in the week that driver would be the play for her. It’s her strength, and narrow fairways would not be a problem, she said. In a very self-aware manner, similar to Dustin Johnson in the U.S. Open, she used her driving as a weapon at the PGA, played to all of her strengths, leveraged her advantages and fully expressed herself.

In a recent interview, Henderson was asked about nerves and anxiety and her response was: “I used to get a bit nervous but then thought, ‘What’s the point of that, really?’”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

What was most refreshing about Henderson and watching her win the PGA was the overall environment she creates within herself: a relaxed joy that produces great smiles after good shots, some disappointment after bad ones and a self-awareness that she understands her unique abilities and uses them. There was also a complete clarity following the winning putt in the playoff. She was determined to congratulate playing competitor Lydia Ko with a genuine embrace and acknowledge caddies and volunteers.

What can you learn from Brooke Henderson to become a better player?

Brooke Henderson pic2

Photo Credit: Scott MacLeod, Flagstick Golf Magazine/Flagstick.com

No. 1: Clearly understand your natural abilities and leverage them

Brooke Henderson’s swing motion hasn’t changed much from the 10-year-old in the picture above. The swing is dynamic and produces club head speed. Know what you naturally do well, and use that to your advantage at every opportunity. Her swing has evolved, but there hasn’t been a lot of tinkering since the early days.

No. 2: Be your own best friend on the course

Brooke Henderson has her sister on her bag to support her, but also seems to manage her own voice to create a genuine, honest climate within herself. A negative voice is a distraction and creates self doubt.

No. 3: Don’t be afraid to try new things

Henderson put a new putter and new irons in her bag the week of the PGA and had complete confidence they would do the job for her.

No. 4: Stay in the moment and enjoy the challenge

It’s cliché, but staying in the moment eliminates distraction and fear from the game. Projecting forward with “what ifs” and bringing negative experiences back from the past will create doubt and fear, and cause performance interference to the shot at hand.

No. 5: Lighten up

Even as a professional, Brooke Henderson has fun playing the game. She embraces the competition, enjoys what the game offers and expresses herself. Emotion is a part of her game in a positive way. Celebrate your own good shots and enjoy what’s going on on the course.

brooke_henderson_shoes

I think we can all learn a lot from the young Canadian, now ranked No. 2 in the world, who has “I love golf” stitched into her golf shoes.

After all, it’s just a game… isn’t it?

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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]

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. rr

    Jun 26, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Redrum

  2. LHR

    Jun 25, 2016 at 3:26 am

    No, he calls you that because that’s what we call people like you cos that’s the truth

  3. about time

    Jun 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Do In Gee next.

  4. Jack

    Jun 24, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    “No fist pumping, no running around, no over-the-top drama…”

    And what’s wrong with a little celebration? Going to be a lifeless robot your whole life?

    • John Haime

      Jun 24, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Hey Jack,

      Thanks for the comment.

      If you’ve watched Brooke play – there’s a consistent joy in how she plays throughout the round or tournament as compared to many players who have so much bottled up tension and anxiety – that the “drama” I am speaking about is almost a sense of relief in a big outburst. The difference with Brooke is there isn’t any tension/anxiety – as evidenced by the smile, small fist pump and complete awareness.

      Celebration is great – especially spreading it out over 72 holes. But, most players, in your words, get in robot mode, the tension/anxiety builds over 71 holes and then the emotion becomes uncorked on hole 72.

      I think we can learn from the consistent self-expression from Brooke Henderson. Her approach looked refreshingly professional – natural and poised.

      • Rich

        Jun 28, 2016 at 8:25 pm

        Absolutely couldn’t agree more. She is fabulous young golfer and I think a true challenger to Lydia Ko. Women’s golf is in great shape with Brooke and Lydia at the top.

  5. Tc

    Jun 23, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    I think it’s time this website only allowed comments by signing in with a proper email account and credit card number to get rid of immaturity like Smizzle

  6. M Smibble

    Jun 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    clean it up bro

  7. Emmizzle

    Jun 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    ur gonna get a whipping for that disgraceful comment. hope ur sister slaps u too. dont be mad cause lydia ko kicked ur butt even w a stroke a hole. GO BROOKE

  8. Jackson Galaxy

    Jun 23, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Here is the WITB

    http://ping.com/tour/prodetails.aspx?id=19068

    Yes that is a 48″ driver shaft, but she grips down on it quite a bit.

    • Emmizzle

      Jun 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      THANKS.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jun 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      That link is a Ping website. Apparently Brooke has all Ping clubs. But no putter. OMG, did she choose something other than Ping?! C’mon Ping, man up (woman up) and show her putter, even if it isn’t yours. You’re wusses. I swear I saw her with a putter on TV!

  9. Smith

    Jun 23, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Damnit M Smeezy, I like where your head’s at.

  10. Weekend Duffer

    Jun 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

    And include more detailed shaft info

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: Short game tempo

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One of my favorite things to do is observe golfers closely, watching how they go about things from well before the shot to the execution of the swing or stroke. Guess the golf course has become kind of like going to the lab, in a way.

One thing I notice much too often is how “quick” most golfers are around the greens. It starts with grabbing a club or two from the cart and quickly getting to their ball. Then a few short jabs at a practice swing and usually a less-than-stellar result at a recovery.

Why?

If you are going to spend a morning or afternoon on the course, why hurry around the greens? I tend to be a fast player and despise five-hour rounds, but don’t fault anyone for taking a few seconds extra to get “right” with their recovery shot. You can still play “ready golf” and not short yourself in the close attention to execution. But let me get back to the specific topic.

Maybe it’s aggravated by this rush, but most golfers I observe have a short game tempo that is too quick. Chips, pitches and recoveries are precision swings at less than full power, so they require a tempo that is slower than you might think to accommodate that precision. They are outside the “norm” of a golf swing, so give yourself several practice swings to get a feel for the tempo and power that needs to be applied to the shot at hand.

I also think this quick tempo is a result of the old adage “accelerate through the ball.” We’ve all had that pounded into our brains since we started playing, but my contention is that it is darn hard not to accelerate . . . it’s a natural order of the swing. But to mentally focus on that idea tends to produce a short, choppy swing, with no rhythm or precision. So, here’s a practice drill for you.

  1. Go to your practice range, the local ball field, schoolyard or anywhere you can safely hit golf balls 20-30 yards or less.
  2. Pick a target only 30-50 feet away and hit your normal pitch, observing the trajectory.
  3. Then try to hit each successive ball no further, but using a longer, more flowing, fluid swing motion than the one before. That means you’ll make the downswing slower and slower each time, as you are moving the club further and further back each time.

My bet is that somewhere in there you will find a swing length and tempo where that short pitch shot becomes much easier to hit, with better loft and spin, than your normal method.

The key to this is to move the club with the back and through rotation of your body core, not just your arms and hands. This allows you to control tempo and applied power with the big muscles, for more consistency.

Try this and share with all of us if it doesn’t open your eyes to a different way of short game success.

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Instruction

The Wedge Guy: The core cause of bad shots

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You are cruising through a round of golf, hitting it pretty good and then you somehow just hit an absolutely terrible shot? This isn’t a problem unique to recreational golfers trying to break 80, 90, or 100 — even the best tour professionals occasionally hit a shot that is just amazingly horrible, given their advanced skill levels.

It happens to all of us — some more frequently than others — but I’m convinced the cause is the same. I call it “getting sloppy.”

So, what do I mean by that?

Well, there was a USGA advertising campaign a while back feature Arnold Palmer, with the slogan “Swing Your Swing.” There’s a lot of truth to that advice, as we all have a swing that has — either frequently or occasionally – produced outstanding golf shots. While there is no substitute for solid mechanics and technique, I’ve always believed that if you have ever hit a truly nice golf shot, then your swing has the capacity to repeat that result more frequently than you experience.

The big question is: “Why can’t I do that more often?”

And the answer is: Because you don’t approach every shot with the same care and caution that you exhibit when your best shots are executed.

To strike a golf ball perfectly, the moon and stars have to be aligned, regardless of what your swing looks like. Your set-up position must be right. Your posture and alignment have to be spot-on. Ball position has to be precisely perfect. To get those things correct takes focused attention to each detail. But the good news is that doing so only takes a few seconds of your time before each shot.

But I know from my own experience, the big “disrupter” is not having your mind right before you begin your swing. And that affects all of these pre-shot fundamentals as well as the physical execution of your swing.
Did you begin your pre-shot approach with a vivid picture of the shot you are trying to hit? Is your mind cleared from what might have happened on the last shot or the last hole? Are you free from the stress of this crazy game, where previous bad shots cause us to tighten up and not have our mind free and ready for the next shot? All those things affect your ability to get things right before you start your swing . . . and get in the way of “swinging your swing.”

So, now that I’ve outlined the problem, what’s the solution?

Let me offer you some ideas that you might incorporate into your own routine for every shot, so that you can get more positive results from whatever golf swing skills you might have.

Clear your mind. Whatever has happened in the round of golf to this point is history. Forget it. This next shot is all that matters. So, clear that history of prior shots and sharpen your focus to the shot at hand.

Be precise in your fundamentals. Set-up, posture, alignment and ball position are crucial to delivering your best swing. Pay special attention to all of these basics for EVERY shot you hit, from drives to putts.

Take Dead Aim. That was maybe the most repeated and sage advice from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book”. And it may be the most valuable advice ever. Poor alignment and aim sets the stage for bad shots, as “your swing” cannot be executed if you are pointed incorrectly.

See it, feel it, trust it. Another piece of great advice from the book and movie, “Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days In Utopia”, by Dr. David Cook. Your body has to have a clear picture of the shot you want to execute in order to produce the sequence of movements to do that.

Check your grip pressure and GO. The stress of golf too often causes us to grip the club too tightly. And that is a swing killer. Right before you begin your swing, focus your mind on your grip pressure to make sure it isn’t tighter than your normal pressure.

It’s highly advisable to make these five steps central to your pre-shot routine, but especially so if you get into a bad stretch of shots. You can change things when that happens, but it just takes a little work to get back to the basics.

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Instruction

Stickney: To stack or not to stack at impact?

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As you look at the impact positions of the best players in the world, you will find many different “looks” with respect to their body and club positions. Some of these impact positions might even appear unique, but don’t be fooled. They all have one thing in common: preserving the players’ balance throughout the impact interval! In fact, if you are not in-balance, then you will lose power, consistency, and have trouble controlling your launch dynamics from shot to shot.

This balance is a necessary key to playing well and one area that can be easily understood with a few graphics shown on GEARS 3D. As you examine the photo in the featured image, you can see a few things:

  • The player on the left has “fallen” backwards through impact slightly moving his head out of the circle established at address
  • The player on the right is more stacked at impact — meaning that his chest, zipper and hands are all in the same place at the same time (within reason)
  • The player on the left has reached this same position in the swing with different segments of the body reaching the ball at different times
  • There will be a difference of impact shaft lean between the two players due to one player reaching impact “together” and the other shoving his hands more forward as he falls back
  • The player on the right is more “connected” through impact…won’t be the longest hitter but will be able to find the ball in the fairway more often
  • The player on the left is putting more pressure on the rear portion of the lower back which could have a potential for injury if he’s not careful

Now, obviously there are pro and cons to both positions. Overall, if you want to be consistent and in-balance more often that not, I would suggest you try your best to focus on being “stacked” when you hit the ball.

Let’s dive in a touch deeper to show you what happens physiologically on 3D when you fall back through impact and I think it will really drive the point home.

  • At address notice the Vertical Spine Number 96.2, this is showing us where the spine is positioned at address
  • You can see the head is in the center of the bubble

  • On the way to the top of the swing you can see that the spine has moved “away” from the target laterally a slight bit to 98 degrees
  • The head has dropped downward and has also moved laterally as well- more lean over the right leg to the top

Now here is where the problem comes in…as you work your way to the top, it’s ok of your head moves a touch laterally but in transition if it stays “back” while your hips run out from under you then you will begin to fall backwards on the way to your belt-high delivery position.

  • We can see at the delivery position that the spine has continued to fall backwards as the hips rotate out from under the upperbody
  • When this happens the hands will begin to push forward- dragging the handle into the impact zone
  • Whenever you have too much spin out and fall back the hands move forward to accommodate this motion and this reduces your Angle of Attack and decreases your dynamic loft at impact
  • This will cause balls to be hit on the decent of the club’s arc and reduce loft making shots come out lower than normal with a higher spin rate and that means shorter drives

Now let’s examine impact…

  • The player on the left has reached impact in a more disconnected fashion versus the player on the right as you compare the two
  • The player on the right has a shaft lean at impact that is less than a degree (.75) while the player on the left has a much more noticeable forward lean of the shaft thereby reducing dynamic loft at impact

  • The player on the left’s spine has moved from 96.2 to 112.9, a difference of 16.7 degrees while the player on the right has only moved back a few degrees. We know this because his head has stayed in the bubble we charted at address
  • The hips have run out from under the player on the left in the downswing and this causes the head to fall back more, the hands to push forward more, and the impact alignments of the club to be too much down with very little dynamic loft (as also shown in the photo below)

Whenever the hips turn out from under the upper body then you will tend to have a “falling back effect of the spine and a pushing forward of the hands” through impact.  Notice how the hips are radically more open on the player on the right versus the left- 27.91 versus 42.42 degrees.

So, now that we can see what happens when the hips spin out, you fall back, and you fail to be “stacked” at impact let’s show you a simple way you can do this at home to alleviate this issue.

  

  • A great drill to focus on being more stacked at impact is to make slow motion swings with the feeling that the upper portion of your arms stay glued to your chest
  • These shots will be full swings but only 20% of your total power because the goal here is connection which allows everything to reach impact together and in-balance
  • The second thought as you make these swings is to pay attention to your head, if you can focus on allowing it to stay “over the top of the ball” at impact you will find that it will stay put a touch more so than normal. Now this is not exactly how it works but it’s a good feeling nonetheless
  • Once you get the feeling at 20% speed work your way up to 50% speed and repeat the process. If you can do it here then you are ready to move up to full swings at top speed

Finally, don’t forget that every golfer’s hips will be open at impact and everyone’s head will fall back a touch — this is fine. Just don’t over-do it! Fix this and enjoy finding the ball in the fairway more often than not.

Questions or comments? [email protected]

 

 

 

 

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