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Player’s Guide To Success

Golf is a challenging game, counting even the most skilled players among those who regularly take lessons. With good coaching, any player can get more enjoyment out of the game. The key is to connect with a coach who has the skills to make the game seem effortless. When beginning a training program, take note of the following tips to help guide your learning process.

IMPROVE IMMEDIATELY

When you take a lesson you should improve immediately. Period. Golf is a game of cause and effect. Either your club is swinging too much down or too much up. The face is either opening or closing. The ball is either starting on target or off target. Any coach with proper training will understand what the current impact looks like, and then institute an appropriate remedy to adjust it. Don’t look for perfect shots right away; just recognize if your pattern is different. If you’ve been a slicer your entire life, enjoy hitting a few hooks. If you normally take a deep divot, enjoy the feel of the club brushing the turf. If you see a positive change in your pattern, your coach is on the right track.

When you take a lesson you should improve immediately.

EMBRACE ‘DIFFERENT,’ NOT ‘BETTER’

A common response to a swing change is, “It doesn’t feel natural.” To get over the comfort hump, stop thinking of making a “better” swing and instead focus on making a “different” one. Touring professionals don’t have just one swing, they have many. Each round requires shots that sail higher or lower, curve more left or right, spin more or less. The skilled player understands that if they need a ball to hook, they must incorporate hooking fundamentals. If they need a ball to slice, they incorporate slicing fundamentals. They see the golf club as an instrument for creativity, playing with many swings for a variety of results. The lesson is, if your ball continually slices to the right, stop trying to make a better swing. Instead ask what you could do differently to make the ball curve in the opposite direction. A simple change in grip, tension or swing shape will immediately cause a positive change in flight.

If you don’t improve, consider these points:

1. The information is incorrect: This is a problem, meaning you need a new coach.

2. The information is correct, but you don’t understand it: Communication is the key. Tell your coach you don’t understand what he or she is asking you to do. A good communicator can explain the same thing a hundred different ways.

3. You’re physically unable to do what the coach is asking: In cases where you’ve had injury or issues with mobility, you may not be able to pull off the new swing, no matter how much you try. Discuss your limitations with your coach so they can devise a plan that works with you physically.

4. You get out what you put in: I always tell people, “I can’t teach you how to do anything, but I can help you learn to play golf.” Take ownership over the learning process by diligently following your lesson plan with purpose and discipline. The coach is there to accelerate the effort, but ultimately it’s the player who earns the new skill.

PLAYING VERSUS TRAINING

Are you practicing or playing? Are you learning or performing? You had better know or you’ll likely end up doing a lousy job of both. When learning, focus on making the change by slowing your pace and initially letting go of the outcome. These are great ways to heighten your awareness and make a difference in what’s happening. When playing, it is no longer about learning; it’s all about “performing.” This is where all of your training time pays off and you’re rewarded for the hard work you’ve put in. When performing, leave the practice tee thoughts behind, and instead rely on a rock-solid pre-shot routine. I like to instill in my students building a routine based on a see-feel-trust mentality. Once you’ve imagined the shot you’d like to hit, make some rehearsal swings to feel the motion that will turn your image into reality. After you’ve made a perfect rehearsal, walk into the shot and shift to “trust” mode. Here you’re letting go, taking dead aim and playing the game.

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