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I feel that a pre-shot routine is just so important to a mental state and decision making for course management. I have my own routine and I recommend that everyone develop their own preshot routine. If you have one and seem to just not be able to break through a given handicap maybe you should look into changing up the pre-shot routine a little bit and only focus on the process of the routine rather then the results of the shots.

 

My routine is very simple and I have shared it a couple of times, most of it is done without a club in hand.

~ start from behind the ball, I even do this on the green

 

~ mentally process the options that you have probably 3 or more options, take the option that you are the most confident in executing.

--> this means getting distances, wind, temperature, elevation changes, turf conditions on the fairways / greens, and so on. Then determine the best shot to get to a specific target based on that information.

 

~ Commit to the shot selection and mental picture that you have pulling the club out of the bag make one to two practice swings at 20% just feeling the body movements, the club head picturing the shot some more

 

~ Walk into the ball, always allow yourself to align the club face to your target line (picking a spot 3 feet in front of the ball often helps). Make sure to look at your target line and allow your feet to support your body, waggle a few times to stay lose. I look down and make sure one last time that my face is pointed at my target line.

 

~ my last thought is "smooth" before pulling the trigger. This makes sure my only thought is some kind of FEEL thought. Not mechanical, completely feel based. Then I pull the trigger.

 

 

Where the mistakes normally happen for better golfers is decision making. The middle handicap it is probably in address positioning or bad mental thought during the swing. For a high handicapper it is almost always issues with improper alignment. I just saw Steve Striker drop down a club after his shot. I like that it was done AFTER, he set up with the FEEL of his target line, then double checked the alignment after feeling like he pushed the shot. I do this a lot when I hit a shot to somewhere I didn't expect it to start. Almost always i am not pushing or pulling shots my feet were pointed right where the ball started.

 

If you can get into a FEEL state over the ball the shot is almost always going to work out better then if you were being mechanical over the ball. Once you have that and your distances golf becomes really easy, by this I mean you play to your strengths of knowing your "typical miss" and "go to shot". plot your way around the course giving yourself a bias towards strengths rather then weaknesses.

 

You can practice off the course to make a weakness a strength :) while on the course it doesn't need to be pretty a score card doesn't have pictures at the end of the day.

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Oh I don't question it, I started working on it when you mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and I have seen some improvements ( although another lesson learned, I cannot play without my spikes. tried playing in walking shoes last night because I forgot my spikes, *that* mistake led to some seriously hooked shots and a sleeve of crappy balls lost to the evil things that hide in the woods, who knew! :D )

 

I am working on a pre shot routine.

 

Select the club for the shot based upon the distance, lie and elevation.

Approach the ball from behind and get a visual reference on the angle of attack.

Place the head of the club on the ground to find it's natural neutral position and set my left hand grip at that neutral.

Slide around to the anticipated line, take one visualization focusing not on the swing, but on the follow through.

Reset my feet on the ball, and swing.

 

All the while the mental mantra is "Don't think, relax and feel it".

 

I am finding it effective, though, it isn't an automatic routine yet, so I struggle to maintain the focus on it when I am in a group or using a cart. I actually find I score lower when I walk than when I ride. No idea what the correlation is there. At this point, I wouldn't say it is saving strokes, but it is saving balls and penalties, which will lead to strokes in the long run. As silly as it sounds, I am finding that improved consistency has cost me a few strokes, because I've been finding areas of the course that I have rarely visited before. The par 5, hole #2 at my home course is a good example. 30degree right turn at 250 yards from the blue tees, 210 from the whites. Trees and a hill to the right, with a 60 foot full white pine tree sitting about 20yards into the fairway creating a 'hitch' you have to go around, and a large, but shallow sand trap to the left side of the fairway about 5 yards past the hitch point. Prior to being able to consistently go straight, I was always either short of the trap trying to play a fade around the pinch point created by the tree or sitting right, threading between the tree and the hill with a short layup to the 150 marker and playing a 7i into the green (which was actually a pretty decent percentage shot for me, though if the pin is back and right, I was screwed because that green is all downhill to that pin location, and if you go past it from that range, you are playing back up out of the sand. Anyways, now that I've found straight and long, I have found that sand trap 4 out of 5 rounds I've played driver off that tee box. The last couple of rounds, I've played it more conservative, and played a 2h ( I love my Adam's Pro Black 17degree hybrid) off the tee, then used the same hybrid to punch it to the green, short by about 20 yards, and pin high, on the green but 20 yards left, with a double break downhill putt the second time.

 

This is where I find myself still learning feel. I am beginning to thing the *right * play on that hole, is not the 2h for the 2nd. If I play the 2h off the tee, I feel like a 7i leaving myself a comfortable 80% swing with a 56 degree gap to get a 3-8 yard putt is the higher percentage play, and is most likely Par with a reasonable chance for birdie. The 2h/2h combo is a low percentage chance at eagle, but an equal chance of ending up in trouble and looking at bogie or worse. These are the lessons that come with the mental aspects of the game, and lessons that are actually discouraged by many of the side games we play on the golf course, where the high risk/reward shot is often more attractive. Skins games being a prime example. There are holes where you know that birdie won't win the hole, so you play more aggressive for the chance at eagle. That only reinforces the bad choices that so many us make.

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It's not what I think it's the reality - Florida is at sea level - any course at sea level is shorter. This would be true for anythting along the coast. Florida becomes shorter still when it's summer time and we average 10 inches of rain a month (We had 15 inches in June.)

 

When you play a Florida course in March you aren't playing the same course that we play most of the year - it's very dry here (generally) from January until mid-May - the ball will go pretty well in those conditions. My drives that average 240 or less this time of year get up close to 260 in March and April.

 

Just go online and compare the average drive at the Transitions to the average drive at the tournaments played at the TPC in the Quad Cities or at Cog Hill (comparable conditions to Indiana.) The difference is 20 yards plus. Two years ago there wasn't a single player who averaged 300 off the tee at Innesbrooke - there were only 5 or 6 this past year even though we were in the middle of a drought -

 

Same guys, best players in the world - 20 yards less off the tee - you'll see the same thing happen at Torrey Pines (another sea level course.)

 

Just for kicks I quickly looked it up - last year over 50 guys averaged 300 plus yards at the TPC Quad cities and 24 at Cog Hill - 7 averaged over 300 at Innisbrook this year and 0 last year -

 

You can fly it pretty close to as far down here in March as you can in Indiana in July - about 2 and a half percent shorter here so more than likely the same club into greens - but once you start to figure in pure distance - flight plus roll in July it starts to get huge - think what your courses are like in late March or early April when the snow melts and it rains - that's what it's like here 9 months out of the year -

 

I had a classic yesterday - Number 9 at my course is a 390 yard par 4 that normally plays into the a light breeze, in the summer - smoked my drive - it went all of 237 according to my GPS - just short of the 150 and yet it was normal in relation to my playing partners - past 2 short of the other - same drive on that hole in March and I have 130 into the green every time - in fact if the hole is down wind I have to worry about the trap left which is 265 off the tee in the spring - I don't even think about it in the summer - It's my target.

 

Kind of fun actually we play a totally different course even though it's the same course - in the late winter/spring its fast and firm with very little rough and you bounce the ball onto the green - the rest of the year you best stay out of the rough and you have to fly it where ever you're planning to end up even though the greens remain relatively quick - but because the grass is turned over in the winter they break different in the summer from the winter. They drives lots of guys nuts.

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This sounds really dang corny but if you all have ever watched "Seven Days in Utopia" it has some seriously good advice in terms of the mental game.

 

"Have convection about your golf swing"

"To stay in balance you have to have control of your emotions"

"Paint the picture of the shot so our brains can reproduce it"

"see it, feel it, trust it (SFT)"

 

All of these are situations that get you into a good mental state on the golf course to make the best decisions and keep grinding when the chips are down and you need something to happen, can't force it.

 

I shot a 79 yesterday had 3 putts that lipped out for par, just couldn't get one to drop outside of 3 feet it seemed like, my speed was good on all my putts but could make a long one. That round should have been 38 - 38 - 76 but it wasn't my short game and putting was off so I had to grind like a crazy to just break 80.

 

I know that some people say to play 3 holes at a time, or 6 holes, I personally play shot by shot. Each hole is a separate entity and 18 different ones makes up a round. If you break it into one shot that you face right now and nothing else, not dwelling on the past, not looking at the future, just being in the present moment good things tend to happen.

 

I think I can sit here and talk and talk about mental stuff being the top score killer but it might be a better located in the mental game section and lessons, it is one thing that has fascinated me and eludes so many people and golfers.

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I want to get away from Florida for a bit (literally and figuratively but I can only do it figuratively right now although St. Pete is no where near as oppressive as Orlando in the summer thanks be to God - did my internship in Orlando).

 

I have been so ostrasized in the past for extoling the virtues of the mental game - "Oh take your mental game and give me talent." That kind of thing. Again I hesitate to call the physical aspect of the game over rated so how about if I turn the tables and call the mental game over looked. Actually the mental game begins with physical practice - you go to the putting green especially to work on the short game during the week and see and hear that ball go into the hole so that when you're on the course you're calling up that positive image - even on the tee you're goal is to see that ball going into the hole.

 

I do break some courses into segments in that I know I have to be here to shoot a good score through this group of holes but that's pre-round and it's not all courses. I always go hole by hole when I'm on the course - If I'm on number 13 there really isn't a thing I can do about what's going to happen on 14 now is there? I can see that the pin is tucked behind the trap and that the wind is blowing hard left to right and down so that I want to turn a 3 hybrid into the wind down the left side, leave 100 and let my gap wedge bleed into the pin on the wind - totally takes the trap out of play if I execute it properly and if I catch the ridge properly I've left on uphill putt and a chance at a birdie. Then I can worry about trying to unload off the tee on 14 to see if I can get home and give myself a crack at eagle. It doesn't help to be thinking about that on 13 any more than it helps to be thinking on 12 that I better birdie 12 or 14 or both to make up for what's going to happen here. If I focus on my drive and then hit my long club on the front left of the green I may just par 12 and then what happens on 13 and 14 is a bonus.

 

In short I have a strategy for each hole that I break down shot by shot once it's laid out - Each one of those shots has a very high success rate already programed in and the preshot routine helps to ensure that things go they way they were planned.

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In short I have a strategy for each hole that I break down shot by shot once it's laid out - Each one of those shots has a very high success rate already programed in and the preshot routine helps to ensure that things go they way they were planned.

 

I couldn't have said that any better. Pretty much what it comes down to.

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