Carmel Magazine

Summer/Fall 2020

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Page 87 of 171

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT B Y L A I R D S M A L L 2020 Welcomes Many New Golfers to the Course olf is currently enjoying robust growth. In the age of COVID-19, more new golfers are playing, having fun with the game, and using the course as a venue to connect with friends while observing safe social distancing practices. The more we play the game, the more it challenges us, both from a skillset and a mindset. As a player, we would like to develop a skillset that is portable and flexible. A portable skillset is one that works on the prac- tice area and on the course. A flexible skillset is one that adjusts to the dif- ferent conditions the golf course presents: varying lies, wind directions, etc. Golf by its nature is dynamic. We never hit the same shot twice; it's always a little different. That is the reason we want to develop skills that are portable and flexible. The following are a few sugges- tions to help you learn some new skills that will transfer to the course. How do you get better? Start by assessing your game and everything that impacts it. I like to refer my stu- dents to the "Circle of Performance" model used by my friend Dr. Glen Albaugh, a noted sports psychologist who works with many professional golfers. The "Circle of Performance" takes a holistic approach to the game. You're not going to shoot lower scores by working on swing technique alone. You have to improve the overall quality of your life and game, from better nutrition and health, to better course management skill, self-talk (i.e. "the inner game"), equipment and family relationships. At the center, or hub, of this Circle of Performance, is the love you have for the game, an unspoken connection you have with the sport and the courses you play. Each aspect of the game I mentioned above acts like a spoke in a wheel, radiating outward from its hub; what you need to do is strike a balance between these spokes if you are to become the player you have always aspired to be. Before I get into any specific drills or training plans, remember that there is no miracle diet pill in golf. If you're having a hard time breaking 90, you're not going to become an 80-shooter overnight, no matter how hard you practice. You get better incrementally, by winning the little victories on the course that might seem small in the big picture but eventually add up and make the difference in the long run. To get started, you need to take an accurate inventory of your game. A good story to prove this point comes from the great Byron Nelson. In his 1945 record-setting season, he won 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 overall. A reporter asked Nelson why he thought he had such a dominant year, and Lord Byron explained that, upon looking at his stats from the pre- vious year, he realized he missed way too many short putts. Then Nelson said that, upon further reflection, he realized he wasn't chipping the ball close enough to the hole. He spent the entire off-season working on his chipping. One other thing he did was commit himself to not hitting a care- less shot all year. Learn where you're wasting the most shots. You can do this by track- ing such things as fairways hit, greens in regulation, number of putts in a round, etc. Nelson's story is a perfect example of this: at first he thought his short putting was the cause of his troubles on the green, when in actu- ality, it was his chipping. Here are several drills that target some of these areas and will help you become more efficient around the greens. Umbrella drill: Open an umbrella, flip it upside down, and stick it into the ground about 15 feet away from you. From there, try to pitch each shot into the umbrel- la, as if it were a basket. Once you've made three shots, move the umbrella back another 15 feet and repeat. Continue pushing the umbrella back to about 60 feet. The umbrella gives you a visual target that's often missing in pitching. Most poor pitchers don't think about where they're going to land their ball, nor do they consider the firmness or slope of the green and how much the ball is going to roll out. Players need to calculate where they're As long as the handle is leaning forward at impact, you should make solid contact and have a consistently repeatable trajector y. G 86 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 2 0

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