POD THIS, PHIL
POD THIS, PHIL
Whoa! Hit the breaks, Phil. Captain Tom didn’t pound your drives into the Serengeti-like rough this past weekend. He didn’t jack your putts either. All he did was pair you with Nervous Nellie like you wanted. Don’t blame the skip for assuming that twelve grown men, mega achievers in the world of golf, could employ a bit of self-motivation without playing army games and being put put in pods, and not get blown off the course. Pods? Really, Phil, that’s lame. It’s a golf match, Phil. That’s all. Go out there and play well. Don’t fail and then look to blame the captain. Surely, somewhere along the line, someone taught you the right way to handle a whoopin’. Going on worldwide TV and blasting your captain, while the old guy is only feet away from you, is not the way. Gotta beef with Captain Tom, grow a sack and man to man him in private. Be gracious in defeat. Don’t look to blame. Patrick Reed didn’t need to emerge from a pod each morning to kick ass. Neither did Jordan Spieth. Jimmy Walker was okay without needing a George Patton-like rah rah at the team meetings. But wait a minute. Those three were rookies. They’re not used to losing like you and the rest of the team are. Hmmmmmmm…
You want to feel like a team? How about not being the only member to not fly over on the team plane? How about if you and a bunch of the other guys had shown some team spirit and leadership and gone over last year and played in the Johnny Walker at the very venue of this year’s ass kicking? Maybe some extra time on the greens would have helped, don’t you think, big guy? Pods! Geesh, Phil. Really?
A Ryder Cup captain is responsible to be the out front, face of the team. He is there to shelter the boys from the media as best he can, and order the really ugly looking uni’s. To expect him to fire you up for the single biggest golf event in the world is a joke. If you can’t light a fire under your own butt come late September every other year, you need to go back to Cali and hit lobbers over your short game coach’s head in your backyard.
Come on, Phil. You are better than that. Make a statement to the press. Tell them you ate some mushrooms while in the rough looking for your ball and you didn’t really know what you were saying. That’s as plausible as whining about needing to be put in pods in order to win the Ryder Cup.
The fact is, I love ya, Phil. I’m a Phil guy. But sometimes you get in a hole and you just keep digging.Read More
RYDER CUP OF Z’S
I live on the east coast. I have DVR service. The Ryder Cup matches begin at 2:30AM ET on Thursday morning. Maybe I’ll set it. Maybe I won’t. Truth be told, I am more interested in the Giants/Redskins later that night. After the PGA Championship, the golf season seems contrived to me. The season is about major championships and who is playing well leading up to them. It’s about personal drama and history. I enjoy the Fed-Ex Cup, but it is not the same as the majors. Let’s put it in the Player’s Championship category. Though it is a huge step up from the President’s Cup (that made for TV yawner that is played in the Ryder Cup off years), the Ryder Cup doesn’t quite cut the mustard either. I just don’t feel the affinity for the U.S. team like maybe I should. It is hard to put my finger on it. Maybe it is because we don’t have our best players representing our side. Maybe it’s due to the Ryder Cup hype machine. When I watch a sporting event I enjoy it more when I dislike the opposing team. I like the Euros to a man. Rory, Graeme, Martin, Bug-eyes Poulter, Sergio, Rosey, the Terminator Henrik Stenson et al. I even liked Monty back in the day, Mrs. Doubtfire. There was something Quixotic about him that made me want him to succeed. The fat kid makes good. I don’t know. It seemed compelling at the time.
I have a problem with several of the U.S. players. For one thing, I really don’t like Bubba Watson. Forget the fact that he is a simple minded bumpkin who no doubt appeals to Joe the Plumber and all the other dimwitted sheep out there in God’s country. There is something self-righteous about him that makes my skin crawl. The same goes for Webb Simpson. How is this guy on the team anyway? He looks like the teacher’s pet; the self-satisfied dork in the front of the class that always had his hand up and smiled to himself when someone else got in trouble. I like Keegan Bradley, but I cannot watch him play golf. He is so nerve-wracking that I feel uneasy whenever he is on camera. Someday he is going to burst into flames and vaporize right before our eyes. For the love of God, get him a Xanax, quick.
I don’t want money winners on my team, I want winners. Big money Jim Furyk is done. A few years ago he was a champion with nerves of steel, but it is over. That X factor which defines a winner left him quickly like the last dying breath of an octopus falling out of a tree (thanks Feherty). He cannot close the deal anymore and that is lethal in matchplay competition. One just needs to go back to Medinah for proof. Phil is Phil. The problem is, which Phil will show up? He used to be money, but now it is hit or miss. Soriatic Arthritis is a tough opponent. Phil will battle, but what has he got left in the tank? They play two matches a day. Patrick Reed? ‘nuff said. Jimmy Walker is fading into the background where all Jimmy Walkers reside. He got his three W’s but it is over. Jordan Spieth cannot find his swing, and Zach Johnson hasn’t been relevant for a year or more. Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar will be the stars of the U.S. side. Write it down.
Where’s Billy Horschel? Where is Chris Kirk? Someone get Dustin Johnson a three day pass from rehab. These guys are the hottest players in the world right now. Right NOW. When asked why the Captain’s picks were not announced until the Fed-Ex Cup was resolved, Tom Watson said it would be logistically impossible, what with getting the players and their families organized and… WHATEVER. Really, Captain Tom? How ‘bout we put fielding a winning team together as the top priority. Amy Mickelson and the other wives are grown ups and could probably get to Gleneagles all by themselves.
So call me a poor sport. That’s fine. But I don’t think I’m alone. This deal never meant as much to our side as it has to the Euros. What else have they got? Cricket? It’s just not our bag, baby.Read More
Wad a player!
WAD A PLAYER
Who is the biggest wad on tour over the last several years? First of all, let’s set some criteria. The guy has to be a top player. It wouldn’t be right to go after some goon feeding on the crumbs in the lower reaches of obscurity. Despair and ineptness can turn even a decent guy into a wad. No, the guy has to be out front and in our face week in and week out to be considered in the running. He has to be one of the top guns who is living a dream that most of us would sell our souls to live, and still behaves like Spaulding Smails.
First let’s define WAD. n. A wad is a leading PGA Tour player who through petulance, arrogance, narcissism, and an attitude of unremitting entitlement, creates a faux aura around himself that he is bigger than the game.
Here are my top five:
Hard to argue with pre-Elin three iron to the skull and Escalade Tiger Woods. Tiger fit the criteria to a tee. The F-bombs, the cry baby attitude when it came to the press, showing up for press conferences when he played well, running away when he did not, the eyes down before, during, and after the round lest he might make human contact with one of his adoring fans, the club tossing and on and on. And that’s just the on course wad-like traits. He was such a wad that even his own swing coach wrote a book about his wadism.
The God Squad Wads. You’ve seen them and heard them after rounds praising God for seeing to it that they won. Talk about narcissistic! There are men and women fighting for our country in some of the vilest s… holes in the world, risking their lives for the good of us back home. Homeless children starving in the streets, cops and firefighters putting it all on the line, ER personnel saving lives every minute of every day, teachers working in horrendous conditions trying to bring some enlightenment to the children of the world, and yet God cares about the Ramjack Corporation Ring Ding Open in West Eatme, Arkansas. Yeah.
Sergio Garcia, but with an *. Sergio certainly qualifies on past performances alone i.e. the loogie in the cup at Doral, the chronic whining i.e. “They would have stopped play if Tiger Woods were out there,” at the 2002 Monsoon U.S. Open at Bethpage. His defeated, wussy comment a few years ago that he just wasn’t good enough to win a major certainly qualifies as a significant whine, and the list goes on. However, Garcia is turning it around. Follow him at a Tour event. You would be hard pressed to find a more affable and considerate player. He acknowledges the gallery after birdies, pars and even bogies. Sure, a lot of that has to do with his improved social life, but who among us isn’t changed for the better when we are happy at home? But it runs deeper with Sergio. He seems to get it now. Of course, he is still young enough to let us down, but it is doubtful.
Bubba Watson. Bubba gets on the list twice since he is a part of The God Squad Wads. Sort of like Paul McCartney getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, but worse. Bubba stands alone as a multiple major winner, therefore his personal wadiness stands out all the more. It seems that his entire career has been punctuated with snide, ill-advised remarks i.e. saying loud enough for the world to hear that major champion Steve Elkington could “kiss my ass.” His oft nasty snipes at his caddy and so-called ‘best friend’ Teddy, his rabbit eared impatience with the gallery, and of course his waterworks following every win. Puh-lease. But Bubba’s biggest display of wadish behavior came at a long drive contest at this year’s PGA Championship. Instead of giving the fans a little something, Bubba hit a three iron and went home. The sad thing is, it was for charity. Though he tries to play the humble card, Bubba most definitely fits into the ‘bigger than the game’ category of wads.
Big John Daly. Big Johnny Wad (I won’t go there). Where does one begin? His blatant disregard for sponsors, fans and his own talent puts him squarely on the list. He claims to have such a solid bond with the fans, yet when he walks off the golf course does he give his fans their money back? When he pummels five or six balls in a row into a lake, does he care about the sponsors who have been kind and ‘charitable’ enough to grant him a spot in the field? Does he think about kids watching when he chain smokes throughout his round? Is there anyone in the world outside of Dardenale, Arkansas who doesn’t think the guy has a serious substance abuse problem? Is there anyone in the world who thinks he is still relevant? Get help Big John.
Like any best of /worst compilation, I’m sure I’ve left some worthy candidates off the list. Anytime you compile a list there will be snubs. In the words of Bubba Watson, those of you who probably should be on there, but didn’t make the cut “can kiss my ass.”Read More
ROCK WHAT YA GOT
ROCK WHAT YA GOT
As a golf instructor I see all sorts of people, different ages, shapes and sizes, varying personalities, different levels of athleticism etc. Yet the one common thread is that most folks want to swing like the men and women who play golf for a living on TV. And why not? Those players make the game seem so easy while the average golfer struggles mightily day in and day out. When I show them their own swings on video they cringe. They fail to see the positive things they do and only focus on the aspects that differ greatly from their heroes on the tube.
We need to change that mindset. First, we are all trying to square the club face at impact at maximum speed. How we arrive at that can be a journey that is as individual as our fingerprints. You just have to watch a golf tournament on TV to realize that even at the highest level of the game, the route to impact varies from swing to swing. To use Jim Furyk or Bubba Watson as examples would be picking low hanging fruit. Let’s compare two players with more subtle looking differences, yet are light years apart. How about Fred Couples and Ernie Els. Both are silky smooth and all of us dream of swinging so ‘effortlessly.’ Both generate a ton of club head speed. And yet their swing paths could not be more different. Fred takes the club away with a pronounced loop to the outside then back to the inside as he transitions downward. His body tilts slightly left at the top which tosses his club shaft across the target line, his left wrist cups which also causes the across the line effect. Big Ernie’s backswing is straight back and on plane with maybe the straightest left arm in the game. His club sits on plane at the top with the club shaft parallel to the target line. As Fred starts down he appears stiff legged as he loops the club to the inside. Ernie, with knees flexed, just delivers the club back down the same line on which he brought it up. Yet at impact, both players’ club faces are perpendicular to the target line and square to the target. Each has an enormous amount of club head speed which allows them to flow into a wonderfully balanced position at the finish.
There is no right way. There is only impact. So let’s concentrate our practice on things that will improve our position at impact. First, set up a work station on the range. Lay a driveway marker pole on the ground to use as a target line. Get some face tape from your pro and put it on the face of your seven iron (you can order face tape from any of the myriad golf outlets online). Next, tee the ball low and make tiny swings. The impact area is about three feet wide, so take the club back eighteen inches and swing through eighteen inches. Don’t jam it. You are not trying to hit it out of the park. Just bunt it, okay? Little dribblers are fine, as long as they are straight. After you consistently hit the ball off the center of the face (this will be represented on the face tape with little round smudges), increase your swing incrementally to where your arms are parallel to the ground on the backswing and forward swing. You will have to apply new face tape every so often. Center hits will become more difficult as your increase your arc, so be patient. Hit a bunch of balls this way. This is a drill. You must learn how to hit the center of a square club face in order to even think about full swings. Start slow and small and build up to big and fast. We are all different, but we can all achieve solid impact in our own way. Remember, this game is difficult. Change comes with re-educating our muscles with drills. It comes slowly, so don’t give up. Good players hang in there and practice hard.Read More
DO’S, NOT DON’TS
DO’S, NOT DON’TS
Neurologists, psychologists, pigmy bush doctors, the Lama, and Dr. Phil all say that the brain will treat the command ‘don’t’ the same way it will respond to the word ‘do.’ Weird, but true. If you are standing on the 17th tee at the TPC Sawgrass and tell yourself, ‘’Don’t hit it in the water,’’ you are in effect telling yourself to ‘hit it in the water.’ Why? It’s not so much the command do or don’t, its the word ‘water.’ You have put a picture in your head and you will respond to it accordingly. You mother used to say, “don’t pick your nose,” then she thought you might be deaf or have a learning disability, or at best a proclivity to become a cave discovering archeologist because you became nostril fixated. “Don’t dawdle,” she’d say, and then be really mad when you dawdled. Potty training was a whole other matter.
They figured it out in the armed services. They say ‘’Stand up straight,’’ not ‘’Don’t slouch.” Golfers need to understand this phenomenon of the brain and proceed accordingly. Think about how many times you stood on a tee with out of bounds on the left and thwarted all your good intentions by firing one OB. “I can’t believe it. I just told myself not to hit it there.” Frustrating. The next time you play become target oriented. By that I mean only look at the spot where you want to hit your ball. Sounds easy, but it takes a ton of concentration. Trouble looms everywhere on most golf courses. Tunnel vision is something that you will have to practice.
Watch the pros on TV. Observe how they are ultra focused on where they want the ball to land. From the tee they are constantly plotting their intended flight lines. From the fairway they are planning the spot on the green that will give them the best birdie opportunity. They consider all the elements and proceed. Many times their target is not the flag stick but another spot on the green that will allow the ball to respond with spin, or perhaps catch a slope and roll toward the hole.
When I teach students I will ask them what was on their mind with their last bad swing. Most times they will tell me that they were trying not to stand up at impact, or trying not to move their head, or they just told themselves to not slow down through the hitting area. All ‘dont’s and nots,’ no ‘do’s.’ It is a natural fact that we will respond to the picture in our head, and most times it is a negative picture. Let’s face it, we are a weird species. Just look at how we’ve done with all those ‘shalt nots’ in the Ten Commandments.Read More
THE BIG BANANA
THE BIG BANANA
There goes another one… back, back, back, back, back, GONE! Time to reload. Bam. GONE! Your buddies start tossing balls onto the tee. You can’t see a way out. The wind is howling in and left to right. OB hugs the right side of the fairway and you feel as if you cannot aim far enough left to keep one in play. You have a left to right ball flight in tranquil conditions. How the heck are you suppose to play in this? What’s going on?
As a right handed player, you feel most uncomfortable and vulnerable in a hurting, left to right wind. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. Most golfers feel the same way. Wind to the right means a worse slice than you already have. That can be a terrifying thought and one that causes tempo destroying anxiety. When it is blowing, you tend to jump at the ball from the top of your swing; your hands get quick and ‘cast’ the club as you start down causing dead pulls or screeching slices. When you come ‘over the top’ of the ball like this, your brain signals to your hands to hold off the release. This only makes things worse. Now you are swinging outside to in, with no rotation of the hands. No wonder you are getting the results you are getting. Let’s take care of the main issue. First, realize and accept that wind makes you swing too hard. Your hands become dominant when it gets windy, so let’s take them out of the equation as much as possible. Try to keep your upper arms connected to your sides as you swing. To achieve this connection, you will need to swing in a more controlled and calm fashion. If you get jumpy at the top, your arms will try to separate from your body and you will get above the plane, so stay connected. As you come into the ball, feel as if you are shutting the club face. Do this by letting your right forearm and hand roll over your left as you approach impact. If you swing too hard, your hands and arms will never catch up and rotate properly. By staying connected and rotating your hands you will be amazed at how much more solidly you hit the ball. You will feel that effortless power that comes with centered contact, and the ball will stay in the yard.
MAKING IT STICK
Practice with a glove under each of your arm pits (might want to use old gloves). Hit short shots at first and get comfortable with feeling this upper arm/body connection, then work up to hitting fuller shots. As you start hitting longer clubs allow the gloves to fall out following impact. If you don’t let your hands shut the club face coming into the ball, you will miss it right. By practicing this technique, you will have the tools to handle the wind. Repetition will give you the proper timing to hit it flush most of the time.Read More
A HARD RAIN GONNA FALL
A HARD RAIN GONNA FALL
I hate to say it, but this might be the first Ryder Cup in the modern U.S. vs. Great Britain and Ireland and Whoever Else Wants to Beat Us era, where we are decidedly outmatched. The Euro’s have three of the top five players in the world, we’ve got self-proclaimed Mr. Top Five Patrick Reed. We’ve been de-fanged and de-clawed, Tiger is down, Dustin Johnson is in the powder room, and Mr. Happy, Jason Dufner, says he may never play again. The last is a shame since we will all miss his boyish enthusiasm and winning charm. It’s also an away game: Gleneagles in Scotland. Lovely weather up there in late September. Temps in the forties, rain hammering sideways; another treeless wind tunnel that rejects the American air game like Serge Ibaka swats away layups. The layout is rugged and guaranteed to provide an unfamiliar and uncomfortable setting for our sun bleached bunch adding to this already foreboding sense of doom.
If I were Captain Tom Watson I would lobby for shots. The allocation could vary. Say if Rory were playing Jimmy Walker, he might give him two a side. If he were playing Webb Simpson, three per nine. Based on last year’s play, the PGA of America could figure out a simple formula like the number of clutch putts made by the favorite divided by the number of gagged four footers by the underdog. If Euro captain Paul McGinley had any semblance of fairness, he would allow Captain Watson to use his assistant captain Steve Stricker to pair up with Jim Furyk as a best ball team in the singles competition against Rory. It is obvious, some adjustment needs to happen. The most obvious solution is shots. If I could not get them, I would required the Euro’s to wear baggier pants. The wind will be a huge factor. We can’t be out there getting blown around the lot while Rory and Sergio slice through the pounding wind wearing their skin-tight male-enhancement style trousers. I mean really, it’s getting like the NFL as far as Euro-wear goes. And don’t lie, you’ve noticed too. At the PGA Championship, Brit Chris Wood split his pants and had to borrow rain gear to get through the round. By the end of Ryder Cup competition, the American side will have seen enough of the Euros without having to see their junk on display as well.
Maybe an adjustment to the Captains’ picks process would be appropriate. In years when one side clearly has a huge advantage, the underdog captain would get to pick the three at large selections for the favorites. If I were Watson I would select Boy (Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?) George, Russell Brand, and Prince Phillip. I think with the talent we’ve got, we ought to be guaranteed a couple of W’s late in the singles competition (although I hear the 93 year old prince is still crazy long and B.G. makes everything he looks at).
Let’s face it, we’re up against it. This won’t be like the Battle at Brookline. No last day heroics to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This will be more like a Jason Statham beatdown X twelve. Regardless of the jingoistic, fist pumping chants of USA, USA from the American geniuses in the gallery, this whole deal means more to the Brits/Euros than it does to us. We’re not as hungry for it, period. How many prospective U.S. Ryder Cup team members went over to play the Johnny Walker at Gleneagles last year? Maybe get a feel for the place? Experience some competition on the venue itself? Uh, that would be ZERO. Might have been a good idea, dontcha think? Even Euro Captain Paul McGinley played. Our guys can say what they want, but their actions speak louder than their words.
But we still play the matches because sometimes crazy, unexplainable stuff happens in sports. Team USA beat the Rooskis in 1980 at Lake Placid, Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, and Susan Waldman is still a broadcaster for the New York Yankees… ‘nuff said.Read More
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
No Phil, no Tiger, no prob. The Tour Championship was something to see. A gem. Two members of the new era, Generation Obliteration, and a Gen X-er, went at it like a three way gun fight in an old western. Great shot making, cold blooded putting, and steely eyed stares that seemed to peer into the future of the greatest game of all.
I don’t think I was alone in having full confidence in Billy Horschel as he started the round against the phenomenal freakazoid from Northern Ireland. On paper Rory was going to march through Atlanta like General Sherman, but they play the game on grass, and Billy stared the odds in the kisser and blew them away. How many clutch par putts can one man make? How many do or die shots can one Gator hit? There are two swings at Eastlake that would pucker the puckerables on even the most hardened competitors: the tee shot on the seemingly impossible par three sixth (basically the island green hole at the TPC Sawgrass only one hundred yards longer and into a crosswind), and the tee shot on seventeen, a thin strip of fairway guarded by water all down the left and punishing bunkers on the right. Horschel followed Rory’s rinse job on six with a never left the flag three iron to twenty feet below the hole, and striped it down the middle on seventeen as if he were out with his buds playing a two dollar Nassau.
Billy Horschel is here to stay. He comes from a hard working background. He appreciates what he has and where he is. He knows what needs to be done and he goes about his business like someone who really wants to stay on top. He has a great teacher in Todd Anderson, and apparently a support group he surrounds himself with that will keep him grounded. I doubt if his father will proclaim that Billy will be a more significant figure than Ghandi.
And while I’m on the subject, wasn’t it refreshing to have a world number one act so gracious in defeat? A breath of fresh air. To actually say thank you to the interviewer and not mumble “you got it,” made me realize that most golfers still maintain a modicum of class. Rory McIlroy is a good egg who knows how to behave.
So what is next for Billy Horschel? Unfortunately not the Ryder Cup. That ship sailed two weeks ago with the captain’s picks going to three players to whom Billy could give two a side. What a shame. Why not wait until after the Tour Championship to make the picks? What’s the rush? Let’s see who the hottest players are and go with them? Was two Tuesdays ago the only day the PGA could get the Saturday Night Live studio? Come on. Is it about hype, or are we trying to win this thing?Read More
You settle in on the couch. Aah. Beverage on the table, chips, nuts, remote. Another strenuous afternoon of watching golf on the tube. Maybe you played in the morning. Worked on that new move. Maybe it was a morning of honey do’s, whatever. The next four hours will be a seriously uninterrupted vigil watching the best do their thing. Rory McIlroy steps to the tee. He swings. You hear the ball but you cannot see it unless they use that Star Trek comet tail thing that is ever so cool as it slices through the atmosphere in a most beautiful curving red arc. Rory bends to retrieve his tee. The announcer says let’s slow him down and take a look at his motion. This is when you put the drink down. The back swing is ridiculous. Even in your wildest imagination you’ve never kept your left arm that straight for that long. His left shoulder is turned past ninety degrees and his head has not moved a centimeter. You marvel at the way his arms and shoulders come together in a perfect triangle at impact, but what happens next nearly makes you fall off the couch. It’s the finish. Your mouth opens and half a cheese doodle falls out and onto your tee shirt where it leaves an orangey powder trail as it bobbles down between the cushions. The guy doesn’t stop, you think. He just keeps rotating around like a corkscrew. What? He has become a human pretzel. His back is where his chest was during the address position. His right shoulder is actually pointing somewhere slightly left of his target. Come on, man, you say. They demo a few more guys during the telecast and they all do the same thing. You think Justin Rose is just as freaky as Rory the way he twists his body, his back replacing his chest at the finish. I could never do that, you think. You feel like half a man. You look for something to kick, but at this stage you’d probably miss and fall down like Charlie Brown. Ugh!
Don’t despair. What those guys do is ridiculous. It is out of reach for most of us, and we need to get over it and do the very best that we can do. Let’s start by realizing that we are not finely tuned, professionally stretched gym rats with personal trainers watching over us 24/7. For most of us a straight left arm and a big shoulder turn are mutually exclusive. It takes an incredible amount of flexibility to maintain that ‘Rory’ position at the top of our swings, more than we are realistically going to be capable of. So let’s get our priorities straight. First, it is more important to maintain a straight left arm than to achieve some ninety to one hundred degree shoulder turn. If we keep our arms straight when they need to be, we will extend our arc and hit the ball with more consistency and power. When we go for both the huge turn and straight arm, things more often than not, go south. Because of our lack of flexibility, our heads will move off the ball and ugliness ensues.
The same is true at the finish. Let the guys on tour finish like Gumby. If we keep our right arm straight as we swing into the finish we should be okay, then turn and face your target. That is plenty to get the job done. The easiest way to get your right arm straight into the finish is to rotate it over your left as you come into impact. This will square your club face and straighten your right arm.
So chillax, let the big boys do their thing. You do your’s.Read More
ON THE TEE, NORMAN BATES
ON THE TEE, NORMAN BATES
Those crazies in the middle east who whip themselves bloody with chains and tree limbs while running down the street have got nothing on golfers. Upon missing a short one PGA Tour pro Woody Austin nearly knocked himself out with a putter to the side of his head. There was a guy, a club professional, who became so enraged over a series of poor shots that he put his head down and sprinted cranium first into the trunk of an oak tree. It is true. I did not see it happen, but anyone over fifty who has played enough golf in the state of Indiana will verify it. I’m not going to mention the zealot’s name, but upon coming to, he quipped that the oak was the only thing he hit solid all day.
How about pitcher Ken Brown, possibly the worst big money mistake the Yankees ever made, who punched the water cooler and missed the playoffs? Or San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy who appears to be channeling the raging commandant of a World War II Japanese POW camp the way he berates himself on the mound. The list goes on. What do you think John Daly is doing when he pumps two clips of Titleists into a lake? Do you think his honest attempts of pulling off a ridiculous carry might have turned into something ugly and inwardly punishing? We are such a weird species.
The sad truth is that all of us who play golf have a little bit of the crazy gene working. We may not run into trees or punch water coolers, but we damage ourselves for a majority of the time we spend on the course. Humans carry on an internal non-stop dialogue that never shuts down; not even when we sleep. That is a fact. Think about how we talk to ourselves during a round of golf: “You @#@$%^&****&^% how could you miss that putt?” Or “Wake up you dumb f&^%$#. Will I ever hit it solid?” It is destructive and we need to learn to control it.
Finding total inner peace on the course is probably impossible unless you are the Lama or playing eighteen at altitude with the Grateful Dead. But that is okay. A little agitation is good for the focus. A little edge never hurt anybody. Nerves and adrenaline are fine as long as we acknowledge them and learn how to make them work for us. The first step in this process is anticipation. Recognize before you play that you will experience certain uncomfortable feelings on the course. When they come they will not shock your system. Treat the butterflies in your stomach like old friends. It is how you should feel. The next step is keeping it real. Unless you’ve got your name on your bag, you’re going to hit a bunch of crappy shots. Bad shots should not be startling or upsetting. It’s what you do, for pete’s sake. Ben Hogan claimed he only hit a handful of perfect shots during his best rounds. What makes you think you should hit everything pure? The last step is acceptance. Whatever the outcome, accept it. What else can you do? You can’t go back and change the result so deal with it and move on. The only shot that counts is the next one. Get right in your head and you’ve got a chance.
Look at Billy Horschel’s recent performance. This past year he made the commitment to work on his inner demons, and to start controlling his internal dialogue. It has helped him become a top performer. He would be the first one to tell you that this change is not easy. It is a talent that takes time and practice. So stop riding the emotional roller coaster. Keep it real. It’s a game, not life and death. Work hard and enjoy it.Read More