Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Mental Game: 5 Biggest Mistakes

Mental Game

The 5 Biggest Mental Mistakes Golfers Make

Eliminate these and you'll find yourself "in the zone" more often when you're on the golf course

April 2015 
 
Everyone wants to be "in the zone" more often. We've all experienced it before -- nothing could deter our play -- and we crave the ability to find that place once more. But when we try to get in the zone, it always seems to evade us, and we convince ourselves that the high-performance state is something that simply shows up at random.
What if I told you that's not true? What if it's possible to actually be in the zone naturally? Would you believe me?
I wouldn't. I didn't, until I spoke with someone who's spent the last 20 years studying what makes players get -- and stay -- in the zone.

Related: Bob Rotella on the golfer's mind
 
Ed Tseng (@ed_tseng) is an internationally recognized mental performance consultant who has worked with tennis, baseball, basketball and golf professionals, and helped thousands play their best when it matters the most. I asked him some tough questions about why someone plays bad under pressure and what golfers of every level can do to have a better mindset and, in turn, shoot lower scores.

You can listen to a sample of the audio here. These are the five biggest mental mistakes golfers make, according to Tseng:

1. They think about their thinking.
A round of golf contains a huge amount of thinking time. The problem is not the thinking that pops up in our heads; the problem is that we spend too much time thinking about our thinking. Even the best golfers in the world have insecure thinking, but the difference between the best and the rest is that the best don't concern themselves when those thoughts arise.

2. They blame external sources for their feelings.
Ask 99.9 percent of golfers and they will agree that missing an easy putt, tough weather conditions, and/or their results can affect how they feel. Guess what? NOTHING outside of you can affect how you feel. The only thing that can affect your feelings is your thinking in the moment. Case in point: from a low mood, you may think "How can you miss that shot?!?" So it seems like missing the shot is making you feel angry. But take a different scenario: you are feeling confident and you miss a shot . . . do you react the same way? No way. You will probably say something like "That's just one shot, no big deal." It's not the circumstance, it's 100 percent your thinking about the circumstance.
3. They believe that positive thoughts are better than negative thoughts.
When you believe this paradigm, you are creating a duality and when you do not have positive thoughts, you will stress and search for them, and that will take you out of the present moment. And the present moment is where you play your best golf. The reality is, even positive thoughts can hurt you. Ever think "Man, I'm playing great today" then proceed to witness a downward spiral in your performance? The key is not staying positive and avoiding the negative. The key is staying cool regardless of what thoughts pop up in your head, and therefore coming back to the shot at hand.

Related: Bob Rotella's 10 rules for mental fitness
 
4. They focus on the past or the future.
You can learn from the past, and you can plan for the future, just don't live there. Focusing on a past shot is like driving a car only looking in the rear view mirror. Fast forwarding yourself into the future (good or bad) will also take away from quality shots in the moment. We can only experience what we are focusing on in the moment, so if we are focused on the past or the future, we cannot experience flow, satisfaction, or the present.

5. They use techniques, routines, and rituals to try and make themselves play in the zone.
People don't realize that the zone is our default, our true nature. Look at young children, they are always in the moment yet they don't use a "strategy" to get there. When we play our best golf, we are not thinking too much and therefore play "out of our mind." So why would we use a technique to make us think more? It doesn't work and it isn't necessary.

Ed Tseng is an internationally-recognized mental performance consultant, best-selling author, and keynote speaker who has helped thousands of people win more...on and off the course. To work with Ed, call 609.558.1077 or email ed@edtseng.com.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The WGC-Match Play: Matches We Are Looking Forward To.

The 9 matches we're most looking forward to at the WGC-Match Play

By Alex Myers and Stephen Hennessey
This year's WGC-Cadillac Match Play has a new venue (TPC Harding Park) and format. Instead of starting with a bracket of 64 golfers, there are now groups consisting of four players each. One winner from each of the 16 groups -- which were chosen at random with ping-pong balls on Monday -- will advance to the weekend's knockout rounds, a la the World Cup.

Here are the nine "group-play" match ups on Wednesday-Friday we're most looking forward to watching.

Group 1: Rory McIlroy vs. Billy Horschel
The last time these two played each other in match play, they were representing their respective sides at the 2007 Walker Cup. Horschel got the best of McIlroy that week and got under the Northern Irishman's skin for his on-course celebrations. The two claimed they've put the matter behind them, but that doesn't mean they won't each get a little extra pleasure by beating the other at Harding Park. --Alex Myers

Group 2: Jordan Spieth vs. Mikko Ilonen
On paper, this might look like a mismatch between the recent Masters champ and the veteran European Tour member who is only in the field because Phil Mickelson withdrew. Think again. For one thing, as we've seen year after year, no one is a safe bet in this event. And secondly, Ilonen has more match play chops than you might realize. The Finnish player had his finest season in 2014, winning twice, including the Volvo World Match Play Championship, in which he bested Henrik Stenson in the final. Of course, Spieth is the No. 2 player in the world, though, and he's had plenty of match play success as a two-time U.S. Junior Amateur champ. --A.M.

Group 4: Bubba Watson vs. Keegan Bradley
Two of Team USA's strongest contributors in recent years, Bubba and Keegan both won't be easy outs. Keegan doesn't have a stellar WGC-Match Play record (1-3), but when paired with Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup, he comes alive. Maybe he should ask Phil to walk with him in the galleries at TPC Harding Park to pump him up and slap him on the butt. --Stephen Hennessey

Group 5: Jim Furyk vs. Martin Kaymer
These two didn't face each other on Sunday in the "Meltdown at Medinah," but their reactions on the final hole seemed to be the event's most lasting images. Furyk hunched over in agony and Kaymer raising his arms and fist-pumping after sinking the winning putt. Both are also U.S. Open champions and have squared off in this event before with Furyk winning 4 and 2 in a 2009 second-round match. --A.M.
 
Group 7: Jason Day vs. Zach Johnson
Day is the defending champion and owns a 14-3 record in the Match Play -- which along with his stellar 3-1 record at the last Presidents Cup -- makes him one of the most feared match-play opponents in the world. But when he faces Zach Johnson, he's going up against one of the most fearless players in the world. Johnson can get hot with the putter, and he just recently switched back to his trusted Seemore. This might be an upset if ZJ wins but it wouldn't be hugely surprising to us. --S.H.

Group 8: Dustin Johnson vs. Victor Dubuisson
Dig the long ball? Well, these are two of the longest hitters in the world. Dubuisson announced himself to golf fans around the world with his uncanny recovery shots in last year's WGC-Match Play final when he took Jason Day to 23 holes. And he took down another fellow bomber, Bubba Watson, last year. DJ is 2-6 in past WGC-Match Plays, but his game wasn't really suited to the past venue, the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. He's been solid in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and has been playing great in 2015, so this should be an interesting match. --S.H.

Group 11: Jimmy Walker vs. Ian Poulter
Pitting perhaps, the best golfer on the planet in 2015 not named Jordan Spieth in Walker versus a Ryder Cup legend in Poulter. The Englishman has more pro match play experience in singles than anyone in the field with a career record of 34-14-5. But Walker proved himself in this format at his Ryder Cup debut last fall. Still, as a No. 1 seed, no one could blame him for feeling unlucky for drawing Poulter right away. --A.M.

Group 13: Rickie Fowler vs. Graeme McDowell
There's a ton of match-play experience in this group. Rickie is a two-time Ryder Cupper and owns a 7-1 record in two Walker Cups. McDowell won the clinching point in his 2010 Ryder Cup defeat over Hunter Mahan, and went 3-0 in 2014 at Gleneagles. G-Mac hasn't played great this year, but the guy thrives in this format as evidenced by his victory at the 2013 Volvo World Match Play Championship. --S.H.


Group 14: Matt Kuchar vs. Hunter Mahan
The U.S. Ryder Cup teammates will make up the only group-play match involving two former champions of this event. Other than Jason Day, Kuchar has the best current match play winning percentage (69) of anyone in the field. Mahan isn't far behind at No. 4 (66 percent) and he nearly matched Tiger Woods as the only repeat winner of this event. Who stopped him in the 2013 final? That's right, Kuchar. --A.M.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Golf Instruction: Why You're Not a Tour Player!

Bomb & Gouge

Why you're not a tour player

Tour pros at impact (black) vs. average players (blue).
Jason Lee

 
 
Q. Tour pros use irons with more loft and less springy faces than my irons. Why do they hit their 6–irons 190 yards, and I hit mine only 155?

BOMB Try hitting the ball on the center of the clubface a few times and maybe you'll close the gap a little. Actually, though some players get that kind of distance out of their 6–irons, most tour pros don't. David Toms, for example, says his 6–iron goes 180. So does Jim Furyk. Both have won major championships. But I get your point. Tiger once hit a 6–iron 218 yards from a bunker over water to win the Canadian Open.

GOUGE Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada showed us during our recent visit that elite golfers' muscles fire in a precise sequence that maximizes speed at the bottom of the swing. (Players don't really know they do that, and they don't really know how they do it, either.) Hackers' muscles fire out of sequence and often too early, requiring all sorts of adjustments that slow clubhead speed.

BOMB Say what you really mean: Most choppers move into the ball with so many parts shifting that they look like the largemouth bass my 10–year–old reeled out of the water last week. But when you look at tour stats, the 6–iron distances aren't entirely overwhelming. Our friends at the U.S. Golf Association recently showed us data from the PGA Tour's ShotLink system that had the average 6–iron distance of a tour player at 175 yards for a shot from the fairway on a par 4 and 186 yards for a shot off the tee.

GOUGE That's still farther than any normal human. Why? Two other reasons: First, elite golfers deloft their irons (a 6–iron becomes a 5–iron at impact). I've seen data from a TrackMan launch monitor that shows an elite player launching the 6–iron at a 14– or 15–degree angle with 90–plus miles per hour clubhead speed. Even a competent average player might swing his 6–iron at only 80 miles per hour and launch it a degree or two higher. That's 20 yards right there—minimum. A real chop, meanwhile, is turning that 6–iron into a 7–iron loft at impact—a slow 7–iron, at that.

Q. Pros play steel shafts in their irons much more than graphite. Why? Do they get better feel or control?
 
BOMB Feel and control are factors. It can be more difficult to produce consistency in graphite shafts as opposed to steel, albeit the difference is minimal. Scott Verplank, who had not used steel in his irons in 15 years, changed at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and won the event. "They're just more consistent," he said. "I've noticed it with the flight of the ball and the way it hits."

GOUGE In professional golf, perception is nine–tenths of the law, regardless of its basis in reality. Technologically, graphite's primary benefit is its lighter weight. It can help you increase clubhead speed, and it can dampen vibration. However, for graphite to have the consistency of steel, generally speaking, you will have to pay more than $30 a shaft, plus installation.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Key to Jordan Spieth Winning the Masters

 The Key to Jordan Spith Winning the Masters


The key for Jordan Speith winning The Masters is taking a page out of Raymond Floyd’s playbook when he won The Masters by a substantial margin after setting the 36 hole scoring record that Speith just broke.

Ray-FloydIn an interview after winning the Masters Tournament in 1976 when he won by 8 shots, Floyd was asked why he was still going for the par 5’s in two on the final round with such a big lead. His answer was, “I was afraid not to”. He went on to say that he got into that position by playing aggressively and he was afraid to change that. If he started just trying to protect his lead, he was afraid of what might happen.
It was a brilliant strategy and it worked. Had he shifted to a “protect the lead” mode, it could have all gone south on him. Some of the worst memories I have come from getting it enough under par to win a tournament (not a tour event) and then shifting to the “let’s just get it to the clubhouse” mode. It never ended well. When you start trying not to play bad it will inevitably come back to bite you. You give up a bogey and you don’t try to get it back – you just try not to make another one. Once that happens there is no recovery. As Lee Trevino once said, “The hardest thing to do is stop making bogeys.”

As long as Speith keeps trying to increase his lead he will be fine. As long as he keeps trying to make birdies and eagles he will be putting the pressure on the rest of the field. The other players are already in a position where they have to alter their game plans. Normally when you are 8 under par after thirty six holes at the Masters you are at least considering the possibility that you are in a position to have a good chance at winning. Now you are thinking “my god, I’m already 6 shots back and this guy is playing lights out.” I have to go out there and force birdies.

Intimidation was one of Jack Nicklaus’s great assets. When the roars from the fans started and other players started seeing the red numbers posted on the scoreboard their attitude changed. All of a sudden they got the feeling that they couldn’t afford to make a mistake because they knew he wasn’t going to. When you tighten up and change your game plan things rarely work out well.


Speith is in that position of forcing everyone else to consider changing their game plan and all he needs to do is keep playing the way he is.

As long as the enormity of what he is about to accomplish at the ripe old age of 21 doesn’t take over then he will be fine. If it does and he starts protecting his lead, then you can stick a fork in him.

However it all works out it is going to be exciting and interesting.

I am personally curious to see how Tiger Wood’s play develops. It appears that he may be getting some of his confidence back and if that happens, we all know what he is capable of.

Have fun and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Tiger Woods Playing Well Enough To Make the Cut and We Can't See It.

The fact that we can't see Tiger Woods play golf today is kind of absurd

By Geoff Shackelford
As phenomenal as the Masters.com/DirecTV digital options can be, the uptick in social media gripes and venting emails suggests it will be increasingly difficult for the Masters to continue limiting the weekday broadcast time. 

featured-group-560.jpg
The culprit this year: odd choices for the Featured Group coverage. Day Two manages to not include the grouping of Jamie Donaldson, Jimmy Walker and Tiger Woods. But there is the featured group of Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell. 

Nice guys, but not Tiger Woods.

For The Win's Chris Chase criticizes the decision.

So, on Friday, the only way you’ll be able to see live shots of the most famous golfer in the world at the most famous golf tournament in the world is to catch him on the Masters’ Amen Corner Cam (approach shots at No. 11, all of No. 12, most of 13) and the channel devoted to holes No. 16 and 17. That’s ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as keeping viewers in the dark for more than half the tournament. We spent two months talking about Tiger at the Masters and might see him for about an hour on Friday, assuming you’re by a computer or phone.

It’s not impossible to follow Woods. The new Masters.com “Track” feature provides a sensational look at a player’s round, including distances of shots and immediate updates as a round plays out. “Track” even includes links to Live coverage if the player is currently on one of the Amen Corner or 15/16 feeds. 

tiger-woods-tracker-560.jpg

But it’s not quite the same as seeing as much as you want of the four-time champion making his Masters return.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The 10 Most Beautiful Women Golfers of All Time

If you decide you need a break from The Masters and all the conjecture on who is going to win it, then I offer this video as a pleasant break.  I think they covered most of the good ones but everybody has their own favorites.  I especially enjoy the shots of Jan Stephenson and Laura Baugh because when they they were playing a good looking woman playing professional golf was almost unheard of.  The best you could hope for was maybe nice legs.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Masters Tournament Makes the Competitive Juices Flow.

Tiger Woods Relaxed and Smiling in Practice Rounds!

A very positive sign for Tiger. The dream is still alive! #TigerWoods #TheMasters #Golf

Posted by Essentially Golf on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Friday, April 3, 2015

BS of the Week: Rory has "the most unstable swing in golf history"


Just had a last minute entry and it wins the Bull Shit of the Week Award hands down.  They are instantly eligible for the BS Hall of Fame!  This is on Golf Digest's website.

This one of the things that hurts golf today is idiots with internet access and access to sophisticated technology and no clue about golf or what it actually takes to play golf.



Golf Instruction: The Myth of Looking Up!

Great Deals on Golf Equipment!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Great Golf Joke!

Jim decided to tie the knot with his long time girlfriend.

One evening, after the honeymoon, he was cleaning his golf shoes.

His wife was standing there watching him.

After a long period of silence she finally speaks.

"Honey, I've been thinking, now that we are married I think it's time you quit golfing.

Maybe you should sell your golf clubs."

Jim gets this horrified look on his face.

She says, "Darling, what's wrong?"

”For a minute there you were sounding like my ex-wife.”

"Ex wife!" she screams, "I didn't know you were married before!"

”I wasn't!“

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Golf Instruction: How NOT to Get Better

I've been spending some time in various golf communities recently and have been fascinated by the number of people that will post a video of their swing and ask for help or comments.

This is an absolute recipe for disaster because every golfer that can get the ball airborne will offer advice a tips. On top of that you have all the armchair instructors that have a subscription to Golf Digest (Golf Digest is OK if you are capable of mimicking a tour player) and watches YouTube videos think they are experts and will jump at the chance to expound on a subject they really know little if anything about.

Taking tips from all these people, magazines, and videos is like going to class every day and having a new instructor every day with little or no background in the subject and none of them talk to each other.

To make bad matters worse, here are typical comments made by golf professionals on some of these sites:

"It's not the vertical force that creates the slowing down necessarily. It's about how big of a moment arm you create, direction of the force vector, not just magnitude, etc..."

"The difference between where your COP is, COM and direction and magnitude of the force vector. The bigger the moment arm, the more speed created. The smaller the less. More factors into play than just vertical force speeding up or slowing down the pelvis or body. If your COP and COM line up over each other, you'll lose speed not gain it."

"Just interesting to me to see people that don't use forceplates comment on proper use of the ground and GRF."

"You have the acceleration and deceleration of segments as well as alignments. The bigger the moment arm between the COM and COP the more speed you can create. You mention the use of vertical force for creating "parametric acceleration and additional club speed"."

"Parametric acceleration is only a minor contributor to club speed, almost not worth mentioning in general conversation. It is generating the first 97-98% of club speed that is most important. Vertical and horizontal forces are both very important for that. I think you meant this, but since parametric acceleration is listed first, I wanted to clarify for those not familiar."

No wonder people are quitting the game and don't get better.  I have one simple code that I live by “Anyone that can't explain the golf swing in a simple, easy to understand fashion is not an "expert".  They are at best just knowledgeable.”


There is some great stuff out there by really great instructors, but it is hard to find.  You can visit my website to find a lot of it or email me.   You can also catch me on Twitter or FaceBook or Google+ and it's all free - no strings attached!