So….Here’s a dumb question. Who wants to improve? Who wants to go out and dominate amongst your friends? Who wants to win? Okay, for those of you who are listening right now, who really, really want to improve your game? Raise your hand. You can put it down now, I see you. The truth is, we are all trying, but we are going about it the wrong way. How many weekend golfers do you know that have not improved their score nor their handicap in the last 5 years? Or even the last 10 years. Is that you?
I’ve noticed an interesting pattern when I play with higher handicapped weekend golfers. After a couple of repeated bad shots, they turn to me and ask, What did I do wrong? What’s a quick fix?
Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with this question. I ask this question all the time just to get a different perspective and to see if someone can spot something very obvious that I can fix right away.
But the problem is this, even though sometimes you can help spot a problem and you can even possibly help fix it for the next few shots…what happens next week? Or the week after? Or the week after that? Yes, you guessed it. You go back to your old habits. Or, you’ve forgotten the fix…or you’ve developed another new problem, or you are now just more confused and don’t even know what to do anymore….and the bummer is, you thought you were well on your way to better golf by learning this quick fix.
So, here’s what I am realizing. Quick tips and quick swing fixes during the round doesn’t always equate to long term improvements and lower handicaps. Actually, sometimes, it can just become even frustrating and confusing. Then what’s the answer? How do we truly get better? How do we become a better player? How do we start lowering our score?
Do you want to know the secret? Okay, I’ll tell you the secret. Practice. Duh!
Oh, I do that, I go and hit balls all the time. Well, most people, when they practice, they just randomly hit a bucket of balls, hit some putts on the practice greens and sometimes even hit some chips for feel and call it done…
What I mean by practice is going out and executing very focused and strategic sessions to improve your game. If you do this right, you will be well on your way to better golf. Again, Duh!
AND I know what you are thinking…who’s got time for that? I can barely get out there on weekends to play. And also, you are thinking…that doesn’t sound very much fun at all.
True, but you want to know what’s NOT fun? Having a frustrating round. You know what’s not fun? Hitting crappy shots. You know what’s not fun? Missing easy putts. You know what’s not fun? Chunking your chips. You know what’s not fun? Triple bogeys. You know what’s not fun? Week after week, year after year, just hacking away and not seeing any improvements in your game. Honestly, I can ask most of my friends in their honest opinion, how much they’ve improved, or even how many strokes they’ve improved in the last 5 years. Most will tell me…ummmmm…none.
So, here’s the thing. I am believing that you are listening to this podcast because you want to get better. I want to give you some practical, tangible and fun ways to get better this week.
What do you mean analyze your game? Do you want me to start keeping track of all my stats? How many fairways hit, how many greens on regulation? how many putts? how many up and down par saves? how many out of the bunker? how many penalty strokes…etc. FORGET IT!! I don’t do that.
My answer is No. Not yet. Unless you are a data geek like me and love doing this, I don’t recommend you do this right now. But to keep it real simple, after each round. I want you to ask yourself these 3 simple questions. 1. What did I do well. 2. What did I do poorly. 3. What do I need to work on this week to improve.
- What did I do well? – The Good: It’s always best to focus on the good first. So, look back to your round and ask yourself, what was good about my round. What did I execute well? What club did I feel really comfortable with? What shot sticks in my mind that I thought was pretty dope!!
- For me, my last round…I was for some reason ON with my driver. I hit almost every fairway. I hit 10 out of 14 fairways, that was amazing!! So, I soaked that in a bit and wrote down a few things about my swing, thoughts and why I thought I hit the driver so well. (So I can remember for next time).
- What did I do poorly? The Bad: What was most frustrating about my round today? What did I do that caused extra strokes that I could have avoided. Which club frightened me the most…which club did I have no control over or even just avoided all together?
- For example, on my last round, I didn’t chip that well. I couldn’t get the right feel of the green and hit it too hard and left it too long for an easy gimme putt. Even those shots where I knew where to land it, I ended up landing a few feet ahead of my target. But what really, really got me really really upset was that I missed all of those putts. I also missed some short putts…easy ones that I should have made. So, I knew I need to get better on my chips and my putts.
- What Do I need to work on this week? Just pick One: Okay, now from the Bad list, pick one thing you want to work on to improve this week.
- So, I picked my putting to work on this week. Even though I felt like my chips could have been closer, I really felt like if I was more confident on my putts, I could have easily made some good pars. So, that’s what I picked. Let’s work on my putting this week.
Now that I analyzed my game, and decided what to work on, I will need to schedule my practice day. This is where everyone falls apart. We have great intentions to improve and we have great goals set for this week…but we don’t sit down and actually schedule the day to practice. This is a fundamental flaw in our system. Just like if you say to your friend, hey, let’s have lunch soon and walk away, guess what? For some reason, you just won’t get around to it. We are too busy and we are too forgetful. I don’t know if you have friends like this, but when we look at each other and say, “let’s do lunch”, my friend always pulls out his phone and says, okay, cool…when? Then, I pull out my phone and figure out a time and a day we can both meet for lunch and we schedule it in. That’s how you make it happen.
Same with your practice. You have your tee time set for next week and it’s already on your calendar so you aren’t going to miss it. So do this now…take your phone, go on your calendar, and make an appointment with yourself to practice that ONE thing. I’ll wait. Okay, I am waiting. Are you doing it?
Side tip. You know what works great? If you can find a day and time that can mostly work for every week…that’s ideal. That way, it becomes a habit, just like working out.
For me, I like to do it during the end of the week, like Thursday…since I usually play on Friday. Then, what I practice is fresh on my mind and in my muscle memory when I play the next day, and I can feel the direct coordination from my practice to the improvement.
Okay, how do you make it fun? Well, it depends on what’s fun for you. For me, competition is fun. For me, making it a game is fun…when there’s a winner and a loser and I am trying to win. That’s what makes it fun for me.
So, let’s go back to my ONE thing that I chose to practice this week, which for me was putting. I have this fun drill that I do to keep myself entertained and engaged throughout my practice. It’s called 3-6-9. I pick a hole on a practice green (usually a slight break uphill – but whichever you want to work on) and mark off 3 feet and insert a tee into the green to mark it off. Then I pace off 3 more feet from there and insert a tee into the green to mark off the 6ft length. Then, you guess it, pace off 3 more feet from there and insert a tee to mark off the 9ft length.
Take 3 balls and start from the 3 feet mark. You can advance to the 6 feet mark only if you make all 3 in a row. Then, you can advance to the 9 feet mark only if you make 3 in a row again (now you have made 6 in a row). Now you are at the 9 feet mark and you sink all 3 in a row. Guess what? You win!!
Here’s the kicker. Anytime, anywhere, you miss a putt, you start over. What??? Yup, you start over from the 3 feet mark.
So, this is what happens during this drill. First, you end up putting from 3 feet like 100 times which will eventually become like second nature. Also, once you advance to the 9 feet mark and you hit two in a row, your last shot becomes a heavy pressure moment. You want to win this game, you want to go home and you do NOT want to start over again. This added pressure will mimic your mental challenge during a real round. You have created an artificial moment of pressure that would require your full focus, mental clarity and calmness to execute and sink the putt. Valuable learning moment? Absolutely. It’s priceless…and, most of all, it was pretty FUN!! Wasn’t fun just imagining it? No? Okay, whatever. The point is, make it FUN!! Something you will look forward to doing.
Any for this drill, I created a simple worksheet for you that you can download. It shows you the step by step instructions and also breaks down the benefits of the drill. It also has a form that you can fill out as you are doing the drill to help you keep records and measurements of your improvement. This way, you can set your goals and log your improvements. I am sure you will find it very useful. You can download it at bettergolfacademy.com/1 it’s a free download so just go ahead and go to bettergolfacademy.com/1 to download your copy.
To summarize the way to truly improve your game next week, implement these 3 things after your round this week. 1. Analyze your game, figure out what you did well, what you did poorly and what you want to work on. 2. Then, schedule a time during the week to practice for an hour or two. Then, 3. practice the drill that will keep you engaged, learning and having fun.
So, going back to my story. When people I play with now ask me…hey, what did I do wrong? Instead of trying to give them swing tips, I now tell them…”um…you didn’t practice.” YOU NEED TO PRACTICE!!!
Here’s the thing. We all want to get better. And we all want to get better because this game can frustrate the heck out of you. It’s a difficult game, It might even be considered one of the hardest sports in the world to master, but I believe with your commitment to learn, your commitment to grow, and ultimately, your commitment to practice. You will improve and you will have so much more fun than you’ve ever had before. Winning is fun. Playing well is fun. Working hard and seeing the results is fun.
Have a great week everyone. Let’s get Better together.
And thanks for listening to Better Golf Academy.