For those who read the ‘May Review’ and follow me on Social Media know that i have been thinking about and writing this 3 part serious for a little while.
Some of my biggest improvements have come from the mental side of golf rather than the physical. The idea for ‘A Rookie Golfer’s Mindset’ is to discuss my mind-set of playing golf, It’s also to challenge the way in which you think about golf, more so for Rookies rather than the experienced golfer (but you never know going back to basics never hurts).
For the record I class rookies as high handicappers, I won’t put a number on that as high handicappers is down to personal interpretation and I do not want to deter any golfer away from reading my blogs.
This series of blogs is going to be split into 3 parts:
Part 1: Practice & Know your game
Part 2: Course Management & On/Around the Green
Part 3: Handicap & Pre Shot Routines
How do you practice? Do you Practice? Where do you Practice? Do you have a plan? Do we need to practice? How often do you practice?
Sorry for the grand inquisition, but can you answer the above? There is no right or wrong answer. For me the starting point is yes I practice! I come from a sporting background where I’ve either trained on a daily/weekly basis or practiced when I got the chance. For me golf is no different.
I have the hand I coordination, I have the physical ability but I may be lacking in the raw talent section… but that does not bother me that’s what practice is for! How does the say go? ‘Hard Work beats Talent”
As you can guess with all the questions I want to challenge myself and you ‘the readers’. For me I break my practice down into range sessions and on course practice.
Do you have a plan? I use to regularly go to the range (before joining a club, who don’t have an onsite range). The ringing of driver heads smashing balls was a common sound! One that if being honest I heard too often, after all the driver is one of the least used clubs in the bag right? I don’t carry one as I can’t hit one straight at the moment, but I know I would only get it out on maybe 9 holes that could warrant it.
My point here is to spend 25 out of 60 balls on a single club that you may only use a few times per round doesn’t seem the best use of time or money. Yes I hold my hand up when I 1st started playing all I wanted to do was go to the range and see how far I could it, and yes I will still attempt it from time to time, just not for 50% of my time at the range.
So my start to practice was getting into good habits, so I initially had a few lessons (I won’t go into detail of what each lesson corrected as it’s individual to every golfer). So my range sessions then consisted of putting those swing changes into practice and trying to embed them. I found that for each lesson it would take 2 or 3 range sessions for it to feel comfortable
So ‘My Plan’ for range sessions led to more consistent striking and I had a pattern of shots. (I’ll talk more about this in ‘Know your game’).
The next phase of my plan for range sessions was/is to start on distance control and understanding my clubs. 85% to 90% of my focus and practice turned to 150 yards and in. Something which is widely published that all tour pros will tell you this is where being able to attack the green and be successful is where you will start to reduce your scores.
So i spent the best part of 3 months, around 4 to 6 range sessions a month in practicing just this. I only took my 7i, 8i, 9i, Wedge and 52 degree wedge with me for 60% of sessions and then more of a mixed bag including my 3 wood and 20, 23 degree hybrid with me for the others.
It did not take long for me to see the improvements this made, letting the club do the work rather than me force a club to go an extra 10 yards. It got to the point that my clubs are now around 10/15 yards difference between them (not including roll) and at 100 yards and further it’s very tough to see the difference in 10 yards. For me this was a step in the right direction.
This is now something which gives me confidence on the course. Do you all a good idea of your distances?
Of course the plan is forever evolving, during the winter months and start of the season it was very much distance control and getting good swing habits from the lessons imbedded. I don’t really want to be trying to change too much in the middle of the season as I want to play as much golf as I can so I translon over to on course practice if time allows and if nothing is majorly going wrong with my swing.
On Course Practice
I appreciate not everyone is a member of a golf club, but as of last month I am lucky enough to be one. This gives me the luxury of being able to jump on the course for a few holes or down the academy practice area. My range does not have a short game facility so bunker play, chipping and putting for me can only be done on the course.
For those who may be thinking ‘what is this guy on about! On Couse Practice!’. I’ll quickly point out that each professional golf event will have a practice round before the competition starts. Yes they may not be practicing or using the mindset that I am talking about, but the outcome is the same right?!
Again I take the same approach as a range session, specifically going to practice 150 yards and in with an actual target and my own balls takes a practice session to the next level. This puts a little bit more pressure on which is great as it’s a little more realistic for when you are playing a round or even in a competition. As I tend to tighten up in my swing when I’m on the course, something I am working on.
Do you have a bogy hole at your club? Why not go and practice on that hole? My club allows me to play two balls if I’m out on my own so I will do just that! As I have difficulty with tee shots from time to time, I will play two different clubs and play two different shots to gain a bit of confidence and develop a back up plan for when I am playing a round.
On the course is also the only time you can get practice and gain experience in playing in adverse weather conditions. I appreciate this may not be for the fair weather golfers, but now that I have the bug bad I need to learn how to play in windy and wet conditions. Something I am very much still working on. It’s not fun getting soaking wet, and I don’t ever plan on going out in torrential rain but I may want to enter the winter league this year so will need to be able to play in wintery conditions.
Some to summarise my mindset on practice:
- Have a plan and stick to it
- Changing your swing, try and use range session to embed the changes (saves on lost balls and can be less frustrating if the changes are hard to adapt to)
- Trying to get a club to work, Eg, working on hitting a driver straighter – spend some time at the range before unleashing it on the course. It will save you shots, balls and a little bit of sanity.
- Have a lesson
- On course, practice scenario type shots (bunker play, putting on course greens, using a ‘live’ target.
Know your game
For me I brake my game down into the following:
- Bad Shots
For me this is heavily linked to practice, during the winter months I worked on 150 yards and in. I feel as if I know my distances pretty well, however I still hit short and long. In part this is due to course management issues and inconsistency/development of my swing.
I strongly believe it’s a confidence booster and a credit to your own game being able to know your distances as it allows you to attack the greens or lay up to hazards. Knowing the distances take any negative thoughts away from club selection.
Knowing what distance you have to play however is another subject and something I am working on reviewing apps and gadgets that are Rookie Friendly and help speed up the learning curve and increase the enjoyment of this game.
I’ve just come back from a round and after a recent lesson have noticed that my distances are altering a little, so I’m now making a conscious effort to revisit this aspect as all our golf games are evolving, for better or worse.
This is a big thing for me both in golf terms but even in my working life. It allows me to track trends, spots opportunities, strengths and highlight areas for development.
I use free apps at the moment to track, Green in Regulation, Putts, Driving accuracy. I have to hold my hands up here and say I do not use an app to track distance (working on a review on this as we speak). I do this after the round rather than use an app to keep score as I go around.
I feel that by tracking the stats I can focus on my weakness and see how much they are impacting my game and what actions are required. They also allow me to see the improvements once the actions are implemented.
For example, through tracking stats I noticed that I was 3 putting up to 50% on some rounds. Something I did not actually feel or spot myself during the rounds. So off I went to my local pro and had a putting lesson, now my 3 putts have been dramatically reduced. Take a look!
The perfect reason to track stats!
If you don’t know your bad shot, or as a newcomer to golf say every shot is a bad shot. Stats can really help, for example driving accuracy stats will tell you as a percentage if you hit the fairway or miss by left or right. For me I would go so far and make the bold statement if you don’t know your bad shot do you really know your game at all?!
For me my bad shot is a push to the right, especially with my 20 degree hybrid and 3 wood more so off the tee. I know this and my stats confirm this:
Over the last 3 rounds a hook as appeared as well (not good having a two way miss), but my stats show that the miss to the left is on the rise. So I have a lesson booked in as I have tried to correct it myself and having inconstant results.
I’ve mentioned in previous pots and a few times above that I have lesson. I understand that this is not for everyone and lessons can be expensive sometimes the same price as a round of golf. However for me they allow a professional to spot what is going wrong far easier than me and can correct it then and there and give you a plan to build it into a positive habit.
If my game is going well, I still keep in touch with the pro and still got back for a recap lesson, as going back to the basics is something which I feel I over look and something in general that is over looked. I have recently gone back due to a hook appearing into my game, outcome of the lesson I have become lazy and let my right hand become a strong grip allowing the club to close a little easier.
I will admit I did try using youtube for hints and tips when I 1st started playing and it was not for me. I am not knocking any of the guys that do this, I think Me and My Golf and Mark Crossfield are great. What I struggle with is knowing if I’m doing what they tell you to do properly. With physical lessons you get the chance to interact and the technique can be tweaked to suit your physical abilities.
So my advice would be if you can afford it or if you are happy to sacrifice the money for a single round and put it towards a lesson you will get more fulfilment out of you game for it. After all us Rookies need all the help we can get!
So that’s it for part 1, I hope it has been of some interest to my mind set and hope you can all take something away from the post. None of the ideas are unique or brand new but I do want to challenge you all to adapt or change your mindset if you feel you know have a gold mind set.
Let me know how you get on with it, drop me a comment or get in touch via social media. I am really interested to hear your thoughts!
If you do have a mindset share it with me, as I want to learn and be challenged as well!
In the next post of this 3 part blog series:
Part 2: Course Management & On/Around the Green
Until next time Happy Golfing!