Every golfer I know wants to become a better golfer. It doesn’t matter what their golf handicap is— from 3 to 30! Every golfer wants to hit that perfect golf shot and make their best personal score each and every time they hit the golf course. Isn’t that what keeps us all coming back?
But no golfer is perfect and that great golf score sometimes seems like a far off illusion. If there is one thing I can count on in golf, consistency in my game is definitely inconsistent!
I had a chance to sit down for an interview with two of the best golf instructors in the country this past winter at the PGA Merchandise Show. Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott are founders of the golf school, Vision54, in Phoenix, Arizona. Some of the best players in the game, both men and women, are their students. This is the second half of our interview. (The first half was published in a previous post: Three Essentials Skills Every Recreational Golfer Can Learn To Improve Their Game.)
In this portion of the interview, I asked Pia and Lynn to talk about the importance of proper swing technique and how thinking too much can get in the way of a great golf shot. Some of the topics we covered:
- getting good advice from an instructor
- managing “self-talk” and over thinking your shots
- making a shot decision and having commitment
- learning to give yourself permission to keep everyone else out of your “playbox”
Podcast (golfgurls-podcast): Download (Duration: 6:11 — 2.8MB)
Bottom line advice: If you want to improve your golf game, be sure to get some objective feedback from a qualified instructor to analyze your swing and suggest ways to make it more effective. But don’t focus only on the technical. So many other factors, especially for the recreational golfer, impact your game. Chief among them is the negative self talk and lack of commitment we all experience when it comes to deciding the next shot to make.
How often have you stood over a putt and changed your mind about the line? Or had a fleeting image of the sand trap on the left side of the fairway that you want to avoid just as you are starting you downswing?
It takes practice to discipline your mind to focus on the shot you’re playing and keep your mind still: to play in the “now” and stay in the moment. By doing just these two things — enter into what Pia and Lynn call your “think box,” decide on the best shot you can make, imagine it and declare it (outloud if you like), and then move into your “play box” fully committed to your decision— your game will certainly improve.
Pia and Lynn have co-authored two books that explain their effective teaching methods: Every Shot Must Have A Purpose, and The Game Before the Game: The Perfect 30-Minute Practice. Their third book: Play Your Best Golf Now is due for release at the end of April 2011. All three are available online at amazon.com.
I agree with getting those fundamentals down… but I think getting a handle on those more subtle issues is also a big part of playing the game well. At least becoming aware of how negative self talk can really get in your way. The mental side of golf has a lot to do with making it work for you. When things start to go wrong, it is really hard to keep your head cool and stay focused on the positive. I’m thinking of the recent meltdown of McGilroy at the Masters. Can’t imagine what that pressure must have been like.
I always like to advise beginners to focus on the fundamentals of the game first. The grip, stance, posture and aim and alignment. Get these things right first and you are well on your way to a great golf swing.