After a long hiatus, I am glad to say we are back! I apologize for not posting in so long, but Breaking 90 is back and on the way to being better. I can’t think of a better place to kickoff our return than with the second installment of Adam Sprackling’s fantastic ‘Zero to Pro in 18 Months’ article. For those who don’t remember Adam, he’s a golf instructor/mind coach who was telling me about one of his students, who went from ‘knocking some balls around the garden’ to passing the PGA Playing Ability test and gaining PROFESSIONAL status.
The first installment was so good, I can’t wait to share the second one with all of you!
I’ve been working and training as a mind coach for over 15 years and have been fortunate enough to witness many rapid transformations over that time. I’d like to continue to share with you the story so far of one of my most recent clients. He really is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when you get your mind on board! In Part 1 of this blog, I talked about his rapid rise to success, shooting under par to win a major club competition within just 3 months of starting to play golf!! We then how we worked on his routines to develop a consistent mental process, driving his scores down further. This is Part 2…
2. His Focus
Once his process was in place, our second key area of attention was his focus. He had previously been so focused on his score that it took him away from being present to the shot. He had started to focus on all sorts of things that were distracting him, such as swing thoughts and a collection of different possible outcomes that he didn’t want. He certainly was not Single Minded. To bring him back into now, we developed his peripheral awareness to imagine connecting the ball to a very specific target on the ground, right throughout the 3 phases of the shot. This brought his awareness over shots to notice the two dots on the ground (the ball and the target) AT THE SAME TIME, making the shot simply about joining the dots. By doing this he reduced his internal chatter and had a single minded, clear intention for his shot.
3. His Commitment
With his process and his focus set, the most recent piece of the jigsaw has been commitment. Rather than concern himself with score, Mark has been measuring himself on his single minded commitment to every shot. At the end of each hole he gives himself two scores, total shots and total shots he fully committed to. Fully committed means that he followed his routines, was fully ready and gave 100% to that one shot in his mind. If he changed his mind over the ball he didn’t get a point. For example, if he got a 4 but only committed to 3 of them, he writes down a 4 with a 3 next to it. At the end of his round, he then adds up his two scores and works out the percentage of shots he played with full commitment. When we first did this he scored 75% – not bad but plenty of room for improvement. As his commitment improves, so do his scores, recently shooting a three under 67 (when he scored 90% commitment), followed by a five under 67 the following day (when he scored 93% commitment). The more he shifts his focus towards committing to each shot, the less relevant his score becomes, and the lower he able to go. This is Single Minded Golf.
In order to raise his percentage score, he has had to make some changes to his shot selection. Previously he would have double bogeys out of nowhere due to him picking low percentage shots. As he was standing over the ball not being 100% confident in his ability to play it, he would lose his focus, not commit and mess up his shot. This means he now finds himself using 3 wood off the tee more, laying up on par 5’s more, and working with wind rather than fighting it – all in the name of commitment. He has also started keeping his own playing stats to measure his progress in each area, in order to improve his commitment on specific shots in his practice sessions.
As a result of working on these 3 areas of Process, Focus and Commitment, his game has been quickly progressing once more. As I write this, Mark’s handicap is 3.0 and coming down with each sub par round he shoots. His confidence has reached the stage where he can still shoot under par when he’s not playing well, his belief in his ability continues to grow, and his commitment is now averaging over 90%. In July he passed his PGA Playing Ability Test and will gain professional status in the next few weeks.
So what have been the keys to his rapid progress?
Mark’s greatest asset as a golfer is that he walks lightly. What do I mean by this? As I’ve become known for my ability to create transformational change, many clients come to see me to unburden themselves from their emotional baggage, such as fear, 1st tee nerves, the yips, not being able to “cross the line”, anger, frustration, embarrassment, etc etc. Or they come to finally resolve their confidence issues resulting from lack of self belief. But not Mark. In fact when I met him I was wondering how I could help him! Mark’s greatest asset is his attitude of “I never thought much of it really” when he broke par after playing for only 3 months. Of course he likes to score well, but his biggest motivation, unlike most players, is not just to play well today. His biggest motivation is to learn from today to make tomorrow even better. Neither Mark or I know how far he can go, but one thing is certain. Unlike most of us, he will definitely find out!
If you’d like to find out how far you can go with your mind and your game, click here and make your game Single Minded!
I had the great fortune to meet Adam Sprackling on Twitter earlier in the year. He’s a golf instructor/mind coach who was telling me about one of his students, who went from ‘knocking some balls around the garden’ to passing the PGA Playing Ability test and gaining PROFESSIONAL status.
The minute I heard about this, I had to have Adam tell us more about it, and fortunately, he’s provided us with two posts on the subject. Here’s the first one, the second post will follow shortly.
I’ve been working and training as a mind coach for over 15 years and have been fortunate enough to witness many rapid transformations over that time. I’d like to share with you the story so far of one of my most recent clients. He really is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when you get your mind on board!
Prior to April 2010, Mark (now 20) had played the odd game of golf on holiday with his parents and had knocked a ball around in his garden. Keen to give golf a go, he decided to get himself fitted for a set of clubs and got stuck in. He started by taking lessons once a week, working on grooving a consistent swing that he could rely on. His initial 23 handicap quickly tumbled to 14 as he started to practice 5 or 6 days a week, hitting the range after work and as much as he could at weekends. The more he practised and played, the more he wanted to practise and play. As you might expect from a player with so little experience, he played very freely and creatively, going for every shot and having lots of ups and downs, learning from his many mistakes.
By early July, Mark won his first trophy at the Dyke Golf Club near Brighton (a tough course). This was a remarkable achievement in itself after such a short space of time. But his score was the truly remarkable feat. He went round in 71 shots,
1 UNDER PAR!!!
I spoke to him about this round recently and he said he simply said “Yeh, I played quite well”. Hang on a minute, 3 months of golf, played “quite well”, 1 under par???!!! John Richardson famously wrote his best seller about breaking par in a YEAR – not 3 MONTHS!!! And the best bit was Mark’s reaction when I asked him about it, “I never thought much of it really”.
By November 2010, Mark had been making great strides, taking his handicap down a further 7 shots in as many months. With such rapid progress, he had begun thinking about turning pro in 2011 and what it was going to take to get there. To become a PGA pro he needed to have at least a 4 handicap and successfully complete his PGA Playing Ability Test. At the same time he was starting to find that the better he got, the harder it was to improve. Rather like squeezing a bar of soap, the more he focused on shooting lower scores, the more they eluded him. He had developed his swing, he now needed to develop his mind and his ability to score consistently. This is when he approached me to help him become Single Minded.
I was obviously very impressed with his development to date and curious as to how his progress had seemingly ground to a halt. He was starting to become disheartened and stuck on a plateau. The key barrier to overcome was his inconsistent focus. He was inconsistent pre-shots, during shots and post-shots – and therefore had inconsistent scores, shooting almost as many double bogies as birdies. We set about working on 3 key areas to develop a consistently single minded approach for every shot. I shall go through the first area we worked on in Part 1 and cover the next two in Part 2 of this blog.
1. His Process
We developed 3 phases for each of his shots:
1. The Think Box – before the shot behind the ball
2. The Play Box – over the shot
3. The Learn Box – after the shot holding the follow through
For each shot, Mark often did not spend enough time in the Think Box so he would step up to the ball without a crystal clear image and feeling of his shot. Not being ready before he stepped up, led him to spend extra time thinking in the Play Box, causing him to think too much over the shot (a common mistake). He also had very little awareness of how to learn after shots, more concerned with the outcome of the shot than learning from how he played it.
When putting together routines, most players (even pros) do it based on what they’ve been told to do or seen on TV. This usually does not work as it misses out the key purpose of the routine – to get you ready for the shot EVERY TIME. In designing Mark’s routines, we started by uncovering his two “readiness triggers” – how he knew he was:
a) Ready to exit the Think Box and step up into the Play Box (for him this was clearly seeing the shot shape from behind the ball) and
b) Ready to play the shot in the Play Box (for him this was a warm expanding feeling of connectedness in the centre of his feet)
Knowing exactly HOW he was ready meant that he would no longer ever stand over shots waggling and feeling uncertain about what to do. It also meant we could tailor make specific routines for the 3 phases of each shot to ensure his readiness triggers would be fired off each time.
We also put in a Learn Box, a post-shot routine, to make him review and learn from every shot he played by imagining how he could play it even better. This stopped him dwelling on what he did wrong and focused him on what he wanted to do instead. This meant that he could feel good and learn from even bad shots and therefore recover quickly after mistakes, making the next shot even more single minded.
In Part 2, I will take you through the other 2 key areas we are working on that are transforming his results – his focus and his commitment to every shot.
In the mean time, if you’d like to learn more about how to get the most from your mind and your game, click here.
Better to be thought a jerk, the modified saying goes, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Apparently, Stevie Williams never heard this saying, or at least, the lesson never sunk in.
How else can we explain his statements last night after new boss Adam Scott’s win at the WGC International, where, among other things, he claimed this week and the win to cap it were among the best in his life? Needless to say, Tiger won’t be getting any Christmas cards from New Zealand any time soon.
Before we get into it, let’s dispense with the obvious; there has always been something fishy about the way Tiger split with his caddy, and that the golfer was likely in the wrong for tossing a side a loyal partner and friend in Williams. Williams has every right to be upset.
Still, how long is the sports public going to let Williams play the victim card? Williams has been saying ‘woe is me’ ever since word of his split with Tiger first started to spread, culminating in Sunday night’s interview with David Feherty.
No one is going to deny that it must have felt good for Williams to get one over on his old boss, and rightly so. However, you also can’t argue with the fact that he took things a bit too far and let his revenge story overshadow Scott’s win.
Stevie Williams has caddied long enough that he should know better.
When asked those questions by Feherty, he should have simply thanked people for their support, then thrown the focus back on Adam Scott’s round and victory. His point would have been made and in the process he would have shown a level of class and dignity that would make Tiger look all the smaller for his actions.
Instead, we get an ongoing feud that’s looking more and more like a high school cat fight, and that’s a shame. Adam Scott deserved better, and so does the game of golf and its fans.
Stumbled across this video the other day, and it could not have come at a better time.
I was playing a round the other day and really fighting my swing, when I started paying attention to where my elbows, particularly my right elbow was, while I brought the club back and swung it forward. Once I started doing that, I was able to hit some absolutely gorgeous shots; the ball took off straight as an arrow and flew like a rocket. Now if I could just make the rest of my swing mistakes go away, I could start my career on the PGA Tour.
I never realized how important the right elbow was in golf until I started thinking about it the other day. Now it’s easy to see how controlling your elbow and keeping it in the right place is so important. Take a look at these swings from Jack Nicklaus; he absolutely shows a ‘flying elbow’ but you can see him returning the elbow to the proper position on his downswing.
Now compare to Phil Mickelson, who doesn’t have quite the flying elbow.
As much as I hope this announcement will be positive news, it’s hard to to really believe that’ll be the case. Forgetting all the negativity around TW, from the Galea mess, to his injuries, to his swing issues, consider the following:
He’s making this announcement during the week of the British Open. I think Tiger is too savvy to know that any attempt to bring attention to himself during the week of the Open would not be received well, which suggests that the news he is announcing is not good and the timing is forced.
He’s not hyping this announcement either on his own site, or on Twitter. Again, if it was good news, both Tiger and the Golf Channel would be hyping this announcment
Woods isn’t talking to the press as a whole, rather his ‘friend’ Kelly Tilghman. Once again, doesn’t mean anything on its own, but not a great sign.
The timing and circumstances around this announcement certainly don’t paint an optimistic picture. Instead, it looks like Tiger is trying to get out in front of a story that could be damaging in some way.
Obviously, with Dr Galea being in the news lately, thoughts immediately turn to PEDs, but I don’t think, and would hate to think that would be the case. Buzz on Twitter is suggesting that Tiger’s announcing his retirement from professional golf.
UPDATE: Tiger’s agent is claiming this announcement is not happening. All other signs point to it going down. Either way, looks like something interesting will happen at 11 besides all the debt ceiling talks.
Just found this on YouTube, this is a video of Paula Creamer hitting a tee shot from the Evian Masters in 2008.
What’s cool about this video is that you normally don’t get to see many golf swing videos taken from this angle; they are either down the line or facing the golfer. With this video you get a great look at Paula’s swing plane and how it looks like she keeps her club underneath the “imaginary pane of glass” Ben Hogan talks about in his book.
It’s a new angle on a gorgeous golf swing and absolutely worth checking out!
Stumbled across this video while I was looking for something else. Once you get past the commercial at the start of the video, it’s a great slow motion video of Tiger’s swing. Don’t think that it is his current swing, but it’s fun to watch anyways.
Unfortunately for some golfers, myself included, breaking 90 is going to mean more than just tightening up your swing or improving your chipping. It’s going to require a little bit of exercise to get in better shape. No one is ever going to confuse golf with a triathlon, but even if you’re not walking 18 holes each time you play, golf requires enough exertion to make the game much harder than it needs to be if you’re out of shape.
So, for the next couple months I am going to focus on getting in better golf shape. To do that, I am going to watch what I eat and also follow the P90X workout plan.
For some, if you have seen the infomercials (and by now, who hasn’t? They’re on TV more than Law and Order re-runs) P90X might seem a bit extreme for a golf workout program. Truth be told, that’s one of the things I am most concerned about, but I have decided to give a go anyway, mainly for the following reasons:
It’s going to help me meet my overall fitness goals
I can work out from home and don’t have to worry about spending time running to and from the gym
I already have all the materials I need at home
I tried P90X before and liked it. Also, I wasn’t able to finish the program on account of my first son being born, and I would like to go back and complete the 90 days
I like the fact that P90X combines strength, cardio, and flexibility training. From a fitness perspective, I really need all three things
As someone who has played sports growing up and is used to working out, these workouts feel more substantial than the ones you see in golf magazines
My first day on the plan focuses on the chest and back, and boy does it ever. The disc is about 45 minutes to an hour long and most of that time is spent doing pushups and pullups. I am really familiar with this workout, so I had that going in my favor, and did a pretty good job getting in most of the exercises. As someone who used to do 50-60 pushups at a clip, struggling to do 15 to 20 is disheartening, but as they say over and over throughout the program, you need to simply do your best and forget the rest.