The few inches of snow remaining here in western North Carolina from this weekend’s southern snowstorm are melting in bright sunshine and 60 degree temperatures. Daffodils are thrusting their yellow heads up through the snow. And Tiger Woods return to golf moved in and out of the Accenture Tournament as quickly as the snowstorm moved through.
Get ready for Spring golf. Daylight Savings Time begins early this Sunday, March 8th. Spring officially begins on the Equinox on March 20th. Now is the time to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for your return to the golf course. If you are in a warm climate and have been playing, now is a good time to review your basics.
Tiger had to reconstruct his game after a long lay-off. He made a slight adjustment to his swing through impact to relieve strain on his reconstructed left knee. While a lot of people expected him to return at full potential and win, it takes the learning experience in tournaments to regain your peak mental performances.
Tiger’s distance control appeared to be one factor in his missed shots. The balls were flying 6-7% farther due to the altitude. Also, the greens were slow and like roller coasters, which made it difficult to make putts over ten feet. It may take him a couple of tournaments to find his rhythm. What we can learn from this is that experience is the best teacher. Pay attention to what you are learning on the course.
When you rearrange the letters within "wrong" you have the word "grown". To grow and improve in your golf game, learn from your mistakes. Write down what you have learned so you won’t have to repeat them.
"Too often, people focus only on results. But getting results without learning something or without having fun are incomplete. So is having fun without getting the results, or having fun without learning something new to help and empower you in the future. Accomplishment is all three: the result, personal growth and having fun." -- Peter L. Hirsch
Australian Geoff Ogilby, repeat winner of the Accenture Match Play Championship 36-hole final on March 1st against Paul Casey at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club learned that he had to work into a habit of not reacting to missed shots. He practiced letting go of his anger until it became a habit.
Lorena Ochoa won her second straight season-opening tournament at the Honda LPGA Thailand by shooting a 6-under 66 for a three-stroke victory over Paula Creamer. It was her 25th LPGA victory. “Yes,” Lorena said when asked if she thinks she is mentally tougher than her rivals. “It has been a great week,'' Ochoa said. “My goal was to win the tournament. Here I am with the trophy and I am very pleased. I played especially well.''
Spring is about rebirth and beginning anew. As the seasons change there is a renewal of energy in us and in nature. It is time to decide whether your golf game this summer will be strong like a towering oak tree or indecisive like a willow tree bending in the wind. Plant the seeds now and continually fertilize them throughout the spring and summer seasons.
Your mental game is the only part of the game over which you have control. To deal with the roller-coaster ups and downs of the game you need to change your words, your thoughts, your attitudes and beliefs to make them all positive. By reprogramming your mind you will be more relaxed, in the moment, and having more fun playing in the zone.
- Review your basic mechanics and reacquaint your golf muscles before going to the range to hit full shots. Jack Nicklaus says, "Each year I start the season pretending I've never played before."
- Stand in front of a full-length mirror and check the basics of your set-up ---grip, posture, stance, ball position, aim and alignment. If you have to think about any of these parts in your set-up, practice them until you are confident that they are automatic.
- Be aware of any tension in your hands and arms.
- Review your swing plane by taking half swings with your back against a wall, making sure that the toe of the club head is pointing up on the backswing and up on the follow through.
- Practice your swing tempo by swinging a club with your feet together. If your tempo isn't good, you will lose your balance.
- Practice putting paying attention to balance, soft hands & arms, with a consistent tempo accelerating the putter through the ball. As Ben Crenshaw said, “Hold the putter delicately as it is delicate work.” Practice the feel until you don't have to think about your stroke and can concentrate on the line and distance.
- Get plenty of exercise so your body will be ready for a four-hour or longer round.
“Take it easily and lazily because the golf ball isn’t going to run away while you’re swinging.” -- Sam Snead, “How To Play Golf” (1946)
- Write down your long term, intermediate and short term goals for the summer. Those who fail to plan… plan to fail… Make your blueprint for your future game successes NOW.
- The most important part of your mental game is how you prepare your mind. Write down your pre-shot routine and practice it over and over in your mind the same way every time until you can physically execute it without thinking.
- Another important part of your mental game is relaxing your conscious mind so you can focus in the moment. Practice deep breathing through your diaphragm until you can focus easily in the present moment.
- Practice changing your perception of negative situations in your life into positive thoughts. See the good in every situation that you encounter.
- Practice seeing and feeling your swing in your mind's eye as you lie in bed and are drifting off to sleep.
- When you close your eyes at night in bed, see yourself stroking perfect putts, feeling the perfect tempo, and hearing the ball drop into the cup over and over from four feet.
- Reinforce your belief in yourself and your game with daily affirmations.
- Practice being patient and know that you can trust your abilities no matter what situation you find yourself in.
- Practice letting go of things you can't control and focus on what you want to create.
- Let go of judgment of yourself or others. Do the best you know how in each situation and praise yourself for your efforts.
- Listen to PMI affirming CDs daily to program your mind easily for success. They can be ordered online at www.pmi4.com/cart
"Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself." --- Robert Collier
- Now is the time to check your equipment. Look at your grips and put on new ones if there are any worn places.
- Have your clubs checked by a club fitter for consistency between clubs.
- Check your equipment for good rain gear, umbrella towels, and waterproof shoes.
- Replace any missing cleats in your golf shoes.
Have fun growing and learning about yourself and your game when you return to the golf course.
Entrain Your Heart & Brain for Peak Performance!
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