Learning is my business. Whether I do the teaching, the reporting or the learning, it’s a part of my daily life. If any of my students, readers or teachers are inspired to continue the pursuit of learning as a result of my endeavors, I am happy. With that, here is what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.
1. Inspiration & Balance
There is not a teacher alive nor dead that would avoid emphasizing the importance of balance. It might be emotional, intellectual or in the case of Manuel de los Santos, physical. When you watch this video, enjoy it for the inspiring story it tells the first time through. Each time after, return to it and focus on the slow takeaway, the coil and the release enabled by the storage of energy. Your upswing should never be quicker than your downswing.
2. Team Play Is Awesome…In Moderation
Take it from a high school coach, it IS awesome. I’m not intimating you and a buddy in league play, mind you. This is multiple-matches, double-figures team golf. You go out early, finish your match (win or lose) and you go back out to cheer on your mates. The Solheim Cup is currently being contested between teams from Europe and the USA in women’s professional golf. The Euro team has jumped out to a commanding, five-point lead with 12 singles matches left. In September, amateur teams from Great Britain/Ireland and the USA will meet on Long Island at the National Golf Links of America to renew a rivalry that dates to the 1920s. YOU can make a match like this happen. Do you have a golfing friend in another part of the country? Do you have golfing friends in your area? Get a group together to meet for a golf weekend at an agreeable location. Doesn’t matter if you only have 4 guys from each area the first year; after one contest, other friends will want to get in on the action. Last bit of advice: remember the balance thing from #1 above? Strive for balance between competition and cordiality. It is a vacation, in the end.
3. The Rules Of Golf Are A Lifelong Study
I came across Simple Golf Rules a day or two ago and forwarded the link, unexamined, to my coaching colleagues in two different leagues. After I examined the valiant effort made by John Morrissett and David Hayes, I realized that the rules of golf will forever be a complex and complicated amalgamation of situations and decisions. I have a few tips for you, though, that might help eliminate doubt.
–free relief is always one club length, while penalty relief merits two club lengths;
–play a provisional ball. It’s a free swing and it saves the walk of shame back to the tee;
–you have a bunch of options with water hazards, but you’ll rarely use the “opposite side” one.
–when it comes to number of strokes, there’s no simple rule. This link lays out 18 common situations and the appropriate action to take. I use it with my golfers.
4. Practice Takes Preparation
If you are that golfer who never practices, steps onto the first tee and signs for a great round four hours later, hats off to you. If you’re like me, you need to practice in order to maintain and improve. With practice in mind, I need (and you need) to prepare for practice. Here are my keys to useful, beneficial practice.
—Take those plastic flags out when putting. Do you putt on the green with the flagstick in?
—Practice chip shots with the flags out. You don’t have to do it in a match until you’re comfortable, but it takes “the flagstick will stop it” out of the equation and makes you consider chipping like you do putting.
—Get a shag bag of balls. Why practice (unless forced to) with range balls that don’t look like or feel like the ones you will use on the course?
—Figure out if you’re a distance guy or a feel guy. If you need yardage figures, determine which shots for which distances. If you’re a feel guy, you still need to practice.
—Hit lots of long putts. The medium- and short-range ones will seem much closer and easier to lag up or make.
Trust me, I’ve thought about this one. I didn’t write the book on it, but I did script a piece for another web site.
And that, friends, is what I think I’ve learned. Good luck to you. I hope you can utilize my ideas.