Archive for April, 2011


“Here comes the putter throw…” Oh how things might have been different for Alex Cejka if he had taken this advice. Instead he opted for the club slam and subsequent WD from a severe foot injury. Cejk Please! Although golf is a game that is generally well-respected and believed to be played by people who value character and sportsmanship, this does not protect the game against those who have a momentary lapse in judgment and do something incredibly stupid – Enter German, PGA Tour professional Alex Cejka.

Cejka, not playing particularly well during the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and battling some serious anger issues, slammed his golf club into the ground out of disgust. Unfortunately for him, before the club was able to strike the ground, it smashed a hole in his shoe and ended up breaking one of his toes. Cejka, admirable for not quitting, added insult to injury and carded a 2-over 74 before withdrawing from play yesterday afternoon.

Believe it or not, there are a multitude of golf professionals who have injured themselves in very unique ways, primarily out of anger. Woody Austin is notorious for anger as well as putting woes and this was highlighted when he infamously broke his putter over his head.

Needless to say, anger issues on the golf course are prevalent whether you are playing a two-dollar Nassau with your buddies, or if you are on the world’s largest stage playing for millions of dollars.

How anger is handled, will greatly affect a person’s ability to compete and the level of success they are able to achieve. We all need to take a look at our actions and make sure that we handle our anger properly. Take some time to sit down and reflect on how your anger affects you overall and your playing ability. I’m sure Cejka will be sitting down as well and hopefully pondering the same question!

How do you deal with your anger and what suggestions do you have that may assist others?

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Stop Trying and Just Do it!

I am fortunate to currently be in San Diego, staying with some good friends as I am working on a business venture. When we got up this morning and checked the surf (for those of you still with snow in your yard, this means we looked at the weather and wave patterns in La Jolla,) my friends decided that the morning must be spent at the beach.

As I watched in awe as my good friend rode wave, after barreling wave, I could not help but notice the ease at which he was able to ride, especially compared to everyone else in the water. In an arena where most people fight over the good waves, surfers were making way for my buddy to hit his lines cleanly. It was truly an awesome experience to witness.

On our way back home after the morning beach session concluded, we started talking about his ability to simply react on the water, while others seemed to constantly be fighting the waves or were really “trying” to do well. What came “natural” to my friend, was a far off dream to many others in the water. Did I forget to mention that he has been surfing for 20+ years and grew up 10 minutes from the beach?  Fact noted.

The more we talked, the more I realized that what made him an excellent surfer, is similar to what makes a person an excellent golfer – the ability to simply react and not think.

For golfers, as soon as we start thinking about shots, doubts often creep into our thinking, and those doubts turn into some level of fear or anxiety. However, if you simply react to a situation that is presented, there is little time for doubt to manifest itself in the form of fear.

People practice anything, be it music, athletics, public speaking, writing in an effort to be able to perform at an extremely high level. I believe the level that someone is able to perform is directly related to their ability to let their bodies react and move freely based on what it has already practiced for hours and hours on end.

If you are not reaching a level of achievement that you believe you are capable of, stop thinking about what you need to do to become better and just do it!

Any thoughts, beliefs, or opinions as to how best maximize one’s efforts and get the most out their ability? Please share your thoughts with me below.

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This blog is not dedicated to the infamous flop…shot. Although it is playoff season right now in the NBA and one might think this blog is dedicated to the likes of Vlade Divac, Manu Ginobili, or Robert Horry (and could be rightfully so), this blog is hopefully going to help you hit the (rarely) required, but very enjoyable flop shot.

The flop shot scares many players as it requires a large swing to move the ball a relatively small distance. However, if you can remember to keep these 3 simple pieces of advice in your mind before you hit your flop shot, you will have a much better chance of hitting a quality golf shot that lands closed to the pin, and manages to stay outside the parking lot.

  1. Don’t Scoop!

Nearly everyone today carries a 58* or 60* wedge, or at worst case scenario a 56* wedge. These wedges already have a tremendous amount of loft on them already and by opening up the face to the target you are adding even more loft. Because of the extreme loft, you need to make sure you strike the ball with a downward blow and do not try to scoop the ball or lift it up into the air.

  1. Less is More!

Be sure you don’t use a wedge with a lot of bounce for a flop shot, as you need the sole of the club to slide through the ground. If your wedge has a lot of bounce and the sole has not been grounded down at all, the bounce will often make the club literally “bounce” off the ground making the flop shot extreme challenging and requires perfect timing.

  1. Open Up

When taking your stance, be sure to have the ball slightly forward of center in your stance and open up your stance so your feet are roughly 30* open to your target line. Be sure to swing along the line of your feet as well. By opening your stance and swinging along the line of your feet, you are able to “cut-across” the golf ball, adding spin and allowing you to hold the face open longer.

Remember, the flop shot is a great asset to a golfer’s arsenal of shots, but one must practice and be sure to have the right approach for the given shot at hand. Unlike Manu, don’t fake it and be sure to warn your playing partners if you attempt it without much practice!

Different techniques or suggestions for hitting the flop-shot? Let me know!

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I was reminded in a recent lesson that helping one understand the roots of their golf mistakes/compensations, is extremely important to the student’s ability to grow and develop their golf skills further. My student who has improved rapidly, has great golf ability, with little knowledge behind him. His game is not bogged down by theories or swing thoughts, rather a do-as-I’m-told mentality. Which, for a teacher is great, as the student is often able to improve rapidly, but one must be careful to make sure the student has ample knowledge to self-reflect and try to solve problems that may come up during a given round.

One of the most common mistakes made by golfers is in understanding the reasons behind why a ball curves a certain way. There are two distinct areas that affect the ball-flight of the golf ball, and those are the angle/position of the face, and the swing path.

A simple explanation of a golf balls flight is that wherever the ball starts is  based on the initial swing path of the club, and wherever the ball curves is the angle of face. There are extreme circumstances where the angle of the face is so severe, that the path does not have as much an impact as one would originally believe, but usually, the club path determines the initial starting flight of the ball, with the face angle resulting in the ending position of the golf ball.

And why is this so important? Understanding why your balls curves the way it does tell you much about your golf swing and what areas you may need to improve in. If you grew up in the Midwest or Nevada, players can get away with hitting 30-yard hooks or slices, but that game does not transfer well to many courses in the Bay Area, or traditional, tree-lined golf courses.

Being able to start the golf ball on an intended line is imperative to being a successful golfer. Study your ball-flight, and work to make the face square and swing on plane. Remember, the ball doesn’t lie!

Any thoughts or suggestions on how to improve swing path or work on ball flight? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Let’s face it, in society today, conflict is occurring more than ever. Freedom of speech is being expressed extensively on street corners, viewed on the television screen, and blogged across the internet. With the economic downturn, businesses are on edge, consumers are more demanding and everyone is fearful of what is to come next.

This heightened tension combined with extensive vocal expression of beliefs often leads to conflict. How we address these times of conflict may very well determine the level of success we are able to achieve throughout our lifetime.

Given the fact that times are changing, so too shouldn’t our approach to handling conflict? Some of you may very well be aware of these techniques, but to others, these concepts may be the paradigm shifted needed to achieve far greater success.

  1. Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Pride allows us to assume that what we perceive others to believe, we assume as fact. We base all our decisions on often unfounded (and generally wrong) beliefs, and are surprised when there is a disconnect and a problem arises. If you are able to accurately understand the others desires, you may very well find a mutually acceptable outcome for both parties.

  1. Sacrifice can be Valued on what is Given, Compared to what is Potentially Gained

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” sounds a bit archaic, but is absolutely still valid in society. By finding out how important certain concessions are to your opponent, you may be able to sacrifice what is a nominal component in your operation, yet that may be the golden, missing piece that has a monumental impact for your counterpart.  Remember, making a sacrifice does not mean you are losing or are weak, it means you are playing strategically.

  1. Check Your Ego at the Door

Many conflicts are not resolved, because in reality, the issues that appear on the table are not really the issues at all. The issues have a deeper undercurrent that is fundamentally based in a “winners” mentality and that one must “win” at the expense of another. If egos are removed, and the true issues are dealt with, there is a much higher likelihood that the conflict will be resolved, and it will be resolved in a quick, and hopefully peaceful manner.

Conflicts take on a variety of forms and degrees, but if one can have a thorough and proper understanding of the situation, they will be in a much better position to solve the issues at hand. Remember, don’t be afraid to take an unconventional approach in order to achieve greater success. Those who master this technique not only think outside the box, they are invisible to its shape.

What are other suggestions for managing conflicts in hopes of solving them in an efficient manner? I’d love to hear about unique ways people have found to solve conflicts.

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I’ve often heard the saying “Knowledge is power”, and always wondered to myself, ‘Really? What type of power is found in knowledge?’ Is it the power found in a Chevy 350 big block engine found in some of my favorite cars, is it the power to persuade a group of individuals, or is it something entirely different?

To contradict the common belief, knowledge itself, is actually not power. If knowledge was indeed power, than we would see those in academia running the world, or at the very least, running against the likes of Donald Trump for President. Instead they can often be found wearing the same sweater over and over again, as they argue using circular reason, never reaching a finite conclusion. In fact, often times knowledge has the ability to paralyze, as people are not able to function around certain concepts or ideals.

Power then, is actually derived from the process of applying knowledge within a given framework that facilitates change. If no change has taken place, than no new power has been derived or even transferred. This change can be manifest in different forms, (belief systems, functional actions, desires, etc) but without having the knowledge behind the process, there lacks a void that can never be wholly filled.

So what does this have to do with golf? Simple, without a proper knowledge and understanding of the game of golf and what it encompasses, one will never be able to demonstrate the “power” needed to become a good golfer. The power I am referring to is not the ability to hit J.B. Holmes-esque 350 yard drives, but rather the power to change your golf game for the better. There is not one perfect golf swing, or one perfect way to play the game of golf. This often frustrates people, but is also what makes the game so great!

The great golfers of every generation, from Tom Morris to Bobby Jones, from Arnie and Jack to Tiger and Phil , they all had a vast knowledge of the game and used that knowledge to play to the best of their ability.  Not any of the players I mentioned swing remotely the same, but they all are Hall-of-Famers, and they all had the knowledge that allowed them to create a process, which allowed them to play their best golf.

We should all learn something from these great golfers and that is that knowledge, when combined with a process seeking to maximize one’s strengths and minimize one’s weaknesses, is what all great golfers (and leaders) have in common. Seek knowledge, but in a way that facilitates your growth as a person and a golfer!

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By now, those of you who follow the PGA Tour closely or even watch SportsCenter are aware that Kevin Na made a 16 the hole-nine during the first round of the Valero-Texas Open. That is a story in and of itself worth noting, yet he also had the unfortunate (or fortunate depending on your perspective) circumstance of being mic’d for the Golf Channel’s coverage of round one.

Let me precede the following that I am a huge fan of golf, was definitely impressed with how Kevin Na handled himself yesterday, and I try to look for the best in people. I will also be the first to admit that we all have our bad days and that if we were judged solely on our poorest actions, we would all be left alone to self-destruct.

With that being said, I have not been a fan of Kevin Na for quite some time. Although I have never spoken with him personally, I have been around him on several occasions.  Two specific instances that occurred several years ago, (one when I was playing college golf in Southern California, the other when caddying on the PGA Tour) have caused me to severely question his attitude and relational skills to the public. I understand he must face a tremendous amount of pressure from a variety of sources, but that pressure should not be an excuse for poor behavior (or performance).  He is a famous athlete, children look up to him, and he should do his best to set a proper example for all of his followers.

With that being said, I am impressed with how he handled the debauchery that occurred on the ninth hole yesterday and we can all learn from how he handled a difficult situation.

  1. Laugh at Yourself

When you make a mistake and compound it several times to the point of certain embarrassment, you can either remain angry for an indefinite amount of time, or let it go. A great way to let go is to laugh at the situation and mistake made, relieving the nauseating feeling in your stomach and accepting what just occurred. The quicker you can let the situation go, the quicker you will be able to learn from your mistake and use that knowledge to achieve a greater level of success.

  1. Stick to what got you there in the First Place

If you have achieved any level of success in your current position, you have developed a process over time that has allowed you to reach this success. This process is paramount to your success, and although alterations may be needed along the way, there is no reason to “reinvent the wheel”. Kevin Na is not on the PGA Tour because he commonly smashes drives 350+ yards or hits his driver off the deck. He is on the PGA Tour because of a solid wedge game and deft putting stroke. Had he remembered that, I guarantee you he would have taken a 16 out of the equation!

  1. Finish Strong

Being that Na made 16 on the ninth-hole, he had nine holes to decide how he was going to respond. He could have quit by either walking off or just mentally checked-out, tried his best to play well or landed somewhere in between. Na performed very well on the back-nine as he carded three birdies against zero bogeys. This determination and perseverance will serve him well in the future and is a great example to follow.

I am hoping that what we witnessed on Thursday was a more mature Kevin Na that has learned from his seven years on the PGA Tour. He is on one of the world’s largest stages and has the opportunity to make a tremendously positive impact on lives worldwide. Let’s hope he makes the right decisions on and off the golf course in the future – always keeping his driver and his attitude in check!

Any thoughts, comments, or personal interactions regarding Kevin Na? I’d love to hear them!

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Life is full of sadness and disappointment, sprinkled in with moments of great joy and jubilation. We all have memories of various events throughout or life that trigger certain emotions. But where do those emotions come from and why are they so prevalent in our way of life?

Everywhere in society today people are expressing themselves in unique ways and children are being taught that if it “feels good”, they should do it. This leads the entire world up to personal interpretation and allows the masses to run their desired course. Expectations are what our emotions are derived from, and our experiences constitute the majority of our expectations.

Take this past weekend at Augusta National. How many people out there dream of playing Augusta just one time in their life, let alone are privileged enough to play for a chance to win the Green Jacket? Many of us would be thoroughly satisfied walking the grounds during a practice round. Yet for others, such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the majority of the field in this past Master’s expected something more out of their trip down Magnolia Lane this past Sunday afternoon.

Expectations are often built upon a combination of past experiences, beliefs, the influence of others, and self-imposed pressure to please yourself and others. Expectations in-and-of themselves are not inherently bad, but our view of expectations and the weight we place on them can have devastating consequences in life. When our perspective on life changes along with our self-value strictly because of expectations, those expectations, are more harmful than anything else.

Expectations can be used as motivation to maximize a person’s ability. BUT, if a person puts their self-worth and value in any expectation and they do not succeed, well then we have a real problem. If they do succeed, then their expectations will increase to a point where they are eventually unachievable, and their world will collapse under the weight of expectation.

There are various levels of success and various levels of expectations. As long as expectations are used as positive, motivating forces to spur someone onto make the most of their ability, then the expectations are helpful. However, once a person is so focused on what is expected of them and nothing else, they often lose sight of the true purpose of their efforts (doing the best they can), and this lack of foresight causes things to quickly unravel.

Like most things in life, an excessive amount of anything does more harm than good, and the same is true for expectations. We must encourage our students, children, family, and community to excel, but not at the cost of self-worth or respect.

If you can keep expectations in check, no matter if you blow a four-shot lead shooting 80 on Sunday afternoon at Augusta National, or never even have the chance to set foot on the grounds, you will maintain yourself worth and character, and in the end, that is how all of us will be remembered.

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Although I have been teaching golf for several years, the majority of my clients have been adults thus far. With the need for my schedule to be flexible while I pursue completing my MBA, as well as starting my first business, I decided to take a job with The First Tee of Northern Nevada (TFTNN.org) teaching golf and life skills to juniors. This job combines my two teaching passions – golf and life skills.

At first, I was fearful of teaching large groups of children, but after several weeks, I have come to find that they are more enjoyable to teach than adults! Many of the adults I have taught have been able to achieve varying degrees of success in their respective fields, and when they come to the golf course, they expect to achieve a similar level of success.

Many adults come with questions pertaining to articles they read or tips they received from a friend. Much of the lesson is focused on explaining and demonstrating why what they read may not be beneficial in their particular case, or that their friend offered a quick fix to a problem that had a much more serious foundational flaw.

With children however, they are happy to be outside and to have the chance to swing hard at something (other than a sibling) and not get yelled at. When asked to change their grip or not swing out of their shoes, and because I am a golf instructor, someone other than a parent, they are willing to listen.

Children do not have much, if any misguided information, and are willing to listen to what myself or another instructor has to say. Once they hit a good shot, they smile from ear to ear, telling their friends about what they just accomplished are relish in their achievement. They may hit the next shot terrible, but they still remember that one good shot they hit. They then explain to us what they learned, what they enjoyed most, and what areas they need the greatest improvement. If adults took this same approach to both golf and life – many would achieve even greater success.

1. Receive Instruction

If people are open to, and willing to receive instruction, they will be well equipped with information that is applicable in their particular situation. If people are too prideful or are unwilling to receive instruction, they will self-destruct by their own vices and lack of ability to appreciate another’s insight.

2. Remember Success

When you achieve something that you have been striving for, be it a quality golf shot or job promotion, take some time to enjoy the accomplishment. If you rush onto the next goal without thoroughly enjoying what you have accomplished, you will rarely be content or satisfied. Remembering your successes can be used as motivation for future times of struggle, so it is invaluable to have those memories to recall.

3. Take Time to Self Reflect

At the end of the day, week, month, or whenever you can, take some time and evaluate how you are doing across the board (i.e. marriage, family, work, personal time, etc). During this time you may realize areas where you are doing extremely well in (remember those feelings brought on by success) and other areas that could use improvement.

These are just three of the many lessons that can be witnessed when working with junior golfers. If you have any thoughts or experiences relating to this matter I would love to hear about them! Remember, it is no one else’s responsibility to improve you – you must take the initiative to do it yourself!

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It is often said that there is nothing like the back nine at Augusta National on Sunday afternoon, and this Sunday was no exception. What started out as a probable landmark victory (if there ever was such a notion in golf) for Rory McIlroy quickly turned into one of the most memorable and Masters Tournaments in recent history. In the end, Charl Schwartzel triumphed as the victor with many worthy opponents within striking distance.

With a four-stroke lead to open the round, many believed it was McIlroy’s to lose, and eventually he did lose it. Charl Schwartzel did play a fantastic round of golf, but had McIlroy played the way he had been playing all week, the tournament was well within his grasp. Unfortunately for McIlroy, his grasp quickly slipped, and he allowed a half-dozen other players the opportunity to make claims on the coveted Green Jacket.

There was so much excitement between, Tiger, Adam Scott, Bo Van Pelt, Geoff Ogilvy, and Jayson Day that once the sun had set at Augusta National, I could not help but a bit confused as to what I had just witnessed. What started as a one man show quickly became a sprint to the finish and then boom – just like your first hole in one, it was over before you realized what just happened..

I am genuinely happy for Schwartzel, however I cannot help but feel sorrow for McIlroy. Sure, he has money, fame and all the perks that go with being one of the best golfers in the world, but in the end, he wants to win. Money cannot buy him a Green Jacket – not the one he wants anyway. He had been extremely outspoken about his preparation being tailored directly for the Masters, and the first three days, he showed everyone some amazing golf. Unfortunately, on this fateful Sunday afternoon at Augusta, and the only day that truly matters, he was not able to retain his place atop the leader board.

I was intrigued to see what his response would be after the round, and I believe the way he carried himself after shooting 80 was more impressive than any of the golf he played. He answered the questions with patience, respect, and showed tremendous composure after such an agonizing day.

I’ll remember Schwartzel for winning this Masters, but I will remember McIlroy even more for the composure and class he showed after the round. I hope all of us handle defeat, in whatever area of life this might occur, with such grace and humility. Losing is tragic, but what is even more tragic is not learning and growing from the experience. My hope is that all (including Rory) will be able to use what is learned through defeat to catapult us onward to success in the future.