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It’s been a while since I have blogged, but after watching the Tour Championship, I have been inspired to resume my blogging habits.

Golf for all intensive purposes, is a rather boring and mundane sport to watch. It is by no means fast paced, as most rounds last 4 ½ hours plus, and if you are playing on one of the various professionals tours around the world, rounds can last even longer! Players are not leveling each other on the playing field, throwing down miraculous dunks, or bicycling in goals from a great cross from the far corner.

However, the playoff between Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas for both the Tour Championship and the Fed-Ex Cup was quite exciting to watch. Both players had a lot on the line. Haas, seeking a captain’s pick for the President’s Cup had a dismal 0-3 record in previous playoffs lacked the resume of a proficient closer. Mahan, winless all year, was seeking that elusive victory, at what is often coined the Tour’s 5th major.  Oh yeah, did I mention there was the $10 Million Fed-Ex Cup on the line?

On the second playoff hole, Bill Haas decided to play dirty. After hitting his ball in the water left of the 17th green, Haas slashed and splashed his ball an astonishing three feet from the hole. This proverbial low-blow to Hunter Mahan let Mahan and everyone else know that fate may very well be on the side of Haas. The next hole was all that was needed for Haas to claim both the Tour Championship and the Fed-Ex Cup. Astonishingly, at first Haas did not realize he won the Fed-Ex Cup as well. I’m not sure how you could not know you were playing for $10 million, but that is topic for another post.

Bill Haas’ victory put him over the $14 million dollar mark in earnings for 2011, only a few hundred thousand less than his father’s career earnings on the PGA Tour that spanned over 30 years and nearly 600 made cuts on the PGA Tour.

With the demise of Tiger Woods and the strong showings by Europeans in the majors, Bill Haas might be one of the best things going in American golf. I hope he puts the money into a bank account and does not let it go straight to his brain. With a little hard work and proper focus, he may be the best America has to offer.

 

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Taming a Tiger

With all the hoopla around every aspect of Tiger Woods’ life, I can’t help but wonder when his substandard-Tiger (see 2000 domination) performances will overshadow the rest of his life and people will focus on the next generation of rising golfers? For the past decade the PGA Tour and golf in general has lived on the shoulders of one man, befitting a man named Tiger, but his stock, like the majority of the economy, is still overvalued.

Tiger’s revenue generation and golf accomplishments have been amazing over the past 15 years, yet the golden boy of golf has lost much of his swagger both on and off the golf course. The love affair that the PGA Tour and the entire golf world has had with Tiger is slowly dissipating. Yet, without the presence of a fresh, dominating force on Tour, the golfing community is left living in the past. Like the ex-girlfriend or boyfriend who kept providing glimpses of hope, only to be continually let the other down again, so too is the tale of this Tiger.

Regardless of his personal choices and decisions outside of golf, his talent and ability on the golf course is truly impressive. For the sake of his own life and those who are closely related, I hope he is able to figure things out quickly, both on and off the golf course.

As far as his game goes, I can’t help but wonder what type of advice his father would give him at this stage? I believe Earl would have stated something similar to that of Bubba Watson. Tiger knows his swing, and needs to get back to playing the game of golf and be creative with his shot selection. Although Watson took a tremendous amount of slack regarding his comments to Tiger, I believe he stated what many believed, but were afraid to say.

Tiger is looking for an external fix for his game and his life, when in reality the answers, actions and decisions that must be made need to come from within. Let this be a reminder and lesson to us all – the search for solutions will always continue, until we realize that the answers lie within.

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“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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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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Golf is a game that can never be mastered. Sure, skills can be developed, methods taught, and talent extrapolated, yet any combination of these factors will never be able to fully master the complexities of the game of golf. Yet, this game of golf is able to provide lessons that span across a multitude of areas.

To achieve various levels of success in golf there are certain traits that must be developed over time. Here are three of the many character traits that golf helps teach that are most beneficial to how we live our lives as a whole. If people can take these three traits, and implement them in their daily lives, I believe a drastic improvement will be noticeable in performance across the board.

1. Patience

Patience is definitely a virtue, especially when it comes to golf. Very few sports can have such devastating consequences for making the most minimal mistakes. One of the most common pieces of advice is to be sure not to follow one poor shot/decision with another. However, if you are not able to keep your emotions in check and lack the patience to move on from the prior mistake, you are likely doomed to compound this mistake.

As an instructor I have noticed that people’s approach to golf, is often similar to how they approach life. If someone is impatient and always in a rush in their everyday life, this same trait is displayed when they play a round of golf, or are on the lesson tee receiving instruction. If an instructor is able to help these students remain calm and composed throughout the lesson, that lesson in patience will hopefully reach the student’s other areas of life. Patience makes a student a better golf and a better person.

2. Perseverance

Golf is an intricate game that requires much effort to learn. Golf not only requires much effort, but often times, the results of a person’s efforts are not immediately visible (also why patience is so important).  Perseverance is defined as the ability, “to persist steadfastly in pursuit of an undertaking, task, journey or mission in spite of distraction, difficulty, obstacles or discouragement”.

Throughout the games of both golf and life, there are often difficulties, distractions, or various impediments that may possibly limit your desire and even ability to succeed. However, by persevering through the midst of struggle, a person is able to refine their skills and grow from the challenges being faced. An obstacle in your golf ability has similar characteristic to various obstacles in life. Persevere, and find success.

3. Honesty

Golf is the only game that I am aware of where you are not only asked to, but it is expected that a person call a penalty on themselves.  Honesty and integrity are at the heart of the game, and with society today being driven by earnings and not honesty; golf remains to hold these principles in the highest regard. What you are willing to do when no one is watching you in the woods when your ball is behind a tree stump, will likely carry on in your business dealings. Honesty is at the heart of golf, and hopefully at the heart of your being as well.

These are just three of the many traits that golf helps instill in its participants. Not only will these three traits help you improve your golf game, they may just improve your overall quality of life too!

 

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I was reading the other day about successful entrepreneurs and I came across a very interesting fact that has been impressed on my mind over the past several days. Did you know only 3% of the population set goals and actually make note of them?! This number seemed astonishingly low and has caused me to reflect on my own life, as well as how others choose to live theirs.

In today’s technologically savvy world, we are most definitely the “now generation”. This attitude may not be a detriment when it comes to health care and beating a life threatening disease, but is quite often more hindrance and less help. In life, and especially in golf, this desire for instant gratification is usually just that – gratification lasting only an instant. That gratification soon fades and we are left with nothing more than a memory. That memory is often the downfall of our well being, as we deceive ourselves and believe the lie that the issue is solved. Yet, in reality, all we have done is masked the true problem and lied to ourselves, in preparation to lie to others, in an attempt to have everyone believe that there truly is nothing wrong. (Similar to asking someone with a severe limp what happened to their leg and them adamantly responding, defensively no less, that nothing is wrong).

I am sure I am not the first instructor who has come across a student who was blessed to have all the stars align when attempting to hit a challenging shot and then miraculously pull it off. That one (out of a billion) shot, if the person is unable to let go of it, has sealed their golfing fate. Since hitting that one shot, they are sure that nothing is really wrong with their game and all they need is a little “tweaking”. Then, when trying to explain that aiming 50 yards right and hitting a massive pull-slice may not be the most effective way to play the game, they will forever remind me of the one time that it worked perfectly.

As an instructor, I have three options at this point, 1:  I can give up, walk away, and refund the student. 2: I can argue with the student for the entire lesson trying to prove my point, or 3: I can come along side them in a manner that will assist them the most, given their predisposed belief of what successful golf looks likes to them…

After my recent readings, I believe that the main issue with these types of students is that they lack long-term goals and a method to reach them. The student decides to cling to the memory of the one good shot, and forget about the other 157 mostly, poor shots they hit during the remainder of the round. This lack of ability to focus on a long term goal causes them to remain at the same level, regardless of practice, with minimal increasing success.

As a golf instructor/educator, we not only need to have goals for ourselves and teaching abilities, but must also assist students in defining and achieving their own goals. It is important to make goals that are not only achievable, but vary in length and build upon each other. There are mental (psychological), physical, competitive, and personal goals. It is important to have a combination of these types of goals, as they help provide structure to your overall success and are often intertwined with one another.

Examples of mental goals include:

  1. Improvement in course management skills.
  2. Committing to a pre-shot routine.
  3. Using fear as motivation to succeed.

Examples of competitive goals:

  1. Qualify for my varsity high school team.
  2. Break 80 in a tournament.
  3. Win an amateur/professional event.

Examples of physical goals:

  1. Improve flexibility
  2. Strengthen abs and core muscles
  3. Finish balanced with your weight stacked on your front foot.

Examples of personal goals:

  1. Hit all 18 greens in regulation.
  2. Play a tournament round without a three-putt.
  3. Enjoy playing regardless of the outcome.

Examples of goals for an instructor could be:

  1. Improve golf knowledge and delivery skills. (short and long term)
  2. Gain 2 new students per month. (short term)
  3. Gain 25 new students this year(long term)

As Jim Rohn states, “the major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be a far greater value than what you get.”  Goals will assist in defining a desired outcome and establishing a path to obtain that specific outcome. The true benefit of creating goals, however, is that they will help in creating a successful life that is truly defined by yourself and no one else. Take it from a man with many failed goals and a few successful ones – “If you want to live a happy life [and golf career], tie it to a goal, not to people [instructors] or things” –Einstein.

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In light of it being Valentine’s  Day and reminiscing of past loves, I realize it often comes down to the first K.I.S.S.  For those of who think I am getting a little too sappy, just read a few more sentences before clicking elsewhere.

When playing or even thinking about golf, I often find myself remembering trendy phrases and this time is no exception. K.I.S.S. not the rock band or the awkward moment during your pubescent years, stands for something quite simple, literally – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

When I have been teaching players who are struggling with their game more than normal, or I often ask them, “What are you thinking about right now?” Rarely, if ever, does the student respond with less than a handful of topics or thoughts. At this point I usually ask them to stop thinking about anything, see the shot they want to hit in their mind, and then swing. More often than not, the result is much better than the previous swing.

We live in an age with technology at our fingertips and a desire for more and more information in hopes of obtaining instant gratification. This mindset has no doubt crept into all of your habits, golf included. When I first began teaching, I felt obligated to provide my students with mountains of information, to ensure they felt justified in spending money I was charging for a lesson. I quickly found out, that often less is more when it comes to teaching, and even playing. ‘

If you are currently struggling with your game, as opposed to picking up the newest magazine or DVD instructional video from the trendiest new teacher, I implore you to put your money towards a round of golf late in the afternoon when you can play by yourself and play 9 holes. focus on nothing more than making a turn away from the ball and swinging through to a solid finish.  K.I.S.S., make up (your mindset)  and let your game come back to you!

 

GOLF – How do you….Use it?

Golf has advanced incredibly over its existence from the Scottish farmers striking stones with sticks in pastures, into the multibillion dollar industry that it has become today. According to the World Golf Foundation the United States alone had a golf economy in excess of $76 billion in 2010. This speaks volumes not only to the growth of the game, but also to the dynamic presence of golf.

Golf is a thriving economy, which people use to facilitate a multitude of purposes. Doctors prescribe golf for rehabilitation, parents use it for childcare, investors use it for profit and tax benefits, elite players make millions playing it, the government uses it as a tool to create public wellness, corporations use it to schmooze clientele, instructors develop academies and schools around its concepts (both the physical components and business aspects), non-profits use it to impress life skills upon our future generations, while others simply play the game for enjoyment. I’m sure there are many other ways that people use golf to fit into their personal agenda.

However, there is no clear right or wrong way to use the game as long as you maintain its integrity.  My point is that golf is no longer a game that only our grandparents or the retired folk that live in Florida play, but it is a functional tool that can be used to complete an indefinite number of objectives.

If the functional capacity of golf has changed drastically over time, shouldn’t our approach and understanding of the game grow at a similar rate? My answer is a resounding yes, yet I am astonished to find this rarely to be the case! The next question that presents itself is the ever-present – why? The answer is simple; people are both uneducated and highly resistant to change.

In order to grow the game aspect of golf (to which this blog is dedicated), we must be willing to re-examine the “rules of golf” and maintain an ever-growing quest for knowledge. The more knowledge we are able to acquire, the better informed decision we will be able to make, thus, providing the best chance of success. Success, in the end, is truly what we are all seeking. Yet, how we define success, in this case specifically in relation to golf, makes us all unique and our journeys unique.  Just as there is no one right way to swing the golf club, there is not one clear, universal path to success.

I hope the topics covered in the future will be beneficial for all who read it. My goal is to create a platform for thoughtful and thought-provoking discussing regarding the many aspects of golf. If we are willing to listen and learn from one another, without passing judgment, we are taking the first step on our journey towards success. Please come along, let’s work together, and see where this journey leads!