Just for starters, I am not a PGA professional and no, I can’t fix your slice, but what I hopefully can help you with is the philosophy of golf that I have learned in the past and what I am still learning today.
For me Golf is like a dance. There are a lot of different steps and actions that have to flow flawlessly together in order for the best outcome to “Shine” as people call it. But over and over I see flaws in this “Dance” mainly from young people. And this flaw in my opinion is really hurting their game. For example, a friend and I are standing on the tee of a 475-yard par 4. My playing partner tees up his ball and pulls his driver out of his bag; I ask him “why did you pull out your driver you know you struggle with that club. And you will probably hit it in the woods. Why not take out your three wood and put it in the middle where it’s safe.” He then replies with “I just want to hit the ball far and have a really short 2nd shot.” I then step back and let him hit his shot and of course it goes in the woods. I then step up with three wood and hit it in the center of the fairway and tell him you should have listened.
See that story right there rings true for everyone and it proves my point even further. With everyone I play with I always tell them to play to their strengths. And tell them to hit their ball off the tee and leave it out to where they have a full second third or whatever shot they have left with their strongest club. Whether it be a pitching wedge or a 7 iron. And out of everyone I play with virtually nobody listens. I don’t know why because I play the way I advocate with everyone, and I beat almost everyone because I play smart and not stupid. Because this game, believe it or not, is a lot a bit of mental with a little bit of skill mixed in between.
When I think about Golf all I imagine are lines, arrows arcs and circles and nothing more. I just try to keep the thinking to a minimal because I believe that when you over think or think too much you start to second guess yourself, and second guessing your self is futile to your game. It just does no good. When I stand on the tee, all I think about is ok, I have a ball a stick and a target so to make the ball go to the target all I have to do is swing this stick. So in order to make that happen all I have to do is put a simple swing on the ball and let all the hard work and dedication I put in to the game just flow flawlessly and naturally then I should be fine. That brings me to my next point and that is playing Golf with others. Everyone likes to play with others right, because playing by your self is boring. But actually playing Golf with others helps your game even more than you think. To put it in to a light and uncomplicated way, when you play Golf with your friends you are actually getting a mini lesson along with having a great time. what I mean by a mini lesson is that when you play with someone else Mentally they force you to play well because in your mind you obviously want to play better than your opponent so right out of the bat you already have a Mental edge and a better attitude over your opponent. And that attitude positive or negative usually determines who is going to play well and who is going to play poorly.
So now you have made it. You have taken it upon yourself to get some lessons from a PGA professional. You can now hit the ball somewhat straight and you think you’re the greatest amateur that has ever lived, and you also think you can make it on Tour. Unfortunately, you will need to put in a lot more time and effort in order to play on Tour and be seen by millions. I have had the opportunity to talk to many great amateurs that almost made it and PGA professionals alike. And they all work tirelessly to achieve the goal of stardom. From my experience with this great game the only way to get on tour is of one of two ways, the first is you must have the natural ability to play and the second is you must practice and practice a lot because golf isn’t like any other sport. The reason behind that is because in golf you can’t hang your clubs up for a couple years, decide to play again, go out and shake the rust off and be great again. That’s because golf is a work in process and when you stop that process for any abnormal length of time you lose what you have learned and you ultimately set yourself up for failure.
So set yourself up a plan for success because if you don’t plan than you’re in a sense hoping to do well and hoping to do well won’t allow you to reach your personal goals. “Failing to plan is planning to fail” was said by PGA professional Scott Mattiello. I love that quote because it can be applied to daily life and not just golf. Because in my opinion golf mimics life, you have your ups and your downs your break ups and your successes and over and over again you go back and try again to fix what was wronged.
The final steps in creating a plan is to actually go out and play four or however many 18 hole rounds it takes and keep stats about what areas you feel you need to improve on and after that actually practice those areas you need to improve on and practice right. Because over and over again I see people go down to the range and BANG BALLS. While that seems like a solution if you just go down to the range without a purpose and think that just BANGING 1000 BALLS will make you better you are sadly mistaken and wrong. Going to the range and blindly hitting balls without thought can create bad habits some that can be detrimental to your game and trying to break those habits is like trying to quit smoking. It takes a long time. So when you feel the need to practice (which I hope is all the time) practice with a purpose it will help your game in the long run.
The Difference between Practice and Play
I asked a PGA professional about what he thought the difference was between practice and play. He said the difference was that in practice you are trying to improve on areas that need work and in play you solely rely on feel and have to trust your swing on the areas that you practiced. I then asked an amateur about what he thought the difference was and he basically said the same thing.
Joe “Mojo” Santoro