Hale Irwin played some great golf on the 2011 Champions Tour in his mid sixties and shows us all the importance of maintaining our health and fitness and a strong, competitive drive so we can continue to tap into our awesome potential.
In 2011 he played in 21 tournaments and made the cut in every event. He had 7 top ten finishes and earnings of $624,811. I believe that Hale Irwin has been a consistent and competitive professional golfer for a long time because his golf swing and approach to the playing the game has been kept simple. His technique hasn’t got shorter or changed much in forty years and he has kept his short-game sharp.
He never overpowers his golf swing and his timing and tempo has remained consistent. His basic shot-shape is the fade and this ball flight allows him to control the direction and distance of his shots with precision and consistency.
Hale Irwin had 20 victories on the PGA Tour beginning with the 1971 Sea Pines Heritage Classic and finishing with the 1994 MCI Heritage Golf Classic, and won prize money of just under six million dollars. His 1994 Heritage win at the age of nearly 49 made him one of the oldest winners in Tour history.
He also won two Piccadilly World Match Play Championships at Wentworth in the 1970s. His successes kept him ranked high among his peers – he was ranked among the top five in Official World Golf Rankings for a few weeks in 1991.
Irwin qualified to play on the over-50 Champions Tour (formerly the Senior PGA Tour) in 1995 and has enjoyed even greater success at this level than he did on the PGA Tour.
He has won 45 Champions Tour titles and tops the all-time Champions Tour money list with earnings of over USD $23 million. He was the winner of the U.S. Senior Open in 1998 and 2000. Irwin was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1992.
A truly great golfer Hale Irwin inspires us all to keep working hard at our golf and at the same time keeping it simple and fundamentally consistent.
Until next time,
Lawrie Montague – Golf Confidence Pro
There’s something really interesting that happens to dedicated, serious golfers as they go about developing and improving their game. At some point of time many reach a stage of progress sometimes described as “arrested development” where they essentially reach an impasse with their golf performances and stop improving.
Every time you come off the golf course after completing a round, your golf scores reflect your aptitude and attitude for creating your golf score. For many golfers it becomes more of a physical and psychological battle than a round of golf with their golf game taking control of them leaving them defeated, frustrated and unhappy.
I think it’s one of the most fascinating aspects of golf performance psychology because it doesn’t seem to matter what improvement strategy the golfer takes, they discover yet another way to produce less than desirable scores. In-fact over the years I have met golfers who have been in this frustrating and unsettling place for literally years.
Golfer’s that reach this arrested development level will quite often change their equipment, change their golf instructor or even change their sport in an effort to change this condition. Quite often a change in equipment or instructor might do the trick but I have found that the problem has a lot more to do with how you go about improving your game rather than simply changing a brand of golf club.
The way many advanced golfers practice tends to be based mostly on improving the golf swing performance to improve their golf scores which ends up being the limiting factor in improving their performances on the golf course.
It’s like saying that the tyres on a racing car is the only factor that determines whether the driver will win the race or not, without considering all the other performance factors in the race car, like fuel for instance. Tyres are very important on a racing car but they won’t do you much good if you run out of fuel before the end of the race.
So determining exactly what you need to work on to improve your golf scores should be you starting point. If you were going to practice your golf skills on the practice range for five hours what skills would get the most attention? In other words, how much time would you allocate to each skill set and why?
- Full Swing – Technique Training
- Full Swing – Target Training
- Putting Skills – Long and Short
- Chipping, Pitching and Lob Skills
- Sand Skills – Short and Long
- Full Swing – Trouble Shots
- Short-Game – Trouble Shots
Study the skill sets above and rate each skill set in order of its importance to you right now in improving your golf scores on the golf course. Consider the makeup of your round and determine which skills have the greatest effect on your golf scores.
When you go about improving your golf skills you need to know whether the skills that you’re focusing on will actually make a difference to your bottom line golf score. It’s not uncommon for advanced golfers to be working on the wrong golf skills, particularly when they’re in the arrested development phase.
You need to find a simple way to measure your golf skill routine to determine which of the golf skills need more of your focus. It’s not unusual to hear a golfer describe themselves as a bad putter, but is the golfer a bad putter because they are missing putts that are outside of the makeable range? What is the makeable range? Well, you will discover when you test your putting skills that you will make a high percentage of the putts you attempt from 3 feet (85-95%) of the hole and almost half as many from six feet (45-55%) of the hole and almost half as many again from ten feet (15-25%) of the hole and so on.
So the question you might need to ask yourself is this; “am I a bad putter because I’m trying to hole my putts for par from outside ten feet of the hole because I don’t realise that from this distance I would actually only make 15 to 25 percent (1 to 2 out of 10) of them?”
Should the question really be re-framed to something like this; “what percentage of my chip and pitch shots around the green finish within six feet of the hole?”
I bet you that if you get a high percentage of your chip and pitch shots within six feet of the hole that you will make more putts and your putting average will improve. This illustration is the same for other skills as well.
If you consider yourself a bad driver of the ball and you hit say 40 percent or less of the fairways that you attempt to hit when you use a driver, is it possible that by testing your driver skill on the driving range to a set of targets that are placed twenty yards apart at 200 yards that you achieve a forty percent success rate (4 out of 10 shots) with a driver and a sixty five percent success rate when you use a three wood, however when you set the targets on the range at twenty five yards apart you now can achieve sixty percent success rate with your driver.
So whenever you play a hole that has a fairway twenty yards wide at your driving distance you will take a three wood from the tee instead of your driver. If the fairway is twenty five yards wide you can confidently take your driver and swing away confidently.
By measuring your different skill sets in this manner you can accurately determine which skills need more of your attention and which need less. Every golfer uses a formula for producing their golf scores and by measuring the elements that make up your golf score you can change the formula so that you break free from your arrested development and go on to produce better and more consistent rounds of golf.
Until next time,
Lawrie Montague – Golf Confidence Coach
What is the difference between playing golf for fun and playing golf in a competition? Not a lot really. Many of the golfers we work with at Pro Tour Golf College struggle with the process of learning how to shoot lower-more competitive scores when they are competing.
When they are relaxed and playing a sociable game with their friends they tell us that they play much better and score lower than the times when they are competing in a tournament.
When professional golfers play golf on tour they are required to play four round events because they only get paid when they complete four rounds of golf successfully. The trouble is that they have to play to a very high standard every week and particularly in the first and second round.
This poses somewhat of a problem for many young and inexperienced professionals because in their minds they think they need a lot of experience before they start to perform consistently for four days.
I don’t agree with this. I believe that you can fast-track the “playing for experience” process by focusing your mental energy on developing effective modelling strategies that get to the heart of performing better faster.
What do I mean when I say “modelling strategies?” We build mental models or maps of all our experiences and we use these maps to get us back to places we want to be and also places we don’t want to be.
That’s right; they will also take us to places we don’t want to go. For many golfers, their “competition model” takes them to places they don’t want to be i.e. higher scores, frustration and feelings of helplessness that makes it difficult for them to make cuts and win prize money whereas their non-competition model takes them to lower scores that seem easier to achieve.
Basically you need to understand that there is a distinction between the times when you compete where you feel satisfied with your results and the times when you compete and you don’t.
Your map of higher scores and the feelings associated with it is something you fight to stay away from which might seem logical and sensible to you, however you need to understand that this is not about logic. There is nothing logical about not playing to your potential and no amount of logic or positive thinking will make you feel better about playing sub-standard golf.
What you need to do is design a competition model that leads you to consistent lower golf scores and at the same time positively develops your self-image and self esteem.
Think of any consistent routine as a model. The routine is an experience that you have packaged up so that you can use it again and again. You have literally hundreds of routines or models of experience that you use to get through your life safely and with few mistakes. Driving the kids to school at the same time each day, along the same route is an example of a consistent routine many people execute.
Think about it like this; nearly everything you do in your life is done effortlessly and seamlessly. In other words, it’s relatively easy and you make few if any mistakes.
And yet the one routine you’ve spent a great deal of your life time perfecting is the one your struggle with the most. Driving your car on the other side of the road is a challenge (particularly in traffic) and yet it will seems easier to do for many golfers than stringing four consistent rounds of golf together.
Why do we try so hard to do something that you can already do so well?
I believe that part of the reason is appreciating how the context and content of an experience influences your existing competition model. The difference in experience between two events is that the context is different and the content is different.
Here’s two examples:
- Playing a round of golf in a golf tournament
- Playing a round golf with friends
Secondly the content of these two experiences might also be different.
- Enjoying the experience of just going through the process of playing golf shots
- Trying to play golf and being too focused on your score, swing or shot.
The distinction: When you’re playing relaxed and enjoying the experience of playing golf you perform better because you’re not trying to perform better.
Now I know that this is a simplistic attempt to help you to understand that the content of your experience makes up your experience and when slightly different can lead you to different outcomes.
So the question is this; Is it useful and even helpful for you to you to see it this way?…
Let’s look at it again:
Context #1. Playing a round of golf with friends and enjoying the experience which leads to better performances and more fun
Context #1. Trying to play well in a golf tournament which leads to higher scores and no fun
Is there a difference between playing golf and trying to play golf? You bet there is, the difference is massive!
Remember this; you are not wrong or broken in some way. Golfers use the word ‘fix’ often when describing some aspect their performance that is not up to par. The word fix implies broken or in need of repair, but you are not broken, you are carrying out your current strategies perfectly, however its just possible that your strategies (which form the content of your model) may be poorly designed and ineffective.
Golfers who are currently performing more the way you want to in a golf tournament are more than likely using more effective and useful strategies built around well constructed models that define the context and content of the experience they’re striving for, and which can be repeated consistently because they have developed a clearly defined map which is harmonious with their future goals.
When you build a competition model that taps into the golf skills and potential you already possess, you will start to perform more the way you want to. The paradigm of playing as much golf as possible to get better is not a useful strategy unless you develop your strategy with content that taps into your existing skills and golfing experience.
Remember that you have all the resources you need already to play golf the way you truly want to. So build a better map of the experience you wish to have by carefully adding content to it that will lead you to lower golf scores, better results in tournaments and ultimately a lot more fun.
It’s not impossible because there are plenty of golfers already doing it the way you want to, so take a leaf from their experience and add it to yours.
Do it today, do it now, and get on with playing golf in competition just the way you want to play it.
Until next time.
Lawrie Montague – Golf Confidence Coach
“There is a simple formula that can explain the level of success you have achieved in your life thus far. I was extremely fortunate to attend a business seminar more than twenty years ago where I first came across this amazingly simple formula and armed with it I have been able to improve many areas of my life and also those of my students.”
When I was starting out as a young golf professional I spent a great deal of my time practicing, trying to improve my golf skills without any form of success pathway to guide me. I always wondered why some golfers seemed to achieve more success than others given that in many cases the more successful golfer wasn’t working at their game near as hard.
What was it that they were doing that seemed to make all the difference?
Some years later when I began my career as a full time golf instructor my mentor suggested that I start to attend business seminars to develop my golf teaching business. I took his advice and started to attend as many seminars as I could and listen to different experts discuss the best strategies for improving the bottom line of your business.
This suggestion and my subsequent action changed my life as I quickly realised that the business world is every bit as competitive as the professional golf tours and that business people were well schooled in understanding the process that led to business success.
It was at one of these seminars that a very famous business speaker and expert in developing human performance potential Brian Tracy revealed a simple formula for success that quite frankly changed the way I lived my life.
He started by writing the formula on a white board and asked the audience to work out what they thought it meant.
r = u x e
After a lot of guesses he explained to the large audience that the formula was so simple and elegant that many people would simply pass it off as being too simplistic and consequently many in the audience (before they left the seminar) would pay little to no attention to it, and he was absolutely correct.
I on the other hand wrote it down and really thought about it and in the beginning I believed that I understood what it meant, but I realised that the more I thought about it the more it revealed to me about what it takes to succeed.
I wondered; was this the reason why Greg Norman was the dominant golfer in the World at the time?
It made sense that he was doing things a little bit differently to everyone else. Of course the golf media described his extraordinary abilities on the golf course as God given gifts or rare and exceptional talent.
I knew that he started playing golf much later than other golfers and seemed to get better faster. What was he was doing that enabled him to achieve a far greater degree of success than many other professional golfers in less time?
“I figured that this simple formula would go along way to explaining why he and other great golfers got so good so fast?”
Greg Norman was producing outstanding results playing on the same golf course as many other highly skilled golfers and yet was able to dominate many of the events he played in. Tiger Woods has also had the ability to do this and as I studied the formula what became apparent was that the formula explained that the results they were producing were controlled by two elements; the effort they applied and the level of understanding they possessed.
V.J Singh got to number one in the world after forty years of age competing against tour professionals nearly half his age and he came from the small Island of Fiji. He wasn’t a product of a traditional junior golf development background but he found a way to the top. V.J has always had a reputation for working harder at his game than the majority of his peers but I already knew that hard work helped, but it wasn’t the complete answer…There was more.
Results <———————————————————-> Effort
When you look at the formula you have Results at one end and Effort at the other. Applying effort to your game will produce a result, there’s no doubt about it.
The big question is, is it the result you desire. If the answer is no then we need to look at the middle part of the formula for guidance.
One definition of understanding is that it’s the limit of a concept. To understand something you have to be able to conceptualize it to a given measure. To not understand how to improve your golf score is the limit of your knowledge about how to improve your golf skills so that it would lead you to improvement in your golf score.
In his essay “The Limits of Reason”, Gregory Chaitin, a noted computer scientist argues that understanding something means being able to figure out a simple set of rules that explains it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding)
“What are the rules you use to to be able to hit a pitching wedge shot from sixty yards out to within 10 feet of the pin 70 percent of the time?”
This amazing and simple formula will work for you one hundred percent of the time in your golf game or any other area of your life where your desire for improvement. Remember this though.
“Do not put effort into improving your golf game if you don’t really know what you’re doing.”
Remember that the key is to realise that the result you desire requires that your level of understanding to be at least the same; and the effort you employ is designed to complement the level of understanding and results you’re striving for.
If you study and apply the formula r = u x e you will experience the results you want faster and more effectively than any other way.
If you don’t understand what you must do to change the behavior of a troublesome golf shot then go take some lessons from a qualified and competent professional golf instructor to gain the understanding you need to improve the results of your golf shot.
So give it a shot and let me know how the “Golf Success Formula” works for you.
Until next time,
Lawrie Montague – Golf Confidence Pro
P.S I’ve just opened a new high performance golf school in Perth, Western Australia, you can visit the website at www.protourgolfcollege.com
“How would you like to practice your golf skills so that there was a very high chance that you would significantly improve? It has been my experience that the majority of golfers practicing at their game do not know how to practice effectively.”
In this article I’m going to explain how to practice your golf skills for improvement. I’ll explain the key factors that influence behavioural change and the common mistakes that golfers make when practicing their golf. I’ll also describe golf ‘best practice’ techniques that you can adopt and implement into your game to improve any aspect of your performance.
So what is golf practice? Golf practice is the procedure you use for learning, developing and acquiring golf experience. We engage golf practice routines to develop, improve and master our golf skills and we do this by repeating a highly specific behaviour many times until we have a very high degree of competency and trust in it.
We do this to be able to perform a particular golf skill when it matters to us; for example hitting a high, soft pitch shot from a tight lie over a bunker to a tightly tucked pin position would require a very specific golf stroke technique that travels on a very shallow and slightly outside to inside swing path to slice the ball from its lie.
Golf practice therefore is simply the reinforcement of particular actions that help to create a specific type of result or set of results that we desire and by improving the nature of the way that you go about practicing your skills, you can in turn generate the results you seek sooner.
Regrettably when we practice golf skills incorrectly we are setting ourselves up for failure. In other words when we really need to produce a result, this will be the time that the particular shot you’re attempting to play will more than likely not come off as planned.
An example of practicing incorrectly would be to practice golf skills that you are already very competent at. Many golfers will go to the practice range with the same golf clubs and practice with them rather than practicing with clubs that they find more difficult to use and also golf shots they find difficult to play.
Golf ‘best practice’ can be defined as the most efficient practice method that you can use that requires the least amount of effort and is the most effective way to achieve exceptional results when performing the skill-set, based on repeatable well defined procedures that have proven themselves over time by large numbers of golfers.
Proven Practice Performance Platform
So before you begin your practice session start by deciding on the best approach for improving your golf skills. The best way to go about this is to initiate a testing and measuring protocol to accurately assess the relative performance of your golf skills currently.
Track and Measure
If you were lost somewhere you would logically look for some point of reference to help you to determine where you are relative to where you want to be. Tracking and measuring your golf skills helps you to gain the necessary clarity you need to help you to know where your skills are at the present moment so you can determine where you wish to go with them.
There is a relatively easy way to do this. Track a minimum of six rounds of golf and measure results in at least the following six categories.
1) What is your score average against par
2) How many tee-shots you hit into the fairway
3) How many greens you hit with your approach shot in regulation (e.g. Hit a par 4 in two shots or a par 3 in one shot)
4) How many putts you had for 18 holes
5) How many bunker shots you hit onto the green and made one putt
6) How many chip and pitch shots you hit onto the green and made one putt
Now of course you can measure many more categories with much greater detail if you like, and this will be dependent primarily on your golf skill ability. Low handicapped amateurs and professionals will measure many more categories with much greater detail to extract the information they need to develop a suitable plan for improvement.
If you are a high handicapped amateur then the abovementioned categories are a good beginning.
Forecast and Estimate
Forecasting the amount of improvement you desire is essential for developing a planned approach to your golf improvement as well as fuelling your focus and desire to improve.
Every successful golfer is motivated by performance goals and forecasting your future performances just helps you to stay on track with your improvement as well and also helps you to determine how you should get there.
Once you’ve tracked and measured the different skills that make-up a round of golf you need to estimate the amount of improvement you desire sometime in the future. If after six rounds you discovered that you hit thirty eight percent of fairways and that seventy percent of those tee-shots missed to the right, and you forecast that within six months you will hit at least forty eight percent of fairways or ten percent improvement in your tee-shot accuracy, your next step would be to decide what you need to do next.
Ok here’s where the rubber meets the road. Now you need to isolate the critical element in your technique that would help you to achieve better results. Of the categories you tested and measured, and using the driving accuracy example from earlier, what specifically will you do to improve your driving accuracy?
Remember you’re looking for ten percent improvement over six months which equates to around one and half percent improvement per month.
So you need to find a method for making the golf ball travel more down the target line so you can hit more fairways.
You’ve isolated the problem that your tee-shots are travelling too often to the right of the fairway and now you need to prescribe a specific drill or training technique that will alter that situation and move you towards your ten percent improvement goal.
This is where a series of lessons with a competent and experienced golf teaching professional would make good sense as you can isolate the problem in your golf swing technique faster so you can get on with the job of improving your tee-shot accuracy.
Manage and Monitor
The final step in the process is to determine how much work (effort) you will put into your golf practice to improve your performance by around 1.5 percent each month. You will need to manage your effort and also monitor your progress continually to ensure that you remain on track with your improvement.
Managing your effort means to develop practice routines that incorporate the specific skills that you need to learn, modify or improve. When you practice your skills you will have to involve the following four practice dynamics in each practice session to influence how much improvement you will make each month.
This is the exact amount of golf balls you will hit during each golf training session. Ideally you will break your practice volume into manageable sets of golf balls and hitting sets of ten or twenty golf shots per set makes it easy for you to stay focused, and it’s also easy to measure and manage.
This is the rate of recurrence of practicing a particular skill. How often do you need to practice certain skills, and when is the best time to perform the skill? Should you practice putting after hitting three sets of driver shots – probably not? Managing the frequency of your practice helps you to manage energy expenditure and focus and is critical when developing an effective practice plan.
This is the period of time you actually invest in hitting your golf shots. The time it takes to hit sets of golf shots will vary depending on whether you’re practicing using a pre-shot routine or not. Technique practice doesn’t usually require that you use a pre-shot routine where practicing targeting skills does.
So practice duration helps you to manage the different skills you will practice and fit them into your total plan. If you know that it takes you four minutes and thirty seconds to hit ten pitch shots to a target then you can easily work out how long it will take to hit ten sets of ten pitch shots to a target which will help you to plan your practice program more carefully and effectively.
This is the level of focus or concentration you involve in your practice in practicing each skill. When you break your practice volume down into sets of ten golf shots and you practice the right skills at the best time, and you have worked out how many sets of shots you need to hit you will find it easier to focus on your skills and get the most out of yourself.
Focus varies depending on the importance of the practice routine however by practicing correctly you give yourself the best opportunity to practice efficiently and effectively. When you practice a skill set the key is to control what you’re paying attention to. Your responsibility is to control your eye gaze and maintain it for each and every shot.
Practicing your golf skills correctly means building a platform of strategies that support and enhance your effort to improve. It’s easy to just go out to the range and hit golf balls and hope that you will do something that makes you improve. It’s much more challenging to perform practice skills correctly by planning your strategy carefully and implementing it into your program so that the effort you put in actually leads to outcomes that you expect.
Remember to always begin with the end in mind. Decide what you want to achieve from your golf game and notice where you are with it right now. Then go to work building a bridge from where you are to where you wish to go. Take your time, really think it through and in the days, weeks and months you’ll discover the other side of improvement.
Until next time,
Lawrie Montague – Golf Confidence Pro