Teed Off (10-01-2010)

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VietNam News English - 99 month(s) ago 1 readings

Another year of crushed hopes and dreams passes, only to give way to new hopes and dreams and a determination to not make the same mistakes twice. Unfortunately, we are all creatures of habit, so there s a good chance we ll just continue to screw up for another year.

Let s be honest here for a moment, how many times was it really someone else s fault you screwed up? Chances are, if you re really honest with yourself, you ll see that 99 per cent of the time you did it to yourself.

In golf, it becomes 100 per cent.

Look, caddies read the line, but you have to make the putt. Nobody puts a gun to your head and says "over-swing like hell and slice into the lake" or says, "Gee, a duck-hook right about now would be perfect."

Golf is all about accepting responsibility for who you are and what you do, both in life and on the course. Nobody can change it for you, this is your problem alone to conquer.

The good thing is that a golf swing can be fixed, you can learn new skills to make the game easier and you can even buy new clubs to better fit your style of game.

During the last few months, I ve been giving a lot of short game lessons to members and guests. Most players never considered chipping with anything except a wedge of some sort. Many players never realised that a putt that is stroked rolls more accurately than one that is "hit".

Once the player learns to chip with everything in the bag, including an umbrella [just for fun], they begin to understand that golf is not a straightforward game, but rather one of nuances. With the exception of the rule book, very little in golf is black or white.

I surprise a lot of people when I work with them on putting because I either putt left-handed with the back of the putter, or with the edge of a wedge with very good accuracy. The secret is that both items put a better "roll" on the ball, so it tends to dive into the hole if the line is right. Try practice putting with the edge of the wedge and you ll see what I mean almost immediately.

Now, changing yourself is a bit complicated, but the bottom line is that you swing according to your character. If you re an easy going, slow-moving type of guy, you ll swing a lot like Ernie Els or Fred Couples. If you re a fast moving, high pressure personality, you ll probably swing more like Tiger Woods or John Daly.

Trying to swing like someone you re not can only end in disaster because you re constantly in conflict with your inner self. Thus, it is always best to find your own swing, one which feels comfortable to you.

When we were at the Match-Play event at Montgomerie Links in Da Nang last December, I was on a practice round and not really feeling any of the shots. There was no click or rhythm to it, it was just blah.

I hit my tee shot on one of the par five holes which returned toward the clubhouse way off to the right. I then slashed a 5-iron off to the right yet again, which left me with a pitching wedge to the green.

As I approached the ball, the guys at the clubhouse tested the sound system for the party by playing a really funky song, which got my hips moving.

I hit that wedge to within three feet of the hole and kind of boogied all the way up to the green to tap in the birdie putt.

The difference was that the song put me back into rhythm. It was a tune which clicked inside my head at a tempo that resonated with me. Once again, you have to swing according to your character and that song "felt" right and got me going again.

Looking back, I realised that when I screw up on the course, it is almost always from trying to hit the ball too hard. A problem I have on courses I ve never played before and am not sure of the distances.

So, bottom line is, be true to yourself in 2010. VNS

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