“The issue with golf is NOT how good your good is, but how bad your bad is…” – Nick Faldo
Horsham Golf was the venue for this eagerly awaited and unique evening with a past coach to 6 golf major champions. Overlooking the driving range the scene was set for an evening with Dr Karl Morris of the Mind Factor.
Invited to arrive early by Mike at My Golf Academy, Alex and I were given 20 minutes with Karl to meet him personally and introduce him to Sussex Golf and our mission.
The evening looked to be a sell out with all 35+ seats taken up by golfers of all abilities, keen to learn and all with one common interest in golf and getting better; lowering scores is the ultimate goal.
Staying in control
Reading through this article, a lot of what Karl talks about may sound obvious, but what he does very well is help you understand simple drills to make these elements more natural.
With many things out of your control, such as the weather and course conditions, and other things that you have some control over i.e. what you have for breakfast and what you are thinking, it’s essential to get the simpler elements spot on. It’s how you put yourself in the best possible position to approach the uncontrollable elements.
Thinking about stroke scores over the past 12 months, we were each asked to record our highest score and our PB (or lowest score) and got set the first challenge – to reduce the difference between those two scores over the next 12 months.
The mind factor
As mentioned previously, Karl has worked with some great major champions and is still lucky enough to be working with professionals in all types of sport at the highest level. When talking to these people at the top of their game and thinking about their greatest achievements in sports, one word stood out from any other when they think back to their mindset at this point in their career. This was ‘calm’.
People suggest golf is all in the mind, how true is this? Does this mean someone with a clear mind with no real experience can pick up a golf club and shoot a sub 80 round? Probably not. Factors such as their swing, ball striking and those elements we have no control over all make up the game of golf. The mind factor plays a good part in the game to an experienced player but there’s still the physical element too.
Improve with practise drills
Without going into too much detail as we would encourage any standard of golfer to attend a Mind Factor event this year, there are a number of practise drills that can help improve form and the mind for the next competitive round.
Your attention will either be on something:
- Useful to the task in hand
- Useless to the task at hand
Developing the SKILL of having your attention in the right place (and more often) will help build a better mental game, leading to a better golf game.
2. The 10-foot challenge
Statistics suggest you are more likely to one putt inside 10 foot which sounds obvious. This challenge is designed to help improve your short game into the pin giving you a better chance of converting the putt. For this challenge you will need:
- 10-foot length rope or string
- Putting green or short game practice area
- One golf ball
- One club of your choice
- A pocket notebook
- 10 minutes twice a week
- 20 tees
Using the string, mark out a 10-foot radius around the pin with the tees, then find 10 different positions around the green. These will be your chipping points.
Using your pocket notepad to record progress, create a table similar to below and record the chips that finish within 10 foot. Progress can be measured when you have a good dataset to analyse.
As you start to see higher numbers from around the green, start moving further away from the green and perform the same drill.
3. One ball putting practice
What do most of us do when on the putting green? We normally take more than one ball to practise with. The issue with this is you will never be able to improve your putting if you can’t read the putt correctly in the first place.Balls two and more will always be a better putt because you know the line and length.
Practice more with just one ball, ALWAYS putting out whatever the distance. It’s very easy to get into a “gimmie” mindset when playing non-competitively.
4. Quiet eye (Joan Vickers)
The most obvious example of this technique in practice is Owen Farrell who built-up to kicking a penalty goal in rugby by visualising the shot from point of launch, to the ball going in between the posts.
Think about this when putting. Golf is one of very few sports where the player isn’t looking down the line of the shot when playing it, as they are always stood to the left or right of the ball when contact is made. This makes it harder for the eyes to see the true line of the putt.
5. Three gears challenge
This drill is to help you find the sweet spot in a golf shot, helping you to make better choices around club selection especially with your irons. Karl showed us a short video of himself working with Graeme McDowell.
- Gear 1 – Slow swing allowing club to connect with ball
- Gear 2 – 50% swing
- Gear 3 – 100% (full swing)
If you find yourself getting a better connection from your slower swings, then there is a potential argument to club up but use less swing. However, more work may be required around distance with the new club selection combined with a shorter swing.
6. The reaction challenge
We all know someone who can have a hot head on the course. I’m the first to admit I let bad shots ruin my game because I can’t step away and forget about them.
Karl’s suggestion with the reaction challenge is simple:
- Monitor yourself more after each shot
- Don’t strap yourself up to heart rate or blood pressure monitor
- Monitor your reactions more post shot
- Focus on your breathing
If you hit a good shot, how did you react? Did you it make you more confident in the next shot? If you hit a bad shot, did you lose your head?
The idea is to bring more of what you do with confidence and good shot reactions into dealing with the not so good shots. If you hit a bad shot, what could you do?
Take the time to step away and breathe. A quote from Tom Watson nails it; “Learn how to breathe learn how to win”, suggesting if you get control of your breathing nothing bad can affect your mind.
When you are frustrated you will tense up, tension is tempo, tense muscles are weaker muscles, meaning more effort needs to be put in to follow up a bad shot with a good one. As tense muscles are more likely to affect the next shot, take a breath and concentrate on the body.
This just about scratches the surface of the evening and we would recommend you attend one of Karl Morris’s events this year if you want to become a better golfer and see shots drop.
Interested in hosting this event?
At this time when we are trying to get more people engaged with the game, this event is a perfect added value to your club members.
Fill your clubhouse out on what would be an otherwise quiet night and have everyone leave with a renewed sense of what could be possible with their golf game in the future.
Contact Karl on [email protected] or +44 (0) 1925 764053, quoting the Sussex Golf blog.
Book available in paper and digital editions End of average – Todd Rose
Book available in paper and digital editions Every shot must have a purpose – Pia Nilsson
Video TED talks – Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy
The Mind Factor – www.themindfactor.net
My Golf Academy – http://my-golf-academy.co.uk/