Over the past few years I’ve examined concepts and developed principles applicable to the process of playing golf. Make no mistake golf is a process. I constantly refer to it in my instruction. The very definition of a process is a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result. The desired result for all golfers I believe is ongoing improvement.
Playing golf requires not only physical movement but mental involvement. Several terms are used to describe the method of concentration players utilize to think their way around the course. Some will say they are “in the zone” or they seem to be playing in slow-motion. Once locked in players are oblivious to the distractions around them.
PurePlayGolf has developed a mental approach that improves overall play. Termed “Dynamic Linear Focus (DLF)” this discipline aids the play process by keeping players on track from the first tee shot to the final stroke. DLF is a flexible tool easily adaptable for all types of golfers. It is an integral component of the MindPlay Principle in PurePlayGolf.
Professional tour players practice Dynamic Linear Focus (DLF). Nicklaus used it. Ray Floyd did it in a big way. Johnny Miller employed it during his run as did Tom Watson. Seve fed off of it. Tiger Woods mastered it as intensely as Floyd and currently Jordan Spieth is the poster boy for it. Jason Day locks into it and Rory McIlroy is a user but sometimes gets distracted. There are other professionals who employ DLF to up their performance. How can we do the same?
DLF offers a variety of ways to apply mental strategies required for success. Players define what they want their success to be — lower scores, more consistency, better ball striking, added length, more efficient short game. For this discussion I am going to refer to shooting the best score possible. Here are a couple of instances highlighting the playing habits of an experienced amateur.
For our first scenario let’s say you are going out to play eighteen at your local course with your regular weekly foursome on a Thursday afternoon. You’re an eight handicap and play three times a week. There is an individual Low Net event taking place and you have decided to enter the fray. Naturally you want to play well, enjoy the day while having fun with your buddies.
For scenario number two you enter your club championship qualifier with players you know but haven’t played with. The round will seed the eight lowest medal scores into a match play bracket.
These two situations are common for most who have played a fair amount of golf and have some experience with the game. The first example is a bit less formal. The second is competitive.
Regardless of which set of circumstances a player is engaged, Dynamic Linear Focus can dictate the amount of success the player achieves. Let’s examine DLF.
I am going to draw on one of the definitions of the term DYNAMIC from the dictionary: marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.
Golf certainly is an activity meeting these criteria. It is a continuous endeavor of activity constantly changing shot-to-shot throughout the round.
Now let us look at the term LINEAR:
of, relating to, or based or depending on sequential development.
Golf is a linear game. You may not think so by literally interpreting your path around the golf course. What makes this game linear is that from the moment you step on the first tee and plug your ball into the ground it starts a progression of shots (resembling dots in a way) linked together over nine or eighteen holes producing a result. It is a sequential, cumulative, LINEAR process where one shot is followed by the next and so on.
I doubt much needs to be said about FOCUS other than it refers to the subject on which people’s attention is fixed.
If we are driving a car we are focused on the process of reaching a destination. If we are focused on cooking dinner we are coordinating the steps to prepare a meal. Writing this I am focused on delivering my message in an orderly, logical fashion. We have heard this term used all of the time, especially when it comes to golf.
So how does DYNAMIC LINEAR FOCUS impact our golf games? How can it make it better? It makes the process smoother and more comprehensible, simpler in a way if you like. Isn’t it a common occurrence that every one of us has complicated the way we play golf time and time again? DLF helps eliminate this problem.
In its simplest form golf is a game of connective shots. We begin at a starting point, hit shot after shot after shot until we reach the end of the round. One shot leads us to the next and all of the challenges surrounding it. Some are easier than others. To stay engaged in the process, it is essential to use DLF.
Golf is filled with various elements I’ll refer to as distractions (off ramps). These aspects lure you away from DLF and often make it difficult to find your way back to that optimal performance zone. There are times when we can play three holes in a row well. Maybe we get on a roll and play a solid nine. You know what usually happens on the second nine, the score jumps up a bit. But just as there are distractions there are also re-focusers (on ramps).
Let’s consider our first scenario mentioned above. You’re playing with your buddies, left the office at noon for a 1:00 tee time. At the course you grab a hot dog and a beer, head off to hit some balls and pay $5.00 to enter the low net event. You meet the other three on the range and get loosened up.
The tee time comes up and you make our way to the first tee. The starting hole is a par 4, 395 yards with three bunkers, a large green and no OB. After a so-so drive the second finds a greenside bunker, your third finds the putting surface. Two putts later — bogey.
Making the turn you’ve managed to scratch out a 41 with a double bogey and two other bogeys. On the back nine you make seven pars, a double, a quad and your lone birdie on eighteen for another 41. Your net 74 doesn’t win a dime.
While the day isn’t a disaster you were hoping for 76-78. The quad derailed you on fifteen with an OB followed by a three putt. The day was warm and sunny, the jokes flowed throughout the round, you had a couple of beers while playing in 4 1/2 hours. Not a bad day.
That evening as your sitting on the patio you go back over your round. The double on the front nine occurred right after the beer cart showed up. Your quad took place after you answered an incoming call on your phone. By the time you teed off eighteen you knew your round wasn’t going to be competitive in the day’s event. You made an “easy” twenty-footer for birdie. The distractions (off ramps) were evident.
Two weeks later on a Saturday morning you have an 8:00 am tee time for Club Championship qualifying. You’re playing with three others you hardly know. The wind is up when you arrive at the course forty-five minutes before your time.
The round starts a bit shaky with three bogies in the first six holes. You turn in 41 but disaster strikes on the back nine. Three straight bogies start your inward nine followed by three pars, a double and two bogies — 41-43-84. You miss qualifying for your flight.
The Thursday evening before this round you played nine holes by yourself and shot 37. Again you’re scratching your head about the game.
These two instances happen all the time. They aren’t unusual. You know you can play the game but at times things get a bit off track. Your swing feels pretty good. What is the cause?
As I stated earlier golf is often filled with distractions (off ramps) on and off the course. The benefit of employing DLF is it keeps you on course and helps manage the off ramps. To do so it helps to identify them, not unlike understanding the Rules of Golf requires you know the definitions.
Here are some common distractions (off ramps) players face:
pace of play
disruption of routine
Analyzing the first scenario it’s easy to see where you took the off ramps resulting in a couple of poor holes. Although this is your regular weekly game at the same tee time with the same three playing partners there are still times when you take a few exits. The beer cart and the phone call were off ramp situations.
In the club championship example you were playing at a different time (am vs pm), with different playing partners in a more formal, competitive round. It’s difficult for most to adapt to these situations because they are uncommon. The off ramp in this instance came before you teed your ball up on the first hole. You’re not used to playing competitive rounds and you’re also not at your best in the morning. You never found the on ramp.
DLF identifies the path (highway) to be taken during a round. It also determines where and when the off and on ramps need to be utilized. The journey for one player will differ greatly from the next. DLF allows one to constantly move into the present.
Imagine a round of golf is akin to taking a trip on an interstate highway. Each shot is represented by a mile marker. There are off ramps and on ramps along the way. Eventually as you pass every mile marker along the way you arrive at your destination. Did you arrive in good shape? Was the trip uneventful? Were there a few incidents on the way? How many stops did you make? Let’s face it, during a trip every traveler is bound to make a stop or two. Few people can drive 500 miles straight through without taking a break. During a round of golf every player needs to exit once in awhile.
A key consideration is to plan or anticipate the off ramps so you can manage your game then get back on course (highway). Anticipated stops can be managed. The adventures that aren’t planned (mechanical break down, taking the wrong route, sickness, etc) are the ones that put a trip in jeopardy.
Experienced players comprehend how to use DLF during their rounds. If an unanticipated off ramp shows up they deal with it and get back on the course (highway). They have an arsenal of re-focusers (on ramps).
PurePlayGolf has refined the concept of Dynamic Linear Focus and can show you how to incorporate it into your game. Identifying how and why players take the off ramps is important. It’s key to know where the on ramps are and how to access them. It’s paramount to know the re-focusers leading to these on ramps. It’s crucial to know how to employ them. PurePlayGolf knows how and can teach you.