- CoursePlay – The process of playing the course. Discovering options and strategies.
- MindPlay – Breaking through conventional thought allowing a player to discover new ways of playing the mental game.
- PracticePlay – Introducing and evaluating proper practice techniques in order to understand their relevance to playing better golf.
- VisualFeelPlay – Developing the ability to see the shot and having it fall into your hands. The situation offers the process rather than the process being forced on the situation.
- FitPlay – Equipment specifications and evaluation that fits one’s game. Also the impact of physical fitness on performance.
- RulesPlay – Understanding the basic rules of golf in order to properly play the game.
- ComradePlay – Interaction/competition with others during play.
Incorporating these Principles into your current game will bring improvement. You can choose to adopt one, two, or more of them as you like. They will not detract from any swing methods you might be pursuing. They focus on the play of the game. After all the reason for practice is to improve play. Come and see how you can play better with PurePlayGolf.
Golf is played on a course, not a practice range. In order to get acclimated to the playing process it is crucial the majority of your time be spent on the course. This is one of the few games where practice often does not take place on the field of play. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Once a general knowledge is gained by the student, I take them on the course. At first we tour the layout and cover some general rules situations, the teeing grounds, fairways, roughs, hazards and greens, how to care for the course, moving around the course in a timely fashion and when to leave the course due to dangerous weather.
Learning on the course is better absorbed than hitting balls from a stationary position on the practice range. Course situations cannot be replicated on the practice range no matter how well constructed it is. The on-course environment creates a better awareness and with that come learning opportunities leading to improved play. I often ask students how many good shots they remember that took place on the course as opposed to the practice range?
Another consideration of CoursePlay is the situations always vary. The lies aren’t consistent, obstacles are in the way, moving around the course presents different wind conditions, plus elevation changes affect the distances shots travel. Spending time on the course is far more beneficial to a player’s development. It offers broader learning opportunities in the time it takes to hit a bucket of balls.
If instructors are focused on teaching students how to play better golf they need to become engaged with them in a course setting. Too often an instructor will only teach on the range then send the student out on the course. When the student comes in the instructor asks how the student did. Is this the best manner to teach, observe and develop a student’s game? Worse yet is a situation where instructors teach only on a range or an indoor facility and never observe or interact with a student on the course. In that scenario a student only receives partial knowledge of what golf is about. If a student is going to invest in an instructor that instructor had likewise better be invested in the student’s game ON THE COURSE. How else can a proper evaluation of progress be made?
This Principle is the one that often differentiates the good player from the great player. Golf is a process game. An opening shot is followed by a succession of different shot types from different situations. Managing those shots around the course in an efficient manner requires solid MindPlay. It requires a flow or a smooth transition from shot to shot. Too many thoughts can lead to poor MindPlay. I’ve often said two thoughts are OK, one thought is better, zero thoughts is ideal. The mind ultimately has to settle into a routine where the player sees the ball, finds the target then plays the shot to that target, nothing more.
Before that process takes place MindPlay also needs to address the fundamentals involved to hit a ball. This is a rote process of repetition. Placing those in an orderly fashion in one’s mind is key to creating a consistent approach to playing golf.
Have you ever been to a professional event and stood behind the driving range? Had you not known the names and reputations of the players would you be able to pick out the top finishers? What separates the upper echelon players from the others? It is usually found in the mindset of the player in the form of confidence, resilience, simplicity and poise.
Confidence is present when a player is comfortable and fully aware of their abilities. Doubt never comes to mind. It is quickly dismissed by focusing on the process and accepting the outcome. Another aspect of a confident player is they never play a shot they don’t believe they can execute. They’re in complete control. In addition players with strong MindPlay are accepting of different playing conditions be they weather related or involving course conditions, sometimes even associated with playing partners.
There are so many variables to developing strong MindPlay to address here. Be assured MindPlay can be refined and strengthened through techniques based on a player’s experience and ability. It is an individual talent. Briefly a few of those techniques are based on a concept I refer to as Dynamic Linear Focus (DLF). A full analysis of this concept appears on this website’s Blog.
For the sake of brevity I will say a player with strong MindPlay will often beat a player with more talent but weak MindPlay. The Rules of Golf state you can only have 14 clubs in the bag. Actually you can have 15 — MindPlay. It’s amazing how many players neglect to put it in their bag before they go out to play!
There is a balance between spending your practice time on the range versus on the course. Many players hit range ball after range ball and never see marked improvement in their game. The problem is they do not have a plan on how to practice effectively.
Golf is a game where often the majority of practice does not take place on the actual field of play. The quickest way to improve the playing process is to actually play the course. The feedback is immediate and more impactful. On the range players can just reach for another ball after a poor shot. There is no consequence that follows.
It’s best to understand how to incorporate both the range and course into developing a practice regimen leading to improvement.
For beginners the fundamentals of swinging the club should start on the practice range. Once there is success in striking the ball, the golf course provides the optimum classroom to illustrate rules situations, the layout of a hole, hazards, care for the course and how to play at a proper pace. It also provides memorable visual feedback that can be utilized for future play. Shots played on the course are remembered more than those played on the practice range.
Another aspect of PracticePlay is being in an environment that replicates playing conditions as near as possible on the course. The three areas accomplishing this are a practice putting green, a short game area plus a practice bunker if one is available. Since 75% of the game is played from within 100 yards of the hole it is crucial to hone these skills and take time to focus on these aspects of play.
One thing that can always be practiced regardless if it’s on the courses or the practice tee is a player’s routine. Some refer to it as a pre-shot routine where the pre-swing essentials are consistently performed prior to any shot. Developing a customary starting point that settles the mind, sharpens the feel and allows a player to commit to the shot at hand leads to a more consistent process. Remember, playing golf is a process.
Lastly, there are practice sessions and there are QUALITY practice sessions. It is important to have a game plan when you go out to practice. Many players have hit buckets of balls and walked away from the exercise without gaining an ounce of improvement in their game. Practice sessions do not have to be related to quantity of balls hit, hours spent, or situations covered. A solid session might occur in fifteen minutes. A player can hit 20 – 30 pitch shots and walk away with a productive session. It is crucial to add “little successes” to the regimen. There are numerous ways to practice and find the best routine that works for you. Better practice habits lead to better play. PurePlayGolf can show you how.
This Principle is one of the most important keys to taking your game to the next level. Beginners will focus on developing a swing and contact but eventually as they increase their knowledge in playing the game they will learn how to draw upon this vital Principle.
I’m often saying life is about options. Since golf in many ways mirrors life, it too is filled with many options. VisualFeelPlay allows a player’s eyes to engage with their other senses to visualize a shot suitable for varying conditions. Through years of experience players can visually recognize shots that are their best options.
Again this process is learned primarily through CoursePlay. Successful players approach each shot with a visual concept of how that shot should be executed and flighted. The secret to being able to employ this principle comes with experience and experimentation. It’s hard to describe what a player “sees and feels” when they hit a three-quarter cut six iron to a back right hole location. They know what it is – they see (visualize) it. They’ve practiced the shot and have the confidence to play it. It is almost as if the shot comes to the player rather than the player forcing the shot in that situation. Remember, it’s all about options and what each player sees is different from others.
An example of this Principle can be seen in short game play. One player may prefer to putt the ball from a situation whereas another may opt to play a pitch. Some players might even choose to putt from off the green. It depends what shot the player “sees”, how he feels and how confident he is in the execution. Should those aspects fall in line then the shot can be visualized, committed to and played. This process is cultivated through experience, most notably on-course experience.
Once a players sees a shot it is a result of a confident past experience but also in recognizing conditions surrounding the shot. In golf it’s not only important to train our bodies, it is also important to train our eyes while developing feel. Once this happens shot options appear more quickly.
This Principle is two-fold. It implies being fit properly for equipment and being physically fit to achieve better play.
Equipment options these days are as varied as colors on graphite shafts. Fitting considerations usually consider set make up, shaft flex, loft and lie angles, grip size, club length, head shapes and styles, MOI, plus center of gravity. Some of these aspects can become overwhelming so it’s a good idea to have a qualified club fitter help with the process.
For most players not playing for a living the important factors to consider are lie angle, shaft flex, grip size, set make up and length. Buying a set of clubs off the rack may allow individuals to take up the game quickly but as they progress it will be wise to consider assembling a set of clubs that meet player’s individual needs.
Physical fitness is a doctrine practiced in every sport. Today’s professionals are much more fit than their counterparts from years ago. In golf it’s best to pursue a program that helps increase/maintain flexibility, core stability, balance, speed. Exercise that builds bulk and rigid muscle structure is not conducive to establishing a fluid swinging motion.
In addition to implementing an exercise routine, walking the course is also a great way to enhance FitPlay. Whether you carry, use a push cart, or take a caddie, the playing experience is much better on foot. If you need to use a golf cart try walking more between shots to get to your ball. Your game experience will improve as a result.
Other ways to upgrade your fitness include diet and hydration. Selecting better nutritional items can help increase stamina, help with weight loss and improve thought process. Hydration is especially key during a round not only on warm days but also in cooler temperatures. According to a study by the Titleist Performance Institute golfers hit the ball 12% shorter and 93% less accurate when mildly dehydrated. Water is the best option for replenishing fluids. Make sure you hit the water before, during and after the round.
It is evident how better fitness practices translate to the incredible performances many of us watch on the Professional Tours. Making a few lifestyle changes from better FitPlay will also be beneficial.
Golf is a game of rules, lots of rules. You almost need an attorney to figure out the official USGA Rule Book. I’ve taken a few standardized tests in my lifetime and I can honestly say the USGA Rules Test is by far the most difficult examination I’ve seen.
Today casual players probably opt to dismiss some rules situations. There is a current train of thought certain situations should be relaxed to promote more fun as well as faster play. Play a wrong ball, just put a new one down. Hit the flagstick with a putt, consider it a rub of the green, play on. With many courses featuring long grasses lining the fairways local rules often consider the areas lateral hazards.
There usually aren’t any concerns with this type of play as long as players understand when they enter competitive events they adhere to the Rules of Golf. It is the responsibility of the participants to have a general knowledge of rules situations. When players encounter difficult rules situations they need to address the Rules Committee for clarification.
RulesPlay affects two scenarios in the playing process. First, in formal competition players take on a responsibility to play by the rules. They agree to abide by all of the rules and take on the responsibility of enforcing them. Should they see something that appears to be an infraction they need to address it right away. Secondly, knowing the rules can at times help one’s game.
The second point is important. I’ve watched players proceed in rules situations under legitimate options however had they known the complete set of options within the rule they may have bettered their situation. It is also key to know the definitions prior to interpreting rules. Without knowing the definitions such as Ball Moved, it’s tough to interpret the applicable rule.
Lastly, it is strongly recommended every player carry a rule book in their bag. It’s better to know than guess.
Golf is a social game so you had better be ready to play with others. At times you’ll welcome the company. Other times you’ll be a bit unsure of your playing partners or how your game might stack up. Both situations affect your play.
It’s easy to get comfortable in a weekly game with familiar faces. You most likely play the same course at the same tee time. The conversation is a give-and-take of current events, subtle jabs, jokes and perhaps plans to play some place special in a few weeks. If you’re a group of juniors the long ball is king, UnderArmour is the prevalent dress and the topics of conversation might involve DTR. The social setting is enjoyable and relaxed, casual golf.
Bob Jones once said there is golf and there is tournament golf and the two are not the same. He is correct. The above scenario describes a round of casual golf. Playing in a tournament or competition is a completely different situation. The participants are sometimes unknown. If they are familiar they may not be chatty or friendly.
Such is the nature of ComradePlay. You’ll meet and play with several different people over the years. Some you’ll like, some will become lifelong friends and some will be forgotten.
The one thing you need to remember in a competitive situation is make sure you pay attention to your game. It’s all that matters. You aren’t there to win the congeniality award. You’re there to compete. However the real key is matching your casual style to your competitive style. It’s tough enough playing the game with one personality. It is impossible with two.
Golf allows several opportunities for distractions. Playing partners can be distracting. Focus on the play process. Introduce a few “little successes” you’d like to achieve. Try to get the honor, make 2 birdies in the round, hit fairways. Some players like to talk and interact with others, some keep to themselves. Find the balance that benefits your game and don’t change it.
Questions or comments on these seven Principles can be forwarded to me at firstname.lastname@example.org