Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sergio Wins! Acceptance

Congrats to Sergio Garcia, The 2017 Masters Champion!

Sergio wins his 1st major after 74 career starts with a birdie on #18 in a playoff with Justin Rose.

I think all of golf is happy for Sergio overcoming his difficulty in winning a major. It has been a tough road and ironically his 1st victory may very well be a result of accepting the possibility of defeat.

His post tournament press conference was extraordinary in describing his mentality and character throughout his tournament, final round and the playoff hole. Video - Sergio Press Conference

His initial comments: "I knew I was playing well, I was very calm (more so than previously), I knew what I was capable of doing, I believed I could do it and today I was able to do it."

Sergio knew his game, it was strong and he executed.

He describes the turning point in the round after two bogeys on #10 and #11.

"I was playing well, there were some tough holes to come, but there were some I could go after and unless Justin started making birdies left and right, I knew I would have some chances."

He credits the par putt on #13, "more than anything", for sparking his play coming down the stretch.

"I hit great shots except the putt on #16 but played #17, #18 very well, under the gun with pressure, not that easy to do. That gave me a lot of belief and I, for some reason in playoffs, feel quite comfortable. I've already had a great week and can free wheel it. I hit two great shots and won the tournament."

The extraordinary part of the conference comes at the 5:48 mark in describing his thoughts on #13.

He credits how positive he stayed. In the past he would have turned negative and complained about the results of a bad shot. But today, he chose an accepting attitude and a positive mental direction.

"Well, if that's what is suppose to happen, let it happen. Let's make a great 5 here and see if we can put on a hell of a finish to have a chance. If not, we will shake Justin's hand and congratulate him for winning."

From that point on he makes birdie on #14, eagle on #15, pars on #16,  #17, #18 and birdies the playoff hole #18. He doesn't miss a shot (other than the putt for birdie on #16) and wins the tournament.

Ironically, he accepted the possibility of losing and then won.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Improve your Putting through Ball Skills

After an extra cup of coffee this morning I had this random thought: "Good putting equals reading the green and good ball skills."

Where did that come from and what the heck does that mean?

I was watching a professional warm up and became frustrated on the amount of attention he was paying to his stroke and it just came to me. Brilliance? Obviously not but I think it holds true. On the green, what the ball does is all that matters.

Green reading, for most, is simply gained by experience. There are systems which are successful but for the masses, it just takes time on the green. Practicing on large greens with a variety of slopes is very beneficial.

Good ball skills is defined as the ability to roll the ball on an intended line a specific distance. These are a tremendous skills and I believe advantageous to your game.

This is a different mentality than "trying to make the putt" or "trying to lag it.". It's a more specific strategy to give every putt the opportunity to go in the hole. Its something you can improve upon and hold yourself accountable for in your game.

Rolling the ball is different than hitting or forcing it towards the hole. Knowing, envisioning and rolling the ball on that line is necessary for the ball to go towards the hole and controlling the distance the ball rolls is required in order for gravity to ultimately pull it in the hole. All are ball skills.

We can all relate to these skills in our daily lives. In fact, most of us developed ball skills as children. Check out the following short article on the importance of ball skills for children, it's relative: How Ball Skills Train Attention

The following excerpt relates well to putting and the approach you take towards putting and improvement.
"....practicing  ball skills is a really good way to train attention, persistence, and willingness to fail and try again. A carefully graded  ball skills training program allows the child to succeed at a valued task and also teaches that repeated practice leads to improvement in task performance.."
Whether you are a child or an adult, would "training attention, persistence, and willingness to fail and try again" help you in your pursuit of more made putts?

Would implementing a "graded balls skills training program that allows you to succeed and also teaches that repeated practice leads to improvement" help your putting?

To both questions, yes, I believe so.

A lot of people hold themselves accountable for making or missing a putt. This is a heavy burden, especially for those lacking the skills or those who do not understand the lower probability of making putts of distance.

So, how would you grade your ball skills?

How do they compare with those of a child throwing a ball? From the article:

Ball throwing skills 

The child of 5-6 years should be able to:
  • Throw a beanbag underhand onto a 16" X 16" mat from a distance of 6'
  • Throw a tennis ball at a 16" diameter target at head height on a wall at a distance of 9'.
  • Throw a soccer sized ball from above the head a distance of 13'.
  • Use a sidearm patterns to throw a soccer sized ball straight ahead a distance of 13'. 
  • Throw a tennis ball up past the face and catch it again.
  • Bounce a tennis ball in front of the body and catch it again with 2 hands. 
  • Repeatedly bounce a soccer-sized ball on the floor 5-10 times with one or two hands.
In putting, are you able to:
  • Roll the ball vs. hit it?
  • Roll it on your intended line?
  • Control where the ball stops with varying distances?
  • Do each of the above skills uphill, downhill, across a slope and from the fringe.
  • Adapt quickly to unfamiliar greens.
These are some specific and basic skills to develop that will improve your putting. Consider them, experiment and test yourself. Hold yourself accountable for these abilities.

Then, with your development, you can also say good putting equals green reading and good ball skills.

All for an easier game,