Nine Holes To Improve Your Game, by Gary Wiren, PhD

By Dr. Gary Wiren, PGA Master Professional, Sr. Director of Instruction for all Trump Golf Properties & Chairman of Golf Around the World,

Let's go play an imaginary nine holes together and, as we do, I will share some "golden" observations that can improve your performance and enjoyment of the game.

1. Golf is not easy. If it were it would not be captivating. But we should celebrate the challenge. For example: Not knowing exactly where the ball is going before you hit it is kind of exciting...but not knowing IF the ball is going can turn excitement into frustration. There is an answer. Seek quality golf information from a respected professional teacher and apply it through practice. Practicing the wrong thing will make you quite good at being quite bad. Discover one of golf's major secrets to enjoyment...."Practice the right things and shoot lower scores."

Dr. Gary Wiren, PGAGary Wiren on the 14th tee at Trump International Golf Club

2. After having finished writing a book, THE NEW GOLF MIND, co-authored with Dr. Richard Coop, I gave a public lecture in a ballroom in Memphis, TN. One of my opening comments was, "Golf is 90% mental." A man standing in the back of the room shouted, "Anybody that says that ain't reached their 65th birthday!." He got me, because he was right. In trying to make a point about the importance of the mental side of golf I went overboard. And secondly, I totally discounted the aging process in considering my balance between the mental and the physical. Both the mental and physical are importance to performance. While the importance of the mental may not be 90%, don't discount your mind's effect on results. Here is the key: Try to always STAY POSITIVE...fight off the NEGATIVE which so often wants to take over.. (In regards to the aging: Acknowledge what we all should do as the years fly by...: move up to the next set of tees and putt for some birdies.)

3. I don't know if you gamble at golf but here is something you might consider. The famous Harvey Penick, teacher of so many great Tour players and author of the largest selling golf book in history The Little Red Book, was once asked the question, "Harvey do you gamble at golf." He said, "Well, I don't like to play for less than a dollar. But I don't want to play for so much that I can't enjoy watching my opponent hit a good shot." In that statement there is a lot of humanity. You will also experience more relaxation and enjoyment in your own game with that philosophy, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates play for $2.

4. Have you noticed how often we are given a "mulligan" on the first tee that the second shot ends up better than the first? This is so often true because you are probably trying to do TOO MUCH, The smart golfer always tries to hit his mulligan first. In other words, instead of demonstrating "the monster drive" simply plan to make a good swing and put the ball in play. Save the long drive show for later in the round, or for the driving range.

5. If you play golf you are going to experience a certain amount of disappointment and frustration...but misery is a choice."That is a great quote from former Masters champ Larry Mize. If misery is a choice it will most certainly affect the quality of your game. Not only that but your attitude can negatively affect the mood and possibly the performance of those with whom you are playing. So recognize that even the greatest of the great hit bad shots and have bad days on the course. Suck it up, stay calm, and maybe you'll birdie the next hole.

6. Before any pilot can take off in his airplane, he/she must complete a check list. Doing so can be a matter of life or death. Golf is not be that serious, but still a check list can be very critical to the result. That check-list in golf is called a pre-shot routine. There is no magical single routine for everyone. It's a personal choice. But if you want to be a more consistent performer, develop routines, for each type of shot. Before you swing, go through your routine - EVERYTIME! That is difficult to do, but the results will certainly be there to reward you.

7. How would you like an "easy out" bunker solution? Here it is. Stand outside the bunker and with your sand wedge held in an open face position at address, hit two or three thirty yard shots from the grass using a shoulder-to-shoulder swing. Then step into the bunker, open the clubface, move the ball position forward so the bottom of your swing will enter 2-3 inches behind the ball. Then your thought should be "splash sand out onto the grass" by swinging shoulder-to-shoulder just like in the grass. Piece of cake!

8. When facing a difficult situation such as a long shot over water, there is a tendency to tighten your grip pressure as a result of trying to get more power. This leads to miss-hits and failing to carry the hazard. Stay relaxed. Picture a good result, and don't force the swing. One common error is to hurry. Quick back means quick through and frequent shots that are hit fat or hit thin. Remember, good tempo, your ball doesn’t float.

9. A common cause of directional error is incorrect body alignment. Fortunately you have alignment tools with you to assist in getting your aim correct. Take three clubs from your bag. Use two to make parallel lines. One for the intended ball flight and the other to align your feet and shoulders. Use the third club to indicate your ball position by putting it at right angles to the flight line. Your ball position will be back for chips and pitches; centered for irons; and forward for woods. Don't just know about alignment tools, either clubs or alignment rods, but make it a habit to use them...JUST DO IT!

10. On a deeply buried lie in a bunker you cannot splash the ball out with an open clubface. You need your clubhead to dig deeply by closing the clubface and making a steep swing that explodes the ball out. Hit a spot close to the ball and don't lose your focus on hitting that spot. With the face closed the ball will come out a bit left. Take that into consideration.

For more enjoyable golf experiences,
Gary Wiren, PhD
PGA Hall of Fame
World Golf Teacher's Hall of Fame