No-Bull Tips from Bull Valley
With more than 60 golf courses, country clubs and resorts in its portfolio, Landscapes Golf Management is one of the foremost operators across America.
One of the company’s competitive advantages is how it develops golfers – be they novices, intermediates or elites – into becoming the best versions of themselves.
A Landscapes Golf Management mantra is “most successful golfers are those who show courage and admit they can’t improve their games alone.”
As such, we asked Matt Jones, Director of Instruction at Landscapes Golf Management-operated Bull Valley Golf Club in Woodstock, Ill. about his approach to teaching and learning golf’s tools of the trade during the off-season.
Take it away, Matt:
For many, this time of year includes some level of self-reflection on how his or her game progressed. There’s also contemplation about how to improve during the off-season. Advice on how to make training time more productive.
Tip No. 1 – Get screened.
Eleven years ago, because of a relationship with my mentor David Edel, I was incredibly fortunate to be introduced to Mike Adams and EA Tischler. Their Bio-Swing Dynamics approach to golf instruction is simple: Every human being is pre-disposed to move in a certain way, and those struggling isn’t due to a lack of effort, but to a mismatch between how they are built to move and how they actually move.
Every person’s golf swing is a living representation of a collection of thoughts and ideas they have about how the golf swing works. To change how you move, you must change how you think about your swing. By utilizing a very simple and highly effective screening, players learn their swing DNA and, under the guidance of a trained golf professional, can start to make immediate and sustainable modifications. “You have to get worse to get better” only applies when what you try to do or are asked to do doesn’t match your body mechanics. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to struggle.”
Tip No. 2 –Get off the hamster wheel.
An internet search of “golf swing tips” returned nearly 70 million videos, websites, pictures and other content. There is good news and bad news having this much information at your fingertips. The good news is that if you’re looking for information, there is plenty of it and, as best as I can tell, it is true. The bad news is that 98% of the information may not apply to you as an individual. A logical question would be “what information do I pay attention to and what should I disregard?’ Answer: re-read Tip No. 1.
Once you understand how the golf swing works for you, you can stop running on the hidden hamster wheel of swing tips, tricks and drills, and focus your attention on information most pertinent to YOU. Above all else, find a golf professional that knows the implications of your structure and body mechanics.
Tip No. 3 – More dreams, less goals.
What is the lowest 18-hole score you could ever shoot in your life? How would you respond? If you’re like most people, you might arrive at your answer based on past experiences, your current self-image as golfer and perceived capacity for future improvement. People typically answer this question based on what they think and not on what exists before thought enters the equation. Simply put, our capacity for improvement is greater than any story we can muster in our head about how good we can become or any goal we can create.
I recall working with a student recently who had the club championship approaching. He shared a goal of being in contention after Day One. I asked him “why isn’t your goal to be in the lead by 10 strokes?”
The point was to express that goals are a by-product of only what think we can perform and not what we can actually do. I urge you to consider the possibility that what you are capable of doing exists before you attach thinking to it. I encourage students to stop being reasonable and imagine the impossible. After all, anything is possible, and anything happens all the time. Straightforwardly, if goals were really a major key to getting better, many more people would be playing at a higher level. If you want to set a goal, make it to improve every day and keep your attention on what is currently in front of you and not on what isn’t (an imagined future).
Tip No. 4 – Do away with mental tips, tricks and techniques.
If you are entering a pre-shot routine, positive thinking or mindfulness competition, I encourage you to practice these with unwavering focus. If you want to play golf with freedom, do away with the mental techniques
Ask any athlete who finds him or herself in the zone what he or she was experiencing, and most will report a sense of freedom, things moving slowly, a sense of calm and quietness, the ability to see things before they happen and, most of all, absence of thought. Yet I see many golfers fill their heads with mental tips, tricks and techniques (which require more thought) in attempt to either produce better thinking or quiet their thinking. Quite the contradiction!!
So, what do I do if my mind starts racing and I start having a lot of negative thinking? The answer is quite simple: Nothing. Thought, by design, is meant to come and go, ebb and flow. If we exercise our free will and simply leave our thinking alone, it will pass. We don’t have to act on every thought that comes to us or believe them to be true.
Next time you drive your car, note how many different thoughts and corresponding feelings come over you. Does your capacity to drive the car change as your thinking changes? Probably not. This should cue you into the fact that you don’t need a preferred mental state to perform well.
Tip No. 5 – Get a putter fitting.
Most golfers often select a putter based on criteria such as tour player success, name on the grip, feel, and aesthetics, to name a few. Very few are base their selection on actual performance variables such as aim, speed control, torque, lie angle, loft, length and weight.
The putter is the most used club in your bag and, therefore, should be the one club that is fit to meet your exact, unique individual needs. There is a reason every retail golf shop has hundreds of putters surrounding their putting green and no means or process for fitting. The industry wants them to be disposable.
If you are in the market for a new putter, please take the time to get properly fit and rely on variables which matter rather than the minutiae.