The recipe for creating a champion golfer
So, what is the recipe to make a champion golfer? As a coach, this is something I am always thinking about. It is obvious that championship winners around the world have different swing models, different putting strokes, and different types of bodies. Also, there are different characters, which in turn have different approaches to the mental aspect of the game. This is what can make the game so confusing at times, but in another way so interesting. If you are a young golfer with aspirations to a career playing on tour, or you are a parent, and your child is showing potential, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to do, what course to follow, what advice to take. I have been teaching golf now for about 15 years, and if you include my playing experience, I have about 25 years involved in this great game. During this time, I have seen the full cycle, 2 to 3 times, of young talented golfers starting out in the game, to becoming an age where they either make it in golf, or they don’t. This includes the current world number 1 Rory McIlroy, who grew up close to me. From these experiences, the picture is starting to become clear of what works, and what does not work. Now, it is possible to write a long book on this subject, but often that is not helpful. The key points get lost in the 150 pages, so what I have done is create 25 key points to success, in 6 different categories. When reading each point, ask yourself honestly, and answer yes or no to the question, ticking the box if yes.
Environment is the first on the action plan, as I believe it to be the most important. I strongly believe from the experiences I have had that if you give a young talented golfer the facilities they need, in a competitive atmosphere, their talent will blossom to their full potential. I have seen too many golfers over the years limit their potential with the environment they surround themselves in.
- Have you got a flat driving range to develop your long game technique, ball flight control, and distance control?
- Have you got a short game area that encourages creativity & skill development?
- Have you got a good quality putting green to develop your technique, feel, and green reading ability?
- Can you practice on a golf course that challenges all aspects of your game including, accuracy, distance, and challenging short game shots?
- Do you practice in a competitive environment where you are being pushed to your limits?
No matter what anyone says, there is a technical aspect to the game. This does not mean you have to create a perfect looking model swing. It means you have to develop your techniques so you can hit the shots required in each aspect of the game.
- The full swing – Are you developing a repetitive movement that repeats under pressure, which gives you a consistent shot pattern?
- Specialty shots – Are you learning the techniques from a young age to hit all the different types of shots?
- Short Game – Are you learning techniques to play all different types of shots around the green?
- Coach – Are sticking with the same coach and working on one swing model through the good times and bad? Or are you changing a lot.
Many young golfer do not think about the tactical side of the game, but the fact is most of the best golfers in the world are the best tacticians.
- Course Management – Are you trying on a daily bases to improve your course strategy skills?
- Statistics – Do you keep statistics on your rounds so that you know your strengths and weaknesses, and what to focus your practice on?
- Preparation – Do you prepare correctly? Equipment, food, warm ups, practice rounds, etc.
- Time Management – Do you create a schedule that is balanced between competing and development?
Over the last 25 years, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen golfers making themselves worse, not better, by not understanding how to develop themselves physically for golf, and not accepting expert advice. Also, do not underestimate injury. Injury, and recovery from injury, can be career threatening.
- Golf muscle groups – Do you fully understand which muscle groups are important for golf? Or are you mainly working out to look good!
- Warm up routines – Do you understand golf specific warm up?
- Stretching exercises – Do you understand how to maintain, and develop if needed, your flexibility?
- Golf Nutrition & Hydration – Do you understand nutrition and hydration correctly?
- Injury prevention – Do you understand injury prevention?
How do you create a mind of a champion? This a subject that you could write 5 books on, but these are the key points.
- Can you think slowly and calmly, understanding what is important under pressure?
- Do you have deep confidence in yourself so that every time you play you are trying to shoot a good score? Or do you play trying not to shoot a bad score.
- Do you try and hit different types of shots in a tournament? Or are you too worried about the result, so you do not try, which will affect your development.
- Are you a competitor? (Someone who loves to compete and enjoys challenge). Or a victim (someone who feels threated by competition, and wants to hide from a challenge)
- Do you have the desire, dedication, and persistence to never give up, and to make sacrifices to becoming the best you can be?
Often, your life outside golf has an influence on your golfing performance. I have seen many times golfer’s performance being limited by issues away from the golf course.
- Lifestyle Management – Do you have a social life outside of golf, with other interests and hobbies?
- Are you being supported by those around you?
There is a simple formula which is very true:
Performance = Potential – Interferences
Every box you did not tick yes is an interference, and limiting your ability to reach your true potential. From these 25 points the more boxes you ticked yes, the better chance you have of success. If you ticked most of the boxes, yes (honestly), and you have some natural ability, I am confident in saying to you that you can be successful, and if you do not reach 100% of your potential, you will get very close.
Are you hitting balls into a net, with no short game area, and working on your fireman muscle? Honestly, you are on the road to nowhere, and you will look back later in your life and regret the mistakes you made, and think what might have been. I encourage you to change now, there is always time to start doing things right.
This is why I run my academy a little away from the city. Sure, it would be an easier lifestyle to walk out of my door and teach in the local range, but I want the facilities, and an environment, to give my students the best possible chance of reaching their potential. I very much hope this article helps younger golfers reach their potential and use their given talent more effectively.