Update on Playing Golf like Tiger

After Tiger won this year’s US Open I wrote about why I think he’s so dominant. Briefly, I believe that he is the most automated and natural athlete in the world. It seems he never plays safe. He lets go, and hits every shot like it’s his last. There appears to be little self-doubt, confusion or worry. He decides what he wants to do and then executes the shot to his best ability.

This process sounds easy to do but it is deceptively difficult. This is one reason I believe that Tiger his head and shoulders above the rest, and why you may not be playing your best golf. I challenged you to take this approach for three rounds of golf. I believe this exercise will teach you more about your golf then any other lesson will. Below are my results of taking the challenge…

Round #1: I made an effort to trust my swing and let go. I realised early on that I had a tendency to think too much about the score and the results. My process for staying automatic helped the cause. I had two putts on 17 to get to five under (my best score in a while). I did everything correctly (I think) and hit the best putt I could. It narrowly missed the hole and traveled 1.5 metres past the hole. Again, I cleared my mind as best as I could and let the putt go. It missed but I felt that I didn’t flinch or steer the putt in any way.

The last hole was a similar story. I three putted after playing two good shots into the green. If I’m honest, I hit the wrong club into the green and let the previous miss (on 17) distract me. The end result was my second putt on 18 was a poor one. I was disappointed but manged to shoot 69 (3 under). It was a good score but it could have been better.

Round #2: This game was played under appalling conditions. It was tough going but I refused to change my approach. I didn’t worry about the wind, my swing or the score. This potentially was one of the best rounds I’ve played. My ball striking was good and I was able to negotiate the tough holes quite well. The last two holes were straight into the wind – I hit two low boring approach shots that finished on the green and was able to make par. It was fantastic to finish the round off so well. Score: 70

Round #3: This game was also the second and final round of my Club’s Winter Trophy. I hadn’t won this event before, and after my first good round (69 – see above) I was in contention and keen to do well. The temptation was to think about my score and worry about what everyone else was doing. I resisted the urge and focussed on playing golf.

The round started well but I couldn’t find a birdie over the first four holes . On the 5th (a par 5) I played a nice second shot and had two putts for birdie. I made a tricky two metre putt for birdie on the 6th and when I birdied the 7th my round was alight!

For some reason I started feeling tight on the 10th tee. I backed off the tee shot and recommitted to the job at hand. I completely let go and had no thought of concern. My three wood found the middle of the fairway and the approach was a good one. By this time the nerves had settled and I was feeling good. The putt for birdie was struck without a worry in the world and found the middle of the hole.

The 10th hole was a revelation for me. I realised that previously I had played too cautiously and safe when having a good round- that I would play to protect my score rather than continuing to shoot the best score possible.

I birdied the 15th hole to get to five under and when I hit my second into the 17th (a par 5) to three metres (my best shot of the day) I was on track for my best score in a long time. Determined to keep the process going I refused to play safe on the last. A good tee shot left me a six iron to a back pin position. The easy shot was to aim for the front tier and leave a difficult putt. I opted for the harder shot and play for the back tier and give myself a shot at a closing birdie. Playing on autopilot I hit a low iron shot that had eyes for the flag. The ball landed past the pin, leaving a quick downhill putt. The putt for a sixty-five narrowly missed and I tapped in for a six under score.

I was thrilled with the round and pleased how I was able to play the last few holes. I didn’t choke or play safe. I had chances to shoot a better score and it was fun to play great shots under pressure.

The three-round challenge was the best thing I’ve done in golf for some time and I’m glad I gave it another go. Here’s what I learned;

  • I’m prone to playing too carefully when on track for a good score
  • I think too much of the outcome – worried about score and the consequences of hitting a poor shot
  • If I let go and not think too much I play better. At first this was uncomfortable but it became easier to do
  • Good rounds become great rounds and the possibility for remarkable play is increased
  • Much more fun
  • Golf is such a silly game and we ALL worry too much
  • The difference from average golf to great golf is a fine line. The difference is in attitude rather than skill level

Despite having a good understanding of the learning process and automatic golf I still have plenty to learn. Playing without fear and approaching each shot automatically is easy to talk about but not easy to do. It takes a level of courage and discipline that can’t be bought or borrowed – and one reason why technology will never be the determining factor in golf.

If you want to have a breakthrough in your golf game then I strongly urge you to take the three-round challenge. It is a small commitment but can completely revolutionise your golf game and open your eyes to what’s possible. If you have given it a go I would love to hear about it.

Good golfing,

Cameron

P.S. I managed to win the Winter Trophy which was a nice bonus 😉

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Artful Golfer - July 1, 2008

Lots of good posts recently! I totally agree with your statement, “The difference from average golf to great golf is a fine line. The difference is in attitude rather than skill level.” I’m convinced that there’s a ton of more skilled golfers than me with higher handicaps! (not because they’re sandbagging, but because of attitude).

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Cameron Strachan - July 1, 2008

Hey Artful Golfer!

Great to here from you.

I agree. There’s plenty of skilled golfers that can’t reach their true potential. I believe I was one of them for a long while. The last few years have been the best of my career now I’m thinking less and playing more.

How’s your golf going?

Cheers,

Cameron

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Steady - July 1, 2008

Hi Cam,
I took this three round challenge. My first 2 rounds were 4 over par (72) and 6 over. On my third round even though I played 9 holes was 2 under. It could have been 4 under only for a lipout and a short put that feel 2 inches short of the hole.
The best part of all is that you actually have fun playing and enjoying the challenges with each shot. Relaxing and letting go are the key to golf success. However the money makers in golf ( Pro/teachers/coaches) want you the amateur to keep coming back to pay more money to them for drills and insight that may never help with your golf game. I have played with and against guys whose swings look like drunk gorillas yet they get the ball in the hole. That’s what matters.

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Cameron Strachan - July 1, 2008

Thanks Steady for your update. Well done and keep up the good work.

Cameron

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