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Cindy Miller's 'Own Your Game': Conquer the doubts on the golf course

Cindy Miller

How many times have you stood over a shot and heard a small voice say, “Warning….Don’t Swing! Back Away! Start Over!”

Then, another small voice says, “You are holding everyone up, just swing the club.”

Then you swing. Then you swear. Then you add two and hit again.

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel comfortable over every shot you hit? I have made a pact with myself this year. I will:

• Plan my shot.
• Commit.
• Do my routine.
• Swing!

The first step in finding it is knowing your why. Are you seeking reward or avoiding pain? Do you want to break 80 or stop shanking it? The question is, “How bad does it have to hurt to be willing to change?”

Defeating demons

Negative self-talk, lack of trust, confidence, doubt, fear, apprehension, or anticipating results can all be part of the issue. What are yours? Golf is a game of misses. Those who miss it best without getting ticked win. What bothers you? Your slice? The shanked chips? Never hitting where you are aimed? Hitting it fat?

When people walk into my office (a 4-foot square of carpet), the No. 1 request is, “I would like to be more consistent.” Let’s assume that is your request. One definition of consistent is: not self-contradictory. I would say it is having the ability to adhere to the process, course, and form; doing the same thing over and over again. If you truly want to be more consistent, you need to be sure you understand all it entails.

What I see is people trying to hit the golf ball. Hitting the ball is not the goal. The ball cannot move until you swing the club. Therefore, knowing how to swing is the goal. If you don’t know what you are doing with the club, you cannot expect the golf ball to do what you want.

Exposing elephants

If you really want to get better and defeat your personal demons, we need to reveal the truth. You need to have the courage to look in the mirror and see what you are doing. Only the committed ones or those in so much pain are typically willing to take this step. You have four choices when it comes to a situation you do not like.

• You can change the situation (start a plan for improvement).

• You can change your perception of the situation (realize you are not that bad or that good).

• Leave the situation (quit).

• Cope with the situation (do nothing).

If the golf ball is not going where you want, the first question is, “Why?” There are only two main reasons.

• You don’t know how to aim properly.

• You aim correctly, but the golf ball goes crooked. The cause of crooked is your golf swing.

The club face must point toward your target. Not your shoulders! The club face is the only thing that touches the golf ball. It tells the ball where to go, so it has to start at your target.

Now for the second why. Yes, there are a million reasons you can aim correctly and not have the golf ball go where you want. Yes, it is your swing, but why?

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Certainty

Maybe you are not comfortable over the ball, and don’t really trust your swing.

Many players on the LPGA Tour have their caddy line them up and step aside right before the player swings. Why? The player wants to be absolutely certain they are aimed correctly. The only thing they need to do then is swing. (Eliminating this practice is one of the proposed rule changes within the USGA).

One Voice

Golf is a participation sport. There are many people who play that believe they can teach. I call these people “The Committee of They.” You can find these people everywhere. They offer unsolicited advice to people on the driving range, in the bar and on the course.

“They” will typically tell you what you are doing wrong. “They” do not normally have solutions. “They” state what they believe is the obvious. If you are not certain what you are doing, “They” can add doubt, fear, indecision and apprehension. Your solution is to commit to knowing your golf swing so you are able to recover from your misses.

Mind management

Are you your own enemy? Try playing a round of golf and really listen to your own voice while you are out there. Would you want you as a friend? Are you beating yourself up on every shot? Do you see your game realistically or have you been playing poorly so long you believe you are a hopeless case? There is always hope … if you believe there is hope.

Pay attention to your intentions. Focus on the task at hand. Not your score, what you did on the last hole or what emails you forgot to answer.

Lessons

If you have experienced “The Committee of They” and would like to find a permanent solution to your golf swing woes, I suggest finding a certified LPGA or PGA Professional to help you.

Silver Creek native Cindy Miller, who counts the 2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year award among her many golf accomplishments, is writing the “Own Your Game” column for The News. Have a specific issue with your game you’d like Cindy to address or a topic suggestion for the summer season? Drop her a line at cindy@cindymillergolf.com. Her next column will appear in print on May 14.

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