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Cindy Miller's Own Your Game: What to learn from Sergio's resiliency

The first major of the season is in the books. As we start our own personal golf season, I feel there are a couple lessons we can take away from what happened at Augusta a couple Sundays ago.

How many of you thought “Here we go again” as Sergio made two bogeys in a row and then hit his drive in the woods on 13? I must admit, I did. I was telling Sergio to suck it up, take a deep breathe and get a grip on it.

Why? Because I know how many times he has blown it, screwed up and choked his guts out. Because I love Seve and wanted the story to play out, for Sergio to win his first Masters on Seve’s 60th birthday. Because I too have blown it, screwed up and choked my guts out.

How important was his par putt on 13? Only the most important putt of the tournament. It gave him life, a small chance to shift states, gather his senses, and go from protect to pursue. . . . A seeker, not a follower. Why or how did he know how to do that? By failing his way to winning. This was his 19th Masters and his 74th major appearance. In golf as in life, the lesson is repeated until learned. There are two here:

1. Never give up.
2. Pursue instead of protect.

The lesson for us is, everyone messes up. We expect to be awesome and have not invested the time to not only learn the skills, but to perfect them in competitive situations. Who do we really think we are? We must lower our expectations, realize it sometimes takes blowing it many times before we finally gain a grasp of our thoughts, emotions, and physical abilities to control what we do with the club. If we do, there is no telling how good we can become.

Now, what about you? What have you committed to? Have you created some goals for this year?

I challenge you to really stop and think about your game. If you could change one thing, what would it be? Do you want to hit more greens? Make more putts? Have fewer doubles? Learn to get it up and down? Do you need a better mental or emotional game?

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Are you committed to work on you or do you like to whine? Maybe you don’t really believe improvement is possible. Have you been hitting the same slice for years, taken a few lessons, and it still doesn’t go away?

If so, I can understand why you believe it can never be fixed. I am here to tell you that is not the truth. If you truly want to improve, you can.

The facts:

• The ball goes where the face points.
• You are the only one touching the club.
• The ball is the evidence of what you have done with the club

Learn to understand what the club needs to do, and you can change your game ... forever!

The subconscious mind is a powerful thing. We all try to hit the ball. Sometimes we allow a little white ball to control our thinking. Sometimes that silly little white ball even controls our actions.

I have fallen into this trap myself. The ball cannot move until we swing the club. If you understand what the club needs to do, you can then focus on the task at hand instead of where the ball will go. It cannot move until you swing.

Have you ever watched an LPGA Tour player swing? It might be the most rhythmical, smooth, deliberate thing you have ever seen. How can a young women, say 5-foot-5, 125 pounds, hit the golf ball 250-plus yards down the middle of the fairway? Because they use their body as leverage as they swing the club head. They generate great speed at the end of the stick.

I challenge you to sit back and reflect on your game. Do you sometimes try too hard? Do you take the time to plan your shots? Do you know how far you hit the golf ball with each club? Is your swing consistent enough to hit the ball the same distance each time?

Are you able to adapt to course conditions and weather on the fly? The golf ball will go shorter in colder temperatures. Do you play within yourself?
Sometimes improvement comes just by thinking differently. You don’t need a golf lesson to open your mind and become aware of your situation or surroundings. Here is a list of solutions for on-course challenges.

1. Write down your yardages with each club.
2. Learn how to adjust the yardage for wind and temperature.
3. Check your alignment. Are you really aimed where you think? Clubface – not body or shoulder.
4. Are you able to choose the right shot for the situation? Plan/Prepare/Produce
5. Do you make a game plan for each hole?
6. Do you adjust your club selection depending on flag location on the green? Take more club if the pin is back.
7. Practice your lag putting to decrease three putts.
8. Choose the right chip. Flop shots are only appropriate when you need to carry over something. When there is a lot of green, roll the ball to get it closer to the hole. This is easier and will give you better results.
9. Conquer tough holes. If you have one hole that causes you trouble, find a new way to play it. Bogey is always better than double or triple. Maybe hit an iron off the tee and play for bogey. Take your medicine when you need to.
10. Straight is always better than far. Learn to keep the golf ball in play. Testosterone attacks are never good.

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

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