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Cindy Miller: How to own your golf game in 2019

With the holidays almost over, my question for you is, “What do you want to improve for 2019?"

When I ask my students what they want, the stock answer I get about 95 percent of the time is, “I want to be more consistent.”

"Great," I would respond, “Define consistent for me.”

Sometimes they don’t have an answer. I would define it as being able to hit the same shot over and over when you choose to produce it.  Are you able to do that? If so, great job!  If not, keep reading.

The following are what I believe you need to become consistent at the game of golf.

Clarity: I believe most golfers are confused about what they should be doing when they try to hit a golf ball. Most people have received too much unsolicited advice from “The Committee of They." They stand over the ball thinking of 14 things and then try to hit the ball. They miss the shot and then get upset.  The next shot is even worse because they are even more tense than they were on the first shot.  It is a never-ending battle.

All we are trying to do is start the club face pointing at a target, swing it back, and bring it back down as close as possible to where it started.  If you do that with any speed, the ball will go straight, in the air, and have a little distance on it.

Trying to keep your head down, your front arm straight, rotate your hips, shift your weight and follow through is way too much to think about.  Simplify the process.  I promise the ball will go straighter and you will have more fun.

If you are on the hunt for the perfect swing and always looking for “the answer," I caution you. You will only get more confused unless you are aware of all the different swing theories.  Some people teach rotation, some teach club head, and some just teach you on a computer.  If you don’t know which one you are listening to and try to do both, you invariably will struggle.  I suggest you interview your potential teacher before you spend any money.  Questions you should ask are:

  1. Are you a qualified PGA or LPGA Professional?
  2. Have you ever played on any major tour?
  3. What is the lowest score you have ever shot in a tournament?
  4. What theory do you teach?
  5. What is the lowest score any of your students have ever shot?

Why are these questions important?  For me, I would never take a golf lesson from someone I could beat or who has not done what I want to do. I need to respect them for their knowledge and experience.

Confidence: Without step No. 1, there is no way you can have step number two: Confidence. Once your brain is clear and you have some simple thoughts, you will hit better shots.  Once you hit a few better shots, you will relax. Confidence breeds success.  Success breeds more confidence.  You cannot gain confidence if you keep hitting bad shots.

When I was growing up, I took lessons from a very nice older gentleman.  All he ever did was tell me everything I was doing wrong. “You looked up,” he would say.  “You bent your arm.” "Quit coming over the top.”  I wanted to scream at him and say, “I am not trying to mess up! Why don’t you tell me how to fix this?”  I hear overbearing parents do the same thing to their children.  They get mad at them when they play poorly in a golf tournament.  It is so sad.  No one ever tries to miss a golf shot on purpose.  And that is no way to instill confidence in anyone.  It only creates more doubt, apprehension, and fear.

Trust me, I have played in enough major championships between U.S. Women’s Opens and LPGA Championships to know that playing golf in total fear is not a good thing.

How do you gain confidence?  By focusing on small steps.  Maybe take small swings with your feet together just trying to hit the golf ball straight on purpose about 30-40 yards.  Once you accomplish that, take a little bigger swing.  You will eventually be able to make a full swing and hit the ball more consistently. Once you do, be sure to become aware of what you are feeling, seeing and hearing.  Close your eyes to lock it in.  Walk away. Try it again.  Replicate.  Repeat it.

Consistent; Now that you are clear on what you are trying to do in your golf swing and have learned to produce some shots with success, only then will you be able to become consistent. Write down what you feel, hear, and see when you hit a good shot. Create a pre-shot routine that is comfortable. You must train your brain, so it recognizes what you want it to do for you.

I guarantee if you take these small steps to gain clarity and confidence, you will be mush more consistent in 2019.

Good luck!

 

Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player, a current member of the Legends Tour of the LPGA, and  2010 LPGA National Teacher of the Year. She is a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach and Master U.S. Kids Golf  Instructor.  As a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Judgment Professional, she is sought after as a speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. Reach out to her at cindy@cindymillerinc.comFollow Cindy at https://cindymillerinc.com  and on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

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