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Cindy Miller: When frustration outweighs fun, it's time to change your golf game

How difficult is it to change your game?

Pretty difficult.

As I watched the final round of the Phoenix Open earlier this month, I felt as though I was watching a repeat of a few years ago. Rickie Fowler was playing well and all of sudden he made a couple bad swings, and everything changed. No longer leading. Doesn't win the tournament.

This year, it appeared the same thing might be happening. He hit what looked like a decent pitch shot into the green on No. 11. It kept rolling until it ended up over the green, around a bunker and went into the water. The shot didn't appear to be that bad. He made his drop and walked up to the green to see what he had to work with. While he was on the green, his ball decided to move without any help from anyone. It went into the water again. Yes, it went into the water without anyone being anywhere near it.

This unfortunate incident caused Fowler to get another penalty shot. He walked away with a seven. Triple. He made bogey on the next hole. Four over in two holes. (Have you ever done this?)

Amazingly, his demeanor seemed to stay calm. He kept playing and stuck with his game plan.

Fowler has had some memorable struggles in Phoenix. Last year, he took a one-shot lead into the final round before collapsing with a 73 to finish tied for 11th. He has finished second twice, including blowing a two-shot lead with two holes to play and losing in a playoff in 2016.

Seemingly, each time he had the lead in the past, he would falter on No. 17. He would walk up to the tee box and pull out his driver. The hole is a short, reachable par-four. Every time he pulled out his driver, he hit it into the water, causing him to lose the tournament.

This year, he walked to the tee, and guess what? He pulled out his driver again. I wanted to reach through the TV screen, grab him, and say, "What are you doing?  Don't hit your driver. You do this every year and hit it into the water and lose the tournament."

Fowler walked up to the tee box, did his pre-shot routine, and hit his ball right onto the green. He made birdie. Playing in the group ahead of him was Branden Grace. Fowler had no idea Grace had hit his shot in the water on No. 18. Fowler ended up making par on 18 and won by two.

Lesson: Stay with your game plan. Keep your attitude where it needs to be. Never give up. You learn by losing. Always fail forward.

This past weekend, Jordan Spieth shot 81 on Sunday at Riviera. He went into the final round tied for fourth, eight shots back.

His scores for the week: 64-70-70-81 for 285. Really? What happened?

Spieth entered the 2018 season ranked No. 2 in the world, had the first winless year of his career, and is now ranked No. 24.

I wanted to share these stories with you to help you realize that the best in the world are not the best all the time. Everyone misses shots. Everyone. The difference between the best and the average and the poor? The best know how to fix their mistakes. They have played and practiced enough to know what their personal tendencies are. They are open to looking in the mirror, facing the truth, and fixing the cause.

We have about five to six weeks (hopefully less) until the weather breaks. I suggest if you really want to change your game you start now. When your frustration outweighs your fun, it's time to change. Be sure you understand the following:

  • Fixing flaws takes time. Most people just see the results. When you understand the cause, it makes working on it easier.
  • Stay focused on small steps. Doing drills is a great way to ingrain your new moves.
  • You must understand that your subconscious mind is very powerful. To make permanent change, you must stay focused on your process. Your subconscious mind will try to overpower you. If you do not stay in the present moment, and talk to yourself, you will revert to your old ways.

Please know that change is possible and worth the work. You must learn the cause of your bad shot. Once you understand that, making the change is easy.

Can you measure your mistakes?

Yes.

As I mentioned in a previous column, I am excited about Blast Motion. This small sensor measures tempo, pace, back-swing time, forward-swing time, face rotation and other things.

At our recent Boot Camp in Orlando, we were treated to a personal clinic by one of Blast Motion's technicians. As I hit putts, he said, "Cindy, you are decelerating on the down swing on your short putts. When you do this, the ball will not stay on the line. You will miss more short putts because the ball will not get to the hole."

Once I put the sensor on my putter and was able to see the numbers and understand what he meant, I was able to correct myself. The sensor was showing me the facts. This is your timing. This is what PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players' timing is. If you want to putt better, try to immolate them. Practice until you get the right numbers. Once I did this, I was able to feel the right pace.

I guarantee if you are committed to get better, change is possible. Be sure you find someone to help you understand the cause and can give you the cure.

Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player, a current member of the Legends Tour of the LPGA and a Golf Channel Academy Lead Coach. She is a Certified Behavior, Motivation and Judgment Professional who is sought after as a speaker, coach and corporate trainer. Reach out to her at cindy@cindymillerinc.com. Follow Cindy at https://cindymillerinc.com and on InstagramFacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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