Today I will share with you the secret of how to play better golf immediately. Sound intriguing? Of course it does, as I am chock full of intriguing ideas. Granted, most are not particularly useful, or even very good, but this one is. In fact, it is brilliant. And like so many brilliant ideas, its genius lies in its simplicity. So confident am I in my approach to better golf, that I offer this guarantee: If you are not completely satisfied with the advice in this post, you may return the unused portion of this blog and I will refund 100% of the purchase price. I know. Awesome. The real beauty of my approach is you can implement it without practicing or taking lessons. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take lessons—you should. But if you follow my advice, you will improve without doing so much as going to the range. My approach to better golf addresses the mental aspect of the game. I am not a psychologist, but I am an expert on the psychological damage that can be inflicted by playing golf. I have played golf long enough and passionately enough to have borne many psychological wounds, some of which have left permanent scars. My approach removes those scars and ensures we will incur no new mental trauma. Many of you have heard or read that we should play as if we were kids; the idea being that kids play with less stress and worry over the outcome of shots, so they swing more freely and with less anxiety. That’s ok as far as it goes, but I take it one step further and say you should play with actual kids, preferably your own. If you don’t have kids, you should borrow some, but they should be related so that you care about them, at least nominally. The kids should also be fairly young. The ideal age range is between 5 and 13. If your kids, or those you borrow, are younger than age 5, your golf outing will resemble a cat roundup. If the kids are over 13, they will think you suck, just like everything else sucks and you will wish to kill each other at some point early in the round, if not in the parking lot beforehand. Since killing children will have the exact opposite effect of improving your game, at least in the long term, I strongly advise leaving the older kids behind. Assuming you have some age-appropriate children available, here’s why you should play with them. You will be so focused on the kids that you’ll forget to care about your own score. That’s it! It’s simple but it’s true, as I learned from experience. When my kids were junior golfers, I invariably played well when I played with them because I would forget my own game and focus on what they were doing. I would step up to the ball and hit it, then rush off to help one of them. I’d make six footers like they were tap-ins without even lining up the putt. I once played a round with my wife and kids while on vacation and stood on the par 5 18th tee knowing that I was playing well but having no idea where I stood to par and not really caring. It was a nice day and everyone was having fun. My daughter realized that I was playing well and innocently (I think it was innocent, although we did have a bet) asked me if I was under par. Of course, I mentally added my score then and there and realized that I was 3 under par. I further realized that the short-ish par 5 finishing hole would be the perfect opportunity to get to 4 under par for a round of 68. I promptly hit out of bounds and took a double bogey. That still left me pleased at 1 under, but less pleased than I would have been at 3 or 4 under. But the point is obvious. We get in our heads when we play golf, and in our heads is a very bad pace to be. Playing with our kids forces us to take the game less seriously. When we play with our friends, even in a casual round, we become competitive, and when that happens we want to win. And we begin to “focus” to think about how to win—and that’s when that vicious little brain of ours (we have just one amongst us, as most women will attest) goes into hyper-negative mode. We don’t want that to happen, so of course it does. The answer then to our mental weakness is to find a way to banish negative thinking. At least that’s what the sports psychologists would have us believe. They tell us to “visualize” the shot and to use “positive self-talk” to get rid of negative images. Then we go to the course…and still we think. We think because we are humans, and even if we are stupid humans, we think. We can’t turn our brains off on the golf course, and the more we think, the more we try. Worse still, we remember. We remember bad things that have happened to us on the golf course. If we’ve played long enough, we have many bad memories--of horrible shots and bad breaks, awful swings and immense soul-searing agonies that have befallen us time and time again. We have nightmares of choking under the pressure of a club championship, member guest playoff, pro-am performances, college try-outs and other indignities suffered at the hands of the golf gods that make us want to curl up in a ball and whimper. We remember: pull hooks, high flares, hitting houses, narrowly missing children in the next fairway; cold topped tee shots hit while trying to impress the ladies who were kind enough to let us go through; bladed sand wedges, hoseled 8 irons, necked 3 woods; out of bounds right and water left; hitting the tree they said no one could hit from that angle; abandoning a brand new Pro V1 that landed OB by the pool on a crowded day; and, even…choking on the 18th hole of a family outing that occurred years ago. Or maybe that’s just me. But I don’t think so. When we play golf we tend to remember the bad stuff and we fill our heads with swing thoughts that all begin with the word “don’t.” We do this because we are trying just so hard to play well; to live up to the potential that we once had; to shoot a good round so we can bore our wives to death with tales of our daring-do on the links. And therein is the real problem. We try because we care. Let me propose a solution. Let me suggest that, while we have to think, we don’t have to care. Our golf rounds, no matter what’s on the line, just aren’t that important…even to us. We just won’t let ourselves accept that. We don’t want to accept that. We want it to be important; therefore, we care about the outcome. Here’s the antidote for caring. I want you to leave work and go to the course immediately. Start not-caring right now, as in “I don’t care if I get fired.” Trust me. If you don’t care about cutting out of work early, your boss won’t either [Editor’s Note: That is not true]. In fact, when you stop caring about things, no one will care what you do. Go to the course. Park in a handicapped spot right by the front door because no one will care [Editor’s Note: also, not true]. Go to the snack shop and get a hot dog and don’t leave a tip because the counter girl won’t care [Editor’s Note: She will spit in your food]. When you arrive at the tee, cut in front of the guys in front of you without even asking, saying, “I’m sure you won’t care, since I’m obviously in a hurry.” They will laugh because they will see how care free you’ve become [Editor’s note: They will beat the snot out of you, unless it’s at a country club, in which case they will call the pro and demand that he “have a word.”] Then, you should… [Editor’s note: we have omitted 3 paragraphs of “not caring” examples here because each was more ridiculous than the one before and, of course, completely untrue]. Ok, so none of that’s true. But what is true is that you should stop caring about your golf game—at least you should stop caring as much. When you do, I can tell you with 100% certainty that no one else will care that you no longer care. Why? Because they have never cared about your game. That, my friends is the dirty little open secret of golf. Say it with me: NO ONE ELSE CARES ABOUT MY GAME. We all know this on some level, but we sooo want it to not be true. We care, so everyone else we know should care, right? Wrong. Say it again: NO ONE ELSE CARES ABOUT MY GAME. This is your mantra and it will help you achieve the ultimate goal of not caring yourself. You’ll play better golf, guaranteed.
It seems strange that I was talking with Matt Kuchar on the Wednesday of The Wells Fargo Championship, remarking how he was having a really good year, but kind of flying under the radar just a bit. He said he was playing well, hitting the ball great and felt it was only a mater of time before he won again. Based on his solid performance at the Zurich Classic, I predicted that he would win The Players Championship. He laughed. A week and a half later he does just that. Of course, I’m lying about that conversation. It never took place. But I did have a lengthy chat with someone who is more knowledgeable than anyone, save Kuchar himself, about the state of Matt’s swing and his golf game. I recently spoke with teacher Chris O’Connell, named to the Golf Digest List of Best Young Instructors, about a variety of topics, not the least of which was his star pupil, Matt Kuchar. Chris said, essentially, what I attributed to Kuchar in the opening paragraph. It’s no wonder, then, that I actually predicted Matt Kuchar as the winner of The 2012 Players Championship. Ok, I may not have actually predicted it, but I thought it…and I was rooting for him, so that’s almost as good. Right? Of course, I can’t think of anyone watching who wouldn’t root for Kuchar, with the possible exception of the Puma Sales Division, so it was a gratifying thing to see. Let’s face it, golf fans everywhere, even at Puma, like Matt Kuchar. Seriously, the scene on the 18th green yesterday with Matt and his wife, kids and Mother (on Mother’s Day!!) would’ve been like a particularly odious Hallmark Hall of Fame movie but for the fact that we, as viewers, just knew it was genuine. We like the guy, even though we (you) don’t really know him (not like I do because of my close personal acquaintanceship with his teacher). But he seems to represent everything we like about ourselves—all the good stuff—and since we like ourselves a whole lot, we like him almost as much. So, here’s a toast to my new BFF, Matt Kuchar and his victory that I would’ve predicted had I had the foresight to make a prediction and not just think about who might win. Now, let’s talk about my new series of posts that will occur over the next several weeks. As I said, I spoke with Chris O’Connell at some length not long ago, and from that conversation, I learned…The Secret of Golf. I’m keeping that to myself, of course, but I also learned a great deal of useful information which I will disclose to you; stuff I gleaned from Chris’s knowledge as a guy who coaches one of the top ten players in the world. Cool, huh? You’re welcome. If you’re not quite comprehending this tease, let me break it down: 1. Guy wins the biggest purse on Tour by defeating the deepest field on Tour. 2. That guy’s swing instructor talked to me. 3. I’m going to tell you what that swing instructor said. Check it out.
Buying a new suit or picking up some new golf polos and pants is fun, but determining what size to order and buy can be confusing and difficult. Below you'll find a quick numbered list that explains how to measure yourself so you know what size you really are. From there you can use that information to purchase clothes and sporting apparel with confidence, or skip the awkward sessions at the tailor and go straight to the checkout counter! What Size Am I? If you're like most guys you have a pretty good idea of your measurements. The problem is that we usually base those numbers off the most recent pair of jeans that fit well or the shirt we like the best. But your favorite clothes aren't the same size as new ones, and each manufacturer varies a bit with their sizes -- even within product lines. So you need to get out the measuring tape (maybe recruit a helper, too) and get to work! Knowing your real sizes are crucial to looking good and shopping with confidence. Remember, you won't get a good fit unless you take accurate and precise measurements with a consistent method for marking. For simplicity take measurements using inches, the standard unit of measure for American clothes. How-to: Measuring Your Body Chest: Run the tape around the widest part of the chest, usually well up into the armpits. Collar/Neck: Measure around the neck, on a slight downward angle (that includes the Adam's apple) to mimic a shirt. Add a half-inch for a bit of extra room, or even more if you sweat a lot and get flushed frequently or are concerned about the collar shrinking. Waist: Measure around your waistline, keeping in mind the type of pant you'll be wearing and the desired location for the waist of the pant. For example, casual shorts are usually worn lower than dress slacks. On trim guys the waist will be the smallest point between ribs and hips whereas heavier guys will need to include any excess body material. Hips: Loosely measure around the widest part of the seat. Front: Measure from one armhole to the other, basically the gap between the front of each shoulder. Slightly higher than where the chest measurement is taken. Length (tops): This is done on a particular piece of clothing, and measures from the lower collar seam to the bottom -- or whatever length is desired. This measurement is useful for determining coat lengths based or favorite tops. Full Shoulders: Measure the back from shoulder to shoulder at the widest point, typically between the top of the shoulder blade and hairline on the neck. Half Shoulder: Measure from the top shoulder seam (under the collar usually) to the shoulder/sleeve seam. Sleeves: Measure sleeves from the shoulder seam to the hem or desired length -- near the wrist for long sleeves and the inside elbow crease for short sleeves. Back: Just like "front" only on the back, from one armhole to the other. Tape will be over the shoulder blades. Length (bottoms): Measure from the top of the waist to the bottom of the cuff, the height of your pants/shorts. Inseam: Measure from crotch to bottom of cuff. Don't be scared now, you gotta get an accurate measurement! Cuff: Measure the width around the cuff, the circumference of the leg opening at its bottom-most point. Length (vest): Measure from top of the shoulder seam to the bottom of the vest or desired length. Posture Matters Remember your mom snapping at you to sit up straight? Well, that's because it makes you look good, and if you slouch, you'll lose muscle definition, exaggerate the size of your gut and will seem less confident to others. It also affects measurements -- sometimes substantially. If you always slouch or have some habit or physical condition then standing up straight just to get measured will yield bad results, so stand as you typically do. Just keep in mind that if you're being fitted for a tux or suit, you'll probably act and stand differently when dressed up, probably without thinking about it. Likewise, casual apparel will be worn with relaxed stances, so stand appropriately! There are five main postures, determined by evaluating an individual standing with his back against a vertical wall. Normal Posture: The top of the butt and shoulder blades barely touch the wall, with the head centered squarely over the chest. Erect Posture: Think of this as the "butler" stance, with the butt touching the wall, chest puffed out and head back close to the wall. Stooped Posture: Back and butt touch the wall, but the head is out over the chest with a slight downward tilt. A vertical line from heel to top of head would lean forward. Forward Stomach Posture: The head and stomach are both far forward, creating a strong S-curve shape if viewed from the side. The shoulders usually hang lower and may roll slightly forward. Stout Posture: The stomach juts out a bit, but the head and shoulders are straight and tight. Now that you've got all that figured out and written down, note the type of shoulders you have. This will help determine if your shirts will need a slimmer or fuller cut. The three types below are pretty standard, but you may be different so break from the pairs if you need to. Normal Shoulders/Normal Neck Sloping Shoulders/Long Neck Square Shoulders/Short Neck Knowing how to properly measure your body is important because you'll have to be fitted for suits or have the chance to buy custom shirts and pants. But it's also handy because clothes -- even though they may have the same letter size -- are all slightly different. If you know your sizes you can check the tags and get what actually fits, instead of trying a bunch of stuff on or having alterations made. And with more shopping done online (like this site!) it's important to know because you'll have to do size conversions using sizing charts, which rely on numerical dimensions for specificity.