After a disappointing run of results for Asian golfers in the co-sanctioned tournaments, last weekend Asia and more specifically Thailand had something to be very proud of as Thongchai Jaidee lifted the Handa Wales Trophy for his 5th victory on the European Tour, his first on European soil (or away from Asian soil – however you want to look at it). It was a great victory and a tough fought one that he deserves then many plaudits he has received for but what was behind it?
As I watched on – nervously – the commentators who seemed to be very clearly pulling for the loveable Thongchai, referred to him as “thoroughbred” along with “no one saw this change in form coming”. I can’t say I predicted it but it certainly didn’t surprise me!
Why? 3 weeks before Thongchai had resigned as president of the Thai PGA to focus on his own performances. His form in 2011 had taken a dip and it was only a relatively strong finish to the season that saw him rise to 85th in the R2D, where as in 2009 & 10 he had finished 19th and 29th respectively. Admittedly he spent much of 2011 working on a minor swing change and trying to recover from a back injury but his 2012 form had been adequate in the nine previous events without being spectacular.
In a recent meeting with Thongchai I could see the belief that he would be back in the winners’ circle was there. But maybe the time spent selflessly to improve the playing conditions for his fellow countryman meant his focus was a little off from where it needed to be to compete at the highest level. So was it a coincidence that the timing of him freeing himself came with his win or did it play a major role?
NB. There is no doubt Thongchai will continue to work on developing golf in Thailand, but for now
All too often I see players distracted by circumstances away from the course – the major issue for young up and coming players being financial, but other issues such as expectation from family, basing your success as a person on what you do on the golf course or just a general lack of belief (deep down below the surface) in yourself to compete and win put a burden that few if any can play under without even knowing it.
So what can you do about it?
You need to be clear about what it is you are trying to achieve and what it will take to achieve it. Have a plan in place for handling the financial pressures that come with being a professional golfer and make sure that those around you are fully aware of what you are trying to achieve and all pulling in the same direction. If someone is unwilling to follow what you are trying to achieve, simply take them out of this part of your life, you will have other areas that you can still communicate and be close with them on. Finally, if you want to compete at the highest level, make sure this is your number one focus and that any other responsibilities come after golf and do not distract you from your goal.
If this seems a little vague that is because one size doesn’t fit all – some golfers need to play without any worries about the financial implications of making a cut, whilst others thrive on the pressure, you need to know what makes you perform at your best, being in the zone, and create those circumstances.
Once that is in place you are now ready to go and train and compete sure in the knowledge that your results and form is based purely on golfing reasons with an accurate picture of what to improve so you can compete to win not compete to survive!
2 weeks ago I posted a blog highlighting the performance of Asian players on home soil in the co-sanctioned European events – it didn’t make for pretty reading. With the 3-week swing now complete and the Asian Tour taking a long break (only one event between now and September), here are the final thoughts.
Week two was a strange affair as the opposing Asian Tour and OneAsia Tour went head to head (more on this in a moment). This made it difficult to fully evaluate the situation and whilst in Indonesia on the Asian Tour there was a better showing from the Asian players it was a European who again grabbed the main prize. In China with Volvo and OneAsia (although looking at any coverage from the European Tour you wouldn’t have know OneAsia were involved), it was a very western affair.
I had high hopes for the final week, as the tough conditions in South Korea and the strong golf coming from that country had in the past thrown us a few new names. This situation was bolstered by the return of YE Yang and Bae Sang-Moon from the PGA Tour, yet alas it wasn’t to be.
After a promising position after round 2 and round 3, with the Thai contingent of Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Prom Meesawat and Thaworn Wiratchant especially placing themselves nicely, the Ballentines Championship couldn’t give us a single Asian player in the top 10 for the 3rd consecutive week in the co-sanctioned events (the Indonesian Masters was not a co-sanctioned event). Only 2 players made it into the top 15 (10.5%) – YE Yang being one of them, there were only 5 players in the top 20 (21%) and 8 in the top 25 (26%) in all 24 of the 73 players that made the cut were Asian (33%) that is from a field made up by 74 Asian players out of 156 (47%).
It has to be accepted that several positions in the field are reserved for local players who are trying to make their way in the game and therefore would be unfair to expect all of them to put in stellar performances and make the cut but it is the figures at the top of the leader board that are most worrying. Only €313,376 out of €2,214,912 prize fund stayed in Asia (14%) a figure very close to that in Malaysia.
This is just the stark truth that we have to wake up to, the bare facts. The talent pool is not as lop-sided as the figures show and it is time to do something about it, it should be only 14% of the prize fund going out of Asia!
The fractious relationship amongst the regions tours and governors is sited as an issue that is holding the players back and there is no doubt that it doesn’t help to have competing tournaments with court cases and fines hanging over players heads, but in my opinion there has to be something more fundamental than that. The simple deep seated belief that we are as good as them and are here to challenge a few trail blazers have set the way, it is now time for the masses to follow!
Last week saw the start of a 3 weeks swing for the European Tour in Asia and with most of the European Tours big name golfers coming in from The Masters, there was a real chance for Asia’s top players to shine on home solid against some of the leading players in the world. Unfortunately it was not to be as Non-Asian players took the vast majority of the money pot away again.
As recently as February, Asian Golf Monthly
(page 38-41) put a great article together detailing how the prize purses were divided in the multi million $$ events at the back end of 2011, and it was sad reading as the Asian stars struggled to keep up with their global counterparts.
For me Most Sunday nights are spent looking over leader boards trying to workout how the top players produce such strong performances. This week left me with a stark contrast to ponder…At one end I was marveling at how Louis Oosthuizen was able to shrug off what must have been a huge disappointment of losing in the Maters play-off, bouncing back to continue his great 2012 form with a win. Whilst Asia’s top players struggled again to compete when faced against a world-class field, in their own back garden.
Not one single player made it into the top 10; only 6 of the top 25 and 11 of the top 50 were Asian golfers. Between them the Asian players managed to take home just €259,102 out of a total purse of €1,893,893, less than 14%, with a field made up of just over 40% Asian.
This blog is not to knock the Asian golfers, but to ask why is it that they seem unable, in general (I am well aware that several Asian Players have won these big events but it is the acceptation, not the rule) to perform as a group when faced with a strong field from Europe? I certainly don’t believe for one moment that players from other continents have anymore ‘game’ than the best Asian players have, and in conditions these players have grown up with they have the ability to and should be contending in equal measure.
So why is it? The easy answer would be to site experience, but we need to move on from that, these events have been co-sanctioned for long enough and the experienced players of the region have competed against these top players on plenty of occasions to have gained the experience. I long to get the chance to speak with the players and get their opinion and feelings why, but for now I can only put it down to belief.
What I am talking about is the real deep inner belief, belief that as a group they belong at golf’s top table, to compete and contend against major winners and world-class players (world top 100). A few have shown the belief KJ Choi, YE Yang, Thongchai Jaidee, have all broken into the top 100 and competed successfully on the PGA and European Tours for sometime. The ladies certainly have the belief dominating the game and in Yani Tseng potentially have someone who could break many if not all records.
What we need is a band of players to stand up and be tough enough, to accept what ever comes their way and believe they are going to contend week after week. If they need an example of how mentally tough they need to be, then look no further than the new Maybank Malaysian Open champion – a bounce back like that takes real belief.
Andrew Knott is director of instruction at pro tour Golf College Thailand, where we work on correct training - including mental development - helping you understand what it takes to compete successfully at the highest level. Outside of PTGC, He is also a Mind Factor Coach and part of Karl Morris’s team of coaches – Karl just happens to work with none other than Louis Oosthuizen.
I believe in Asian golf – Do you?
Michael Sim US Open 2010, Pebble Beach 18th Hole
No one said it would be easy! What does it take to make it to the top of the tree? Of course PTGC’s specialty is in golf, but it really doesn’t matter the same qualities run through every walk of life. There are many characteristics and abilities you need but today I want to talk about mental toughness.
It doesn’t matter whom you are, how much ability you have or to the outside world how easy you seem to find success in your chosen path, there will be some tough times. In golfing terms the easiest way to say this is – “sometimes it just feels like you were born to have a golf club in your hand, like it is part of you”, “yet other times it feels the most alien thing and you might as well have a banjo in your hands”.
The fact that you feel this is not the problem, the real issue is how you deal with it. Will you let it beat you up and eat away? Or will you find a way to let the negative energy dissipate, leaving your senses open to find the feelings that create the good shots.
Most people, especially golfers are perfectionists in holding onto negative emotions, letting the frustration build, turning into anger, which creates an anchor for the bad feeling. Yet when we find the good ones we don’t reward ourselves with good feelings and emotions to anchor that feeling we lambast ourselves for not doing it more often.
The one thing I know to be true (other than at some point we all have to die). Is that it will be a bumpy path, there will be good times and there will 100% be hard times that test us. The ones who make it to the top are the ones whom enjoy the good times and make them roll as long as possible, then tough out the hard times and find ways to get through them in the shortest possible time scale.
If you are having a tough time right now, just know that others have gone down this route and come out the other side, it can be done. In the current game the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Michelle Wie and many many more have all got great stories of how they have faced adversity and came back stronger and better for the experience. The key is what you learn from it and what you learn about yourself, not what the problem is.
So the question is do you have the character to take whatever golf (or life) has to throw at you and find a way to get through, learning something to make you stronger for the future?
As the students play their shots I record every result
As I prepare to finish working with the students here in Perth and head back to Thailand, I decided that this weeks blog on games and challenges would be more of a report on the advantages these sessions have on your game and the encouragement they give to your game.
We have run the short game challenge for 3 consecutive weeks now and the results make very interesting reading. NB. I
f you are not familiar with the short game challenge or the scoring systems please refer to my blog posted on 15th February: http://www.protourgolfcollege-thailand.com/2/post/2012/02/train-your-golf-with-games-and-challenges-part-2.html
The first thing I notice looking at the figures is a massive improvement in shots that scored points. In the first week only 46% of all shots hits resulted in points, this improved to 63% for week two and 57% in week 3, that’s going to make a difference in your scores for sure.
The next area I looked at is shots within the ‘kill zone’ – inside 2 meters – and where we really want to be getting it to significantly increase our chances of making the putt:
- Week one – 36% of shots in the kill zone
- Week two – 46% of shots in the kill zone
- Week three – 54% of shots in the kill zone
I think these figures speak for themselves, but more than that they are providing facts to the students, real evidence that their short games are improving, not just feeling or hopes and it is these facts that build confidence and that is the one word we hear from all the best golfers when they play well and win.
Beyond the generalisations we can also delve deeper into particular areas as we rate each shot, for instance only 11% of the points were scored from bunkers, in week two that raised to 18% before stabilising to 15% in week three (there are 5 shots so 20% would be the standard of all shots being equal). Good improvements but still some work to go!
Of course there is much to be taken from this data, I have shown how the figures relate to the group but they can also be used on an individual basis. They will show each student where they need to work on developing their game and provide motivation as they see themselves improve.
This is just a snap shot of the figures available the point is not to go through everything in this blog but to emphasis the point of how you should be training if you are serious about improving your golf game…the figures speak for themselves. One final point is that when you test like this especially as a group with your peers you are adding pressure and creating real game situations, so not only does it give you feedback but provides all round great training.
If you are not yet using testing and recording to train you are falling behind…what are you waiting for?
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Really enjoying the challenge of some competitive golf
In a follow up to Thursday is tournament dat at PTGC, I decided it was a good idea to, jump over the ropes for the next trip to Kennedy Bay Links and join in to see exactly what the students are experiencing.
Firstly I have to say I got lucky on a day of what can only be desribed as light winds at best, as being on the Indian Ocean the wind can really howl around the the bay links. We all lined up on the practice tee (well I was laid down stretching as you can see) as we prepared and learnt our pairings for the day. I was going out in the final group!!
The gaunlet was laid down and we all set out. I am pleased to announce that some of the buzz of playing and really wanting to post a score came back on the first tee, maybe it was the thought of David and Lawrie’s watchful eye or just my sense of competition but I got straight into my focus routine and a nice solid start was made.
I will spre you a blow by blow account, other than to report that overall I was pleased with the way I played, even if the scoring is a few more than I would have hoped for…
But what did I learn? Well the first thing was the importance of the rhythm a round of golf must take in order to score well, this is something you can only train by playing and playing in an atmosphere as close to tournament golf as possible, this was the main reason for me not post a score I would have liked. If you feel that a good round is littered with random bogeys from nowhere, you want to focus on the rhythm you get into during the round. It is all about creating patterns and routines that just flow; if you are erratic in your patterns you will be erratic in your play and scoring.
The next thing was making sure your short game is sharp and that all shots are well practiced. If you don’t have your short game at its sharpest you will struggle right through your game. Where you want to be is standing over the shot with the imagination and feeling of how you will feel when you hit a great shot, but too many times we stand over the ball and the only energy we experience is what a bad shot might feel like. Two questions for you here either what do I want to do, or what does a good shot loo like here.
Overall I had a great day, I loved being back out there playing and I know the rest of the PTGC students had a great day again, the training the rest of the week leads to a keen expectancy for Thursday’s and this is what we all train for to play golf. So make sure you are regularly playing an doing it as often as possible with meaning.
Work on your wedges from 100 yards and in with measured results
The world of sport in the 21st century is a very different place for a young aspiring competitor, the notion of talnated young men and women simply fullfilling a gift given at birth can no longer hold water. The simple reason for this is money! But why has money made the world of sport and specifically golf such a different place for the young aspiring golfer?
A major reasons is the depth of competition and whilst we may look in awe as a few make millions of dollars, there are literally thousands upon thouands of want to be tour pro’s struggling to get from day to day.
When I first started coaching and training golfers 5 years ago, I was amazed by some of the junior golfers who could regularly shot around and even under par by the time they were 10. My instinct was to compare to my junior days – we weren’t even allowed to start playing until we were 12! But as I looked a little wider and deeper I soon realised this wasn’t so rare.
Spring forward 6-8 years in a junior’s developemnt and look at the level of players between 16-18; you will see just how deep the pool is. Thousand’s of young aspiring player’s all dreaming of the big time, usually backed by anxious families hoping for the next Tiger Woods or Anikka Sorenstam. The harsh reality is most will be struggling to eak a living on a mini tour or regional circuit, if they haven’t just walked away from the game altogether.
With no disrepect to any of the golfers or smaller tours out there, any young golfer who dreams of being a tournament professional wants to be playing on either the PGA or European Tour, so what are the numbers? At the end of the year no more than 250 players can earn enough money to retain their place for the following year. Now think of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of current professional’s and aspiring youngsters coming through. You see it will take something special to be one of those 250 players; of course the real spoils in golf only come to those in the world’s top 50.
So times have changed, it is a much more competitive golf world we find ourselves in today but the methods most players and their families are using haven’t changed. Sure parents are spending a small fortune on lessons and travelling around the country, even the world. 16-18 year olds are spending day and night at the range or the golf course practicing technical skills taught by their coach or other representitive but they are doing pretty much the same stuff as all the other thousand’s of hopefulls – and therefore that is all they have, hope!
The problem with this kind of mentality is that it is just potluck, maybe you will be lucky enough to have a good tournament when you need it. The honest truth, it is a bit like wanting to become a millionaire and your plan to achieve this goal is to buy $10 of lottery tickets once a week!
The odds can be shortened though. If you are prepared to be a little different, if you are prepared to go that extra mile the rest aren’t, now you can have a better chance of being in that 250 every year that keep their playing rights.
By the extra mile I don’t just mean you have to work harder, you will, but work smarter, understand where you want to get to and what it takes to get there. Work with intensity, always be engaged in what you are doing and always give every last shot 100%, whether that be in learning a new movement, being able to excute a shot when you want to or coming down the last in your big tournament
As a coach, I constantly strive to learn more about what it takes to assist golfers who want to improve but unless a golfer is willing to give 100% of themeslves to the process there is little I can do.
So the question is
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO TO BE DIFFERENT AND STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD?
FIND YOUR DIFFERENCE THAT TAKES YOU FURTHER AND AMKE IT HAPPEN, NO MATTER WHAT OTHERS TELL YOU!
Vijay wins in the final as everyone else looks on
In part 1 of this series I mentioned how I used to train with the other juniors, this was a key to my quick improvement especially as I was fortunate enough to have such a great group of older boys who encouraged us to join in….Maybe they just wanted to win our golf balls which we used to play for! I jest! But the main thing was the competitive edge it brought and being under pressure, competing with golfers of a higher standard is the only way you can train your game because that is what happens out there on the course.
Today’s challenge can be played on your own or spice can be added as a group.Australian Rules Golf Challenge: (developed by John Crampton)
For the none Aussies amongst the readers, the first thing I must do is explain what may seem to many as the weird and wonderful game of Australian Rules Football, or more importantly the goal posts.
At the either end of the oval field are two sets of goal posts two larger ones similar to the posts on a rugby field (without the crossbar) flanked by two shorter ones. To score players have to get the ball between the posts, however you score more points if your get the ball through the centre posts (6) as opposed to the outer posts (1).
So how has this been developed into a training challenge for golf? Today we used posts at 140 meters (155 yards) placing bollards at this distance; the two centre bollards were 8 meters (10 yards) apart whilst the two flanking posts were a further 2 meters away. You can vary the distance and the width of the posts, i.e. for driver place at 250 yards with a gap of 20 meters and 5 meters. The scoring is as follows:
- Get through the centre posts and is worth 10 points
- Get through the side posts and is worth 5 points
- Fail to get through either posts and you score -20!
The ball must go through the posts, if it comes up short that is -20; there is no penalty for being to long.
The best way to create the pressure of golf is to play a knockout system. To do this you will need multiple of fours, if you don’t have a multiple of four you will need an eliminator round. Today we started with 10, so the first round was just for individual score; students worked in pairs hitting alternate shots with 10 balls each. The best 4 scores qualified for the semi-final – the other 6 went to work on their focus and mental pre-shot routine.
Now we were down to 4 players were pitted together head to head. 10 balls each taking alternate shots player with the highest score progressed to the final, where the challenge was repeated. To increase pressure in the final the other 8 players were brought around to watch with a scoreboard running. See our video to see how the game progresses Alternative games:
You can use this challenge in other ways. Another way to re create both pressure and focus when fatigue hits is to add a run in between shots.
To do this the number of students can be random (or you could play the head to head game above). All players must start by running from the ball to a set point and back, before completing their full preparation and pre-shot routine, hitting the shot and recording the result before dropping their club and doing the run again.
This is done for all 10 balls with the scoring being the same. What are the benefits of the running?
Running raises the heart rate; when you are nervous how does that translate in physical terms? A raised heart rate and using exertive exercise is one of the few ways you can recreate this in practice. It also allows you to learn how to control and lower your heart rate, the final benefit is dealing with fatigue and the effects physical fatigue has on your ability to place your attention and focus where you want it. See our video and watch the running! So be creative, get a few friends together and make your training really count.
Simple Drills with Feedback work
If you have made it to Pro Tour Golf College you must be doing something right, your technique must work to have got you to this level. At this stage wholesale changes to the fundamentals of your swing are not wise, it is a big risk for something you know works.
That said there is always room for improvement, just small amendments to your current technique to improve the ball flight, reduce the bad shot and get you to the ball flight you want to see.
The Pro Tour Golf College model allows time for these changes to be made and there is a structure to how they are made – you still have to do your numbers.
Everyday there is a time and amount of shots allotted to every skill area as a player starts at the beginning of a ten week semester we are identifying those areas through analysis and correcting them to see the improvements. So now in week two or three is the time to use the allotted time to work your numbers on changes.
To do this we give simple drills – as said there is no need for wholesale changes to your fundamentals – drills that use simple equipment that can be found anywhere and cheaply, there really is little need for expensive training aids most of the time.
One of the student’s demonstrates his drill here, Ian has the feeling that he comes over the top of plane into the ball, we simply put the bottle beside the ball so he can see (Facts) that he in fact doesn’t. The bottle provides little more than support that his swing is actually doing what he wants it to do. With that in place he was free to assess the 3 key areas that he needs to be aware of in every shot:
- Quality of impact – or centeredness of strike
- Balls starting line
- Balls curvature
He was given the task to hit his balls in batches of 10’s scoring each ball out of 3 – one point each for the above – total score out of 30 before changing club and doing another batch of 10.
What does he go away from his long game practice today with?
- By using the bottle he knows his technique is where he wants it
- He has a record of how well he struck the ball, his starting line and curvature
- That he has achieved progression towards his goal
Are you being this productive in your practice, does it have a purpose and is it being monitored? From my experience it is unlikely.
Do you think your game – Lowering your scores – would benefit from this kind of focused purposeful and simple training? If the answer is yes then contact us today and start the process to taking your golf out on tour.
Last week I introduced the idea of using games and challenges as a way of improving your golf game and do the only important thing LOWER YOUR SCORES!
Before I talk about this week’s game – Pro Tour Golf College’s short game challenge – I want to discuss the importance of planning a practice session.
Let me ask you a question, how many times have you turned up at the range with a specific purpose, knowing exactly what you will practice in that session and what you are trying to achieve? (ultimately to lower your score)
I am betting rarely if ever! The most preparation the majority of golfers (you) will have made is how many balls you are going to buy, or that you will do some putting/short game or you have a set time. This isn’t preparation or planning! and it leads to hours of low productive work.
What if (for example) you knew you had to improve your lob shot control, you have good technique but you lack the control and consistency. So the night before you say, "tomorrow I will work on my lob shot, I will set up a, b, c drills with x, y, z amount of balls. I will record the outcome of these shots so I can measure this against a further practice session" also making every shot accountable.
- Do you think this could be a more productive way to spend your time?
- Do you think you could see greater improvements in your performance – LOWER SCORES – using this kind of practice?
- Do you think you could spend less time practicing on that shot and move onto another one, or get to the gym because your practice was more focused?
The answers are yours to decide…if you answered yes to the above, here is our next game and challenge. Pro Tour Golf College’s short game challenge:
Choose 10 different short game shots i.e. 2 chips, 2 pitches, 2 bunker shots, 2 lob shots and 2 trouble shots, vary the distances of each shot and the degree of difficulty, use markers to define the tee areas and the hole/point you will play too.
With this laid out take just one ball
, drop the ball at the first station or shot, be sure to take a drop to get a random lie, then play the shot. There are no second chances here, the result counts.
Once you have hit the shot, measure out the distance the ball finishes from the target and record your score with the following points system:
- 0-3 feet from target = 3 points
- 3-6 feet from target = 2 points
- 6-10 feet from target = 1 point
- more than 10 feet from target = 0 points
then proceed to hit the next 9 shots and total up your score. How many points did you get out of 30?
So what have we achieved with this game? Facts! You now know exactly the level of your performance in each of these short game skill areas (to get a more definitive understanding the challenge needs to be taken several times). You also have a point to measure your improvement by. Your training session (notice the change of term from practice to training session) now resembled the real thing, as you only had one chance and there was a consequence to the outcome. But most importantly, when related to your percentages in putts holed from certain distances, you can see how this will affect your score and what you need to do to LOWER YOUR SCORES.
So what is a good score? Well anything inside 6 feet should give you from 60-100% chance of holing the resulting putt, so an average of 2 points a hole (20 points) would give you an excellent chance of making a lot of up & down’s, but as a starting point, PTGC's philosophy is 70% in all areas of your game is competitive to be a professional, therefore a score of around 14 or 15 would be a start point – that said we need carry out a little more research on the scores.
As with all stats and games be sure to read between the lines. By this I mean if your score is 20, but you are making 12 points on the straight forward chip & pitch shots, yet on the lob and trouble shots you score just 2-3 points and the 0’s came where you didn’t even hit the green or left a 50ft putt, you know you need some work on this area and all round the short game isn’t as tight as it needs to be.
Go out there and try for yourself, if you want more help analysing the results just post them through to me and we can discuss what looks good and what needs working on, but be sure to start turning all your practice sessions into training sessions, make them accountable and make them have consequence.