Slump? Fear Not
Even the word slump can strike fear into any golfer. However, how do you get through it? What does it take to pull yourself out of it? All slumps are mental and all the effort put forth trying to change your swing , stance or grip is not the issue. One day you will shoot an 83 then an 80, how about that 84 the next time. Looks like we could have this game licked, HA. The next four outings produce an 89, 95, 97 and a 93. What happened, how could I have gotten so bad overnight? That is how they appear, out of nowhere. I have had them disappear as quickly as they came.
We ponder them and worry about, “I’m never going to be able to golf again”, seems to be the voice that keeps repeating and repeating in our hearts and minds, it intensifies the slump and drags them out longer than We are afraid to even get near a golf course, we will spend hours and hours at the driving range trying to work it out. What we are doing is tensing up and having the slump become ingrained in us. We need to step back and get a grip of what we are doing to ourselves.
I was in a driving slump for 2 years, and in those days that was the only thing I could do very well. When my drive went, I had nothing to fall back on. I would just keep plugging along and found other parts of my game improving. I began to see better fairway shots and putting. Chipping was something I started to depend on. Then one day to my surprise, I could drive those screamers again. Needless to say that slump helped me to learn to do other things I didn’t want to do before it came upon me.
Today I still get rocked when they hit. I read an article from the USGA which said we should not get discouraged but understand we are actually going to a new level in our play. A beginner who has only been playing for 4 years will feel the pangs of a slump much harder than the intermediate player. The beginner has been playing without much change in their game, mostly the same old same old. One day they find that they are just more horrible than usually, and it is lasting much longer than just a few holes here or there. They will get more scared of this occasion than the more experienced golfer. What they don’t know is that once they get over this hump they will become better for it. Soon they will shave about 3 strokes off their handicap before one of those slumps revisit them.
I have learned and still am learning to not let a slump defeat me. I keep a dairy and chart my emotions as well as the physical short comings of my game. I can begin to work on other parts of my game that haven’t fallen apart, or incorporate something new into my play book, that may give me the confidence, I need to help me get through those slumps. I had been in a slump with my 8-iron earlier this year, and wasn’t all too happy about that. After three months of no improvement, I saw our pro, and we incorporated the stack and tilt swing to get me through that trial of errors. Well, I got 2 strokes off my handicap in just a four month period. It helped me win a few games in competition, and I am most happy with my game, most of the time.
The first problem is getting the rhythm back to the game. When we are distraught and filled with fear the first thing to go is usually our rhythm. I want to stress the need to maintain the tempo of what a golf swing is all about. When we lose confidence all we want to do is keep chopping at the ball in hopes of attaining our swing back. We suddenly find ourselves without any discipline and are just hacking away at some imaginary demon again. We need to take deep breaths and slow down and find our tempo. This is of major importance to retaining some semblance of sanity, until we ease our way out of those nasty slumps. I would like to suggest:
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If we were to have a consistent tempo we may not slip into those long dry spells.
I have put together some new and different methods of doing things so you can get your mind off your slump and help you see there are other things to work on while it is working itself out. The best thing to do is to get your mind off the area than has been giving you the heartburn and work on something that will bring some joy back into your game.
The hardest part of getting out of this problem is keeping the ball under the tree branches as you punch it back into the fairway. The loft of the club head determines the trajectory the shot will have and whether or not you can keep the ball under the branches. To make sure you have chosen the right club, lay it down on the ground with the club-face facing up and the shaft on the ground pointing toward the opening you want the ball to go through. Gently step on the club-head so the shaft comes off the ground; the angle it forms is the same angle the ball will launch at impact. Choose the club that will safely keep the ball under the branches, then execute a clean shot.
When a player has trouble hitting the ball straight, the reason is often that the club has moved off track in the takeaway. When the club is on the wrong track, it is tough to get it back to square in enough time for impact.
- Here is the drill to help straight those shots: Take your normal stance, hinge your wrists, and take the club back to the point where the shaft is parallel to the ground and to your target line. Look back to make sure that the club is in the right position. This is your starting point.
- Turn your shoulders to move the club to the top of the backswing, then swing down and through to a bull finish. Make this drill a habit, try it without a ball, to help your body feel the club’s proper path through the swing.
By eliminating the full takeaway, you force the club to stay on track to the top of the swing. From there, you can easily swing down on the correct path.
For smoother putts, adjust your grip
When you are pulling or pushing your putts, apply the correct grip pressure so you can correct those jerky strokes. When you grip your putter to tightly, it robs you of feel, while when you grip it too loosely, it will diminish your control of the club-head. To get the right amount of pressure, try this drill:
MORE ON THE GREEN:
- SETUP: As you address the ball, lift the club-head slightly off the ground, then grip the putter so tightly that your arms lock up. Nest, loosen your grip to the point where the putter slips through your hands and the club-head fall to the ground. Assume a grip between the two extremes.
- SWING: Apply more pressure with your left hand than with the right, move the club-head smoothly, straight back and through. The divided pressure gives you a sense that you’re your left side is in control of the swing and will minimize wrist breakdown. Focus on the grip will also help you concentrate on the stroke and not your score.
Each and everyone of us, regardless of level can benefit from more work on the greens.
When I was a beginner even the more proficient golfers always had one thing in common: Our putting was usually a very small part of our practice routine. About 40% of our strokes per round take place on the green. To lower our scores, we should focus 40% of our practice on putting mechanics, touch and strategy. Higher handicappers should hone the fundamentals, line up and stroke. As our handicaps come down, we can practice green reading and a pre-putt routine that will fit our style of play.
Would you like to have a break through?
Beginners cut down on three-putts by getting your first putt close to the hole.
- A putt’s distance is determined by the length and pace of your stroke.
A short putt requires a short stroke; The back-and through-strokes should be of equal distance and rhythm.Always take a few practice putts before a round to check whether the greens are fast or slow.
- Shorter putts (less that 10 feet), take a narrow stance with your feet approximately hip-width apart, and use your stance to determine the correct length of the stroke. Swing the putter back to the your right toe and follow through to your left toe.
- Longer putts, widen your stance and continue swinging from toe to toe. This helps promote a solid stroke with even tempo.
DISTANCE DRILL: Reach the “Safety Zone”
- Pace off distances of 10, 30 and 50 feet from the hole.
- Mark the spots with tees or flat ball markers.
- Place a club on the ground about 3 feet behind the hole.
This is your “safety zone”.
Putt three balls to the hole from each distance, adjusting your stance width accordingly.
The goal is to make each putt, but if the ball goes past the hole it should stop within the three-foot “safety zone”. This will teach you to give the putt enough speed to reach the hole without going too far past it. This will improve the chances that you will make that second putt.
Intermediate Golfers can graduate from bogey golf, but you will need to be able to “read” a green, become green literate.
- Analyze the slope and break of the green: Is the slope uphill or down? Is the break left-to-right or right to left?
- To determine the speed of your putt, look closely at the type of grass, as well as your surroundings. If you are putting downhill, with the grain toward water, your putt will be fast.
- When in doubt, step back and look again. Putt only when you feel confident you can see the break.
Walk around the putt
- Start by reading the putt from behind the ball and determine the low side of the putt, if you have a 20 foot downhill putt that breaks right-to-left, the low side will be the left.
- Walk along the low side of the putt toward the hole and look for imperfections on the line, such as ball marks or spike marks. Pause midway between your ball and the hole so you can picture the putt’s distance as you begin to determine the length of the stroke you will need.
- Look at the putt from behind the hole. This angle can show you if the overall slope of the green is more or less severe that what you saw from behind the ball. Study the area around the hole. A putt will break more when the ball is moving slowly. So if the green slopes around the hole, you will have to factor in more break at the end of the putt.
Let your feet help you read. Walking all the way around the putt lets you feel the undulations of the green with your feet. As you walk from the ball to the hole and back again, think about whether you are walking up- or down-hill. There may be subtle differences, and whether the ground feels hard or soft. This will help you judge break as well as speed.
Single-digit-handicappers should know whether they are line putters or path putters.
- Not all golfer’s brains are programmed alike, some players think in a linear fashion and see a put as straight lines and angles. Others think more instinctive or the nonlinear way and see the whole picture, or path, of the putt.
- Once you know your putting style, you can adjust your pre-putt routine for the best results.
If you are a line putter:
- You use a “straight back, straight through” putting stroke.
- You tend to position your eyes directly over the ball.
- You see a straight line to the target point, or the hole.
- You like to putt to specific spot on the green.
- When driving a car, you tend to rely on the line on the road to keep your car centered.
and if you are a path putter:
- You use an “inside-to-inside” putting stroke.
- You tend to position your eyes inside the ball.
- You see the line of a putt as a curved pat to the hole.
- You like to aim toward the high point of the break, instinctively feeling the path of the putt.
- When driving a car, you are comfortable steering with one finger on the wheel, sensing the center of the lane.
TIPS FOR LINE PUTTERS:
- Spend more time reading the green from behind the ball. Pick a spot to aim for, then line up the logo of your ball to that spot.
- Set the putter behind the ball, and align your feet and your body to the putter face at 90-degree angles.
- Hit the ball to the target.
TIPS FOR PATH PUTTERS:
- Spend more time reading the green from behind the cup. Pick the side of the cup from which you think the ball will enter the hole.
- Look at the hole, visualize the entire path, then set the putterhead and your body to the ball simultaneously (do not align the ball’s logo to your target).
- Hit the ball, starting it on its curving path to the hole.
and as my mother always wished me "HAPPY GOLFING"