Play Golf Like Vince Lombardi
Here’s an analogy for you and your golf game- It’s Football season here in America or as our European, Asian, African, South American, Australian, Mexican and Canadian friends say – it’s American Football season. And one things strikes me every year at about this time – why can’t the Arizona Cardinals ever breakthrough to the next level. Please stay with me, this relates to your golf game!
Every year, the Cardinals are towards the bottom of the standings. And every year or two they fire their coach. To add to the problem, they’ll have a Player on their team that they draft out of college that is supposed to become a great player and never does, until they’re traded or they leave as a free agent. Most recent example – Jake Plummer, who had no success with the Cardinals (no success unless you consider being sacked by 300-pound defensive lineman more than any man alive to be a successful thing) is now the quarterback of one of the top teams, the Denver Broncos.
What does this have to do with your golf? Give me a minute to set the scene and I’ll show you.
Their ownership has no PLAN. They’re always tinkering by bringing in new coaches and with every new coach; the Players have to learn a new system, new plays, new philosophies. So in affect, they’re always trying new things instead of finding something that works and continuing to work on it to make it better. Contrast the Cardinals with the legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s. The immortal Vince Lombardi was their coach. Lombardi said that he basically had 2-plays on offense – 1. Run the ball up the middle. 2. Pass when needed. Other coaches would ask him why he didn’t have more elaborate, fancy plays. And Coach Lombardi said something like this – “We practice only 2-plays and by practicing 2-plays we can become exceptionally skilled in both plays. And even though the other teams know we are going to use only those 2-plays, they can’t stop us because we practice these 2-plays and only these 2-plays to perfection.”
And if Coach Lombardi was coaching you in your golf game – he might say the same thing.
And I know 3 out of 10 people who were casually reading this aren’t even going to notice my Vince Lombardi reference to golf – 6 out of 10 will notice it, but say “Huh, what is Marc talking about, did he make a mistake – and 1 out of 10 will say “I get it, maybe Marc’s making a reference to my practice habits when I go to the golf course or Driving Range. Maybe I am spending too much time working on too many things.”
And this person gets it. This person wants to be a Player!
Because just as you might look at the Arizona Cardinals and ask – What is wrong with that team? Why can’t they ever consistently play good football? I look at you on the golf course and through the emails we get and say the same thing! I know you have talent, now I want you to show it to me.
Now this isn’t to say that you need to work exclusively on your full swing, you probably need to work more on your game around the green and your putting if you want to produce your lowest scores. It’s to say – when you do go to practice your swing, what are you working on? Are you just swinging? Are you spending 5-minutes of your 29-minutes of practice working on (as the Monkeys say) taking the club on a more inside path on your backswing? Are you spending the next 5-minutes on turning your hips before your shoulders? Your next 5-minutes on keeping your head still. And your next 5-minutes working on the “tip” I recently received in my email inbox that told me if I want to hit the ball straighter and longer I need to work on “The 4-Part Release To Square The Club”?
What are you doing and why are you doing it?
There are basically two types of Golfers out there – which one are you? There’s the Golfer that goes to the range just to hit some golf balls because it would be fun. You start out hitting the ball pretty good, as you really have nothing on your mind and you’re just swinging the club. Then out of nowhere you hit a bad shot. You shake it off, but on your next shot you hit another bad shot. Now you’re starting to think about it and you try to correct it. And now things really get bad! So you think about the last issue of Golf Digest – Sergio Garcia said you need to da-da-da. So you try to da-da-da. And when you try to da-da-da. You get so bad that you tell Sergio that he needs to DA-DA-DA! And then after what feels like a million bad shots you say to yourself – “What are you doing, just swing the club smooth.” And out of nowhere you hit a magnificent shot. Followed by another magnificent shot!
These shots were so good that the guy next to you looks at you and smiles. You take another swing without any thoughts except for being smooth and hit the next shot even better. The other people on the range just stop everything they’re doing to watch your shot fly through the air. You feel like a celebrity and you’re ready to sign autographs for your appreciative fans.
Though now you feel as though everybody is watching you, so you better make this a really good swing. So you set-up to the golf ball, you double check that your grip is good – “Ok, I see 2-knuckles”. You make sure your feet are shoulder width apart – “Ok, that looks right.” You check your posture to see if your spine angle is intact by wiggling around a little bit “Yea, that feels good”. And lastly you take a couple of those Mike Weir practice swings where he takes the club back a couple of times to feel his swing path – “That’s where my club needs to go.”
Should I continue? Or do you know what happens on the upcoming shot? Of course, you completely top the ball and it goes about 33-yards rolling on the ground. You hear some grumbling from the people that you thought were your new fans and friends as they hurry to get away from you – “Ew, did you see how bad that guy hit that ball?” – “Ohh, that had to be one of the worst swings I’ve ever seen!”
What did you do different?
The other type of Golfer is the one that has subscriptions to Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, Golf Tips Magazine and in addition to those publications, you also have your Tivo programmed to record The Golf Channel whenever Golf Academy Live and whatever the Dave Pelz segment is called.
You go to practice for a completely different reason than the above Golfer. You go to practice because you want to try every tip you come across in your magazines and on television. You also start out with good intentions – “Let’s see, when I was watching Playing Lessons with the Pro’s last night, Fred Couples said I needed to start my practice session by just hitting some smooth wedges and trying to get my rhythm and get my body stretched out.” So after hitting 4-wedges, you say to yourself – “Alright, I feel good and loose, I need to start really working on getting a flat left wrist (or for left handers, having a flat right wrist) at the top of my backswing like Da-Da-Da said in Golf Magazine.”
So you take out your Driver, swing the club to the top of your backswing, swivel your head to see what your left wrist is doing and stare at it for 12-seconds, contemplating if your wrist is cupped, bowed or straight. Never mind that there has been some brilliant Players that have had cupped wrists and bowed wrists – you read Da-Da-Da say that you need a flat wrist and even though you don’t know how that relates to your ball flight or why it’s important – by golly, you’re going to make it flat! So you set-up and take the club back again to check the position of your left wrist – “Looks good.”
And now for the moment of truth!
You tee up a Golf Ball, you get set-up to hit it, you swing the club back concentrating on keeping that wrist correct and you whiff. Yes, you whiff; you completely miss the golf ball. When was the last time you did that? So you look around to see if anyone noticed you missing the golf ball – and you spot one guy about 2-spots away looking directly at you. You take a deep breath, clear your throat and try to impress him and make an excuse at the same time by saying “I’m working on something new in my swing. I’m trying to keep my left wrist flat at the top.” And he looks at you and says “maybe you should work on hitting the ball the next time.” “Yea, thanks for the advice buddy; I’ll try that next swing.”
So you get back to work on your flat wrist because what does that guy know – you’re working on sophisticated swing mechanics that he probably couldn’t even comprehend. So you take a few more practice swings. A few more bad shots. A few more tips you try to remember you need to work on. And just like yesterday and the day before and the day before that – You leave the driving range feeling defeated —— Until, you get home and turn on your Tivo and there’s the New Swing Guru talking about you deciding if you need a One Plane Swing or Two Plane Swing. “Oh, this is it! This is what I need to work on tomorrow! That’s my problem; I have to decide if I need one swing Plane or Two.”
So you go back to the driving range the next day and you do your best imitation of the Arizona Cardinals. Where are you going with your game? Are you going in circles or do you have a PLAN?
Monkeys work on their golf game like the Cardinals. Who wants to play for the Cardinals – raise your hand.
Players have a solid Plan to improve like Coach Lombardi! Who wants to play for Coach Lombardi – raise both hands! (Touchdown!)
Do you want to be a PLAYER?
Marc Solomon – Your Instructor For Life
Golf Made Simple!