Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Caddy Knows Best
Five key tips learned from a PGA Tour caddy
#4 Move On!
At the highest level of competitive golf, it’s usually the mental game that separates the winners from the losers. I’ll tell you this, too—there isn’t a player on the PGA Tour who isn’t trying to win every tournament he enters. Anyone who assumes some players are out there to coast from tournament to tournament is mistaken. Every guy wants to win, and it takes a winning attitude to have a chance. Also, it’s just as important to acknowledge that you’ll occasionally hit bad shots, and luck may sometimes work against you. Here’s what the pros do. Immediately after a bad shot or an unfortunate event, most players allow for a few seconds to complain, walk briskly or drop a club (okay, some mash it into the ground). Once that mini-tirade is over, they move on. It’s over and done with, and it’s now time to focus on the recovery shot that lies ahead. Harnessing frustration is never a good idea, nor is it wise to reflect too much on the mistake you just made. Often, when a caddy notices a player in mental turmoil, he’ll bring up a topic, such as family, sports, music, movies—whatever—all with the intention of getting the player to not focus on an error or on trying to force an immediate recovery. This strategy can work well for you, too.
Lesson Learned: You’ll find a calm mind is far more effective than one bogged down in anger. Winning is a positive state of mind.
#5 Shadow Putting
You don’t play on the PGA Tour unless you’re a great putter. Where some Tour players tend to err isn’t so much with mechanics, but in other ways, such as keeping the eyes off the putterhead and maintaining a steady rhythm. My player, U.S. Open champ Steve Jones, uses a simple drill (that he can do anywhere) that kills these two birds with one stone. First, turn your back so it’s square with the sun so you cast your shadow in front of you on the green. While watching your shadow, make a few practice strokes until your body starts resembling a metronome or a “tic-tock” clock. This will help you to keep your eyes off the putterhead and your body during the swing, as well as aid in promoting a smoother stroke.
Lesson Learned: If you feel like your rhythm is off, take a step back and relax by emulating a metronome. Trust me, it works!
In addition to being a professional caddy for 1996 U.S. Open champ Steve Jones, Flavio Castro teaches golf to players of all abilities in Southern California.
Page 3 of 3