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The Final Frontier

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Here we are, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the final piece of the jigsaw, the missing link (and other such dramatic build up lines 😉). Over the last few articles we’ve been slowly building a robust approach to solid Course Management. As a reminder the pieces are:


Now we’re going to enter the final realm of Shot Choice specifics; simple considerations to banish those Big Numbers from your Scorecards:


Range of Tolerance

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It’s vital to recognise you’ll not hit every Shot where you’d like. You’re going to miss; the key is to keep your misses playable - assertive shots to conservative targets!

If your tendency is to Fade the Ball (ball curving left to right in the air for a right handed Golfer), and the Pin is tucked up against a Bunker on the right of the Green, don’t go shooting at the Flag. Give yourself margin for error and aim 10-15 yards left of it, so the Ball can Fade toward the middle of the Green.

Consider the consequences; Make sure to aim where a miss doesn’t cost you an immediate shot or two (e.g. out of bounds, water hazard, unplayable lies). The key to shooting low Scores is eliminating double and triple bogeys caused by misses that don’t give you a chance to recover.

With that in mind here’s some advice on how to approach the Key Shots you’ll be faced with:


Off The Tee (Par 4’s & 5’s)

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Your Tee Shot is simply meant to put you in the best possible place to hit your Approach Shot close, or help get your ball into a layup position where you can hit it close when playing a Par 5. Many Players refer to this a “leaving you with the best angle in” i.e. leaving your Approach Shot with the biggest possible margin for error.

Choosing the correct club is a 2 part process:

  1. Check your Yardage Book for your predetermined Go Zone (See Part 4) or use your Rangefinder to re-establish your Target/Zone distance.

  2. Grab the Club you’ve decided to use and make some practice swings from where you’re going to tee the Ball up. As you make these swings, clearly establish the Shot you want to hit and what you’re going to focus on while you hit. If you’re struggling to Commit to the Shot, grab another Club and go through the same process. One club will simply feel better in your hands. Your gut knows best. Go with it.


Approach Play (and Tee Shots on Par 3’s)

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Know the Lie of the Land:

Many approaches are into a green that is slightly angled to the line of play. This offers a clear ‘safe line’ in – the higher land protects anything hit to that side. It also causes the Ball to move down the slope (if hit there) and identifies the side not to miss, as it leaves a much tougher up-and-down.

Hitting the Green from 180 yards or so is difficult for most Golfers, that’s why a smart Approach strategy needs to take into account which areas make a good leave for an up-and-down (see Part 4: Go Zones). That said, this is also a Shot that will reward a creative, positive approach, so planning for the best while protecting for the worst is never a bad way to go.


Uphill or Downhill Targets

It’s important to understand the influence hitting to an Elevated Target has on Distance. Yardage Markers & Range Finders measure the straight line Distance between two points, however you also need to know how much Uphill or Downhill the Target is located.

Land Angle and Trajectory play a major role here. The higher the Trajectory the steeper the Land Angle (and vice versa). Here’s a great video from TrackMan University and some summaries to help you understand the influence Elevation has on your Yardage:


Hitting Downhill

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Shots hit to a Target that’s below you have a Steeper Land Angle, resulting in Less Bounce and Roll. The following highlights the influence Land Angle has on Carry Distance:

  • When the Land Angle is 45° the Ball Carries an additional 1 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target below you.

  • When the Land Angle is Shallower, say 30° (e.g. when hitting Driver) that number increases to an additional 1.75 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target is below you.

  • For a Steeper Land Angle, say 60° (e.g. when hitting a Wedge into a Headwind) that number decreases to an additional 0.6 yard/ft/m for every 1 yard/ft/m the Target is below you.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the more the target is below you the Steeper the Land Angle becomes by default (and vice versa for a Target that is above you). This results in less Roll/a Ball that stops quicker.


Hitting Uphill/to an Elevated Green

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Shots hit to a Target that’s above you have a Flatter Land Angle, resulting in more Bounce and Roll.

You can use the same calculations from the Downhill section for the Reduction of Carry Distance when hitting to an Uphill Target (although the amount Uphill Targets loose is a little more than Downhill Targets gain) i.e.

  • 30°: 1 Yard = -1.75 yrd/ft/m

  • 45°: 1 Yard = -1 yrd/ft/m

  • 60°: 1 Yard = -0.6 yrd/ft/m

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How to Apply:

  1. Establish the Straight Line Carry Distance to your Target as well as the amount it is above or below you.

  2. Choose the appropriate Trajectory & Land Angle.

  3. Accommodate for the appropriate Bounce and Roll to establish your Carry Distance:

    Uphill = Less Carry + More Roll
    Downhill = More Carry + Less Roll


Play Smart!

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1: Flag Position: Attitude for Latitude

On tough approach shots, the flag is not so much your target as the basis of your strategy. e.g. The pin is cut just over a deep bunker and on the more dangerous side of the green – the right; going right at it is a fool’s errand. Clearly you can get at the pin from the left side of the green. Look for the shot that gives the widest margin for error, and play accordingly.

2: Club Culture: Take More

Hands up if you think you drive the Ball more than 217 yards. Many of you, I expect. Yet this is the figure revealed by the Arccos data-tracking system that represents the average amateur’s Driving Distance. Technology has taught us that we don’t hit the Ball as far as we think we do, and that relates to Irons as well as Woods – Arccos’s average 7-iron figure is 143 yards. Being honest with your Distances is key to hitting more greens, so if you’re not sure of your distances with each iron I recommend you book a TrackMan Session.

3: Line Drawing

Every Golfer knows to check wind direction, but sometimes we can be fooled. e.g. a strong wind off the left is masked by the high terrain to the left of the green. If the pin is sheltered and you’re fortunate to be hitting your Approach shot after your playing partners’, watch their shots through the air for evidence of wind. Also be aware of the Lie of your Ball e.g. A Ball below your feet and the general terrain sloping from left-to-right can join a left-to-right cross-breeze in pushing a right-handed Golfer’s Shot further right (and vice versa).

4: Pre-Shot: Action Pre-Play

Our body responds to the messages provided by the brain. If your brain has a very clear idea of the Shot you’re trying play, it can send the appropriate instructions to your muscles. This is why Pre-Shot visualisation/imagery is so important – it allows you to form a sharp image of the required shot that your body can respond to. Use all your senses and plenty of detail to make your image as sharp as possible, from the feelings in your hands, the sound of the ball off the face and to the sight of it landing on the green.

5: Get Creative

Every Approach Shot you face is different, and this should be reflected in your strategy. Instead of picturing a straight Shot and trying to execute a robotic, repeating Swing, try to see some shape and rehearse the movement – draw or fade – that could deliver it. Getting creative with your Approach helps you develop skill and adaptability, and encourages you to hit the Shot appropriate to the challenge - be flexible vs principled!


Smart Short Game

The same principles above are applicable to Short Game Shots, however there are 3 additional aspects to be aware of:

1: Lie

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There is very little agreement throughout the industry on what constitutes great Wedge Play, especially with regard to Technique, but one thing most will agree on is that the Number 1 Wedge Skill for a Player and priority for a Coach is helping each student produce consistent Solid Contact. Without it, touch, confidence, tension level and focus all suffer. So Contact is Primary, and the Lie of your Ball has an overriding influence on the Shot you’re able to play and the associated Skill.

Ensure your first port of call when deciding the Shot to Play accommodates for the Lie. A general rule is if the Lie is poor use more Loft.

2: Landing Spot

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This goes back to the previous section on Approach Shots; establish the Shot you want to play i.e. what the ball needs to do to finish in or very close to the hole. The first step is to identify the place you want to land the ball then determine how much roll is required to finish in or (ideally) within 3 feet of the hole.

As a general guide, get the ball on the ground as soon as possible. As I mentioned above, the Lie of your Ball, as well as grass type and slope, play major determining factors, so make sure to pay attention to all of these when deciding what Shot to play.

3: Finishing Zone

This one is pretty simple; leave yourself the simplest Putt if you miss (usually uphill). Be assertive, not stupid 😉👍🏻.


Putting

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To be honest, this entire article could be absorbed by the nuances of the Short Stick, and illustrated by my previous article “Putting: Face vs Pace, who Wins”? However, in the interests of simplicity here’s some tips for solid Putting Tactics:

Being a good Putter can be distilled down into Mastery of 3 Key Elements:

  1. Pace Control

  2. Green Reading/Break Prediction

  3. Start Line

So, when it comes to Tactics lets focus on Number 2: Green Reading. Here’s some advice for effective Green Reading:

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  1. Approach the Green from the Lowest Point. That’s where the Ball will break to overall and gives you the best perspective.

  2. Initially Read the Putt from the Low Point. It will give you the best perspective. Then Read it from various other angles in order for you to make an effective Prediction of what the Ball might do.

  3. Establish the Pace you want to hole your Putt - Pace determines what your Ball will do on the Green i.e. The required Read & Start Line. Dead Weight Pace makes the Hole Bigger than if you attempt to hole out using a Faster Pace. Do this by making Practice Strokes while looking at the hole, then get in there and make it; keep the time in-between your Practice Stroke and the Strike to a minimum (without feeling rushed).

If you’re keen to learn more about the nuances of Putting and how you can improve, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of The Lost Art of Putting.


Reflection

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  • Keep your misses playable - assertive shots to conservative targets

  • Establish your Go Zone and Commit (to the Shot AND your Shot Focus)

  • Planning for the best while protecting for the worst is never a bad way to go

  • Accommodate for Elevation: Minus Yardage for Uphill and Add for Downhill

  • Be Creative with your Shot choices, adapt to the situation - be flexible vs principled!

  • With Short Game: Be assertive, not stupid 😉👍🏻

  • Putting: Approach the Green and read each Putt initially from the Low Point, oh, and Pace is King;It determines the appropriate Read

Congratulations! You’re at the end! You made it! I hope you found the above and the previous 4 Articles on Effective Course Management useful and insightful? I’d love for you to get in touch if you have any questions or comments. I’ll do my best to answer and if I don’t know, I’ll make sure to refer you to someone that can!

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

www.TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com


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Over the last 10+ years I’ve been Coaching a couple of things have become apparent:

  1. You CAN’T Motivate Players but you can Demotivate them; a Coaches Job is to create an Environment that encourages a Players Motivation to flourish. 

  2. Success doesn’t come from having more Motivation. It comes from doing what you need to do, even if you don’t have the Motivation to do it: also known as GRIT! 

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Stop looking for ways to boost your Motivation. Desire, discipline and commitment are the true keys to being World Class. Motivation is a luxury; it’s tinsel on a Christmas Tree. This is why having a structured Plan, orientated around a specific Goal is worth its weight in gold. I say this with confidence due to the success of the Individuals I support via my Connected Coaching Programme.

However, I think we can agree that Motivation (also known as ‘Drive’) is an important element to being good at anything. Without it people simply wouldn’t put in the hours required to refine their ‘Trade’. However, the more I Coach, the more I realise Motivation ebbs and flows, it comes and goes, it adapts and morphs. 

This is a VITAL thing to understand: the Reason(s) why you participate can and likely will change i.e. your initial Reason for Playing might not be your current Reason. Things change and it’s vital you stay aware of, connected to and regularly remind yourself WHY you Participate. 

It’s also important to understand how potent your Reason(s) for Participation are, as some have proven to be more effective than others. However, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to Motivation. The essential thing is that you use your Reason(s) to keep you participating and improving. The below will help you understand where your Motivation sits in the spectrum.


Types of Motivation

Motivation can be categorised into three types: Amotivation, Intrinsic and Extrinsic:

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Amotivation

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The first type of Motivation is Amotivation. This is when an individual has very low levels of Motivation towards any given task. From a Sporting perspective, an Amotivated Athlete doesn’t know why they participate, they won’t find any benefits from participation. Behaviours that relate to Amotivation are a lack of competence and little commitment. An example of this is a Child Playing a Sport because their Parent Forces them… NOT GOOD!

Intrinsic 

The Second Type of Motivation is Intrinsic Motivation. This is the Internal Drive a Person has to participate or to perform well. This can be broken down into three parts: Knowledge, Accomplishment and Stimulation:

  1. The Knowledge aspect of Intrinsic Motivation reflects the need to learn new skills

  2. The Accomplishment aspect reflects the Athletes need to achieve a sense of Mastery of a Task and to feel a sense of achievement from said Mastery.

  3. The Stimulation aspect reflects the sensation associated physically experiencing a specific task. 

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Intrinsic motivation often leads to an overall positive affect on Behaviours and Outcomes. Intrinsic Motivation is advised as the Persons behaviour is a result of internal Drive e.g. somebody participating because it’s fun and enjoyable - they want to see how good they can be (Mastery) rather than doing it for a reward. As a result they have a high probability of prolonged Participation and improved Performance as a result.



Extrinsic

The Third Type of Motivation is Extrinsic Motivation, which is the Drive to participate caused by motives that are External or Environmental. For example; an Athlete is participating to receive a reward or to avoid punishment.

The healthiest form of Extrinsic Motivation is known as “Integrated Regulation”, which is very similar to Intrinsic Motivation; Behaviour, rather than being Externally controlled becomes Internally controlled. However, the Behaviour is Extrinsically Motivated as it is used to achieve a Goal rather than for the joy of participation. 

A great example of this is what we’ve seen in this years Premier League Title Race between Liverpool and Manchester City. The Level of competition between the two sides drove the quality of their Play to astronomical Levels, resulting in Extrinsic rewards i.e. Manchester City winning the Premier League (by a single Point) and Liverpool Winning the Champions League (and accumulating the Highest points Total ever by a Team finishing Second in the Premier League). 

From my Experience effective Motivation is a blend of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors - we don’t live in a vacuum! Many Athletes are Driven by the Extrinsic rewards Sport can bring to elevate their situation i.e. Liverpool and Manchester Cities rivalry: the Extrinsic Motivation of defeating a rival can be extremely effective. 

However, in an ideal World, participation should be predominately Intrinsically Motivated as failure to achieve an Extrinsic Goal/Reward can be demotivate, evoke poor Performance, declining Participation and could even result in Dropout (stop Playing altogether). 


Reflection

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To Reflect:

  • Stop looking for ways to boost your Motivation. Success doesn’t come from having more Motivation. It comes from doing what you need to do, even if you don’t have the Motivation to do it: GRIT! 

  • Amotivation depicts Behaviour lacking intension which leads to disorganisation, frustrated involvement and should be avoided at all costs!

  • The Motivation to defeat a rival can be extremely effective. However, in an ideal World, participation should be predominately Intrinsically Motivated as failure to achieve an Extrinsic Goal/Reward can be demotivate, evoke poor Performance, discourage Participation and could even result in Dropout (stop Playing altogether).

  • There is no hierarchy when it comes to Motivation. Your reasons are your reasons and as long as you’re aware of them, stay connected to them it and ensure they’re Positively influencing your well-being, participation and performance then there’s no issue. 

I hope the above has proved useful and/or insightful? If you’re interested in engaging with a Structured Coaching Plan to support your Goals take a look at my Connected Coaching Programme and get in touch.

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

The Leading Edge Golf Company

www.TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com

In the beginning, Golf should be all about FUN! It’s about going to a golf course, driving range or putting green with your Friend/Mum/Dad/Grandad/Brother, grabbing a club and trying to WHACK that small dimpled ball from here to there. For some reason, a lot of people have fun accompanying that dimpled ball on its journey around a field ;)

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There are a lot of things about golf that make it FUN; the company is (almost) always good - no one is introduced to golf by people they don’t like; it’s a gift that friends and family share with each other. While many fun things in modern day society are about going faster, playing golf provides a welcome sanctuary from the 'instant' culture we now live. People (usually) enjoy being out there and are in no rush to leave. It’s a nice place to be.

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At the heart of it all is the strangely compelling allure of making that ball go from here to there. At first just moving it is a triumph. The next goal is to make it fly high, then far. Eventually the hope is to make it go more or less straight. A (lucky) few get to a point where they can make the ball curve left or right at will depending on the situation. They can play high shots, low shots, 'cuts' and 'hooks'. They can GET IT IN THE HOLE (which is the point). For them, playing is fun (it has to be or why do it?) but they also find something more in the game. It offers a challenge. For them the fun is not just moving the ball, it’s moving the ball how they want, when they want. There is a certain thrill about putting yourself in a situation where you have to make a shot at a given moment. It's about competition. It’s about learning how good you can be by finding your limits and breaking through them.

Serious Golfers are Visionaries. Golf gives them a way to actualise their dreams. From Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, Nancy Lopez to Annika Sorenstam, golf has been sustained by young imaginations that fall in love with the sense of power & control that comes from a solidly struck shot and the sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving a personal best score on a hole. It makes them want to do it again, and again until the sun sets. Then they're back the next morning, feeding an unquenchable passion.

Golf is meant to be FUN. It's a time for friendship, laughter, disappointment and glory. For people who get bitten by the bug, the game means a touch more. They practice a little longer, watch the big tournaments with more interest and immerse themselves in the nuances, subtleties and disciplines of the game that date back centuries.

They don’t idolise their heroes on the European, PGA or LPGA Tours; they want to BE them. Golf is what they dream about at night and all they think about during the day. It's the tapestry on which they paint their childhood and adolescence. It shapes who they are and the person they become.

The question is how to make those dreams come true. SMARD (Smart & Hard) work is an essential ingredient and PASSION is essential. Golf is game of diligence that will test the affections of even the most enthusiastic. How does a youngster harness all of these ingredients? How do they find a reliable route from the long summer days spent scuffing the dirt to being the best golfer they can be? What lessons can the pursuit of golfing excellence provide young people about being the best PERSON they can be?

Becoming the best golfer you can be involves much more than swing mechanics. It involves thinking big while at the same time paying attention to the small details that allow big things to happen.

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BIG dreams precede great accomplishments. However, the reality is that dreams of a career in Professional golf are just that. Even playing University/College golf at a high level is something which many junior golfers aspire, but few reach. It’s a worthwhile and wholesome pursuit if undertaken wisely. The lessons learned in trying to maximise your golfing potential are applicable across the spectumn of life: how to organise time, mange expectation and to deal with success & failure when under pressure. The golfer who masters these will not only become the best golfer they can be, but also the best PERSON they can be! 

There are 2.5 million junior golfers in the United States alone, and there are less than 1000 men and women on the European, PGA & LPGA Tours combined! When it comes to making it big in golf, the maths in not encouraging. Dreams occur when we sleep, but in order for dreams to become reality, we need to be wide awake!

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ream big, set lofty goals, but understand that setting the intention of playing on the European/PGA/LPGA Tour or even University/College golf is only a part of the process. If you establish the Vision of playing elite golf as a way to develop efficient practice habits as well as learning how to manage your time and bring similar discipline to other aspects of your life, you will be a success not only golf, but in life too!

There many people involved in raising a successful golfer. From parents willing to invest time, money and energy, to friends and competitors that push them. Vital to this process is finding and working with the right Coach(es). People who can help you identify your goals and establish dexterous & elastic strategies to help you reach them.

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As an individual progresses in the sport, they need to understand many things; the role equipment has on their performance; the importantance of matching the clubs and balls they use with their swing characteristics.

Becoming a top flight golfer requires practice; do you think carefully enough about your practice? Is it something you do for a couple of hours on a few days of the week in the summer months? The reality is that practice is oxygen for a serious golfer. It needs careful attention & planning. Proper practice habits need to be learned and refined over time.

High performance golf demands as much of you mentally as physically. You can improve your mental approach every bit as much as you can your short game or putting (it can be argued that improving your short game or putting won't happen UNTIL you improve your mental approach). There are lessons to be learned here too. Just as there are lessons to be learned about how to improve your golf related fitness and nutrition habits; how to manage your time and plan your season in order to seize opportunities when they arise.

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Playing golf Professionally is a long way from the moment you first feel the thrill of a well struck shot. Although, in a way, it’s not so far removed from it at all:
 

Why did you want to move that white ball? What makes you want to do it again? Is it because you want to do it better? To see how good you could be?  

Everyone's golfing journey is different, but the further from home you get, the more important it is to stay connected to the reasons why you play. Seek good advice, know the right steps to take and above all else: KEEP IT FUN!

THANKS FOR READING!

Oliver C. Morton

The Leading Edge Golf Company
112 Swanston Road
Edinburgh
SCOTLAND
EH10 7DS

E - info@theleadingedgegolfcompany.com

T - 07831400296
 

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AuthorOliver Morton