Get Out of Your Own Way

By Big BreakNovember 29, 2012, 6:40 pm

It’s remarkable what our minds are able to assess without us even thinking about it – a quarterback leading a posting receiver; a baseball player homering a deceptive curve ball; a hockey player one-timing a hard pass top cheddar. With enough repetition our minds (and body) instinctively find a way to become proficient at that practiced task.

Our minds are also very cognitive. That same quarterback can watch film to study the opposing defense so that his instinctive reactions are even better suited for the upcoming game. The baseball player could be given a scouting report on the pitcher so that he knows when that curveball could be thrown. The hockey player could know that the goalie is weak on his blocker side so that he should favor his one timer to the near side. With a perfect mix of instinct and cognitive thinking most athletes can yield impressive results.

In my mind (pardon the pun), the key in the aforementioned sports is to “turn off” your cognitive mind as you perform the task. In essence, you need to react instinctively. If a quarterback is thinking about where the rush could be coming from he’s probably not going to make a very accurate throw.

Golf, however, is much different than so many other sports. Nothing is moving. It’s all stationary. There’s nothing to really “react” to other than a stationary ball and hole. Yes we need the cognitive skills to account for conditions, pin locations, trouble, and many other factors – it’s our course management. It’s very important.

Two episodes ago you may have noticed that the cognitive mind can definitely help you assess what’s at hand on the course. If you recall I made the decision to basically “lay up” on my last shot because I figured there was about a 95% chance that Isaac wouldn’t pick me. To “go for it” I would have had to hit it within 4 feet, which was maybe a 10% chance. It was a no-brainer to lay up.

In this last episode in the second challenge I had to determine whether I or Brian would hit the approach shot. In my mind he had a 70% of missing the green (which would give me the win) versus me hitting the green at 70%. It was literally a coin-flip in my mind. I decided to hit the shot because I wanted to beat him and not give him the opportunity to beat me. Unfortunately I didn’t execute the shot. Perhaps my mind was too full of percentages? That could be the case…maybe 47% likely. Regardless, hitting the ball needs to be like the hockey player making the one-timer. There’s no thinking. There’s only doing.

Because of that missed shot I found myself in the elimination challenge and more nervous than ever. Nerves are a great way to add unneeded cognitive thoughts into your head. “What if you chuck this shot? What if you three putt? What if you make 3 doubles?” So what did I do so that I could just react out there rather than over think?

If you tell yourself something enough times, slowly you’ll start to believe it. I told myself repeatedly that “It doesn’t matter”. So many of those bad things could have happened, but if it doesn’t matter then it really doesn’t matter if you do them. Who cares! For me, this really helped be calm my nerves so that I could be more instinctive with my play.

Secondly, I had one simple swing key that I wished I had used for episodes prior, and that was to break glass. Breaking glass engages you with the target like you wouldn’t believe. The drill I did on the range on day one trying to hit leaves of the tree proved pivotal. Not only did it get my mind in the right spot but it also allowed me to swing better! It was a perfect combo.

In my experiences as a golfer if you have one simple swing key that gives you confidence than that’s all you need to think about. Your instinctual mind will handle everything else. And when you’re executing your shot an instinctual mind will always trump a cognitive mind.

Break glass baby.

Till next time,

James Lepp

Getty Images

What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Getty Images

Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

Getty Images

Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.