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LET Tour School 2012 What I learned

ladies_logoAs you may have been aware I have been at LET Tour School in La manga for the last week and it was an amazing week in every possible way. Marian Riordan, who after attending a clinic with myself and Gareth, has been working with on AimPoint with me over the last number of months, unfortunately failed to make it through to the final stage despite playing some of the finest golf I have seen her play. I guess that goes to show the mix of things that have to go your way in a tournament like this. It’s about getting the perfect blend technically, mentally and physically to come together for two weeks. How you do that I’m not sure but I certainly know more now than I did before this week.

marianWhen I arrived I mapped the greens on both the South and North Course. Putting in Slope percentage and slope direction. If you ever want to get a great lesson on strategy map 18 holes in the time it takes three players to putt out and hit a couple of practice putts. Tough work!! As we worked on the practice days I was so happy with our reads together and the speed at which we were getting them. If you have attended a clinic and worked on mid point reads there is no reason why any read should take any longer than 30 seconds. Check out the latest video that Mark Sweeney developed to explain what you can expect to receive at an AimPoint Clinic.

Preparation is key to an event like this. You have to get accustomed to all the different situations you may find yourself in throughout the week. One thing that seemed to stand out to me was that those who progressed most consistently had a full playing schedule this year. Whether that be on the main tour or on one of the lower tours like the futures or access tour. It’s no surprise as it is very difficult to create the level and intensity of the emotions you feel at Q-school in practice. The ability to handle the changes in course conditions between morning and afternoon was key to this week. The cold damp mornings meant you could fly the ball all the way and stop it was quickly replaced by hard, fast and bouncy conditions in afternoons. This meant you need to have the abilityto change your ball flight and trajectory as the conditions dictated throughout the week and rounds.

Michael Hebron said at a conference he gave at Edmondstown Golf Club that there is only one swing model and that’s the golf course. It will dictate the shape of your swing based on the shot you need to hit. I had taken that point on board and incorporated it in to my coaching. This week has proven to me that I am on the right course. The variety of shots needed this week was staggering. High and low trajectories, knockdowns, fades, draws, lots of spin, low spin it was all needed this week. There was no place for being one dimensional. This is how I believe the majority of people should approach their practice whether that’s on the course or the practice ground. Focus on playing a wide variety of different shots from different lies and different stances. That is what you will face in the heat of competition. Your ball will be in the rough, in sand, in a divot, bare lies, fluffy lies, uphill, downhill, sidehill these are all the variables you should try and incorporate into your practice. Hitting a perfect draw with a 7 iron off a perfect lie 50 times in a row may be pretty to the onlooker but it’s not going to help you score when you have to.

The final thing I will discuss that was so evident this week is mindset. In a conversation with one player we discussed how at the beginning of the tournament she was trying not to make mistakes before freeing up and ‘playing golf’ for the last three rounds with a very noticeable improvement in her scores. I think this is huge. You have to play the game and accept what it gives you. In a tournament like this the players who approach it with the mindset that they have prepared well and are now ready to play with total freedom and accept all the outcomes will perform close to the max of their ability. Pressure is something we create within ourselves. Before a tournament like this players must cultivate a mindset that realises the only pressure they feel they create themselves and they can choose to enjoy the excitement they feel before and during the event. Trying not to make mistakes was very evident this week and it can be incredibly harmful as you place your focus on mistakes you can be sure of one thing they will be in plentiful supply. The player I spoke of earlier told me that as soon as she changed her focus away from mistakes and onto possibilities good and bad and how well she could accept either she saw an immediate improvement in her performance levels.

I hope you enjoyed my review of what I learned this week. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have gained invaluable insights as a result of this trip. I will edit this post when I get home and put in some pictures of the maps I did and some more video. In the meantime play the game, stay calm and enjoy every second.

All the best,

DS