What is your favourite golfing cliché? There are many of them about but, for me, one of the single most annoying phrases in golf is “the game is 90 per cent mental” or “it’s all in your head”. No it isn’t!
If you have a dreadful swing and a great mind I am sorry to tell you that you will still hit lots of bad shots. You cannot fake confidence if you are spraying the ball all over the course and losing half-a-dozen balls each round.
A resilient attitude and a good short game will get the best out of what you have got but it won’t turn a bad swing into a good one.
On the other hand if you stand on the range and hit great shot after great shot and your coach tells you your swing is in good shape but you just can’t take it to the course, then you need to have a look at your mental game approach and some work with a performance coach can really pay some serious dividends.
However, as we are approaching the long winter months ahead now is the time to really get some work done on your swing and improve the relationship between your club and the ball. If you want to get your handicap down next year, if you want to get your name on a trophy board and look back on a successful 2017 then, in my opinion, now is a great time to start that process.
Take a look back over the previous year and make a truly honest assessment of your game. Think of your game a bit like a business that is leaking profit.
Which part of your game is costing you the most money? Are you missing too many fairways? Do you only hit a small percentage of greens? Is your putts per round way too high?
By having a really honest look at your game you can really drill down into the one or two key areas that will yield the best return on your investment of time in the winter.
For many, this will not need a complete swing rebuild. There will be a couple of key areas in your overall scoring game that can make a dramatic difference.
I worked with one player this year who made a dramatic improvement in his scoring just by improving his pitching from 30 to 90 yards from the flag.
Other parts of his game remained pretty constant but one area of big improvement paid huge dividends. Look at the areas of your game with a critical eye and then, if need be, go and consult with an expert in that specific area, be that putting or short game.
Rory McIlroy wasn’t too proud to go and spend time with putting guru Phil Kenyon on the obvious weakness in his game and his recent win at the Deutsche Bank served as a great testimony to that decision.
If you have been struggling all year with your driver then go and find a good professional who has a launch monitor and find out first of all if your driver is actually suited to you as an individual and then get the exact information on what you are doing at impact.
A poor angle of attack can rob you of a huge amount of distance and an off-centre strike can really exaggerate poor ball flight.
The key is to find out the truth about what you are actually doing as opposed to what you think you are doing. We all need good coaching.
I often use the phrase, ‘you can’t see the system when you are in the system’, meaning that we all get lost in our own habitual patterns and habits and it is often tough to change them until someone from the outside holds up an unbiased mirror to us and shows the truth of what we are doing and then, more importantly, provides us with alternative options of how and what to practise.
I have seen it so many times when the right concept delivered in the right way by an experienced coach can make a huge difference. It is important to do this now and take action whilst the events of the season just gone are still fresh in your mind. That single decision to take action now could be the starting point of a very memorable year ahead.