What number times have you seen a top professional golfer in deep conversation, when watching golf on television? It almost looks like there are two people available in the market playing as a team – one doing the thinking and one doing the playing.
I was just watching the previous few holes of the 2008 Open Championship again and marveling at the battle between Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter and the fantastic Greg Norman – how does he play golf to that normal over 4 days at 53 having hardly hit a ball all year?
Anyway, I’m watching Harrington surveying his shot to the 17th at Royal Birkdale and consulting as usual with Ronan Flood, his caddy and brother-in-law, over his 259 yard second shot into the par 5. The camera zoomed in on their discussion and then suddenly Padraig’s eyes looked as if it would glaze over and, as Ronan gave him some previous couple of words of encouragement, he just looked as if it would hit the shot as if on autopilot.
Well we all know what happened. His five-wood traveled straight as a die, landing on the firm fairway and bounding up on to the fairway before slowing to a halt not up to three feet from the opening – absolutely unbelievable!
Padraig’s conversations with Ronan continued as they nurtured each other down the overall hole and on to a second successive Open title. It was so very different from 2007 when Padraig was quoted as saying: ” You know, Ronan did a hell of a task dragging me back into the 18th once I had hit that second shot into the water and you may see from the pitch and the putt that I was back inside the zone” . So it was a team event that year in addition.
Tiger Woods has an analogous relationship along with his caddy, Steve Williams. Steve was an experienced caddy already when he paired with Tiger. He worked with Greg Norman, Wayne Grady and Ray Floyd, all major champions before teaming up with Tiger in 1999.
Steve summed up his partnership with Tiger saying, ” I set myself a target that inside the first year, 1999, we’d have won a tournament – to prove that we had an efficient chemistry; to win inside the States – to prove it was no walkover; and to win an incredible – the largest ambition for any player or caddy. Fortunately, we accomplished all three with Tiger’s victory at the united states PGA that August.”
In that event, With Sergio Garcia on a charge, Woods had just a one-stroke lead and had an eight-foot putt to keep up that lead. Tiger thought the line on it was outside left, but Steve remembered ” I kept on saying to him: ‘No, no, it’s inside left. I’ve seen this before.’ He took my advice and in it dropped.” Later that year, Tiger sent him a framed photo of him holding the united states PGA trophy and had written on it, ” Great read on 17!”
What in regards to the amateur Golfer? Well, very few amateurs use caddies at all and those that do don’t have one of these relationship enjoyed by Tiger and Steve or Padraig and Ronan.
Nearly all of amateur golfers are both caddy and golfer, but the caddy part tends to be just a bag carrier or trolley puller. What’s more, the caddy part keeps nagging the player part the complete time, even when playing the shot. There’s no escape into the Zone. How would Padraig cope if Ronan kept nagging him while he’s playing the shot?
Caddies like Ronan Flood and Steve Williams spend various time walking the course, noting distances, the very best positions for approach shots, the slopes and speed of the greens and a number of alternative things. The amateur has numerous this knowledge too. They have got yardage markers, yardage charts and, obviously, they sometimes play an analogous course per week.
What Ronan and Steve also do is to control their player. They remind them when to concentrate, when to chill and when to release the shot they’ve just played – good or bad. In addition they remind their player about current swing thoughts, pre-shot routines and mental strategies. The amateur has to bear in mind these types of things for himself and infrequently doesn’t.
Dr Karl Morris, a leading Golf Psychologist has even devised his ” Circle Game” in an try and help golfers to bear in mind this stuff. You circle the opening number in your scorecard, in case you remember everything you wanted to do on that hole. He suggests that achieving 6 circles out of 18 holes is an effective score, so that mean’s your mental caddy’s gone walkabout for the opposite 12 holes. Steve and Ronan would get their marching orders if they allowed that to happen. Actually, most of the people struggle to circle a single hole without outside help.
So what about my own experience? Well, the best time I’ve ever used a caddy was in my younger days and the caddy was even younger and solely there to carry the bag. However, I did have a playing partner years ago with whom I always played rather well and in penning this article I suddenly realized why!
Jim was a pal of my late father. He took up golf in his early 50’s and rapidly became a golf fanatic – it often happens, doesn’t it. Jim’s idol was Arnold Palmer and he even used to seek advice from himself as ” Arnie” . His favourite ” Arnie” quote was ” If all else fails, I will always dig ditches” , but in Jim’s case, that was the best way he played golf!
I was playing off 2-handicap in those days and my father asked me to play regularly with Jim to get his handicap down. It was an enticing experience, because Jim always got to my ball before I did and demanded I explain what I was planning to do with the shot. i’d describe the shot I was faced with, the gap and club selection, the effect of the wind and the lie, the landing conditions at the target area and which side of the opening I needed to land the ball. I might plow through an analogous description for every drive, every shot, every chip and every putt.
The odd thing was that at any time when I played with Jim, I scored very well, despite my frustration along with his golf. The last round I played with him I scored 68, 4-under par, my best-ever score and I wasn’t striking the ball that well. i’ll never explain why I played so well with Jim – earlier.
With the ability of hindsight and with my training in Hypnotherapy and NLP, I now realise that by explaining everything to Jim, I became my own virtual caddy. By the time I personally addressed the ball and swung the club, I had a clear visualisation of the successful shot I wished to play and all I had to do was let my unconscious mind deliver the shot.
Sure, I hit some bad shots, but they typically went inside the right direction and I didn’t have time to ponder the bad shot, as Jim now wanted to grasp all in regards to the next shot I had to play.
By becoming my own virtual caddy, I had to take a look at the shot I was about to play as if I was that caddy – in NLP terms I had to be dissociated or within the position of an interested observer of my playing self – within the second position. Once I actually swung the club, I was back in myself mentally associated – inside the first position.
How does this help me? Well, a higher time you play golf, imagine that you’ve got a ” Jim” , or whatever name you wish to call him or her, to your head, acting as your virtual caddy and asking you to describe the shot you’re about to play, in great detail. It’s easier to keep in mind, once you get your ” Jim” to ask about every shot and every putt. After a couple of rounds, he’ll always be there, helping you.
When you don’t believe me, then just do that experiment.
1. Imagine you’re on a golf course that you just know well and you might be facing an extremely difficult shot. Maybe it’s one you usually find difficult.
2. Remember the scene in as much detail and as vividly as possible. What can you hear and where’s the sound coming from. Are there any particular smells or aromas? How are you feeling, straight away?
3. In the event you’re like me you’re commencing to feel uneasy – perhaps you’re commencing to panic.
4. I don’t know in the event you’ve noticed a couple of other things. Maybe your pulse is commencing to race or your breathing has got quicker and shorter as you remember past disasters with this specific shot or others love it. You could even feel somewhat flushed.
5. And you’re more likely to hit another bad shot at the moment, aren’t you?
6. Feels bad doesn’t it? It’s certainly doesn’t feel conducive for a smooth relaxed and confident shot.
Now try it differently.
1. Just imagine that you’ve got your individual ” Jim” advising you and encouraging you. Picture him and imagine the sound of his ” voice” and his calm technique to supplying you with advice, guidance and peculiarly relaxed confidence. Imagine how you’d feel discussing things along with your ” Jim” .
2. Really feel that you simply are there along with your ” Jim” and then assess the shot together. Considering the space, the lie, the landing area, the wind and temperature, how you’re playing today and any other things that you simply’d wish to bear in mind.
3. Finally, you’re able to agree for your club choice, your target and the shot your going to play.
4. Now imagine hitting that shot just as you’ve planned. Firstly, step back out of yourself and ” see” yourself hitting the shot, like watching another you doing it, and watch the ball travelling to the target
5. If you’re happy with that imagined ” shot” , then step back into your body and imagine executing the same swing. This time, it’s you hitting the ball, feeling the smoothness of the swing, hearing the sound of the club striking the ball and thin turning your head to see the ball flying perfectly to your target.
6. That feels good, doesn’t it? You should be feeling confident and upbeat about being well prepared to physically hit that shot.
Once you get used to having your version of ” Jim” as your virtual caddy, you can start to get him to help you in other ways. But forget about him carrying the bag though, he’s not real – physically. He’s just a very real idea in your mind.
So what else could you get ” Jim” to do for you? Well, as a part of your unconscious programming, he’s always there when you need him, reminding you to do those things you tend to forget, like your pre-shot routines.
He can also help you to concentrate when you need to in a round of golf and to relax when you don’t need to. Like willpower, you can only really keep your concentration going for a few minutes at a time and you take a lot longer than that to play a round of golf. You may also want to break your concentration to enjoy the company of other players or just to relax and appreciate the scenery.
Golf is not a game of certainty, if it was, the phrase ” rub of the green” wouldn’t exist. Your ” Jim” can help you get over that as well as taking the sting and anger out of your occasional bad shots.
To find out more about becoming your own virtual caddy and to introduce you to your own ” Jim” , or whatever you call him or her, listen to the free ” Your Own Virtual Caddy” Golf Hypnosis programme, regularly over the next few weeks and notice how your golf improves.