Archive for Luke Donald

So what makes so many of the world’s top golfers look so nonchalant, especially during the last nine on Sunday, when they are really trying to win? Well, it obviously includes technical golfing skill, course management and an understanding of the physics of golf. However, when I first work on the course with some of my new clients, I see golfers who have all those things and more. The problem is that they’re not yet winning or coming in the top 10 very often.

What makes the difference …
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There’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection, just as long as recognise that Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, to quote Bob Rotella. That’s why I stress the importance of acceptance and release in the Post-Shot Routine. It’s also why I so liked Nick Faldo’s comment about Tiger Woods “hitting the reset button” after a bad shot that made him angry.

Even with their well polished mechanics and a good understanding of ball flight physics, the top players still hit a less than perfect shot every now and then. Even if they don’t actually hit a bad shot, the course and conditions and outside agencies can turn a good shot into a bad one. We even have a term for that in golf – “Rub of the Green”.

So what else do the top players do when they experience one or more bad or unlucky shots? Well, I was listening to Rory McIlroy giving a clinic to a large group of young players at the Grand Final of the Faldo Series. Someone asked, to a ripple of laughter, “If you can’t stop making bogeys, how do you bounce back on the next hole?” …
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I was delighted to see Luke Donald doing so well in the first round of the Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial tournament yesterday, with an opening 8-under par 64 to finish the day 3 shots clear of a very strong field. As a fellow member at Beaconsfield and someone who saw his golfing skills develop there, I’m always delighted to follow his successes.

I was listening to his interview after finishing the round and I was intrigued to notice how much golf psychology he’s learned. I know he used to work with Jim Fannin up until a couple of years ago, but I’m not sure who he’s working with now. Jim still works with a number of golfers on the PGA Tour, including Charles Howell and uses a fairly rigid coaching system focusing on Self-Discipline, Concentration, Optimism, Relaxation, and Enjoyment. Now I won’t deny that these elements are included in my own approach to golf psychology, but I prefer a more flexible approach based on the needs of the individual.

So what elements of golf psychology did I notice in Luke’s interview …
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Did you see the amazing performance and golf confidence exuded by Brian Gay in the Verizon Heritage this weekend? How can anyone thread their drives and approach shots down those narrow avenues of trees at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island let alone consistently hit those tiny well guarded greens? We shouldn’t forget the weekend performances of Briny Baird with 133 for 9 under and my fellow member at Beaconsfield, Luke Donald, with 131 for 11 under.

At the end, I was transported back in my mind to some of my own less elevated experiences of playing on tight courses and small greens. It brought to mind how much better I play in those conditions …
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