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GOLF DOCTOR

Don’t always follow trends; follow tips, too

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First, a little background. I, of course, am an avid golfer. Probably an addicted golfer. I almost always have fun playing with my friends, but I do take it seriously. I try to perform my best, with the scoring bar set below my current age (78).

Looking at my scorecards since May 1, I have shot my age or better more than 90 percent of the time. Teaching golf with Coach Herb Wimberly for 15 years taught me a lot: what to look for, how to evaluate, suggestions that were appropriate and trends that are evident.

I have made my best effort to share my insights and expertise through these columns. Below I have shared some trends and tips to help make your golf better.

My first trend example is how easy it is for golfers to become enamored by the latest golf equipment, including new clubs, training devices, gadgets and technology. We like stuff we can see and touch and handle. But hardware is external.

My tip here is to focus on the intangibles. Focus on how you are playing the game. Get in touch with strategic thinking, emotional control and mental toughness. These are the essential intangibles which will lead to game improvement.

Work on concentrating fully for four-and-half hours, all 18 holes. Fulfill your commitment to maintain a totally positive attitude coupled with encouraging self-talk. I promise you it will benefit you far more than a fancy new hybrid. Internal stuff matters most.

Another trend I’ve noticed is golfers spending all their time working on their full swing and practicing with the driver. When the golf course requires a high fade or a low draw, or when the conditions dictate a low boring shot into the wind, the weekender is lost, stumbling with half-wedges, greenside chips and putting.

But here’s a tip. Practice your short game. The tour pros spend half their time chipping and putting. They work a lot on bunker shots and half wedges. That’s why the pros make lots of birdies and can get it up and down from the ball washer. Spend time on and around the putting green. Practice greenside chips and pitches.

The last trend is many regular golfers avoiding vigorous exercising. I have always recommended a certified, well-equipped gym, but who knows when our local gyms will be open permanently?

Therefore (tip), working out at home. You’re a simple Google search away from finding dozens of workout routines and videos for golfers stressing strength and flexibility. Buy yourself some weights, dumbbells and some stretch bands.

There are so many products, including new “wonder” golf clubs, swing gadgets, shoes and balls, that promise more distance, but the real secret is club head speed that comes with greater strength, more flexibility and better swing technique.

Dr. Charlie Blanchard is a licensed psychologist specializing in sports and leadership. Contact him at docblanchard71@gmail.com.