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Preparing for the Open / Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode #25

Super excited today to talk about one of the best things in golf, in my opinion, the major championships. So we’ve already had three of them. 

We’ve had the Masters, we’ve had the US Open, we’ve had the PGA. We’ve got the British Open coming up. And I know one of the big questions and I know you get it regularly.

I have it regularly from people. But do you prepare differently for major championships versus, your standards week in, week out tournament, your standard PGA Tour event? I think it is a really interesting one. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and your answer.

Yeah. And again, I mean, we’ve now gone through three full seasons with Collin Morikawa, and we’ve certainly made adjustments on them along the way. But what we’ve noticed is that if you try to do things totally different for the week of the Masters or the week preparing for the Open Championship, it could backfire. And the issue here is I always would ask any player, what do you want to accomplish this week?

And usually it’s I want to win or I want to be in contention. And it’s an outcome right? And then we can reverse engineer in order to do that, what do we need to do even before we travel to the tournament or once we’re on site? How do we do practice rounds? What do we do with our practice schedule?

What do we do? And it starts opening up a lot of different avenues or paths that players could take. And I’ve learned again through failure and doing things wrong that when Collin Morikawa was at as an amateur, he was fortunate enough to get an invite to the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational, and he was playing in a PGA Tour event as an amateur.

And I went there and I’m super excited. You know, he’s excited, but I’m the one who gets really excited and and what we found was, is that even though he made the cut and that’s very respectable for an amateur, the thing that I noticed as a coach that he shared with me is the energy he had on Sunday when he finished was not was very depleted.

And so I have to look back and go, okay, he yeah, he played for days and that stuff. But we have to go back and like, why would that happen? He’s in good shape. He’s had plenty of golf underneath his belt. And what we notice is that the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of Prep was just overdone and overdone. 

Meaning you get excited, you want to go have breakfast at the club, go play 18 holes, go hit some balls, go putt for a little bit, you know, have lunch at the club.

And then before you know it, you’re there ten, 11, maybe 12 hours. Now, it sounded great on paper, man. We’re preparing. We’re doing everything we can, but it has a negative result because if you don’t manage your energy, you’re not going to have anything in the tank by the time the tournament happens or in this case, a four day tournament happens.

So that was my big first. Aha. Is that a lot about preparation? Is energy management. I need to be rested, I need to have energy, I need to be ready to go now. Then we got to go. Okay. What are we now going to do with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday? And in a perfect world, we want to create a strategy for the tournament.

And that means a practice round. And I might have multiple practice rounds. But again, does that mean 18, 18, 18? Well, that we learned. No, it’s not okay. We tend to go nine holes, then 18 the nine holes. And that way you’ve seen each side twice. You can certainly understand your sightlines that you need for your tee shots.

That would be a big one for everybody out there. Right. You have an idea what? Am I heading off the tee? What’s my start line? Where’s my end line? So on and so forth. Now, in a perfect world, you’re on the PGA Tour. You get to hit multiple tee shots in your practice round. You get to hit multiple shots in your approach shots and so on and so forth.

I know not everybody has that luxury, but a practice round is vital to get comfortable out there and comfortable tee shots. It’s also the different grasses out there hitting shots on purpose out of the rough, out of fairway bunkers out of greenside bunkers of Titleist. You need to know what’s out there. It’s not about. And here’s a pet peeve of mine asking a competitive player, how did your practice round go?

And they come back. Rick It went great. I shot 70. I go, That’s irrelevant. Tell me what tee shot you’re going to do on three. You’re going to hit a cutter. You’re going to hit I don’t know. Hey, how is the rough out there? I don’t know, Rick. I hit it so well. I hit every fairway, and it’s like you have not prepared, okay?

And so would much rather somebody had multiple shots, never even putt it out. Those types of things. We need to get enough information to be able to now create a strategy. Okay. 

Now that strategy is going to be based on your strengths. So people out there, let’s not get delusional, play to your strengths, play to things that are going to make you most comfortable, and then figure out a strategy that’s going to match on that golf course.

But there’s so many things that people skip over, as I’ve just mentioned, whether it’s hitting out of drive, hitting out of bunkers, hitting around the green is different than I remember at the 2020 PGA Championship and in the practice rounds where Colin and I’m not exaggerating 30, 40, sometimes 50 different short game shots around each green. And what was great about that was a couple of things.

One, you’re getting used to how the rough was some tight fairway of fringe area is how the greens were running out, how were they? Were receptive. They were, but it also helped Colin make a decision when it came to equipment. So that was the first time I believe that he put in a tailor made high tail wedge, which has a different obviously look to it.

It has literally a high toe on it. Why he can open that up in the rough and not go underneath it and it creates more surface area now he’s used that toe in, I want to say five or six times and they’ve been mostly in majors, mostly when there’s high rough. 

Now if you don’t do that due diligence and then you have a shot in the rough and you open up your normal 60, there’s a chance you could go right underneath it.

That to me is a strategy preparation error more than anything else. Okay, so those are the things you’re looking at. Hey, am I bringing five wood out there or am I and they bring my two iron out there? I mean, there’s things with equipment that you’re coming into play. Okay. 

But I think back to the question: do you do anything different in a major week?

And my short answer is no, you do every single week. You do things to prepare yourself to play great golf and do more. Also, I think for most people they get anxious, oh my gosh, this means I got to do more work because it’s so important to Omega and then they start getting in their heads about the importance of it instead of saying, I just want to play great every week.

Yes, it’s major. Fantastic. Want to play well this week? Oh, next week is the genesis at Riviera. Great. I want to play great. Great. And I think you and I talk a lot about perception and meaning of how you view the event. And if I view the major championships, oh my God, this is great. You could get ahead of yourself really quickly.

But if you say Great, I have this awesome opportunity to play in the major championship against the best players in the world. And in order for me to be prepared, I’m going to do these things on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I’m going to do my stretching. I’m going to do my meditation. I’m going to do whatever those things may be for you.

We’re preparing to be at our best. So as we transition and talk about majors, I think what’s interesting is you can certainly there’s so much information online, you can do some of your prep work before you even get there. Right. 

We certainly have YouTube videos of some of these courses. Obviously on the tour, there’s tons, there’s yardage books and there’s Google Earth and there’s all this information that we can get and that’s good.

I think that helps us prepare for any of that. But I would really want people to understand that preparation is a process that requires energy management. You certainly want to create a strategy. You’re looking at your equipment. There’s some checklists that can go with that. So as we look at preparing for, let’s say, the open championship coming up, Colin has shifted a little bit of his prep beforehand.

Yes, it’s part of the but he’s playing in Scotland because he now needs to fight irons maybe differently. He needs to hit off a hard pan more often. So we’re thinking of shots he’s going to experience in advance as a way of preparing also. Yet he does that year round. 

I mean, we’re prepping for the next event. Any ways of hey, how these grasses stuff like that but preparation is a skill practice rounds are a skill and that’s something we can talk about more in detail in another podcast.

What you said at the end there I think is so important because even the topic and I said, look, we’re going to talk about major championship tips, but really it’s not about preparing for major championships because each golf course is so different.

I mean, you go from the Masters, from Augusta over to St Andrews, for example. I mean, you couldn’t probably get that much different, you couldn’t get more different than those two. So by saying that we’re preparing for and how do we prepare for major championships, that’s the wrong question. Even to begin with. It’s more like how do we prepare for the golf course that we have in front of us?

And then we understand, right? Well, based upon these lies I’m going to get based on the grass being this way, based upon the greens being what they it’s based upon, then you can start to prepare properly, properly and create strategies that suit that specific challenge that you have in front of you. And like you say, that should be the exact same for every single tournament that you play.

What’s the challenge in front of me? What do I want to achieve? What’s my best strategy to get there? And I think that’s a really powerful message.

Right. And, you know, we’re going to now talk more about the listener now who’s not necessarily going to go play in the Open Championship right now, but who has these turn it without support?

You never know.

Well, that’s right. We’re yet you’re not going to play. And yet right now their major is a club championship, a city tournament, a great awesome. And you’re going to feel excited about that as you go. I Think where it gets interesting from a preparation standpoint. I’ll share a lack of preparation that I did back in the day.

I was trying to play miniature golf and I was playing at that time. It was called the L.A. Open. It’s the PGA Tour event. And it was a Monday qualifier. Right. And so I get there. I got there late because I didn’t check traffic. I got there late and we had a bunch of rain.

And I didn’t realize that the range was closed. This is well before texts and all this stuff, everybody so that we didn’t get any notice. 

And it freaked me out. Oh, my gosh, I can’t warm up properly. Right. So even though we want you everybody to have good prep and good pre round routines and stuff like that, you also have to be adaptable to what’s out there and sometimes the ranges aren’t open or you’re sharing stalls or they have limited golf balls, they don’t let you hit driver and then the chipping greens closed.

There’s a ton of things that could get in the way of preparation, but if you went did a practice round at the facility, you can go beyond just the golf courses, look at the range, look at the putting green, look at how far away is it from the first tee, how you want to get comfortable. So you are ready for any kind of scenario because I made many, many, many mistakes on that.

That had nothing to do with the golf course. It had to do everything with my pre round routine and such. So I think that’s important. So when we look at preparing for your city championship or your club championship. I think, again, most golfers maybe only have two or three of these events per year because they don’t even play much competitive golf.

And so I was like, Oh my gosh. And then they really ramp up the, the, how important is to them. And we know from the skills challenge balance and in flow that if I up the challenge too high I could feel anxiety. And so we just want to put in perspective to say you signed up for this. Are you ready?

Are you ready for the challenge? And so like, yeah, yeah, yeah. But it’s going to take all my time. I go, great. That’s an awesome place to be for Flo. Let’s use our skills, let’s use our prep. Let’s, let’s, you know, that’s part of what I think is awesome about playing in these events is it will push you in new ways as long as we are prepared for those things.

So I know you work with a lot of very good players. What do you think are some of their pitfalls when it comes to prep for some of their tournaments?

Well, I would say it’s prioritizing technique over state massively. So I know we spoke a lot about this in the past, but working on more technical elements of their swing, instead of working on comfort or ensuring that they’re in the right state to perform. 

And that, I think, is the most important for all levels of golf, actually, whether you are playing in a major championship as an elite golfer all the way down to you being a mid handicapper playing in your kind of, as you say, your annual your annual members competition.

So I think that’s really important to remember is what state are you in as you step onto that first tee box and how can you ensure that you’re in your optimal state? 

Because you see so many golfers on the range before their local members competition and they’re hitting the ball off the ball, off the ball, off the ball to ensure that they’ve got their swing and they feel good, but they’re not working on what mental they’re in.

I think that’s really important for them to remember. We know and we speak about this performance loop that, yes, your swing is important. Yes, there’s going to be technical components you need to work on to ensure you make a better swing, which means you get the desired result that you want. But a massive part of you making a good swing is also the state that you’re in.

We know that state is impacted by the emotions that you’re feeling and the emotions are impacted by your thoughts and your thoughts are impacted by what you’re focused on. 

So I would be training and I think all players at all levels should be training what they focus on to ensure that they’re thinking better, not thinking less, thinking better, to ensure that they’re feeling better and therefore in the right state to execute on the shots in front of them.

So I think that’s absolutely wonderful.

And I’ll give you an example of something we changed slightly with Colin throughout the last few years. His prep has always been very good. He’s he, he does the due diligence, he does the notes, he does those types of things. 

But back to your thing about the state of the PGA Tour, if you showed up on site Monday morning and then you finished the tournament on Sunday, that’s a long week.

Okay. And when you look at that, you could get lulled into sleep Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, like, well, you know, it’s not the time. And then what happens is that if you lull yourself and say, yeah, yeah, it’s just it’s just crap. It’s just practice rounds like that. Can you ramp up enough for Thursday? And not every player can.

So what we started to institute on Wednesdays, especially we do it sometimes on Tuesdays is Colin’s caddy. JJ will throw balls into different spots and have an up and down competition. Okay, so during a practice round, he’s throwing them. Hey, Kyle, I think you may be here in the. In the tournament up and down, and we keep track of the points and stuff like that, right?

So it’s a competition and. Colin’s a very competitive young man and JJ would, you know, want to give a little bit of trash talk if he doesn’t do it right. So there’s a little bit on the line. And what we found is that was a way to bridge the gap from just total prep to now start getting into the state of, Hey, it’s time to go, it’s time to focus.

This is important, let’s go and was one way we did it, but I see all too often the opposite. And where the Wednesday person on the PGA Tour is grinding at the end of the range with their tracking and working with their golf swing. And they are not in a state of flow, of creativity, of imagination. They’re one of the things I need my golf swing to be perfect.

And unfortunately, that’s harder to transition into that next day.

Definitely. It’s something that I know and I’ve spoke to a few of my clients about doing it instead of because at the end of the day, if you’re a member at your local golf club and you’re playing competition, you haven’t got the caddy to chuck things down and have a conversation with you, have a go to practice down to chuck different bowls in different places and get into that competitive state.

One thing you can do that just changes your mindset when you’re on that driving range before you go out on the golf course. Instead of standing there and trying to hit perfect seven on of the perfect seven on a perfect seven on start to actually imagine and visualize that you are playing the holes that you’re about to play.

So stand up there, drive out. You know what the hole looks like. It’s your local golf club. You’ve played it many times before. You know, there’s the trees down the left, you know, that you’ve got a bunker just off the right, the fairway. You know what, Shoprite? 

What shot do you want to hit? Hit that door. Then you hit the shot, and then you play the next year.

If it was a good shot, play your next one and you say, Right, I’ve got an eight on the flag. I know I can’t miss this. Next, fight it many times before. And you take yourself actually through the hole. You start to get yourself into that performance mindset while you start to get yourself into that pressure mindset as well.

Going to get one go at it. You hit one out of bounds, you’re going to get and you start to actually put a little bit of pressure, a little bit of meaning onto each shot that you’re hitting on to the driving range. So you’re more concerned about where that ball goes rather than what it actually feels like you’re more concerned about right.

I’m getting the shape I want to hit rather than my swing. Here is my swing that I think.

Exactly. Golf it to consider.

No I love that and sometimes we’ve had in a week where there’s been poor weather on the on the prep days is that you know going out on the golf course when it’s you know super or something like that is that we all condensed and go through the yardage book on the practice range and just he will say hey, what’s the wind supposed be on Thursday?

And JJ may say, hey, it’s, it’s 15. You could be 50 miles an hour southwest. What’s that mean on number one? Well, when you hit three, what a drive. Right? And now they’re going through every single decision based on the forecast. We’re now not going on the golf course for various reasons, and it’s a way to at least use the next few minutes in a very productive way.

And you go through that yardage book and you go through their K, they may put a hole location here. Are we going to go for it on this par five? And now we’re thinking about playing golf right. And so it’s the same thing like you mentioned as they were practicing the state we’re going to want to be in.

We’re practicing strategy. We’re practicing hitting different golf shots. That’s what’s lost, I think with a lot of people when they put pressure on themselves that I got to really perform. They do get into thinking mode. They do get into perfect swings, they get into, you know, and unfortunately that gets them away from executing golf shots.

Absolutely. Just to finish up on this episode, Rick, one more question, because I think it’s, again, important for all levels of golf. I think it happens when someone gets to a major championship and they maybe haven’t played them before, even when they get to, say, a DP World Tour event or a PGA Tour event, they’ve never played them before.

But all the way down to, again, your local golfer who hasn’t played their annual competition before, they rock up and they start looking around other people and they start to notice what that person’s doing and what that does mean. And they’re thinking, or should I be doing that? Should I be doing that? Should I be doing that? Should I be doing this?

And you start to feel the pressure of, well, maybe I’m doing it wrong because I’m not doing this or I’m not doing that. How do people get out of that mindset and just focus on their own process, their own routine that’s going to help them get to their best state and therefore perform their best well?

And it’s not saying that we should never adjust our pre round routines and stuff like that and ask good questions like, did I but it’s back to what you and I said, are you ready to hit the first tee shot? Are you in the optimal state? If you say yes, then great. Your pre round routine has worked.

If you say no, Rick, I for the first three holes, I’m always very nervous and anxious and fearful. Then our pre-run routine needs some work to do. Then we can look okay, do we need to add more physical fitness to our to wake our body up? We need to do more meditation. Do we need to hit more or less balls on the range?

Do we need to do more short game stuff? I mean, we then can now have ways to know what we should or shouldn’t do. But you’re exactly right. I think we get lost in what other people are doing and it doesn’t mean what they’re doing is correct. 

It just so happens to be that’s what they’re doing. And that’s and that’s kind of a question I would pose to the listeners is how much time do you need before your first tee shot to feel ready to be in an optimal state?

Now, that’s a very general statement. Still, how much time? But then you and I, as coaches, would break down what is that time used? Right. So I’ve had plenty of players that say, Hey, Rick, I just need to get there 30 minutes before you. Great. I had a player who said I need to get there 2 hours beforehand.

I’m going, okay, good luck when you have that 7:00 tee time because you got to travel, got to wake up early. I mean, some of this won’t always work, right. But it’s back to let’s say it’s just an hour. What would you do in that hour? Right. And I’m saying I have some people who use the hour that has very little to do with hitting balls on a range.

It has more to do with hitting short game shots and has more to do with getting their body. I mean, again, I’ve heard as many golfers as there are. I’ve heard as many pre round routines as there are. But you and I are about. Are you to play? Are you in an optimal state on the first tee, the first three holes, those types of things?

And if the answer is yes, great, keep doing what you’re doing, you can refine it. But if you’re not, we’ve got to make some adjustments.

Good luck. Absolutely. Absolutely. So it’s a massive focus on self awareness. What gets you into your best state, not what gets Jeff in his best state and Tom into his best state, but what gets you into your best state to perform your best from the first shot all the way to the last thing.

Okay, so one other funny thing that as I mentioned about priming emotions is sometimes, you know, the music you listen to, right, which we know is a flow trigger, right. What state would resonate with that state? Okay. So I’m a very high energy type of guy. I’m listening to Guns N Roses very loud as I get into that parking lot.

Right. And so that sets the tone like, all right, let’s go. Right. And other people think they need to listen to classical music. I don’t care. But knowing who you are and what could help trigger, what could help prime it, I think it is finding that even of itself in creating your routines, right?

Absolutely. No, I completely agree. And actually, my own story on that years and years ago when I was younger and I was caddying for my brother, for example, we’re very different. 

Completely different but caddy for him. And I would get really hyped up, really kind of focused, dialed in by listening to some motivational music, some motivational videos that would really get me into the right frame of mind, get the right perspective.

Whereas he would just be like, Oh, just get me out. Just, you know, it and just put some nice music online. Joe Listen, we’re so different but I would be kind of trying to do the right thing, which I believe, you know, let’s get motivated, let’s get prepared, let’s get focused, let’s get it out. It was actually his way of getting dialed in and the right state to perform was more just listening to the music.

So again, I think that’s just reiterating. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, what other people feel is valuable, understand, make you feel your best, perform your best and focus just on that.

Exactly. Look forward to the next episode. Rick That was a great one and will catch all the so.

All right.

Preparing for the open
Preparing for the open - Golf Mental game
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