Golf is 90% in Your Head?

Golf is 90% in Your Head?

90%-golf-in-headI’ve heard that comment all my life.  If 90% of golf is in your head why do we hit so many balls at practice?  I do know one thing.  You can certainly loose it with your mind or any negative thoughts on the golf course.  Gary Player once said, “the difference between a good golfer and a great golfer is they way they think.”

Now that I have more than 50 years of golf behind me I find that what you’re thinking can not only affect your golf score but also those around you and you’re overall well being.  What I would like to share with you today is how what you think will not only affect your golf score but it will change your outlook on the game of golf all together, and yes maybe even your outlook on life.  Golf could be 90% in your head maybe?  You be the judge.

I will also teach you what I know about what to think the night before, on the way to the golf course, during practice and of course on the golf course.  This is good information so please read on.

First, you need to think about your golf game the night before.  Plan out what your course strategy is and stick to it.  Don’t second guess yourself.  You can watch videos of how one would prepare a strategy for playing a golf course on our Golf Webinar Archive page.  About two thirds down the page called How To Play Smart Golf at Pendleton.

When preparing your strategy make sure you are realistic on the shots you expect to play.  As Nicklaus would say, “play within yourself.”  Do NOT dream of that 300 yard drive on the par 5 fifth for example, unless you can con90%-of-golf-in-your-headsistently, notice I said consistently drive the ball 300 or better.

Then there is what you think on the way to the golf course.  Forget the loud rock and roll music on the way and stay away from coffee.  Keep your eyes on the road ahead but take advantage of the drive to slow yourself down.  Leave early so you can drive under the speed limit.  Take deep breaths and think positive thoughts. 

Once you get to the golf course feel positive and think positive.  Start to build your bubble by not looking at any of the other players.  That was a BIG tip I got from Roberto DeVincenzo.  I said to him on the range while preparing to play in a Tournament what beautiful swings some of the players had.  He said don’t look at them!  He won over 230 tournaments in his career he should know.  Some of the players with picture perfect swings don’t always make it.  Look at Jim Furyk, Lee Trevino and others.

Another thing Roberto told me was, “to make it on tour you either have to have a great swing or great faith and great faith beats a great swing every time!”  So maybe he’s thinking that 90% of golf IS in your head?

You can check out my Blog post on How to Prepare to Play Golf  It’s a step by step plan for getting ready to play golf.  In building my positive attitude to play golf, I start talking to myself.  I close my eyes and feel the breeze on my face, then hit some soft shots in slow motion and try to slow myself down. This self hypnosis is critical to building the positive attitude you’re going to need in your round of golf.

golf-90%-in-headI’m also building the bubble.  What is the bubble?  It’s the “onliness” of golf that Hale Irwin talks about.  You’re the only person out there and you have to communicate with yourself, know yourself in competition and have total control of your emotions.  One thing is being a little nervous which is good, another is having control of your emotions.  You have probably seen that deep stare you see on most tour payers during a tournament.  That’s the bubble.

How should you think on the golf course?  FOLLOW YOUR GAME PLAN!!!!   If you decided to hit three wood off the 12th hole the night before, stick to that decision.  It doesn;t matter whether you’re way behind or ahead of your goals for the day.  Nicklaus was a fanatic about it and look at how well he did.  Having confidence in your game plan is key to having your thoughts continue to be positive throughout the round.

Lets say your round isn’t going as hoped.  Do NOT panic!  It’s only golf!  Controlling your emotions means you will be better prepared to look at your performance after the round and determine what changes need to be made.  A shaky start builds character in ones golf game.  A great player can double bogey the first hole and still shoot under par.  The same is true at your level of golf no matter what your level is.  If your average golf score is 90 and you start off with three double bogeys and still shoot your average, now you’re playing golf!  Starting off like a house on fire is not a guarantee of a good round for you that day.

Whenever either your swing goes negative on you or you get some bad breaks, slow down and take deep breaths.  Nicklaus also said, “golf is NOT a game of perfect.”  When a pilot gets in turbulence the pilot slows down the air speed.  You should do the same with your golf game.  Things start to go bad be patient, think calmly, slow down.  Slowdown your swing speed and take a little more club.  Talk to yourself and calm yourself down.  Panic or loss of temper will NOT help your cause one bit.

One last thing.  The gang you play golf with!  You have one very big disadvantage in that you’re riding in a golf cart with someone.  I suggest whenever you can, let your playing partner have the golf cart and walk some.  Feel the breeze on your face and make an effort to get in the bubble.  Worthless chatter during golf is a problem when it comes to scoring your best.  Make sure to stay away from any negative chatter!  Any comments like the course is too long, too wet, the greens are bumpy are all poison to your attitude and personal bubble.  Avoid golfers who talk negative on the golf course like the plague.

The exception to this is corporate or client golf.  You’re there to entertain your prospect and get the sale, not play your best golf.  Don’t confuse the two.

Golf is 90% in your head, maybe.  For the other 10% get out your cell phone and take a video of your golf swing and email to me for a complete analysis absolutely FREE!  For instructions on how to get the free lesson online go to

How Does It Feel To Make a Hole In One?

How Does It Feel To Make a Hole In One?

I can tell you because I’ve had three and two of them were exactly ten years apart to the day.  April 21st 1963 and April 21st 1973.  However, I do not equate skill with holes in one attained.  Why?  The old PGA pro that first taught me how to play, Vince Allen, had played golf since he was a boy, died at the age of 57 and never had a hole-in-one.

hole-in-one-Dennie-Pritchard,He used to take me out to play golf several times a week at 2 PM for nine holes.  One day he hit a shot on a par three at what was then Le Jeune Golf Course in those days (now called Mel Reece after the City Manager) and the ball lipped the cup from about 150 yards away and I saw a very special twinkle in Vince Allen’s eye that made me wish I could have run up there and put the ball in the hole for him.

It was that magical twinkle that only a few are blessed to experience in someone.  I saw it again when playing in a simple Captain’s choice tournament at the Crossings in Richmond, VA.  I was playing with my friend Ray Easterling former safety for the Atlanta Falcons.  He looked at us as a team and said LETS WIN with a certain twinkle in his eyes and a smile that is seared in my memory until my death.  I felt like I was almost in the huddle with him in an NFL game.   Ray was one of those seasoned athletes that give all they have for the sport they love and risk physical damage as Ray did.

This week one of my friends made a hole in one, Dennie Pritchard.  It couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual.  A true gentleman that has worked hard on improving his golf game.  He reminds me of what it felt like to make a hole in one.  I haven’t had one in many many years.

My first one was pure luck and fortunate that two gentleman on the green waved me up because I was playing by myself after school and I am sure no one would have believed me.  They started dancing on the green and I asked what happened.  They said you had a hole in one!  The flag stick was behind a bunker so I didn’t see it go in. 

Then 10 years later at Puerto Llerro Madird in the Madrid Open the first hole was a par three about 190 yards long and in the practice round and threw a ball on the ground, didn’t even tee it up, and bang right in the hole.  It was actually bad luck because the next day in the tournament there was a prize of a new convertible for a hole in one!

Well what does it feel like?  For me it just felt lucky.  Lucky that I even play this game.  Considering where I came from, my economic base and family back ground no one would expect a kid like me to play golf. 

Anyone who is living in this country should feel just as lucky.  In may other countries you just do not play golf unless you’re rich.  Plus, you ain’t getting rich if you’re not from the right family.  Only in America can you get lucky almost everyday.  Let’s not loose this wonderful opportunity.

Congratulations Dennie, well done!  AND may you have many many more!

Tiger Woods Shoots an 82

Tiger Woods Shoots an 82

Tiger shoots an 82 and everyone has their opinion.  I shoot 82 and nobody cares, same for you.  I not only have an opinion but I also have some proof.  I have a video analysis I did years ago comparing Tiger’s swing from what he had in his rookie year and college until after Butch made the necessary adjustments.  (The video is posted below)

Necessary is the “key” word!  When is enough, enough?  I would argue that Tiger Woods had better success before he tried for utter perfection in the golf swing.  Now, was it his ego that made him think that he could achieve the perfect golf swing and be the best of all time?  Well, didn’t Hogan feel that way? No!

Hogan himself said that his swing was NOT as good as some of his competitors yet so many golfers goo goo over Hogan’s swing and try like heck to mimic or copy it only to their golfing demise.  You’re NOT Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods is NOT a robot!

Unfortunately success can be an evil thing, especially when you don’t handle it right.  Tiger’s problem is NOT his golf swing or his short game, it’s in his mind and soul at this point.  Does that mean that it’s time to call a Priest for an exoticism?

If Tiger called for help on his swing I would tell him I’m not interested in joining the parade of past swing gurus trying to find that secret element that will put Tiger back on the map. What I would do for you Tiger, in complete privacy, is to get to work on fixing you, not your golf swing.

I’ll tell you what I would suggest with all honesty and no kidding.  I would call my friend Dr. Patrick Porter PhD who is a genius on the human mind.  Award winning author of Psycho-Linguistics and an accomplished Hypnotist with success stories from many of his patients.  In fact, Dr. Porter started the largest chain of Hypnosis Centers called Positive Changes.

I would set up an appointment at a quiet place or even deserted island as long as it had a golf course.  Start with a session with Dr. Porter putting Tiger under hypnosis.  Let Dr. Porter find the true issue in his mind that’s holding him back.  Take him back to his golfing child hood.

Dr. Porter through his hypnosis techniques can help Tiger regain his hunger to win and his enjoyment of that hunger.  Get away from all this techno swing jargon which is a bunch of crap anyway!  Take it from me, I’ve been teaching golf since 1970.  I’ve see more swing theories then my wife’s cat has flees!

After that, I would have Tiger hit balls on the range, maybe even under hypnosis and video tape the session so he cold see himself afterwards.  Let him go back to his natural self.  Let him hit balls with no target.  No flag sticks on the range period.  Might even have him hit balls blind folded and video tape that.

I would consider bringing some kids out to this secluded camp and have him spend a day or two with them playing golf, teaching them\ kids some and just having some fun, like playing ping pong with the kids.  Tiger just needs to go back, way back to where Dr, Porter can take Tiger Woods.  To his child hood! Of course Tiger Woods has to want to do it. Bob Toski once told me, “No matter how you good you get at golf kid, you’re never bigger than the game itself.” Tiger has to surrender to himself and accept his short comings like all of us.  “We all fall short of the glory of God”

Maybe we should blame some of the powers that be that put Tiger on such a pedestal for financial gain. Was he set up for a big fall?  Was he carrying the television viewing audience on his shoulders? 

Here’s the video….done two years ago or more.

Take a Lesson from Matt Kuchar

Take a Lesson from Matt Kuchar

Watching the PGA Tour today, The Valero Texas Open,  Matt Kuchar made a mistake we can all learn from.  You get greedy dreaming of that perfect shot you’re going to pull off to save the day.  I remember Chick Herbert telling me; “Lopez, never put yourself in a position to have to hit a great shot.”

Matt Kuchar on number 14 a par 5, was not in a position to have to hit a great shot and tried to do one anyway!  It cost him a possible opportunity to win the tournament.  He was two shots back at the time with still five holes to play.  Patients my man, patients!

His tee shot was in the left rough.  You have a par five with a large bunker on the right with the flagstick on the right side of the green.  More importantly it looks like the fairway tilted toward the right causing the ball to bounce toward the bunker and increasing the chances of the ball rolling into it.

If I were his caddy, I would have insisted that he hit an iron for his second shot and leave the ball about 100 yards short of the green.  Matt Kuchar is good at that 70 – 100 yard shot and it would guarantee a par with a possibility of birdie.  Greed got the best of Matt Kuchar and he chose a golf club that he thought he could reach the green with and instead, hit the ball in the bunker.  He caught the bunker shot a little heavy leaving it short and fanned it three times from there for a bogey.

The entire fiasco of events started with the second shot.  None of the rest would have happened, had he left the ball short of the green in the middle of the fairway with an easy wedge shot in his hands.  You might consider that the problem happened when his tee shot was in the rough, but I would still insist that it was the second shot that was miscalculated. 

After making bogey he was done from there.  Now had this been the last hole and he’s one shot behind etc. etc. etc. maybe taking the chance was worth the risk.

Learn from Matt Kuchar’s mistake and consider playing safe, especially early in the round.  Don’t be tempted to gamble it all on one shot that might eventually cost you several more strokes.

The True Meaning of Golf

The True Meaning of Golf

In continuation of our last post where I was preparing to play golf with my old golf team teammate from High School Max Castro, I ended up learning a lesson well overdue.  No it wasn’t about my golf swing, course management or even that I needed to change the shafts in my golf clubs again, it was lesson on the true meaning of golf.

The last time I saw Max was 1967.  I guess that makes this officially 47 years and by the picture it shows!  Max was a very good high school golfer and went on to be an All American at the University of Miami.  University of Miami no longer has a golf team due to the Title 9 requirements and please don’t get me started on that!

I remember the days of playing golf with Max and his Dad who was a great gentleman and taught Max and I as well as Max’s little brother Rick a lot of lessons that still hold true 47 years later. That’s where we get the true meaning of golf.

Max Castro All American

My wife Renita, Max’s wife Marsha, Max and Fatso having dinner at Carrabbas

Max said it all when he said, “how would think that a couple of Cuban kids that grew up on public golf courses in Miami would be playing golf where we are today.”  Max is a member at a very exclusive private country club in Tampa called Palma Ceia.  It is the golf course where Gene Sarazen invented the sand wedge.  Built in 1916, Palma Ceia has deep golf traditions and the number of great players that have played there is staggering.

Max said, “my Dad told me that when he was young, if he and his pals walked in front of Palma Ceia C. C. the cops would pick them up and cart them back to Ybor City!”  Ybor city is the Cuban section of town.  Max is actually not a Cuban.  His Dad was born in Tampa and his Grandfather was from Asturias Spain.

Anyway back to golf, you know how I prepared to play with Max on Saturday from the last Blog post.  Well Saturday I got to the golf course about 10:00 AM for a 1 PM starting time.  Of course I knew that I hadn’t played any golf since about September and with the weather this winter, I hadn’t hit many balls at the range either.  I was like a kid cramming for a final exam over night.  Plus I put on some weight over the winter working on the computer all day looking at the snow outside so I have some serious work to do on that when I get back to Richmond.

The one and only set back at Palma Ceia was there was no driving range.  Then Max came along and like usual, Max was the king of the house and walked around the club house like he owned it. He had a shag bag and we drove out to a hole where we could hit some drivers to warm up. I also have to thank the new pro Joe Hodge, Director of Golf at Palma Ceia for his kind courtesies. 

As well as I hit the ball the night before at the Chi Chi Rodriguez driving range near my sister in laws house, I was confident that everything would be OK.  Not the case.  Let this be a lesson to all golfers, even if you’re a pro with too many years experience you can’t just put together a golf game in one day and play your best.  In some ways I’m glad I didn’t play my best.  It was that round of golf that taught me the true meaning of golf. 

It was the wonderful opportunity to share time with a good friend, playing a game that you both enjoy and has been a significant part of our lives.  Share a cold one together, jokes all over the golf course that continued to the course deck with Max’s regular gang of players.  In earlier times I would have been miserable about my play that day and made everybody else miserable in the process.  The competition of golf meant more to me than the camaraderie.That’s how is was on tour.  Dog eat dog and you’re grinding with everything you’ve got to make the cut and a get a pay check.  Plus in the old days it wasn’t that much money.

The golf course was beautiful and actually a difficult golf course to play for the first time.  Sure I hit some really good shots and made some good up and downs but the next day my hip hurt so bad I thought I couldn’t get out of bed.  I was pushing my right hip to give it that extra pop and it did the opposite.  My lower body was way ahead and caused me to bleed some shots off the the right which I don’t remember ever doing, (I’m sure I have but not in this century). It killed my distance too because my swing was out of sync.

The greens were small, (remember this course was built in 1916 and updated by Donald Ross) and where I hit a really perfect punch shot that landed two feet short of the stick, the ball ends up behind the green almost in the water.

Well here’s the true meaning of golf.  I made the decision, (once I knew that I was in serious trouble from playing my career round) that I was not going to do anything to spoil my visit with Max, the beautiful golf course he invited me to play or to his golfing buddies who were a lot of fun and fine gentlemen.

Of course part of all this is our ages now!  Like Max said, he could hit it around the corner on the first hole at Biltmore and reach the green in two (par 5) with an iron and that was with the old ball and steel shafts and wooden club heads.  “Now I can’t even reach the green in two with all the technology and a three wood!”  It doesn’t matter.  Our minds think we’re still young and we can still measure up to the way we played in our early 20’s with limber backs and quick hips.

Maybe those days are gone but I can still see the twinkle in Max’s eyes when he did hit a good shot and I’ll never forget how Max said, “man that was really sweet” when I hit a seven iron up by the hole that I caught dead solid perfect..  That’s the true meaning of golf, thank you Max.  Thank you very very much.

Is Tiger’s Problem the Belly Putter?

Is Tiger’s Problem the Belly Putter?

Many are discussing the problems Tiger is having winning another major.  Changing swing coaches, swinging to hard on the golf course, maybe trying to hard and more.

Could it be that more players are using the belly putter and the long putter than ever before?  Could it be that golf companies are making more of long putters and making them better as well?  I went in a golf shop the other day and I noticed a considerable difference in the choices for belly putters and the like.

It’s also not just an old man’s putter to overcome nerves.  Younger plays on tour are using them.  Younger players are also putting cross handed.  Jack Nicklaus said that if he had it to do over again, he would have putted cross handed.

Let’s take a look at Tiger’s putting stroke on video and see if we can find any clues.

Does Golf Get Harder As You Get Older?

Does Golf Get Harder As You Get Older?

I can testify to that!  Even if you had the same flexibility and stamina, you don’t have the same time on your hands.  When I was about 10 years old, I could walk to the golf course from my house and I didn’t come home until dark. Of course back in those days, a young kid could walk around safely.  I worked on my golf game all day without a care in the world.

As you get older you have so many distractions.  Responsibilities of life that have to be met.  Bills to pay and money to earn. I’ve seen players on tour with their entire family practically living in a van.  Now that’s hard!

The purpose of this conversation is to let you know that it’s OK to be easy on yourself in your golf game improvement.  You’re NOT doing it for a living so you should enjoy challenging yourself and accept the bad shots with the good ones.

This is also why I am a BIG believer in doing drills at home as often as you can.  You can’t get to the golf course and/or driving range everyday.    Logging a considerable number of reps at home will have a significant impact on your play at the golf course.  I promise.  I always have a golf club in the living room so I can do a drill during a commercial.  Of course the one downside to this is, my darling wife has a weapon easily available in case the wrong name comes up on my cell phone!  Naaaa, not a chance.

Is Tiger Gone For Good?

Is Tiger Gone For Good?

How quickly one can go from “top of the world” to the “crapper”! So much going on behind the scenes that neither the PGA tour nor journalists either picked up on or deliberately ignored. Surely someone knew what was going on and should have stepped forward and confronted Tiger before everything got out of hand.

Like in many work environments, who wants to tell the boss he’s wrong? Certainly not his caddy Steve. The PGA tour was making money. Why should they stop the gravy train? Well, Money ain’t everything! I believe that character and integrity are far important in the long run.

Is Tiger Gone For Good? Here’s a far more important question, “Is American Dominance In The Golf World Gone For Good?”

I remember when I was a young cocky 23 year old and Director of golf at Nueva Andalucia Golf Club in Marbella Spain. I was getting ready to join the tour myself and felt I had a tremendous advantage on the European tour just by being an American. In February of 1973 the World Cup was played at my course in Marbella with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miler representing the US.

Although there were some great worldwide players like Gary Player, Robert DeVincenso and others, there was no question in my mind that Jack and Johnny would run away with it and they did. In fact, the players representing Spain, Angel Gallardo and Valentin Barrios told me in the locker room that neither Nicklaus or Miller would break 70 on this difficult Trent Jones golf course. Well I was playing the golf course everyday so I knew they were full of tortillas! Sure enough, first day Jack shot 68 and Miller shot 65. I made a few bucks on side bets that day!

I looked at the standings in this weeks tournament on and I noticed all the foreign flags next to player’s names. Where’s the American dominance? This scares me!!!! It seems like we keep lowering the bar in this country not only in golf but in so many areas of American leadership.

America needs to get it’s MOJO back and we’re NOT going to get it back by apologizing for being successful. We used to say, “God is on our side!” Well, with the lowering of our moral standards of late, I would question whether God is not only off our side but getting fed up with our behavior!

When we compete, yes we should be polite and courteous. However, I would suggest, “KICK THEIR ASS” with a smile on your face!


Your Tournament Swing and Regular Everyday Golf Swing Are NOT The Same!

Your Tournament Swing and Regular
Everyday Golf Swing Are NOT The Same!

I had the honor of participating in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament on Wednesday and it was fun to feel that tournament swing again. I had a great group of guys to play with and considering all the fun we had, I thought we did pretty good.

The motto of this story is that you have to slow down and be more deliberate in tournament play. I noticed my playing partners hitting their short irons a mile but I personally throttle back and take an extra stick so I can hold my balance and tempo.

I had no idea who I was going to play with and it turned out to be a great day. I never consider “stacking” a team for a Captain’s choice event. The purpose of the event is to support the charity or cause and enjoy the fellowship and new friends you make.

That’s what golf is all about.

You Have To Be Willing To Make A Jackass Out Of Yourself!

You Have To Be Willing To Make A Jackass Out Of Yourself!

There is one thing about learning a new language…you have to be wiling to make a jackass out of yourself and attempt to speak the language even if you’re making mistakes. I’ve met folks that claimed to have taken four years of Spanish in high school and then four more years in college and they still can’t speak a lick of Spanish!

It’s all in the application. If you were to move to a foreign country a be forced to speak their language you would learn it in no time or be very lonely.

Good golfers are wiling to go to the far end of the range and do their drills, hit short easy shots and look like a hacker but stay on target on what they are attempting to accomplish. They don’t care about knocking it out of the park or impressing the other golfers around them.

When doing drills. Do the drill dry three times first, (that means without a golf ball). If you’re convinced that you can perform the drill properly then hit a short shot with the drill. You need to have a way to monitor your finish and know that you did it properly. I like to call it taking inventory. Then and only then do you attempt to perform the drill with a full shot and again monitor or inventory your results! Hold your finish at least until the ball hits the ground and then look at the position of your hands, arms, your balance point etc.

You might look like a jackass compared to someone else knocking the snot out of the golf ball hitting one after the other as fast as they can…BUT…in my estimation the golfer hitting their balls in the way I just mentioned looks like the jackass!