Confused about your "bounce"? Being ground down by "sole grinds"? Mind playing tricks

Welcome to our clubmaking and mental game page with Wilson Staff Tour Manager Phil Bonham and renowned mind coach Karl Morris.

First Up Phil
guides us through some of the most confusing golfing terms, techniques and Tour tricks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Karl Morris Golf Brain: When I Click My Fingers…

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When you hear the word ‘hypnosis’ what immediately do you begin to think of?
Do you see images of people clucking like chickens on a stage show, a Svengali figure with piercing eyes and the ability to control someone by just clicking their fingers, an operation conducted without the need for anaesthetic? The very word hypnosis conjures up a myriad of perceptions for people, most of which are way off the mark.
Many are frightened of hypnosis as they perceive it as being a loss of control and surrendering to another person’s will.
clip_image003I am hopefully going to surprise many of you when I tell you that when you play good golf you are more than likely in a state of fairly DEEP hypnosis and yet when you are playing terrible golf you are most defiantly NOT in hypnosis!
‘the elimination of the multiplicity of the foci of attention and the establishment of selective thinking’ Phew.... this is one dictionary definition of the state of hypnosis and as highbrow as it sounds it does give us an insight of the kind of state of mind we SHOULD be in more often out on the course.
The elimination of the multiplicity of the foci of attention is really just a clever way of saying that of all the things that you could be focusing on, other people, noise, which disastrous place the ball might end up you establish selective thinking. In other words you HOLD your attention in a certain place.
This is why a good solid routine is so essential as it gives us a series of steps for the mind to hold onto. How many times have you found yourself hitting a shot with thoughts buzzing around inside of your head, many of which are probably totally unrelated to the task at hand.
The ability to hold your mind still on the task at hand is one that has challenged human beings for as long as we have been roaming around the earth. Yet I do feel that it is an ability that we are sadly becoming worse and worse at. We are living in such a fast paced, information overloaded, twittering, e mailing, texting, distracted environment that our poor brains are becoming conditioned to NOT concentrate but to be constantly distracted by the next piece of mental titillation that shoots across our attention bows. We are all becoming sufferers of attention DEFICIT disorder. How often do you find it really difficult to complete a task as the quality of your focus is constantly being compromised by meaningless and trivial distractions? Is it any wonder that we then struggle to hold our concentration for the duration of a round of golf?
The popularity of meditation is a testimony to the need that so many people have to slow down and calm their mind to allow themselves the space to mentally relax. Yet what is meditation? It is hypnosis by another term! When you meditate you have the INTENTION to focus on your breath, a word, a mantra or whatever your personal discipline is and you then allow the distracting thoughts to pass and keep bringing your attention back to your focus cue.
We don’t need to don long robes and sit cross legged on a mountain to improve our golf but I am sure we should all consider just how efficient we area at holding our mind in the place that we really need it to be. Next time you play golf just walk down the fairway and notice the feeling of the ground under your feet and see how long you can keep your attention in one place. What seems a ridiculously easy thing to do is actually a tough challenge. However the better you get at holding your mind in one place, be that you call it hypnosis, meditation or a pre shot routine it doesn’t matter, what does matter is that you will be giving yourself the BEST chance to play the golf that your are truly capable. At the very worst you will feel a LOT more relaxed and at peace with your world!
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Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Karl Morris: Zero Exhibition Golf At St. Georges

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Last year Karl Morris helped Louis Oosthuizen win The British Open
We will all be glued to the happenings at Sandwich this weekend. The players, to a man, will look very impressive with their fashion, their equipment and their swings. But trust me when I say this ‘The object of the game of golf and every player at St. Georges is to SCORE as low as possible’. Nothing else.
clip_image004Your own individual purpose for playing golf may differ from that, but it is unquestionable that the object of the game is to hit the ball as few a times as possible.
Often I will ask a player that I am working with what game of golf they are actually playing. You might have heard the term ‘exhibition golf’ in relation to the pro’s but as I see it many golfers actually play this game without actually being aware of it.  Here’s why.

‘Exhibition Golf’ has a couple of key components if you are going to play it! One is that your primary focus on the course is how impressive you look. It is absolutely essential if you play exhibition golf that you take as little club as possible on each hole. Whether you can get to the green or not is irrelevant. You MUST however let other players know that you hit an eight iron when they show their puny reliance on taking at least two clubs more. You absolutely have to hit some real ‘biggies’ off the tee during the round, at least 40 yards past everybody else is mandatory. If a couple of balls fly out of bounds it is an irrelevance as long as you get that feeling of pride by being the long ball and it can be mentioned in the bar afterwards. Never ever if you play exhibition golf should you look to hole too many putts as this can count against you in the clubhouse.
You could be playing this game. Or you could instead play simply ‘Golf’
That game where all you are trying to do is get the ball into the hole in the fewest possible strokes by doing boring things like taking on shots you know you are capable of playing. Grinding some pars out on holes that you haven’t played well, staying on an even keel and just going about the round in an unassuming way that deals with the inevitable poor shots but just keeps going by being committed to your process on each and every shot.
You don’t necessarily get to talk a lot about your shots afterwards but with this game you tend to get burdened with things like prizes at the club and the embarrassment of having your name put up on those boards that tend to surround most golf club bars! You might also be inconvenienced by having your handicap cut. Which game do YOU actually play? It is not for me to say which kind of golf you SHOULD play but I think it is well worth you asking yourself which of the two games do you tend to play the most.
I’m sure the man who walks away with the Claret Jug this Sunday will have played the game of ‘Golf’. There’s no room for exhibitions this or any week.

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Karl Morris Golf Brain: Too Much Time to Think!!

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Here’s a good question for you: “What are the only TWO things in golf that you are trying to CONTROL?” Go on have a go! What do you think?
As far as I am aware the only TWO things that we are trying to control at golf are....THE BALL and...YOURSELF!
Now as obvious as that sounds it is amazing how most golfers don’t get the simple answer. They look for the complex. They look for the detail. Yet when you consider it that is all there is to the game. You need to control the ball and you need to control you. Within this very simple equation there is much confusion however. When people say that golf is ‘all in the mind’ it isn’t!!!
A great mind and a poor golf swing will still hit BAD shots. You may feel better about it than most folk but you will still hit bad shots! You need to develop and understand your swing to create an awareness of what makes the ball go off line. Most golfers talk about wanting consistency yet they areclip_image004 probably very consistent in some of their poor shot patterns. Find out what it is that is causing your ball to go off line. Work with a pro who helps YOU develop an understanding of your own ball flight patterns. Find out about cause and effects. If the ball keeps going to the right there IS a cause. What is the clubface doing to cause that shot? What is the path of your swing? The great John Jacobs (pictured) always talked about the importance of understanding what your golf club was doing at impact to make the ball behave in a certain way. The ball doesn’t have an opinion, it isn’t a matter of luck it just reacts to a set of conditions at impact. Understand this and you can begin to own your own game. Become knowledgeable about what YOU do with the golf ball as opposed to trying to fit yourself into the latest model or fad.
Yet even if you develop a great technique do you think that you will EVER get to the point where you NEVER hit a bad shot? Hogan didn’t manage it, Nicklaus didn’t manage it and Woods hasn’t worked it out, so until somebody does find the secret to not hitting bad shots you will always have to do some work on the second component and that is your ability to control YOU.
What most people NEVER understand is that just as you have a set of habits in your golf swing you will also have a set of habits in the way that you REACT to where the golf ball goes.
Just think about the last round of golf you played, think about the poor shots that you hit and simply ask yourself this simple question ‘How do I REACT?’
How you react to where a golf ball goes is possibly THE mental key to take your game to better levels.
What do you do when the ball goes off line? Do you get grumpy inwardly or outwardly ? Do you sulk? What do you do with your body, do you slump, do you walk differently, do you withdraw from the rest of the group?
Every time you hit a poor shot out on the course you will find yourself at a T junction. If you turn to the left you will let the golf ball control how you feel. A small white ball dictates your state of mind OR if you turn right YOU decide that even though the ball hasn’t been under control YOU are going to do what is necessary to LET GO of that shot, move on and seek out the chance with the next shot. It sounds simple enough but it is a HUGE challenge to rise to. It takes real commitment it means letting go of ingrained responses. Yet if you do you will be on the way to finding out one very simple truth. How GOOD a golfer are YOU?

Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com

Karl Morris Golf Brain: Andrew Stevenson, My Hero


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Karl Morris is one of golf’s finest thinkers.  Nostradamus predicted Karl would help players win Majors in one his earliest writings. Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
I’d like to tell about a hero of mine, from Warrington in England, whose extraordinary story has many lessons for golfers.
Andrew Stevenson may not be a well known tournament professional, he is a PGA professional at a Warrington Golf Club called Mersey Valley in Cheshire. He recently told me of a story that absolutely had my jaw hanging down in amazement.

Just to give you a little background to this. Andrew has a daughter Beth who has a condition called Rett Syndrome which basically at this moment in time gives a child a short term life expectancy. There is much excitement about the development in research on a solution but at this stage little or no general awareness. Andrew has done an unbelievable amount of fund raising events to raise both finance and awareness and here is where the story begins.
andrew stevensonOne event that he dreamt up was a 36 hour non stop golf marathon which would turn out to be 8 consecutive non stop rounds and 7 holes! Not for the faint hearted I am sure you would agree. The goal was to literally play as many holes as possible in 36 hours without taking a break but WITH a marked score involved so it wasn’t just hitting the ball without any consequence. Andrew then went on to reel off the scores, which is where the story REALLY gripped my attention.
He started with 74 then a 73 against a par of 72. Not bad, but nothing outstanding for a pro. Rounds two three and four were 71, 71 and 70. Pretty good considering he must have been getting very tired. Then five, six, seven and eight.....70...68...67....and to finish off 66!!!
What on earth had gone on here?
Logically you would have thought that as he got more tired the scores would have suffered. As he got to the point where as he said he was literally just walking up to it and hitting it, you would have thought that surely he would start getting a bit careless and a bit wild? Well the scores tell us a somewhat different story, an extraordinary tale which a great many of us could perhaps learn to look at and gain something for our own game.
Not for one minute am I saying that this applies to everyone but I do think that a number of us have become too cautious as golfers, too analytical, too concerned with the outcome of the shot. Andrew recalled at the end of his marathon he kept just looking at the target, pulling the trigger and as he said he ‘just couldn’t miss’!
What to take from this? Maybe we should start to play golf with a little bit more of a carefree attitude and a bit more trust in our own innate abilities. Of course we need to train our swings, to work on our technique but how about we get out onto the course and commit to REDUCE our THINKING. As someone once said to me we are ‘drowning in information but thirsting for knowledge’. We have a game where we are ALL party to so much information about golf that we are literally getting in our own way with information paralysis. Maybe the curse of slow play that haunts SO many medal rounds up and down the country is actually HARMING our scores. We are taking MORE time to play WORSE. Could a faster round of golf actually reduce our scores? It is worth thinking about on many levels. Andrew Stevenson’s extraordinary tale asks all of us some very important questions about the way we approach our game.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Karl Morris Golf Brain: Does The Pope Pray?

Karl Morris is one of the finest thinkers in the game of golf.  He is only living Jedi Knight and has worked extensively with Yoda on his mental approach to light sabre battles.  Be sure toCheck out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
MENTALITY (state of mind, frame of mind, attitude, approach, way of thinking, outlook, mindset); Do you HAVE IT?
clip_image002For the last 12 months I have been involved in what turned out to be an extraordinary project. I was contacted by a man called Joe Sillett who had become a real life example of how this downturn has affected all of us. Having a business once valued in the millions, to then find that he was made redundant as the recession really bit hard.
It was refreshing to meet someone who was so up front about what had happened. He didn’t pretend, he didn’t blame, he was honest enough to admit WHY his business had struggled. He did though have an idea! The phone conversation went something like this: ‘Do you think that people would be INTERESTED in a book with some of sports all time great players EXPLAINING how they made it, how they overcame difficulties, how they set their mind to succeed?’ ‘Would you be able to provide an analysis of how EVERYONE can benefit from what the true greats did to become winners?’ ‘Does the Pope pray?’
But I was SCEPTICAL.
What if the book was full of nearly made it’s rather than TRUE greats?
Then he showed me the list of people who had agreed to be involved. When two of our finest golfers ever Lee Westwood and Laura Davies headed the list I was completely sold. Little did I know that what these two greats revealed in their interviews would give priceless tools for ANY golfer to be able to improve their own game of golf.
Laura Davies talked about how she worked out that when she plays badly her eyes tend to dart all ovepope_funnyr the place as she is addressing the ball and her mind is ‘too busy’. Full of negative thoughts about ‘what if’. To combat that she worked out such a simple but effective tool of disciplining herself to focus on the back of the ball as opposed to letting her eyes dart around. This I have found to be a major problem when golfers are nervous. Eyes that are busy produce minds that are busy. Do you do that? Had you even considered it might be a factor? What Laura is doing is quietening her mind by having the INTENTION to focus on the back of the ball. Of all the things she COULD be focused on she has the discipline to put her mind in a place that helps rather than hinders her game.
Lee Westwood when asked about his most destructive emotion said “It’s not so much an emotion, but one of the most destructive things is to get ahead of yourself. I did that on the final hole at Turnbery. The ‘secret’ is to stay in the present and focus on what is in front of you”
Nothing new in that, yet one of golf’s greatest players saying ‘the secret’ is to focus on what is in front of you!
Not many people reading this will have lost an Open championship with this mind game error but we have all fallen victim to getting in front of ourselves on the golf course. Be that to break a hundred for the first time or win a club medal it doesn’t matter what the situation is. We feel pressure when we go into the future and imagine WHAT will happen. The skill of being in the here and now is one of the most valuable skills that you can EVER develop. If Lee Westwood says it is ‘the secret’ then I think that it would be worth ALL of us working towards improving this most important mental skill. Focusing exclusively on the task at hand without allowing yourself to drift into a possible future actually allows you to become the best golfer that YOU can be.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Karl Morris: The Curious Case Of Graeme McDowell

karl morrisKarl Morris is one of the finest thinkers in the game of golf.  He is only living Jedi Knight and has worked extensively with Yoda on his mental approach to light sabre battles.  Be sure toCheck out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
What do you think has been an outstanding Irish sporting victory of the last ten years? On the eve of the 2011 US Open at Congressional, I personally think that Graeme McDowell’s stunning victory in last years US Open is right up there with the best of of them and frankly the coverage and recognition of his achievement has been relatively muted.
Perhaps the fact that it was sandwiched between World Cup fever and Wimbledon that held the back pages made Graeme’s win slip somewhat under the radar. Yet just consider what an incredible effort it was.
Not since Tony Jacklin FORTYGraeme-McDowell-winner-of-US-Open-at-Peeble-Beachyears ago has there been a GB&I US Open champion. Even in the golden era of Faldo, Lyle and Woosnam none of those great players managed to capture perhaps the toughest of all Majors to win. Hopefully McDowell will in time get the due recognition for what he has achieved. On a personal level it has been great to see him develop into a top quality World player. I have been lucky enough to have worked personally with Graeme on his Mind Factor for over six years from the first time we met in 2003. It has been a fascinating journey not without the setbacks and slumps but one which I am proud to hopefully have played some small part in.
McDowell has always had a keen interest in Mind Coaching, I believe he spent some time with world renowned guru Bob Rotella just before his US Open win. It is this mindset that I believe has been one of the keys to the subsequent success. Not the greatest ball striker by any means but he seeks to make the best out of ALL departments of his game.

The sum is FAR greater than the whole. Maybe it is his inherent curiosity that has played such a significant factor in his progress. I remember hearing someone say to me recently that possibly the greatest loss that we have as we get older is our childlike sense of curiosity. We think that we know, we think that we have seen it all before, we close our mind to the possible. Yet we miss out, we really miss out. Not on major championships but we miss out on the joy and pleasure that learning gives us. Is there anything less inspiring and dull than a closed mind?
How many people do you know who NEVER take a lesson, never try to learn new skills, never acknowledge that they COULD improve the way that they think on the course and so in turn improve their enjoyment of the game. It seems that we very easily develop an attitude of ‘been there done that’. Yet to share ideas and information, to learn and move forward is a joy. It never ceases to amaze me when golf clubs host Mind Factor workshops how many people come up at the end and say that they enjoyed LEARNING something new, they certainly may not agree with all that I have said but they have enjoyed the chance to look at, reflect and possibly change some ingrained habits in their game and life.
In his groundbreaking book ‘The Inner Game of Golf’ published in the 1970’s Tim Gallwey said that to have balance in almost any activity in life there was what he called the ‘Performance Triangle’ which had three key components Performance, Enjoyment and Learning. He said that when the triangle got out of balance and we focused too much in one area our experience would suffer. Clearly for a lot of us we lean too heavily on the Performance aspect of our experience and fail to focus on the Enjoyment and Learning aspects. Nobody is saying that performance doesn’t matter but in my experience when we put a little more attention on the Learning and Enjoyment aspects of what we do then the Performance tends to look after itself. I would say that Graeme McDowell has a pretty balanced triangle, how balanced is yours?
Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
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Karl Morris Golf Brain: The Incredible Story of Moe Norman

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Karl Morris is one of the finest thinkers in the game of golf.  They say that on his deathbed Einstein asked for a piece of paper and scrawled the letters “KM” inside a diagram of the human brain.
Be sure to Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com

Have you ever heard of Moe Norman?

Probably not. Well that is a shame because his story is close to being THE most fascinating golf story of all time. If you haven’t heard of him then you have missed out on learning about arguably one of the greatest ball strikers of all time. Amongst other many achievements Moe won over 50 tournaments, shot 59 THREE times in tournaments, had 19 holes in one and the straightness of his shots apparently had to be seen to be believed.
I am lucky enough to own two pieces of Moe Norman memorabilia. The first is picture of Moe on a practice range hitting balls. I looked at it and there stood in the picture clearly spellbound by what they were seeing were none other than Nick Price, Nick Faldo, Ben Crenshaw and Fred Couples. Multiple Major winners who had taken the time to watch Moe hit golf balls. A friend of mine called Jim Farrelly used to play golf with Moe virtually every day and his stories about Moe’s shotmaking left you awestruck.
moe normanRecently Tiger Woods said that he felt that there were only two men in the HISTORY of the game that actually OWNED their golf swing, one was Ben Hogan and the other was Moe Norman!
The other Moe treasure I have is a simple piece of A4 paper which has written on it “My Main Thoughts in Performing Well” by Moe Norman. There were about 25 one liners that had been Moe’s guiding principles throughout his career. You would think that they would have been all about the swing from such a legendary ball striker but take a look at some of them here:
  • Full Extension Back and Through
  • I play INTO my legs
  • I swing ‘Through’ the ball not at it
  • You are what you think you are
  • Never think of the money, get the ball into the hole
  • Winners see what they want, Losers see what they don’t want
  • Solid thinking ‘Good Golf’, bad thinking ‘Bad Golf’
  • Always be in a good frame of mind
  • I always play ‘Target Golf’
  • Negative thinking hurts more than negative swinging
  • I always concentrate on playing one shot at a time
  • Stop being afraid of yourself
  • Winners play golf automatically
  • Believing in your ‘Mental Image’ will make you a Master
  • Imagination is the key to success
  • Stop worrying about when you are going to die, but how to live
  • Imagination and visualisation are my keys to success!
Amazing that way before anybody had heard about Mind Coaches or Sports Psychologists that here was a man who was famed for his ball striking ability but who had clearly worked out the importance of understanding the role that the mind plays in golf. Without any formal tuition he had worked it out by his own intelligence and desire to be the very best he could be. Moe Norman clearly understood what I have talked about over and over again that to be the best that you can be at this wonderful game you need to control TWO things. The BALL and YOURSELF. One without the other will leave you well short of what you are truly capable of being. Look into the legend that is Moe Norman you will find it a truly fascinating story.

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ednesday, May 18, 2011


Karl Morris Golf Brain: Would the Ancient Greeks Have Been Good Golfers?

Karl Morris is one of the finest thinkers in the game of golf.  The Mr Miyagi to the finest Karate Kids on Tour.  Be sure to Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
Would the ANCIENT GREEKS have been good GOLFERS?
They say that ‘nothing is new’ but you probably never thought that we would be going so far back in time to be digging up the relics of some ancient Greek wisdom to try to lower our golf score!
In Ancient Greece there was a school of thought which became extremely popular to the degree that the Romans took it on board and for many was a guiding way of life. The ‘Stoics’ had a very interesting philosophy on how to get the best out of each and every day and whilst I am absolutely no expert whatsoever on ancient Greek philosophy whareek olympust I have read so far has really caught my eye and got me thinking about how we could apply it to the modern world and how golf can be a really great place to start incorporating some of the ancient ideas.
Pic: Olympus- deadly from 100 yards and in.
The Stoics primarily believed that it wasn’t so much about what a person said that was important it was how he actually BEHAVED that was the key. It wasn’t what he thought about it was what he DID. How relevant to us all in the modern world is that? How many people do you know who SAY that they are going to do something? They SAY that they are going to call or get the job done, they say they are going to go on a diet, they say they are going to take some lessons, go to the range or whatever the latest fad is but what they SAY and what they DO is are two completely different things.
The Stoics also believed that it was really important to focus on what YOU could control in your world as opposed to looking for the world to make you feel good. Again in our modern experience how many people are out there constantly looking for excuses and people or organisations to blame as a crutch for their own lack of personal responsibility?
We have all done it, I certainly have done too much of it in the past but over the years working with players I think it is true to say it has got worse and worse. Nobody wants to take any form of responsibility anymore, it is always the caddie giving a ‘bad club’, the course being set up poorly, the equipment, the coach, the tee off time, the parents you name it and we are good at blaming it. Yet the Stoics said that you would only EVER reach your true potential when you realised it was all down to YOU and you began to focus on the things you could control and let go of things that you couldn’t. You took ACTION you did what you needed to do.
Another fascinating approach the Stoics had which goes against many of the approaches we have been led to believe in the recent times was something called ‘Negative Visualisation’. They firmly believed that it was immensely beneficial to see in your mind’s eye the worst possible outcome to a situation and how you would go about dealing with it. “Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune” was a line of thinking often quoted.
In our modern world of being told we can ‘do it all’ and ‘dream big’ and following the ideas of such books like ‘The Secret’ which more or less suggested that we only had to thing good things were going to happen for it to be so it seems an utter contradiction. Yet from my own experience working with golfers who have had a mind coach or psychologist tell them to imagine hitting perfect shots and playing perfect rounds for a lot of people this advice CAN work but I would say that for the majority it creates nothing but disappointment as the perfect round they had seen in their minds eye fails to materialize in the real world. For many players it has worked really well to actually imagine some worst case scenarios. See themselves hitting poor shots and taking high numbers but most importantly seeing themselves overcome the difficulties and battle back. The thing is if you realise that the ‘worst that can happen’ on a golf course is not actually going to end the world and if you realise that if you are prepared to accept the worst and deal with it then you are more than capable of accepting the best. If you are not afraid to lose you certainly are less likely to be afraid to win.
Maybe the stoic approach is not for everyone but for a lot of people who are fed up with being told that the answer lies in relentless positivity perhaps the ancients had stumbled on a way of thinking and living that perhaps in the current climate we may need more than ever both on and off the golf course.




Karl Morris Golf Brain: Are Lessons A Waste Of Time?


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Are you wasting your time taking lessons?
What are you going to do about your game this season? Keep it the same?
Play more or practice more? Change your clubs? How about taking some lessons? What a great idea! That is the answer, have some lessons and change your swing, improve your technique. Good idea and definitely a way forward but before you do anything HANG on a minute as you may just be about to do something that is a TOTAL waste of your time! So much has been written over the years about WHAT to change in your golf swing. You may favour a certain teacher be that a David Leadbetter or Butch Harmon, you may believe in a certain method be that the ‘two plane swing’ or the ‘golf machine’.
All of that is fine because I am not here to tell you WHAT to do in your swing. I am going to leave that to other people who are better qualified than myself. Yes, so muclip_image004ch has been written on what to do in your swing but so little has ever been written on HOW to change your swing. You see unless the information your receive from your chosen coach or method becomes ACTUAL physical motion then it is nothing other than INFORMATION. Information is fine, it is the starting point but we need to know HOW to change our swings so that it becomes our actual BODILY motion. We may not like to even consider this when so much is talked about ‘muscle memory’ but to actually change your swing you have to change your BRAIN, the storehouse of your ‘swing’.
You have to alter the neural pathways in your brain that send the commands to your muscles. By understanding a little more of how our brain works we can then get down to the job of taking good technical information and making it an efficient golf swing in as quick a time as is possible. Anything else literally is putting a cart before the proverbial horse. I have over the last number of years done a lot of research on this area because it has intrigued me as to how many people I have seen take lessons, good lessons from good coaches but their swings have NEVER changed, not one bit! They have had great information but NOTHING altered. Then after nothing altered with one coach they went to another coach and NOTHING altered with that coach either!!
You may know somebody very well who has been through a similar experience. The more research I did the more it became clear that even though we know so much about the ‘golf swing’ we know so little about how human beings take in information and how their brain ‘codes’ that information. Within the scope of this article it is impossible to give you all of what has now been discovered but I do want to share with you what may be THE most important discovery made by a lady who you should find as much about as possible. Dr Gabrielle Wulf has spent the greater part of her life studying how humans learn motor skills. In a nutshell her work describes the difference between what she calls an ‘Internal Focus’ and an ‘External Focus’ and it seems that one if FAR better than the other when trying to change the swing.
An ‘Internal Focus’ is where you are focusing on your arms, your wrist, your legs or whatever. You are focusing on trying to get your body to move in a certain way but your focus is internal to you. Basically the way that most golf lessons take place. An ‘External Focus’ is where you place your attention on something that is external to your body so it could be the club or it could be the flight of the ball or it could even be your own belt on your trousers but it is external to you. Her research had my jaw dropping with its implication as she proved over and over again in scientifically tested environments with lots of different sports that an EXTERNAL focus was dramatically more efficient in learning than an INTERNAL focus.
What does this mean for me and you down on the range? Maybe we have been trying to change our swing in a way that the brain doesn’t really like. If you are stood on the range focusing on your arms or legs or whatever you MAY just be holding yourself back. Shift that focus to something EXTERNAL and you may be very pleasantly surprised with the results.
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Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Karl Morris Golf Brain: Why Do We Bother?

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Why do you bother with golf at all?
As I was a teenager growing up, golf to my mind was a game played by old men with a questionable taste in their attire. Yet it took just one ‘try’ at the game, one experience of being on a ‘golf course’ to spark something in my teenage mind that is still thrashing away inside of me thirty years later. As soon as I started to play regularly I wanted to become a member of a ‘real club’ and was staggered toclip_image004 find out that to join my local club as an adult at that time would involve me waiting SEVEN years because the waiting list was so long. That was how it was back in the early part of the Eighties if you wanted to join a golf club.
Yet thirty years later that same club is now offering ‘taster memberships’ where you can join for just a couple of months to see if you ‘like the game’ and if you do you are straight in, no wait, no joining fee. I read recently that golf has become what is known as a ‘static sport’ for a good number of years prior to the recession. A static sport is what it suggests in so much that for as many people who begin to start playing the game there is roughly an equal amount that pack in and stop playing. Why is that? Why do SO many people seem to be turning away from the game for reasons other than financial ones? A seven year waiting list to NO waiting list and ‘taster membership’ is a staggering turnaround in a half lifetime.
Maybe the world that we now live in has to experience being ‘good’ at something far quicker than previous generations. Maybe there is a pressure to perform and get a low handicap. Perhaps we EXPECT to be good at something without putting in the time and the effort that real skill development requires. Have we become too impatient to allow ourselves and our golf game to develop? We now see so much golf on TV and we are constantly fed images of great players hitting great shots. Has this set up an unrealistic expectation for many people? After all we never see the coverage of those players who are right on the cut mark and are struggling with their game. We just see good shots MOST of the time. Does golf take too long for our modern scatter brained attention deficit defeated mind? I don’t have any definitive answers to these questions but they MUST be having an impact on the game itself.

Perhaps the most important question we should ALL ask though is in fact the most simple one. Why do you play golf? Why DO you play? Ridiculously simple but unless you do ask the questions and listen to your own answers then more and more people will continue to leave the game.
When I ask that question at seminars and golf schools the answers are always pretty much the same with a few exceptions. To be outdoors, To enjoy the company, To challenge myself, To enjoy competition, To learn.
It is very rare that people answer ‘the question’ with an answer that involves lower handicaps or lower scores yet it seems that when they go out to play a LOT of golfers actually forget WHY they are playing. I am not saying for one minute that lower scores and lower handicaps shouldn’t be a goal as this can be a tremendous reward for your efforts but when you REALLY look at the reasons why you play and the pleasure that you can gain without lower scores then the game of golf does again become one worth playing.
So maybe the next time that you go to the club just pause for five minutes and ask yourself ‘Why do I play golf’? If the answers that you get then comes from the list above just make a commitment to yourself to focus on that whilst you are actually out on the course. As you focus on the reasons why you actually play the game then I think you might find yourself pleasantly surprised as to how that CLARITY will impact the QUALITY of your experience. Worth a thought?

Karl Morris Golf Brain: Jack’s Way

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Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com
Last week we spoke about the comfort trap and the need to break out of what we termed your “comfort zone”. I always remember a phrase Jack Nicklaus said many years ago about coming down the stretch in Majors. He said ‘Give me THAT feeling you get on the back nine on Sunday, that is what I hit all of the practice balls for’. Nicklaus knew in those white heat moments of Major winning opportunities he was going to feel uncomfortable but, rather than resist it, he actually played a perfect reverse psychology trick on himself by actually WELCOMING the feelings of discomfojack-13rt. The ironic thing is if you do welcome these uncomfortable feelings, they actually cease to have much of a hold on you. Your brain deals with it better because it has planned and expected to feel discomfort. This is the opposite of what most people do, which is to HOPE they don’t get the feelings of nervousness and anxiety but then they panic when they do come along. Whatever we resist, we strengthen and whatever we embrace, we can work with. The principle is exactly the same for you and your golf as it was for Jack Nicklaus. If you get into a position where you are way under your handicap or about to break 90 for the first time, you WILL feel uncomfortable, you will get a bit jumpy. But, if you EXPECT it and you PLAN for it, when it comes along you will be much better equipped deal with the situation. I remember once hearing a quote which went along the lines ‘Successful people are prepared to feel uncomfortable to achieve their goals’ and I am sure that is EXACTLY the case. As we stated at the beginning, our brain is wired to seek out familiarity and comfort but, if you want to achieve anything with your golf and, indeed, the rest of your life, the chances are you will need to resist the pull of the familiar, go into unchartered water and give yourself the chance to come out the other side having got closer to your true potential.

Karl Morris Golf Brain- The Comfort Trap

Have you ever fallen foul of what I call the phenomena of ‘the turn’. By the turn, I mean what often happens to us as we cross from one nine to another in a medal round. Let’s say you play off 10 handicap, how many times have you played great golf on the front nine, let’s say you have only dropped ONE of your ten shots after nine holes. You make ‘the turn’ and then somehow, someway, you manage to find a way of dropping ALL of your ten shots in the remaining nine and perhaps a few more for good measure?! The converse is also probably quite familiar whereby you play the front nine like you have never held a golf club in your life but, then as you cross over from one nine to the next, some alien being swoops down to inhabit your body and you play the back nine in level par!! How is that? It just doesn’t make any real sense because, as we know, your golf swing can’t change that much. What is going on?
It doesn’t make much sense on the surface but if we dig a bit droger_bannistereeper we find some interesting thoughts emerging. Basically, as human beings, our brains are wired in part for ‘familiarity’, it goes back to the days when we roamed around in caves and each and every day was a success if you survived that single day. To know things around you were familiar and could be trusted meant your chances of survival increased. A part of us is definitely wired to explore and seek out new experience BUT in a lot of people, the need for familiarity is probably the strongest pull. We can see this in many things we all do in everyday life. One good example is what I call the Korma Phenomenon! We go into an Indian Restaurant and we tell people we just love Indian food, we get hold of the menu, have a look at the 380 different options on that menu - and then what happens?

The Chicken Korma phenomena takes over! We have all those options but our brain just HAS to go for what is FAMILIAR and SAFE.
Not unlike the feeling we get when we are one over after nine holes playing off ten. It feels unfamiliar, it feels uncomfortable and though this makes no sense whatsoever to the logical mind, the only way to get rid of those uncomfortable feelings is to throw all of those shots away and get back into our oh so safe COMFORT ZONE.
What you can do to break through your own COMFORT ZONE
It is almost as if we have to trick our own mind occasionally to help us break through these self imposed limitations. Just as Roger Bannister did with the Four Minute Mile, we need to look at things differently to be able to shake off the mental shackles of familiarity. As we looked at earlier, it is amazing how much the phenomenon of the ‘turn’ affects what we do on a golf course. When you think about it, we have been conditioned to BELIEVE golf is made up of two sets of nine holes. The problem with that is, if you start badly over the first few holes, then you have at least another six to go before you get the chance to metaphorically ‘start again’. This doesn’t make sense. Why wait for nine holes to pass? For a number of years now, the players I have worked with do not ‘believe’ golf is made up of two sets of nine holes. They have reconditioned their brain to look at the game differently just as Bannister did. What the players I work with now do on every round of golf is to play a game called ‘Super 6’. The game is simple. You go out with two cards. The card you are obviously marking in your medal or tournament and the ‘Super 6’ card. The rule of super 6 is that golf is made up of SIX sets of three holes and the goal is to score as low as possible on each set of 6. You can imagine the good news if you start badly, you only have a couple of holes to go before you ‘start again’. It has been amazing with this game as I, at first, was very sceptical as to how much it would make a difference but the results have been amazing. It seems by looking at the game DIFFERENTLY, it allows the mind the freedom to break out of the patterns of familiarity which have existed for so long. It is a fresh challenge with none of the previous baggage being brought to the table.
The other benefit of ‘Super 6’ is that after a few rounds you REALLY start to see where you regularly drop shots. Most golfers say they want to be consistent yet, in the main, they usually are. It may be consistently BAD but they are consistent. It is incredible what patterns you see emerging with Super 6 that you would probably never have been able to detect otherwise. The big key is that once you KNOW your own pattern you can DO something about it.

Karl Morris - Golf Brain: “Consequence”

Mind Funk with Karl Morris Consequence
A critical key to improving through practice and that is the concept of CONSEQUENCE. Golf is a unique game in the sense every single time you make contact with the ball there is a CONSEQUENCE to that action. Whether we like it or not, each shot we make has a consequence because it is going down on that scorecard.
So, if we are playing a game which is high in consequence, then surely a BIG portion of our practice should involve the same principle. Yet , consider what we see on every range up and down the country and across the world. How many balls carry a consequence? How many shots carry any pressure?
For most golfers, the only ball that carries any sort of pressure is the last one! And far too many times I have seen a golfer hit ball number 48 out of 50 like a bullet, then actually kick the last two balls out onto the range! That isn’t practicing - that is CHEATING!!
Usain-BoltIf we practice in a way which creates consequence, then we will get better at dealing with the very same situation out on the course. Understand the person, a human being, who he is most competitive with is HIMSELF, so then if you devise strategies which create a score and a consequence, then you can let human nature do the rest for you.
Also tied in closely with consequence, we also need to understand that confidence needs to be based on FACTS not FEELINGS! If a 100 metre sprinter like say Usain Bolt was working each day with his coach and the coach kept telling him he was improving but had no means to actually prove it, how do you think the confidence levels of the athlete would be?
The great beauty for an athlete is the CLOCK will give him a FACTUAL example of his improvement. For too long now in golf people have been basing their confidence on feelings as opposed to facts. Hit it great on the range this morning FELT great! However, as soon as that first ball travels offline on the course, where do all of those good feeling go?
When you are building your confidence on FACTS then you are building a process which will stand up over time and build UNSHAKABLE self confidence. Facts not feelings. Build CONSEQUENCE into your practice by playing games that involve a SCORE that you have to RECORD. As soon as a score is involved we create pressure.
Check out Karl’s website www.golf-brain.com

Karl Morris-Golf Brain. Darren’s Short Game Practice Drill

Mind Funk with Karl Morris
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Darren’s Practice Drill
Last week we spoke about the importance of making your practice more difficult than the real game. A reader, Steve Kelly commented “We use to have to do something like this in hurling training we'd train with wet heavy sliotars so when you play a match with a new one you'd find it easier to hit. It did work.”
Many golf coaches talk about WORKING HARD, but it is usually judged in terms of time by the number of balls hit and standing on the range for hours. Well, anyone can make their hands bleed or get blisters on their feet by spending too much time practicing. The concept of hard practice here is making the TASK more difficult than the game. We need to move away from this archaic interpretation of what good practice is.
darren clarke chippingFar better we have a short practice session which is difficult in the way it is appropriate to your own golf, but builds mental and physical toughness by stretching the system in a way which leads to genuine self-confidence. Just consider now how you could make a portion of your practice more difficult than the game.
One of the players I have worked with for many years is Darren Clarke who loves to play a short game drill called ‘Par 18’
The simple short game drill which has you playing 9 par twos from differing locations around the green BUT (and this is the most important part) you MUST write down your score at the end of the session. You can take Par 18 to a different level in that if you score 21 or better, you play the game again but this time, with two balls! Taking the worst ball score of the two balls for a further 9 holes. If you shoot 21 or better with the two balls, you get to play the game again this time with 3 balls!
Darren Clarke 1As you can see, with this system you NEVER stop making the game more difficult. The better you get at the game the harder it becomes. Remember, you are only allowed to play par 18 once in any given day unless you shoot 21 or better. Take to heart and emblazon it on your soul the key concept of making practice more difficult than the game. I absolutely guarantee that this way each time you go out to work on your game, you will be stressing your system and the system will respond by becoming STRONGER.
About Karl
Karl Morris is one of Europe’s leading MIND COACHES, delivering cutting edge methods of peak performance and goal achievement to a range of clients across sports and business.  From the world of golf, he has worked with players such as 2010 US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, David Howell, Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley, Richard Finch, Phil Archer, US Open Champion Alison Nicholas and Trish Johnson.
Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,f peak performance and goal achievement to a range of clients across sports and business.  From the world of golf, he has worked with players such as 20

US Open Champion Graeme McDowell, 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke, David Howell, Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley, Richard Finch, Phil Archer, US Open Champion Alison Nicholas and Trish Johnson.


Karl Morris: Why Your Practice May Make You A Worse Golfer!


Mind Funk with Karl Morris

Why your Current Practice MAY be making you’re a WORSE golfer!!
Is the practice you are currently doing making you a better golfer? Can you honestly say you have continued to improve at your game? If you can truly say ‘Yes’ then you are almost unique!
However, I think if you are honest you would probably have to say your game has stagnated, it may not have got much worse, but chances are your improvement is now fairly minimal.
Kevin O’Brien’s recent exploits at the cricket World Cup reminded me of a wonderful story about Sir Donald Bradman, the legendary Aussie cricketer who averaged 99.94 and would have finished his career averaging 100 if he hadn’t been out for a duck in his final test innings. Part of Bradman’s practice ritual was to work on his batting with a golf ball and a cricket stump. He would throw the golf ball at a wall then defend it with his cricket stump. Just imagine the speed the ball would come off the
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wall and the difficulty in defending himself with a stump which was not much bigger than the ball itself.
Hour after hour Bradman would practice in this way. It was also said he would try to find a wall that was completely uneven just to make the exercise even more difficult. Seve Ballesteros learnt to play golf with just a three iron. I can still remember standing open mouthed at a clinic he gave when he stood hitting high lob shots over a trap with just a 3 iron. Do you think playing pitches with a sand wedge would seem fairly simple after that?
The key point in sport is, if you want to train your brain at the same time as your body and build mental toughness, you need to MAKE A PORTION OF PRACTICE MORE DIFFICULT THAN THE REAL GAME.

Examples of ‘Harder Practice’

Putt to a tee not the hole. Just from short range 6ft and in by putting to a tee your PERCEPTION of the size of the hole changes
Play 9 holes of ‘Worst Ball’ Hit two shots off the tee and you have to take the worst shot all the way into the hole. This shows you how bad your ‘bad’ is.

About Karl
Karl Morris is one of Europe’s leading MIND COACHES, delivering cutting edge methods oTuesday, April 5, 2011


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