Sometimes it’s not the big things in golf that cause you to advance your game, but the little things done consistently over time.
The other day I was giving a golf clinic to a group of women who wanted to learn how to read greens and develop feel in their game. Considering that feel for the greens is the number one factor in scoring well, it is a much over-looked component to lowering your scores without making a major investment in lessons or equipment. It only takes a little more time to practice strategically before you go out to play.
“The only way to learn feel is to spend time on the greens, especially before you go out to play to give your body a chance to align properly to a target based on the speed of the greens.” I noticed that most high handicappers will hit a putt from one place and then immediately go to another spot to putt without actually taking the time to learn how a specific putt breaks to the hole.
I instructed the ladies: “You have to stay in the same spot and keep putting to that spot until you can read the right break. If you start off by thinking the ball is going to break three inches to the left and it breaks less than that, then you have to make the adjustment and keep putting until you get the ball in the hole. Stay at the putt until you learn it and can sink the putt. Make this slight adjustment in the way you practice and over time you will begin to get really good at reading and getting a feel for the greens.”
I went on to show them how to take 3 balls and find a 3 foot putt that was a left to right putt and then a right to left breaking putt. “Make 10 putts from each break.” This was an entirely new practice routine for them. Giving themselves a goal in practice helped them to direct their minds to a target. All of a sudden, they were motivated to practice in a new way because they knew how to practice and had a purpose for practice.
Staying with a putt until you learn it instead of just migrating around a green aimlessly is such a small adjustment, but will pay off with big dividends. Betsy, one of my 9-holer students, just scored the best round of her life—a 51. She was thrilled. I proposed to her the next goal: breaking 50. At first she looked at me like I was crazy and then I said to her, “You are only 2 strokes away from scoring in the 40’s. All you have to do is improve your putting average by 2 strokes. You now have the practice processes in place to achieve your goal.” She lit up and scurried off the green with a look of determination to do just that.
This principle of making slight adjustments over time for success works off the course, too. In his groundbreaking book, The Slight Edge, business and success coach, Jeff Olson, sets forth a philosophy of turning simple decisions into massive success through “the slight edge.” Olson’s philosophy of success is based on the notion that it is the easy things in life that cause people to be a success. Because those choices are easy to do, they are also easy not do to, which is the challenging part. Making decisions that produce the right disciplines over time versus making errors in judgment over time is the difference in becoming 5% of people who are truly successful and the 95% who are not.
The choice to exercise daily. It is an easy decision to make and an easy decision not to make. Eliminating sugar from your diet to avoid or manage diabetes is an easy decision to make and an easy decision not to make. Turning off the television to read a book is an easy decision to make and an even easier one not to make. These are the choices we face every day, every hour. A simple positive action repeated over time or a simple error in judgment repeated over time. Choosing the former will produce “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal,” which is what Olson defines as success.
In our microwave society, we want to go from effort to success without acknowledging the component of time. We want to plant and then harvest without the cultivation process.
If it works for golf, especially on the putting green, the slight edge will work for you. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go put my television in my storage unit. It’s my small decision for the day that will produce a better use of my time. How about you? What slight edge principle will you put into action today? Your success depends on it. So does your golf score.
Ladies, to get the slight edge working in your life, join me in my upcoming life-coaching program, The Second Blossoming, which begins the end of October and my golf clinic this Sunday at 3 pm at Longleaf. Contact me or check out my blog for more information.
Veronica Karaman is a golf professional and life coach. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Blog: veronicakaraman.com.