Keep practice and play records to improve your game
There are some tremendous minds in the world; and then, there’s mine. There are things that I can remember crystal clear, but then there are things that have no chance of sticking in between my ears.
Should I meet a person once or twice, the odds of my remembering his or her name are one in a million; however, that person’s face, what he was drinking and what we talked about are all filed away. A thousand years ago, when I was married, each time my ex-wife and I would go to parties, but before we entered the home or venue, she would have to give me the names of everyone that we were expecting to see there.
She might say, “Bob and Mary Smith, Bob is the guy in the car business.”
Then it would come back to me, “Oh yea, he’s the guy that talks with his hands, and his wife has big feet.”
In the late 1980s, I was hired as the assistant golf pro at Canongate Country Club in Palmetto, Georgia. It was a club rule that every golfer would have to come into the pro shop to register and pay for the cart before playing. They logged their names and club numbers. Knowing my issue in remembering names being less than stellar, I decided to stand at the counter in the pro shop as members came in, I wrote their names and club numbers down on the register after introducing myself to them.
Canongate Country Club, at the time, had more than 2,000 members, and we normally played 250-300 rounds each weekend day. It was amazing that, even as inadequate as I was to remember names under normal circumstances, I was able to recall the members’ names after saying the names and writing them down. I even could recall most of their club numbers.
From that point on, it became my practice that if something was important to me and I wanted to remember it, I wrote it down.
This practice has helped me in golf so much. When I really was focused on my golf game, I carried a Day Timer, or you may call it a “daily planner,” in my golf bag. This book became my golf bible. I wrote everything in this book.
I used it to plan my practice sessions for the next day and followed the plans as much as possible at practice. Whether in full swing practice, chipping, bunker play or on-course play, if I found a particular move or feeling in the motion or mechanics of my swing, I wrote it down in that planner.
In golf (much like in life), we tend to repeat mistakes. If I noticed that a flaw was reoccurring in my game, I could look back in my planner to find out what change I had made in the past to fix that particular problem.
In this book, I also wrote down my stats for each round. It was a big confidence booster whenever I went through the book to see how my game improved in the various categories. It was also a great kick in the rear when I saw stats decline or not improve. Whenever this happened, I increased the time I spent on this category during practice until it began improving. This is frequently referred to as “turning a weakness of your game into strength.”
Whether it is a wedding anniversary, company meeting, sales presentation, picking up the kids after school or golf game, if it is important, write it down. If you have a daily planner, like I used to use, make it a point to review that planner each morning. Your chances of completing everything to which you had committed yourself will improve tremendously with this practice.
Today, many people jot their plans and important dates in their smart phones. That works well, especially for younger people who have been raised with cellphones in hand since birth, but I prefer the book and pen. Making the effort to physically write down events and names that mean something helps me considerably in remembering them.
I use the “write it down” method for my golf team, too. Each year, I ask the players to purchase daily planners and use them religiously, because it works.
In 2006, I had a new freshman, named Brett, join the team. When he came in, I knew it would take some work, but I believed he had talent and he was very anxious to learn. Brett was one of the first players who bought into my daily planner concept of practice. He used his book religiously and stuck to his plan. He only deviated from his daily plans if lightning was in the area, and if was, he wrote in his book that his practice had been interrupted due to inclement weather conditions.
Brett began his college golf career at CACC playing somewhere between the sixth and eighth place player on my nine-man team. After six months, he advanced to my number three player, and in his sophomore year, Brett won two regular season golf tournaments, won our district championship, and became NJCAA and PING All-American and received a full golf scholarship to Oral Roberts University, where he graduated with academic honors.
Another good practice that I share with my team players is in writing down their short-term goals on one piece of paper and their long-term goals on another piece of paper. I ask them to hang these sheets of paper on a wall somewhere in their bedrooms, so they will see them daily and be reminded of the important goals that they have set for themselves. As they meet or complete short-term goals, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and confidence, which we could all use.
I’ve had players in the past tell me that they chose not to do something stupid because it may have ruined one of their stated goals. That’s priceless when you hear that sort of testimony.
If you aren’t the sort of person who might follow a daily planner, you may want to simplify the method for your golf game with a small tablet. You can jot down things that you found helped you putt better, hit the ball straighter, allowed you to hit the ball longer or helped your mental game or game management.
I will guarantee you this: One day, you will be struggling with a problem in your game that you overcame a few months or years earlier, and with the help of the daily planner or the golf tablet to reflect on, you will have a much greater chance of correcting that problem quickly.
“If it’s important, write it down!”
Dave Jennings is the men’s golf coach at Central Alabama Community College.