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Senior Golfer - On The Green

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

How to win your personal major

The Putting Green

Golf is one of those competitive games where you gear up for the big tournament. I describe it as "the personal major," referring to that one tournament you really want to win. Whether it's the charity golf outing, the match play championship, the Senior Club Championship, or the Chicago District Golf Association better ball of pairs, it's the "major" for your golf schedule.

In the June issue of Golf Digest, an article by Dr. Bob Rotella discussed the "10 rules for you to win your major." I thought it was a great article, and I want share four of Rotella's rules with you so that you can play your best.

One of the rules that I found most important was this one: Sulking won't get you anything. I can't tell you how many times I've sulked on the golf course and been my own worst enemy. If something bad happens to me on the course, I will sulk. It something lucky happens to my opponent, I'll also sulk. A good example of this occurred last month when I was playing a match in our match play tournament.

I had made it through the first 10 holes all tied. I hit my drive on 11 into the fairway, while my opponent hit his shot way right, where it bounced off a tree and bounced back into the first cut of rough. He hit first and landed his ball on the green about 30 feet from the pin. I then hit a similar approach, only about 40 feet away. I missed my putt, but had a gimme. My opponent hit his putt far too hard, but it hit the back of the cup, bounced into the air, and went in for a birdie.

How could this happen? He hit a terrible drive, got a lucky break when it hit the trees, and then an even luckier break when his putt went into the hole. "Another bad break for me," was my mental attitude, and I lost the next hole by swinging too hard because I was mad at what had occurred on hole 11. Sulking is a golfer's worst enemy!

Have a routine to lean on is another of Rotella's rules, and one that I always abuse. When things go bad on the golf course, my routine disappears. In fact, going back to the previous example, when I stepped up to the 12th tee, I forgot my routine of standing behind the ball, picking a target and taking one practice swing before hitting the ball. I actually took my driver, took two practice swings and then swung hard in anger at what had previously occurred. The ball duck-hooked left into a hazard and I lost the hole with a double-bogey. Get in the habit of following your golf routine.

Find peace on the course. When I first read this rule, I was dumbfounded. What was Rotella talking about? The answer is that when we're focusing on "our personal major," we make it such a big deal of it that we forget to relax and have fun on the course. We forget that golf is a game. Whether we shoot our best or our worst round, we'll still be the same person. To shoot our best round, however, we need to find that peace that comes from relaxing, yet concentrating on the shot at hand.

Finally, Rotella urges golfers of every age and ability to beat your fellow golfers with patience. Don't let what other golfers are doing affect your golf game. Be patient with yourself. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. A three-putt is not the end of the world. A drive that lands in a hazard won't finish your round. Patience is a virtue, and it's one that we all need on the golf course. Finally, I'll add the Koncel Korollary to Rotella's Rules: Set realistic expectations for yourself. I may want to win the Senior Club Championship, but it's a stroke event with five seniors ahead of me with lower handicaps, so the odds are against me. On the other hand, someone has to win the event, so why not me?

And, speaking of winning, I have some winning golf lessons from Dr. Rotella and Rick Smith that I want to pass along to you. I'll provide you with details about winning these videotapes in next month's column.

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

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