January 18th,2014

Want to be a professional golf player?

~~You’re the club champion, number one in your pennant team, maybe even a state representative. You’re good,playing of +1,0 or 1 handicap at your golf club, everyone in your club keeps suggesting that you should turn professional golf player, and to be fair, you think about it too.That is how many dreams start.

So you take the plunge, play well at tour school, and get your professional card. Now you have to step up to a whole new level and compete against guys you have been watching on TV your whole life. It is a daunting proposition and hard to handle.

It’s no secret it’s a tough game to earn a living from professional golf.Very talented players never make the grade. Therefore, it’s best to go in with your eyes open, and as prepared as you can possibly be. The early going will be pretty tough, and you’ll have to learn quickly. Professional golf chews up and spits out the uncommitted and unprepared. Here’s few initiatives  that might help you “make it” to the next level in golf.

Don’t mistake the question ‘How did you play?”, as an invite to tell your inquisitor about your hard luck stories. They are just asking about your score, nothing else. If you’ve had two three putts and missed a couple of short one’s, keep it to yourself. Go to the putting green and work it out. The old saying on tour is that 95% of players don’t care about what you have shot, and the other 5% wish you had more.

If anyone had any doubts about the benefit of weight training for golf, the example that Tiger  has set will have by now cast them aside. Tiger has revolutionised the way that professional golf will be played in the future. His adherence to a strict workout regime see’s him possessed of a physique like no other in the sport. The power and clubhead speed that he generates as a result enables him to hit shots that few others can. With tour golf courses becoming longer and longer, the ability to bomb it out there and to carry the irons further through the air will become increasingly important.In my playing days a tournament golf course of 6,200m was very long, the minimum length requirements for a tournament golf course today is 6,500m to 6,800m.The last professional golf tournament I had played was in 2012, the PGA Sultan,Belek par 71 and 6477m.It was a challenge. I was sick and tired of hitting “flush” 3 woods to reach the long par 4’s of 433 meters. I guess when Tiger played the PGA Sultan a year later was hitting second shots with 7 or 8 irons at the same par 4’s.
There is a great old story about Gary Player adopting an approach that the golf course he was playing every week was the best course he had ever played, and that the greens that week, however bad, were the best he had ever putted on. It makes so much sense to me now. You don’t get to choose your office environment in this vocation, it chooses you. The more positive you are about the golf course the better the chance is that you will play well. Feel the love.

You can also try to watch Phil Mickelson on your professional road. The ten greatest recovery shots ever played in professional golf, Phil Mickelson owns about half of them. There’s little doubt in my mind that he’s the greatest short game wizard of the last two decades. Anyone aspiring to a career in professional golf should take their golf towel, put it somewhere in the shade near the chipping green during the lead up to a tournament and just watch and observe Phil in ACTION. You’ll see shots that you’ve never seen before, and ways to play them that you’ve never even considered. You’ll learn something also by walking a round with Henrik Stenson or Adam Scott.One of the misconceptions of rookie professional is the standard of play required to compete at the highest level. What quickly becomes apparent is that it’s not about how many great shots the best players hit, but how many bad shots they don’t hit. Watching Adam or Henrik plot their way around a golf course is a lesson in patience, course management and self discipline.For example Adam stays out of his own way. He rarely makes an out of control swing, and rarely takes on a shot where the percentages aren’t in his favour. He understands his own capabilities, is honest with himself and plays accordingly. That self-honesty has made him a great player. There is much to learn from his example.

Don’t leave the tournament on the driving range.One habit that can be very hard to break is that of beating balls on the range. It’s what you do. You’re a professional golfer so you practice, and the old story was that the harder you practiced the better you got. However, smart, effective practice is always a winner and being well rested is an important component of performing at your best. Do your work, but allow your body time to recuperate and to be at its best when money time comes around.

Fly smart; unless you have a trust fund, a wealthy family or a generous sponsor, chances are you will be flying cattle class (economy) early in your career. If so, you need to find the best way to make sure that you don’t arrive at your tournament venue worn out from a horrendous flight stuck between two sumo wrestlers or screaming children.

If you are doing a long haul flight ( as often happens when you leave Australia), ask your travel agent to book an exit row. Then, at check in, ask for the locations in economy where there might be some spare seats. The chance to stretch out and find some peace of mind is an important part of your preparation,amongst many others, are all potential scenario’s that you could encounter in an average year on tour. How you deal with the stresses of difficult or unusual situations will be pivotal to your success and longevity as a professional golfer. Great years can often come down to one or two weeks of outstanding play.

You don’t want “your week” to be undermined because you were unable to deal with external pressures that you should have prepared for.

Other than all of this, shooting in the 60’s every time you tee up also works very well! Good luck.