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Want to get good enough to play in a USGA Championship? Do these 8 things that I did

1️⃣ Being coachable

For an 8 year stretch at one point, I didn’t have a swing coach. I was really stubborn and self-reliant and trying to self-diagnose my game.

But I wasn’t getting any better doing this, so I found a coach (Robert Linville @rlprecisiongolf) that I trusted and I said “You tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

2️⃣ Practice planning

I used to go on my gut for how to practice. But I got fed up with sucking.

So my coach and I planned my practice down to the minute so I was practicing the right things, not necessarily what I felt like practicing.

3️⃣ Exaggerated practice

My coach gave me a drill and I would grind on that drill constantly during a significant portion of my practice time. Here’s how it went:

  • 3 exaggerated motion practice swings

  • Hit 3 balls with exaggerated motion

  • 1 exaggerated motion practice swing

  • 1 free flowing practice swing

  • Hit 1 ball with free flowing swing

  • Do it all again

All of this exaggerated practice allowed me to expedite the process of ingraining a new swing motion.

4️⃣ Playing/Practice balance

It was really easy for me to get caught up in just trying to fix my swing. But I knew it was essential that I got out on the course and actually applied what I had been working on.

Being able to switch off the technical part of my brain and turn on the "just play" part of my brain was a valuable skill for tournament play.

I tried to keep a 50/50 play/practice balance.

5️⃣ Fitness

I generally hate working out.

I'd rather eat donuts with @LouStagner than put in gym time with @Fit_For_Golf or @JGGolfFitness (don’t worry guys I promise it’s not personal).

But I knew if I was going to have better endurance, hold the positions in my swing better, and hit it further, I needed to get put in the effort.

I went to the gym 4-6 times a week, doing heavy strength training and mobility.

6️⃣ Journaling/Reflecting

I always had a pretty low self-image. I never saw myself as a good player or working hard enough. I always felt like I should be better and doing more. Maybe you feel this way at times too.

I had to work hard at overcoming this negativity bias.

So every morning I would write this:

  • 3 things I did well yesterday

  • 1 thing I could improve

  • Specifically how I plan on improving it today

This reinforced to me on a daily basis that I was doing good things.

I got this journaling protocol from my instructor Robert, who got it from the book Organize Tomorrow Today.

7️⃣ Stats

In order to know what I needed to improve, I needed to know what I've actually done on the course. Without this data, practice becomes an emotional endeavor. I would practice what I felt like practicing.

Instead, I took good, detailed stats using an app. Then I would plan my practice with my coach based on those stats.

And I got the added benefit of being able to let shots go, because shots become just data points rather than emotional, be all end all events.

8️⃣ Acceptance

This was easily the most important mental improvement I made leading up to that U.S. Mid-Amateur.

The more priority I put on the process of improvement, the more I was able to accept the results. And not just accept a result afterward, but before.

I got to the point where I could have a huge tournament I was about to play in and say "I can be ok with whatever happens here." This was because I knew I had worked hard leading up, and was going to get back to work after.

If good and bad results are acceptable, then there's nothing to be afraid of, and therefore no reason to play scared.


I hope this was helpful to you!

Not everyone will make it to the finals of a USGA Championship (for lots of reasons). But everyone can commit to doing things in a higher quality way. And these things changed my game and the course of my life forever.

If you found this helpful you’d probably get value from a FREE Mental Game Assessment


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