Stop me if you've heard this one before: Rory McIlroy convincingly beats an elite field to win on the PGA Tour. Actually, you've probably heard it three of the last four weeks. Hey, this kid is really good.
McIlroy does everything well, he has no weak part of the game. But the one thing I think he does so well - that most amateur golfers can adopt - is his ability to get out of his own way when he is playing really well.
And that brings us to this week's "A Lesson Learned."
Rory McIlroy didn't have to play this week - his placement as a "top 5" player at The Tour Championship was already solidified, as is probable "Player of the Year" status. But in his own words, "I felt like I was playing really well and didn't want to stop that run." And no, he didn't.
How many times have you been playing well, started to think about it, and have your run or round, just collapse? It happens to many amateurs whereas the pros do the exact opposite, they recognize when they are playing well - and they just start playing better.
What do they know that you don't? Here's my three tips to help you keep a good run going.
1.) Stay on point: When most players are playing well, on a run of pars or birdies or just making good swings, there is often a key swing thought or trigger that is getting you going. And then, when you start thinking about a score - you start thinking about what you need to do to make a score, rather than a good swing. "Avoid the water", "Keep it left", "Stay under the hole", etc. Stick with what's working, the process of the swing rather than what the result should be.
2.) Understand and use your adrenaline: When you are on a roll, your expectations and nerves will rise. That's fine and normal. But understand that it's going to affect your body. You can do many things to help you relax, but it's a natural reaction for the body to have a surge of adrenaline when you are doing a physical activity like swinging a golf club when you are under pressure. Pay attention to things that you may often take for granted - like how far you hit your clubs. Sometimes, when you are swinging well, really well, you're going to hit the ball a little further. So in this instance, don't let what is working - actually work against you because you hit one too flush.
3.) When you are in position to do something special, finish off a career round for example, don't get in the way of that! In fact, go after it! What I mean by that is, if your swing is "on' and you have a goal in mind - I like my students to be aggressive. Think of how many great rounds in golf - 59s for example - happen because the players made a birdie on the last hole. They weren't trying to protect a 60. They weren't aiming for the fat of the green. They knew their swing was dialed in, so they went flag hunting. This is obviously just for the end of your round, when you have a full day's understanding of what is working and what isn't, but I promise you, you'll remember that end of round birdie for your record round a lot longer than if you made a bogey and ended up a couple shots off your goal.
The bottom line is: remember that adage, "Dance with the girl that brung you." If your swing is on and you're playing well, stick to that swing. Don't overthink what you're doing, trust what you're doing is working.
Brian Manzella is the Director of Instruction at Brian Manzella Golf Academy in New Orleans, Louis. Manzella is a nationally-renowned instructor, former PGA Section Teacher of the Year (Kentucky) and has a popular golf instruction forum at his website, Brianmanzella.com.