First and foremost, "Congratulations to Webb Simpson!" Simpson has been one of the most consistent and dedicated players in golf over the last year, he is a deserving and worthy champion of the U.S. Open. I expect we'll see more major championship victories in his future.
Another winner this past week was the golf course. The set up was excruciatingly tough but fair. Exactly what you would hope for from a U.S. Open test. Great golf at the U.S. Open means patience as well as execution. And that brings us to this week's "A Lesson Learned."
Ben Hogan once said, "The most important shot in golf is the next one." Could there be any wiser words for playing a set up like Olympic Club?
Staying patient and focused is difficult in any round, especially when the US Open is on the line.
Goals in golf are self evident: hit the ball close to the target, avoid trouble and complete the hole in as few shots as possible. Reminding ourselves of these basic goals during a round of golf are not helpful, but actually hurt our focus. Players of every level are guilty of losing sight of the real factors that make a complete round of golf as good as it can be. Playing your best golf isn't setting up one over reaching goal, it's creating a separate goal for every shot.
Before every shot, select a target and decide what distance, trajectory and ground reaction you are expecting. Having a more complete idea of every shot you hit will keep you in the moment, not wasting time and energy on what might go wrong, but focusing in on the positive outcome a great shot will produce.
Then, when it's time to pull the trigger, you have to BELIEVE you have the right strategy and shot in mind.
Perhaps the most critical shot of the U.S. Open was Webb Simpson's chip on the 72nd hole. He had a terrible lie, in a hole, in the deep rough - so bad he even asked if he might be in a sprinkler hole and be entitled to some relief. When informed he could not get relief, he refocused and set up his plan. He did not dwell on the negative. His caddie, Paul Tesori, said to him - "Stay committed." And he did.
Elite players play with a high level of INTENTION. They have a plan and a commitment to every shot they hit. It's specific and it's methodical. For your next round, don't simply think hit fairways, hit greens, try to knock it in. Put the plan in your head - and watch it translate to your scorecard.
Joe Plecker is the Director of Instruction at Baltimore Country Club (Five Farms) in Baltimore, MD. Plecker is a highly acclaimed instructor having been named a "Top 40 instructor under 40 in America" by Golf Digest and selected as a Mid Atlantic PGA section Teacher of the Year." You can learn more about Joe at his website - www.joeplecker.com