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CAN PRACTICE IMPROVE ONE’S GOLF GAME?

by Alan Lovell
Centre de golf Pincourt

A hundred percent. There’s this thing in golf that practice makes perfect, but I don’t believe it’s correct. We’ve always said that practice makes permanent, so if you practice a bad habit you will just ingrain that bad habit forever. If you want to break a bad habit, you need to undo it, and to accomplish that, you need to get someone to act as your mirror.

Some people are born golfers. I think it’s innate in some people and I’ll give you the example of Fred Couples. I think he was good before he even knew what he was doing and then there are golfers like Tom Kite who probably couldn’t start off being able to hit the ball ten yards in a forward direction but he taught himself how to be a tremendous golfer.

Here’s my take on where the game is headed:

I think in the future we’re going to see courses designed for people with less time to spend. I can really see a future where there is a time restriction on places offering different alternatives. Nine and eighteen holes used to be the norm, but we’re seeing a lot of courses designed so that golfers come back to the clubhouse after a set number of holes just for that option.

There’s a term in vogue: executive par 3 courses. An executive par 3 course is generally speaking, a nine-hole par three course, there are no par fours or fives, so just it’s basically nine par threes. And then they’ve changed it into this word executive which means there’s probably some threes and fours. The course up in Tremblant is a good example for where the Manitou has four par fours and 14 par threes.

Pay-to-plays offer a shorter game while still delivering challenging shots. Basically what they’re doing is that they’re putting you in the middle of the fairway every hole, they’re giving you a shot to the green every hole.

It allows you to practice your irons, it allows you to practice your short game ship and your putting. It’s cost and time effective. You don’t pay as much to play those places and it doesn’t take you as long.

Driving ranges and pitch-and-putt facilities give your game a workout without the time. I guess it depends how well you stimulate the mental game, because obviously the thing about a driving range is, if you hit a bad shot you can always hit it again. The thing about a golf course is you can’t. What we try and get people to do is understand not only what it is to give a good shot but how they can go about recreating that. So if I give you the fundamentals, not to worry about where the ball is going but worry about what you can do effectively, then you can re-create that swing and actually hit the ball effectively.

What I find that a lot of people do is they put so much emphasis on the result as opposed to the process, so you call the swing the process and the result is what happends when you swing the club, and if you can get people to understand that, whatever they do sends the ball to wherever its going to go, then you can really start to create some learning.

When I talk to people, I very seldom say good shot, Ii will repeatedly say nice swing so that they get the idea that the shot isn’t the result, it’s actually what they did.

And it works.

If you can get people to focus on the fact that it’s not the result that’s important, it’s how they achieve the result, then they can become better golfers…and a bigger enjoyment of the game.

You don’t have to be a scratch golfer, you don’t have to be a two handicap, you can be a 25 handicap and have the time of your life because you’ve achieved a certain level that you’re happy with and you’re enjoying the game for what it’s there to be and that’s a game.

I knew business men when I worked at Beaconsfield that were more content to break 100 every time they played and they never even tried to break 90, and they enjoyed the game tremendously and they understood the game tremendously. You don’t have to be a great golfer just to be prominent in your club.

I believe, and most teachers in the world believe, that practice makes permanent. It’s like gaining 30 pounds, you don’t take it off overnight.