Author: K.C.

Lie Angle 101
24 September
2021
  • September 24, 2021

Lie Angle 101

If you are like us here at The Golf Performance Center, we are loving watching the Ryder Cup and the precision of golf shots that they display!  They also hit some not so crispy ones, but they are ranked best in the world for a reason.  They perform under pressure, better than anyone else on the planet.

One thing that they also have, that is available to you as well, is dialed in golf equipment!  Let’s talk about lie angles.  The picture above will show you more.  Think of when you set up to a golf ball.  The toe is slightly up in the air.  At impact, your goal is to expose the most sweet spot that you can, so the toe and heel should be “flush” to the ground and produce the best impact position possible.  I would say that 75% of people that come to Custom Clubs need some sort of lie angle adjustment.  It can also drastically change a ball flight if needed.  Lastly, if nothing else it is educational to all golfers that come through our doors as we spend time explaining this.

You should check your irons at minimum once a year if you expect them to perform.  The right tools make the job that much easier!

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Ryder Cup Weekend
24 September
2021
  • September 24, 2021

Ryder Cup Weekend!

The excitement of the Ryder Cup is in the air as the United States looks to stop the bleeding from the dominance of the European teams over the last decade. The crowds are out in full force and will only get louder as the week goes on. The athletes on both teams will feel tremendous pressure as the individual sport we all know and love becomes one where one shot (good or bad) can affect not only their playing partner, but the vibe of the entire team. The best players in the world are used to playing in front of crowds and controlling their emotions while doing so, but there is something different about this tournament. The energy around the property is electric and the roars from the grandstands can be heard across the course. In order for players on both teams to control their emotions and execute to the best of their abilities under this pressure, it is critical they are aware of and able to control their heart rates and breathing rates.

When preparing for competition, whether in the Ryder Cup or in your local competitive tournaments, it is important to prepare for all variables that you can control (proper equipment, adequate nutrition, pre-round warm up, etc.). Elevated heart rates and breathing rates are normal for competition, and managing these factors could be the difference in the match. The next time you feel your heart rate creeping up and your breaths getting shorter, stop. Take the time. Close your eyes, inhale through your nose, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds, and slowly exhale over the next 5-8 seconds out of your mouth. Do this until you feel your heart rate settle and your breaths become more normalized. It isn’t until then that you should begin your pre-shot routine and envision that tee shot piped down the middle of the fairway.

Happy Ryder Cup Week everyone! Enjoy the excitement at Whistling Straits!

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The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
24 September
2021
  • September 24, 2021

Blood, Sweat, Tears and Success

I am sure you have heard many great athletes say things like, I’ve poured all my blood, sweat and tears into this, or this win is from all the blood and sweat I’ve put into my career.  This weekend while you are watching the Ryder Cup, listen to the comments. I am sure you will hear a similar statement from nearly every competitor.  The Ryder Cup is a reward for the hard work, sweat and  tears all the players have put into their own games to be selected to represent their country.  The Ryder Cup is a biennial event in which golfers are rewarded for their strong performance during the golf season and some are selected based on their talent and relentlessness in competitive match play. 

Success does not come without sacrifice, it does not come without failure, it does not come without giving it your all, so naturally during your journey to success you will experience many physiological and psychological effects.  To set a goal of playing golf at the highest levels, collegiate golf, professional golf, winning USGA amateur events, whatever it is, you will sacrifice some blood, sweat and tears for the cause.  Maybe you have already experienced some of these things. If you haven’t, it is likely you are not pushing yourself hard enough.   Golf is a great sport.  It is a great game that teaches us many things about ourselves and life. I believe there’s something we can all agree on about golf – golf is not easy!  As a matter of fact, golf in its simplest form is easy. Get the ball in the hole with the least number of strokes possible, but to do that consistently well and better than anyone else is hard.  It requires many hours of work on thousands of different variables, under many different circumstances and in many cases, the outcome is out of your control. 

How can you succeed, develop a plan, build in the times you know that may be tough, tournament pressures, long practice hours, difficult workouts in the gym, the mental practice needed to overcome the overwhelming desire to give up when it gets really hard or you have a bad round or practice? With a coach you can manifest your journey, however it will not be all sunshine and rainbows.

Yes, it is great to hold the trophy of success, but we have seen how athletes are reduced to tears, or unable to speak after their victory.  There’s the overwhelming emotions from all the years of working so hard to win, then the dam breaks. The emotions are so strong they can no longer hold back the tears of joy and sacrifice.   To say the least, there are few who have tasted victory without first being on their backs, to develop resolve from defeat is a step to a victorious life. 

Over the years I have seen many good athletes give up too early on their dream because they have been knocked onto their back, not developing the resolve to get back up and fight for what they say they want.  They overlooked three things, blood, sweat and tears!  Get UP! 

Enjoy Your Journey!

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Weight of the golfing world
24 September
2021
  • September 24, 2021

The Weight of the Golfing World on
Your Shoulders

Of the many psychological skills that will be on display at this weekend’s Ryder Cup, none will be more impactful than the golfers’ ability to handle pressure.

Every two years, the golfing world screeches to a halt focusing its full attention on the battle between the United States and Europe, not just for bragging rights, but for global golf supremacy. It is a time when players put aside individual differences, and rather than compete for themselves, the players unite in common cause to defend the honor of their team and country. Not surprisingly, with higher stakes comes higher pressure.

What is pressure and where does it come from? According to the American Psychological Association, pressure is defined as “excessive or stressful demands, imagined or real, made on an individual to think, feel, or act in particular ways”. As with most psychological phenomena, pressure originates in the mind, and its intensity is a function of how the individual experiencing the pressure perceives, or interprets, the excessive or stressful demands. In other words, what one person perceives to be excessive or stressful  might not have the same effect on another person. For example,  say two golfers have a 3 foot putt to win their club championship. The amount of pressure each golfer feels will be determined by the meaning they attach to the outcome of the situation and thus influence their behavior. If Golfer #1 attaches the meaning that he will be letting down his friends and family if he doesn’t make the putt and his life will be ruined, he will feel more pressure than Golfer #2 who interprets the situation differently and attaches the meaning that it’s just another putt and her life will go on whether she makes it or not.

Importantly, there is no right or wrong way to interpret any situation. However, it is important to know that how we interpret a given situation will affect the amount of pressure we experience. The skill of being able to recognize the consequences of a particular interpretation and then change your interpretation in an effort to improve outcome is known as cognitive reframing. The next time you head out to the course, pay close attention to how you are interpreting your play. If you are like most golfers, my guess is your interpretations will lean toward judgment and self-criticism. My experience tells me that judgment and self-criticism don’t often lead to improved performance. If I am correct, consider reframing your negative interpretations in a more rational, reasonable, and optimistic way like Golfer #2 in the example above. I have no doubt that this will lead to greater enjoyment of the game and improve your chances of shooting lower scores.

Pressure is in your head and how you interpret a given situation will not only determine the intensity of the pressure you experience but will also play a role in determining the outcome of your behavior. By reframing your interpretations you can, in effect, regulate the amount of pressure you feel and thus be in greater control of outcome. The ability to cognitively reframe will be a critical factor this weekend and the team that can do it best will undoubtedly hoist Samuel Ryder’s Cup late Sunday afternoon. 

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Role of Assessments
24 September
2021
  • September 24, 2021

The Role of Assessments

Many people in the game of golf have a feeling that they should just play better than they do.  They believe there is one thing they need to figure out whether that’s a swing move, something with equipment, or maybe a belief that it’s just all mental.  However, this is merely an illusion and avoiding the truth is detrimental to progress as the truth is the actual starting point.

At the Golf Performance Center, we believe that periodic assessments through our Player Development System provide the athlete and coach valuable information to create a truly robust practice plan. Knowing where one is in terms of function and athleticism as well as with golf skills put under pressure is the only way to truly assess the reality of how strong those skills are.  Many people practice until they find a groove and use that as the basis for expectations instead of an objective assessment.  In fact, many people do not want to be assessed because they are more comfortable living the illusion.

If this article does not resonate with you, or maybe even offends you, then you are in dire need of an assessment to find out where you actually are with your game. Identifying those areas of weakness and understanding what is fundamentally making those areas weak will start you on the road to improvement.  Adopting a growth mindset is essential to even get yourself to show up for an assessment and see the harsh reality of what you are and what you aren’t capable of doing.

If you have never been assessed or it’s been a long time, I encourage you to seek out that essential first step. You will be amazed at what you will learn!

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Earn The Right To Rotate
17 September
2021
  • September 17, 2021

Earn the Right to Rotate

The phrase ‘you can’t run before you can walk’ is one that resonates in all parts of life. In the world of golf performance and rotational training, it means you must earn the right to rotate! An efficient golf swing involves a combination of mobility and stability in the right areas to produce the most power possible. The phrase itself was coined by a leader in strength and conditioning and rotational training, Jason Glass, as he describes the necessity to be able demonstrate an exercise without rotating before the athlete attempts it with rotation of any particular segment. Resisting rotation forces the athlete to stabilize and show control of the movement, identify any compensations that may be taking place, and correct them before graduating to the next step. I always stress to our athletes how anti-rotation training will actually help them rotate more. Once an athlete has shown mastery of an exercise while resisting rotation we are able to introduce varying bases of support to the rotational “version” of each exercise. Here at GPC we believe you must create a stable base from which you can rotate, and this style of training helps us do that. Below are 3 exercises we use regularly that would fall under the category of anti-rotation!

  1. Tall Kneeling Single Arm Cable Press – Begin by setting up the cable column about chest height once you are in the tall kneeling position. Face away from the cable column with the cable held in one hand. Without dropping your hips back, rotating your torso, or shrugging, press the handle directly in front of you. Start light, it does not take much to test your ability to resist rotation in this exercise.
  1. ½ Kneeling FMT Chop – Begin in the half kneeling position with an FMT band anchored above you to your right. Place your right leg in front of you, so your hip, knee, and ankle are at 90 degrees. Grab the FMT with a handle in each hand. Pull the handles to your chest, and then press down and away from the anchor point. Pay attention to the width of your base, as well as whether or not you begin to shrug to pull the FMT down. Resist rotating!
  1. Tall Kneeling Band Resisted Pallof Press w/ Eccentric Rotation – Begin in the tall kneeling position with a band anchored to your right about hip height. Pull the band to your chest, rotate away from the anchor point keeping the band close to your stomach and your hips stable, one fully rotated away from the wall press the band in front of you and slowly resist the band from pulling you back toward the wall. Your focus should be on keeping your glutes and mid-section engaged, and shoulders back and down even when you are pressing the band out.
See you in the Zone!
Tyler Campbell
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The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
17 September
2021
  • September 17, 2021

Your Environment Matters!

As you move into golf’s “off” season, take some time to understand your stats, scores, go through a thorough assessment of your golf, physical, mental skills, and your equipment. Put an engaged effort into building a program that will help you succeed in reaching your goals.  The “off” season is a great time to turn “on” the most beneficial work to turn your good game into a great game. 

Let’s look at the science behind superior performance.  This may come as a shock to many, but YOU can become the best player in the world!  You don’t have to be born with talent, as a matter of fact, science has proven that no one is born with talent.  There is also no disputing that some are born with slightly better genetics than others, but it is a small component of becoming a superior performer, regardless of the area of practice. This leads us to discuss Nature vs. Nurture. How much does the environment have to do with our ability to become great?  A lot!  The book Road to Excellence, with further research brought to light in the book Talent Code, is about how certain cultures or environments produced the highest levels of athletic performance from some of the least expected regions of the world.  So when you say you want to be the best in the world at something, environment matters. It is extremely rare for someone to achieve this in an isolated environment. There needs to be others to help challenge you, push you and motivate you. Environment matters, therefore we at The Golf Performance Center have worked hard to create an environment and culture of development, bringing multiple people together with the common goal of being the best breeds and helping everyone in their developmental process. 

Let me explain or highlight a small bit of knowledge on developing high level performance. According to the American Psychological Association, “Counter to the common belief that expert performance reflects innate abilities and capacities, recent research in different domains of expertise has shown that expert performance is predominantly mediated by acquired complex skills and physiological adaptations. For elite performers, supervised practice starts at very young ages and is maintained at high daily levels for more than a decade. The effects of extended deliberate practice are more far-reaching than is commonly believed. Performers can acquire skills that circumvent basic limits on working memory capacity and sequential processing. Deliberate practice can also lead to anatomical changes resulting from adaptations to intense physical activity. The study of expert performance has important implications for our understanding of the structure and limits of human adaptation and optimal learning”(Ericsson & Charness, 1994). Therefore we believe function dictates form, when your body is able to move efficiently throughout the motion of a golf swing there is less adaptation to limiting factors such as limited ranges of motion or lack of stability, leading to superior performances, leading to higher level of success over time.

It has been found in nearly every field of human endeavor, the performance of the best practitioners is so outstanding (Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Pele, Usain Bolt or Tom Brady), so superior even to the performance of other highly experienced individuals in the field, that most people believe a unique, qualitative attribute, commonly called innate talent, must be invoked to account for this highest level of performance. Although these differences in performance are by far the largest psychologists have been able to reliably measure among healthy adults, exceptional performance has not, until recently, been extensively studied by physiologists, neurologists, kinesiologists and performance experts.  By understanding how these individuals have been able to separate themselves from the other great athletes is eye opening.  Knowing that all the mentioned athletes happened to grow up in an environment very rich in deliberate practice or playing many simulated games alone helped researchers understand that these individuals were not born with more talent, but developed it over time with a focus of becoming the best that they can be.  Much of this comes in the form of self-talk, psychologically telling themselves that they will be better than everyone else who played their sport or in their field, unrelenting in their pursuit of perfection for themselves. 

RELENTLESSLY pursue your passions!

Enjoy Your Journey!

Citations

Ericsson, K. A., & Charness, N. (1994). Expert performance: Its structure and acquisition. American Psychologist, 49(8), 725–747. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.49.8.725

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Road To Success
17 September
2021
  • September 17, 2021

The Long Road to Success

Many endeavors in life entail a long journey through a myriad of obstacles, highs and lows, and periods of self-doubt.  No matter what you have committed to there will be times when you will have doubt about your potential and your why.  Is this really for me?  Am I really capable of accomplishing the goal that I established for myself?

Many people don’t realize what so many great athletes have overcome to get to where they are.  Many people don’t realize just how relentless great athletes are.  The journey is not all glory, in fact most of it is slow grinding drudgery.  But as writer Logan Pearsall Smith once said, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.”  The long periods where it seems that no progress is being made is in fact where all the progress is made.  The progress builds and builds and puts pressure like water on a dam until it finally breaks and then leaps of progress can be experienced.  Continuing on the journey long enough to build up the pressure is essential if you are going to really experience the joy.

If you have doubts about your abilities, find out where they are and create a plan to improve. If you have doubts about your why find a quiet place, write it down, and see if that brings clarity.  If you have doubts about whether you are making progress then measure relevant skills and fundamentals periodically so you can see the truth objectively. 

“Anyone can start something, very few people can finish.” – Tim Grover

Practice Smart!

Dennis Hillman

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Relentless
17 September
2021
  • September 17, 2021

Relentless

At the end of the summer, all of the coaches at GPC gather to choose a word or phrase that will serve as inspiration for the upcoming academic year. This year, we chose ‘relentless’ to lead us on our journey. As defined by Merriam-Webster.com, relentless is “the showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : determined, dogged, grim, implacable, unappeasable, unflinching, unrelenting, unyielding.” Used in a sentence, The golfer was relentless in pursuit of his tour card. When I feel relentless, I truly believe nothing can get in my way. I love this idea of being unstoppable in pursuit of one’s goals especially in the face of adversity.

A great example of being relentless is Max Homa. Homa’s golfing career has been filled with adversity and given how hard he has worked to achieve his dream of being on the PGA Tour, it’s not surprising he has the word ‘relentless’ tattooed on the outside of his right wrist; a reminder that no matter how difficult things get he will pursue his dreams with dogged determination.

At 30 years of age Homa is starting to see his hard work payoff. After turning pro in 2013, coming off winning the individual honors at the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship. Homa bounced back and forth between the Korn Ferry Tour, where he had great success, and the PGA Tour, where he admits he never felt like he belonged until winning the Wells Fargo Championship in 2019. Homa backed up his victory at the Wells Fargo by winning The Genesis Invitational this past February.

Interestingly, it wasn’t winning that allowed Homa to feel like he belonged on the Tour. It was a greater belief in himself. In college, Homa hung a sign above the door in his room that read, “They don’t believe you’re good enough”, which he used as motivation to work harder and prove the doubters wrong. The problem with this way of thinking, Homa found out, is that he was giving too much power to the voices of others and focused too much on outcome to win their approval. “I was not having faith in myself unless I was seeing results”, Homa spoke on his Get a Grip with Max Homa & Shane Bacon. It wasn’t until Homa learned to appreciate himself more than the opinions of others that he was able to trust himself.

I often tell our juniors that the less you care about what others think of you the happier you will be. Homa’s transformation into one of the best players in the world is a beautiful example of this. Importantly, not only will caring less about what others think of you increase your happiness, but it will also give you the freedom to relentlessly pursue your dreams.

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