Friday, September 26, 2008

A Zinger!!

That just about sums it up. This edition of the Ryder Cup was A Zinger! I'll wager that not many viewers heard it, even though they were glued to the set, or if they heard it, it made no impression. When Zinger reported that his plan had been to "put out the more aggresive players first, and the steadiest one last and the others in the middle," he was telling all of us that he has some understanding of playing styles.

Several years ago, the pair of hands typing this, wrote about paying attention to playing styles in a way that would facilitate the way we play. If you put the steadies (who are generally slower) out first, they tend to hold up the faster(more "aggressive") players, making the latter very annoyed and increasingly tense. That is clearly enough added tension and pressure to literally lose matches. The freedom from it is just as clearly sufficient to allow winning.

It's way too vast and important a matter to put it in a blog comment or two, but take note. It's all been said and taught for years now, and we noticed the fact that the two assistants Azinger had have both been well exposed to the style information we presented for 15 years through the PGA Education program. Stockton also had some of that at the Cup in 1991. Olin Browne may even have more information along the way than Dave.

We are glad somebody finally gets it clearly enough to put it to work. It has only taken 23 years of persistence in the message, while most others only blinked, and we all know that he who blinks first finishes last.

We join in congratulating the American team and those who led and coached them.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jaundice in the View

There's no need to make a fuss, but there is cause to correct a constant, reoccurring misperception that is based on inadequate knowledge and/or information. It came through again on ESPN Radio yesterday (my one and only radio listening station these days, since they make people think and try to get at the truth as they understand it).

The two commentators were discussing Tiger and Mediate, mostly admiring both, which certainly was mainline as far as I am concerned.

However, and this is of critical importance, especially to golfers, one was saying that he wished everyone could be as warm, outgoing and affable as Mediate, whom he observed smiling and communicating with everyone. He didn't criticize Tiger, though he saw in him the more severe countenance and tight lipped attitude that we all see most of the time when he is playing (though not so much in interviews).

The other commentator tried to make a point indicating that this was just a natural difference in people, while the first wondered why more players didn't try to be pleasant like Rocco.

The missing information centers in being unaware that there are four primary behavior styles, genetically conditioned, factory installed, that affect what we all see and do. Like it or not, each of us got one at birth. Over years, it may have been afforded so much support that it remained fairly constant, but that demeanor is more an exception that a rule. The rule shows up as the vast majority of folks winding up with a primary style that is bent out of shape (great or small) and leaving each of those persons literally screaming for "the real person to show up").

What is evident is that Rocco is the style we call "Persuader," with traits exactly as listed above - outgoing, jolly, friendly, people oriented, given to passionate expressions of satisfaction, and having a better than average short game with a flair for playing and something of an unorthodox action. (See Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller, ChiChi Rodriguez, and John Daly).

Tiger is, at least as he shows it - and his somewhat mysterious private life would tell more, but no one has access to that except his family and probably Steve Williams - appears to be the style we call "Driver," with a secondary "Persuader" that he employs for his short game wizardry. His demeanor is bottom line oriented, direct, looking dead ahead, staying completely focused, or if that is broken taking the moment for a "do over." That style is always the fist pumper with an exclamation point.

A mark of the Persuader is that it sometimes shows in driving as pure as the driven snow and sometimes as wild as a March hare. And we see that both in Tiger and Rocco.
None of that is bad or wrong. Both sound, good and sufficient, witness the last 37 holes of the Open.

The other two styles are called "Craftsman" and "Analyzer," which are likely the majority of players, since those two styles own the natural traits that are most conducive to solitary, self-initiated activities like golf, and form the majority styles of the population in general, with the Craftsman comprising 50% of the total.

Craftsmen have the most rhythm and patience, consistency and perseverance of the four style. Analyzers are the most detailed, and rule conscious, careful and perfectionistic. From Craftsmen, we get expressions like "salt of the earth," since they are diplomatic to a fault and do not like conflict. From Analyzers we get expressions like "penny pincher" and "nit-picker," since that's how the other three styles tend to see them. None of the four styles are really like what they are referred to by the other three. But it does indicate that all of us would prefer that everyone else be like we are. Isn't going to happen ...Period.

If you are a commentator, we'd be happy to see you learn about the styles so you could refer to them with understanding instead of question marks. If you are a player, we say to you that the last 30 years of work and research and teaching we have done says you will not be able to reach your own personal zenith in your game or performance unless you understand your own style and live and work within that style. (Oh, you'll manage without that, but never to excel). The purveyors of the notion that there is a single "championship style" are simply wrong in their assertion. Any style can become a champion, given staying with the style they own.

If you are an instructor, stop trying to get players to do what you think they ought to do and tailor what you teach to what their styles natively support. In other words, pace the player, not what you believe makes the best set of moves in golf. If you don't know, find out the style of the player and go from there. In case you think that's a bit off - during the 15 years I taught in the PGA education program, I profiled more than 20,000 professionals (players and teachers). I found less than 1% that had ideas and approaches to their games matching their styles when they were profiled, so this is not something of a dream. It is a reality that needs to be heard.

And one final "bottom line." You cannot change your style to whatever you might think will work "best" or "better," without serious consequences. You can try, but you will bend, dent or break something in the process. And you cannot succeed while either restricting or overdoing the style you own, since either of those will shoot you in the foot. Maybe not all the time, but often enough to lose shots and cause to to say that your range game is scratch and your on-course game is like a ten handicapper.

Who is the closest to staying in style? Last weekend, it was Tiger and Rocco, and what a show they put on - getting more viewers than the NBA finals.

I'm waiting for the journalists and commentators to bring their portfolios current.

Monday, June 16, 2008

US Open

Watching the "overtime" today was a treat, if not a treatment. For one thing, as a Tiger fan, I still wasn't sold on who to pull for. Rocco and Tiger are an unlikely pair, but they are friends. I like Tiger for his uncanny ability. I like Rocco for his uncanny human awareness, stage presence, and unshakable optimism.

To tell the truth, I wish Rocco could have won, but I would not have wanted Tiger to lose. Go figure. It's one of those "damned if you do" and "damned if you don't" which is a throwback to "Catch 22."

I'm aware, having visited a number of forums, that Tiger's knee got a lot of negative call. The divisions in the those who like Tiger and those who hate him are strong - very strong. Some thought it was an excuse. Others didn't.

Having worked with players who were injured, I happen to believe it is, and was, real and that he did play through it. But you may want to see that differently, so be my guest, but if you have the guts, go check it out and make an informed decision.

It's not so much the injury itself as the anticipation of pain that causes problems. Anticipation builds anxiety and anxiety brings tension and tension leads to tight motions and loss of flexibility and freedom in motion. Even for Tiger - he is, after all, human, and subject to all the same issues that fall in the natural flow of human behavior. Exceptional? Yes, indeed, but nonetheless human.

So two hats off - one to Rocco for an outstanding elder statesman's performance, and to Tiger for his series of 11th hour bailouts. It was a show well beyond "worth the price of admission." This one was "priceless."

And if you ever had doubts about Tiger's humanity, all you had to do was watch him with Sam and watch her not wanting to be separated from him.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Crown on the Crowne

Mickelson came through, with not unexpected results, but with a surprisingly unexpected finish. His shot from jail will make it to the gallery of the best remembered, as it should.

What may not make it to the unforgettable came from a Golf Channel discussion (we think it was on Friday, but if not, it was Crowne connected) when Tim Rosaforte talked about Rod Pampling's putting which did not appear to him (Tim) to be quite up to Rod's more recent performace. Reason: he didn't have his wife's sport psychology input as usual, or as Tim put it, Rod's "own Rotella" to keep him calm and on his game.

Of course, we now know that Rod hung in there to the last hole of the tournament, falling to a tie for second purely via Phil's spectacular second shot on 18. We don't know if Tim thought that happened because Rod's "coach" (and wife) wasn't present, but we doubt that was the case.

What really caught our attention was not so much that Tim mentioned that early on, but that he made it sound like players need their "sport psychologist" like Linus needs his blanket. And he makes "Rotella" sound like a synonym for golf psychology.

We have a "flash" for you. If what Tim implied is the way it is today, both players and coaches are in a lot of trouble. The mental game coach's job is to provide the means for players to manage themselves in the game. It is not to have a symbiotic attachment that requires an umbilical feeding tube necessitating the proximity of the helper to the player, in order to avoid death and dying on the course.

If the coach is not an enabler and the player is a poorly prepared dependent soul, it may be necessary to have access to breast-feeding, but if everyone is doing "the job" that isn't even in the blueprint.

The point:
It is high time that players, gurus and commentators opened the box and climbed out of that dark place they have hunkered in for the past 80 years. When someone as bright as Rosaforte doesn't hear it, it's getting pretty bad.

Conventional wisdom doesn't provide one iota of memorable content addressing how to move from a dependent, defensive, cautious, doubt-ridden view of what ought to happen, to a content rich, balanced, trustworthy, flexible, researched process that brings independence and freedom to the self-management required for effective solo, solitary, self-initiated, self-executed activities like golf.

Truth is, we thought Pampling handled himself pretty well without his "shrink," but that evidence will likely be overlooked since he didn't win.

We will be glad to explain all of the "how to's" in the game that others seem either not to recognize or are unwilling to share.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's That You Say?

For more than 25 years now, we have sought to give golfers as much practical information as possible, coupled with the steps required for implementation, so they will not still be needing to asking the question: "But how do I do that?"

For that same time frame, we have chased down what others have said, and there is a lot of repetition among them, and we still have not found anyone who follows one of those "Here's-what-you-need-to-do" comments with a description of actually how to do it. That appears to be either because their goal is only to "motivate," "inspire," or perhaps because they simply do not know how objectives are actually reached through action (mental or mechanical).

We have tried to be careful not to offend anyone by pointing specifically to what is missing in the words and deeds of our peers, but that is terribly hard to avoid, especially after so many years.

One gets the impression that many think all one needs to do is "Don't worry, be happy," and take a positive path to thinking. Indeed that sounds so good that we are almost ready to shout - "Yeah Man!" But then we awake and wonder "OK, but how does one do that?"

There is not enough room here to detail the whole of it, but the outline is that one needs to master and implement what the automatic principle calls for and get it done through the automatic process.

We have described that, including the actions, both in our books and on our website at

The process is quite simple. It centers in using a clear key as the only tool you need to learn, practice and ultimately play the game at your best level, without anxiety and tension wrecking your train. Of course, you will need to address your "mechanical" game issues, so get some help from a competent instructor - and there are enough to be found that understand and know how to teach within the automatic principle to help you integrate what you need for your game.

If you need help finding someone like that, just let us know.