My favorite trip of the year will commence next Monday with a flight to Michigan, a drive from Detroit to Marshall Michigan for a Wednesday qualifier for the USGA Senior Amateur Championship. My guess is 54 players will compete for 3 spots into the Championship. I’ll have a day and a quarter to acclimate and prepare for this important 18 hole qualifier.
The qualifier is at The Medalist Club near Marshall MI, and it looks amazing. The challenge will not be playing a new course I am not familiar with, it will be putting the greens. My long game is in good form, with the putting being the challenge. I laugh when I hear that I am one of the best Side Saddle putters in the world, its true I am one of the few, but certainly not the best, or even a good putter. Tragically in 2012 I developed a yip when looking at the ball while putting, so since 2012 most putts are hit with my eyes closed.
I had a great run from 1997-2012 winning over 100 amateur events using this method, so it can and does work. Like any part of golf the technique is of paramount importance, and will assist in keeping the brain from creating a quirk while putting or chipping, or even driving the ball.
If you think you have the YIPS, or you know you have the YIPS, then make a change, and let your brain look at something different. It always happens at the point where your going to hit the ball. YOU CANNOT LOOK AT THE BALL (like Spieth looking at the hole) as the brain will send an electric charge and the result will not be pretty.
THE CURE…..well there is no cure. Its mind over matter, its getting to a boiling point where you decide to not let it rule you and your body. This has worked sporadically for me. I also now try to concentrate on the putter head finishing down the line I am putting down, and take the emphasis off making the putt, but just hitting it on a line and speed I want.
After the USGA Senior Amateur qualifier I head back to Detroit to fly to London arriving on Friday at 6:25 AM with a drive to Wales to play a practice round at Pyle & Kenfig for the Senior Open qualifier on Monday July 24th. 18 holes, 120 players for 6-8 spots, bringing my A putting game.
Then I will check in at Royal Porthcawl for my practice round on Tuesday with a Thursday start to the British Senior Open. Photos and updates will be here as I progress through these events.
I finish my trip by competing in the British Senior Amateur at the amazing Sunningdale in London on August 9-11th. For that event I am already fully exempt and don’t have to go through a qualifier. Obviously the goal is to qualify back to back for the USGA Senior Am and the Senior Open. The strategy will be same in each case, one shot at a time, never too high, never too low with the emotions. A strong strategy and game plan, as in qualifiers you do not need to win them, but that is always my goal. If I fall short of my goal, I usually still qualify.
The pressure will be high, and dealing with pressure can actually work in your favor, if you know how the adrenaline is going to effect your shot and distance it goes. The more experience you have the more familiar it becomes. But regardless coming down the stretch playing the last few holes knowing you’re close is the true challenge of this game we love. Even at any level this is where you will be challenged most. And unfortunately most players will be fatigued, dehydrated, low in sugar and very short and quick with their swing.
I take a different approach, I will drown myself with water and electrolytes, have sufficient food in me, I will always go into slow motion with my swing. Rhythmic swings down the stretch do NOT produce wild shots. Nervous fast swings do!! Stick to your game plan and visualize your shots to the last putt drops. This may all sound easy, but its not, it takes practice and patience as this game is very difficult to stay in the ZONE for 5+ hours.
If you want to win, you must believe you will win. To believe you will win you must prepare and act like a winner. Your subconscious will always know when you are a fraud, so don’t be a fraud, Prepare…prepare…prepare. And then prepare even harder!!!
Thats it for now, photos of all these courses coming up!!!