Paulas Break Par Blueprint Story

Several months ago Paula MacArthur decided she wanted to get better at golf. She felt she was missing out on the advantages that men get from business golf and the relaxed way that business can be conducted on a course.

Paula runs a company that brings together men and women in a variety of networking ways and runs coaching groups for certain people within her network.

But Paula also had a second reason for wishing to play golf. Both her parents were mad keen golfers and played nearly every day. She felt that it would be a great way to spend some fun time with them. Oddly, or perhaps not, the thought of playing in front of her parents caused her far more stress than a few business golf outings.

So Paula signed up for the Break Par Blueprint having talked to me about it at a networking event. I didn’t think another thing about it until a couple of days ago when she sent me through an email with a card attached to it. She had shot 52 over nine holes with a birdie and a par in the mix. You can see the card below.

So shooting 52 over 9 (relatively short) holes might seem a long way from breaking par.

But this was her fourth round of golf. Ever! Her first nine holes produced a score of 75.

And she hadn’t spent hours at the range either.

She had simply focused on two core modules in the Break Par Blueprint – Basics and Modelling.

She has a half set of mismatched clubs. And doesn’t even have a wedge. But she has created a beautiful, effortless swing in almost exactly the same way that I learnt my swing.

Occasionally I hear […]

By |November 21st, 2013|Stories|1 Comment

A Key Lesson To Take From Tiger Woods

I’ve often spoken about how Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia arrived on the world stage at the same time. When Sergio nearly won the 1999 USPGA, after an epic battle with Tiger, you would never have assumed he would be without a major title today!

Much of this has to do with Sergio’s fragile mental state and Tiger’s incredibly robust mental strength. And Henrik Stenson attributes his current incredible golf to managing his mental state in a way that he didn’t use to.

One of the tricks that Tiger uses, which I explain in the video below, is to make sure that any angst or anger is taken out in the ten yards after the shot. He allows himself to be angry at what he has done for ten paces and then won’t give it any more thought. This is useful because sometimes it’s unrealistic to simply bottle up our emotions and exist in a zen like calm if that’s not our nature. But it does put a very distinct end to your anger and irritation at your shot.

Another similar technique, which I use and got from the wonderful Dr Karl Morris, is to have two very distinct triggers. One to start your shot and one to finish. Karl discusses how we cannot concentrate fully for the four hours or so we need to make sure we can switch off and on again and focus very intently when the time comes.

Your start trigger might be the noise of the Velcro on your glove or a specific visual trigger such as a colour or some item on your bag. Once you fire this trigger off you shift into a zone where you are playing golf.

The second trigger […]

By |November 20th, 2013|Golf Tips|Comments Off on A Key Lesson To Take From Tiger Woods
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    A clever little putting tip from Tom Watson (and Phil Mickelson)

A clever little putting tip from Tom Watson (and Phil Mickelson)

A tremendous amount of golf is really just about grinding out the practice and making sure you pick it up yourself.   But it’s never as simple as that. I spent so many hours at the range during my challenge year – certainly in excess of 500 that I noticed a tremendous amount of golfers making the same mistakes over and over again.

They’d simply arrive and hit as many drives as they were prepared to pay for depending upon the size of the bucket of balls.  And there’s a popular myth out there that that is pretty much what I did.  I noticed, just a couple of days ago, a Youtube commenter remarking on one of my videos “70,000 balls ladies and gentlemen – there’s your answer right there…” and a number of people “liked” the comment.

But sadly that’s not the answer.  And it’s actually a million miles from the truth.  The truth is that I hit half as many balls in practice in the second part of the year but each ball hit was at least twice as effective in terms of making me better.  The quality of my practice and ability to actually score better was exponentially better.  But for an internet keyboard warrior who wants to for their own opinion that’s not so good.  People want to assume that things are simple and that we can all do it “if we could just find the time to hit 70,000 balls…”

Well, there was a golfer who hit very nearly as many golf balls as me during that challenge year who also practiced at the range…

… and his handicap went from 17 to 13 during that period.

So the answers are never simple but […]

Cure Your Golf Shank – Its All In Your Head

The “shank” is almost the unmentionable word in golf. It’s the only affliction that golfers are consistently unhappy to discuss and almost has a mystical ability to appear simply via conversation.
As a child, in my first experience with golf, it never created an issue for me. Kids may occasionally shank a ball but, being much wiser in golfing terms than adults (and I’m actually being serious), don’t suddenly think “that’s it – I’ve caught the golf shanks and will be plagued for the foreseeable future”. They simply reload and try again.
When I got back into golf at the start of my challenge I played a round with my cousin who told me that his brother had given up completely, despite reaching an 11 handicap, as a result of a bout of shanks. It seemed like incredibly irrational behavior. That’s of course until I encountered my first bout of them myself…
I documented the bizarre situation in my book Dream On but to briefly re-tell the story what happened was I was badly shanking at the range. A friend, who played off a six handicap, saw me and was laughing at my plight. He went into his bay and, not surprisingly if you believe shanks folklore, started shanking. I obviously felt better and started laughing at his plight.
Along came Debbie who was the pro who helped me out during my challenge, in an attempt to cure my golf shank. She hit a few shots and started shanking herself!
It was an utterly surreal situation but one which immediately made it clear to me that a case of shanks is a mental issue as much as a physical one. And as such it’s incredibly important to deal with […]

A Golfers Quest For The Perfect Golf Swing

Surely the perfect golf swing is the ultimate quest for any golfer? The very thing that we all expect to find at the top of a very high mountain from a strange golfing guru who whispers mystical guff to us.

The pursuit of the perfect golf swing is a huge reason why Ben Hogan remains such a compelling character. His seminal book, Five lessons – the modern fundamentals of golf, still sits at or near the top of the golf charts on an almost continual basis. And trust me – I check the golf book charts stats a lot… The writer’s ego is a fragile thing!

Beyond that though there is always the thought that Hogan had found the “secret”. That he had found that little guru at the top of the mountain and in a few whispered words the secret had been transferred across. In our feverish and hopeful little golf minds Hogan had climbed down the mountain and simply applied a perfect golf swing to his game rather than putting it in his book.

That, of course, is nonsense. People talk about his wrist cupping or “supination” as if that’s the answer or the “secret” but clearly this isn’t the case. A golf swing is a combination of so many factors that one simple wrist position can never hope to be close to being the perfect answer. My own “guru at the top of the mountain” was an incredible gentleman by the name of Jim McLellan.

Jim had actually met Hogan but that’s another tale for another day. His story is well documented in my book and will also be in the movie but in essence this is what Jim taught me.
The Key To The Perfect […]

The Genius of Luke Donald

During my golf challenge to break par I spent a lot of time studying the habits of a number of golfers who I felt we could, as amateurs, directly relate to. It’s a little hard to put yourself in the same category mentally as a Ballesteros, Woods, McIlroy or Hogan. Those guys are on such a different plane in terms of ability, or so it seems anyway, that it’s very hard to think you can learn anything from them.

But Luke Donald, despite having spent over a year at the top of the World Golf Rankings, has always been a little more approachable, in my mind at least. He doesn’t hit the ball that far and rarely produces those incredible shots that we might expect from Tiger or Mickelson.

I was looking through some old videos I’d shot a few years back and discovered this piece of Donald on his way to beating Martin Kaymer at the 2011 World Matchplay championship. The quality of the video isn’t great but the lesson is very simple and is something that you can directly apply to your game on your very next round.

Donald vs Kaymer from John Richardson on Vimeo.

They’ve both played excellent tee shots on a long par five. But Kaymer, who don’t forget was also at the peak of his powers at this stage, is a solid 20 yards further down the fairway. Kaymer is two down so really has it all to play for.
Donald hits an incredibly safe and controlled shot, avoiding all the trouble, and comes up short. Exactly what he was hoping for.

Kaymer takes the green on and is actually quite lucky not to go long and leave himself at risk of a three […]

The Biggest Lesson You Can Take From the US Open

There are lessons to take from all of the majors.  Lessons that we, as mere mortals, can apply and help our own scoring.

The Masters presents a unique challenge and I’ve always felt that the way Zach Johnson won in 2007 was by far the most relevant to club golfers in general and my game specifically.  He played the course without ego and stuck to his game plan of not attempting to reach any par fives in two shots.  As such he was able to avoid the big mistakes and rely on his exceptional short game to pull in the odd birdie.  And all the while the more flamboyant players fell by the wayside…

Our own Open Championship obviously throws up its own lessons, based on the course that it’s played on, but for me the two best recent lessons were from Tiger and Darren Clarke – Tiger playing almost exclusively an iron off the tee at Hoylake and Clarke settling into his own comfort zone amidst the horrific conditions at Sandwich.

The US Open is a spectacular challenge though.  Without doubt the toughest test in golf it can seem like a game played by a different sporting species.  The fact that most of us couldn’t break 100 on a US Open venue may appear to demonstrate that there is nothing to learn – so different is it from what we attempt to do on a daily basis.

But for me it’s actually the most otherworldly performance at the US Open where I think there is the most to learn from.  When Tiger was demolishing the field in 2000 it looked like he was playing a game so completely driven by raw, ostentatious talent that it was completely […]

Chipping Tips And How I Used Them To Break Par

How you can use pitching and chipping tips to chip (and putt) much better!

One of the key things that I learnt and which I emphasise endlessly in the Break Par Blueprint is the importance of being target focused. I’ve previously covered the importance of “taking dead aim” which I learnt from the legendary coach to Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, Harvey Penick. But that’s all well and good in theory I hear you cry (or possibly not) but how do you apply this to your everyday game?
My Free Golf Chipping Tips
Well the best way to do it is to use a chipping tips drill and prove to yourself that using this basic strategy and concept actually improves your scoring. In essence all practice should be scored. That means you should be able to get to the end of a practice session and see a quantifiable improvement in your golf game – whatever that means in terms of what you’re trying to fix or improve.

So if you have a slice that you’re trying to cure you should be able to confidently reach the end of your session knowing that you have quantitatively improved. i.e. you have measurable results to demonstrate this. We have a full slice cure in the Break Par Blueprint so that’s not for now but the same principle applies to all your practice – regardless of whether it’s a full swing or a putt or a chip.

That means you start with a measurement or where you are now. In my business consulting practice we call this the “brutal honesty session”. It’s not where people imagine they are in their business, it’s where they actually are. In business terms that usually means the […]

Golf Training Aids: The Best And Cheapest..

The best (and cheapest) golf training aids you’ll ever buy…

If you’ve read my book Dream On you’ll know just how deep my madness and obsession with golf became.  And for many of you that’s something that resonates very deeply.  There’s something very unique about golf and the way that golfers behave.  We tend to endlessly look for the secrets and short cuts for success.   We’re looking for that one simple “thing” or those magical golf training aids that can make the difference.

When we have a swing fault we rarely see the club pro and grind out a drill to fix the issue at the range.  We’d much rather buy a weird looking device that can help us and make the process “easier”.  Rather than learning how to draw and fade the ball we’d actually quite like to spend several hundred pounds or dollars on a “driver that can do it for us… thank you very much”

I slipped in and out of this trap and spent far, far too much money on various golf training aids to help me out.  It became so embarrassing at home that I chose to get them delivered to work instead.  Like a secret rendezvous with a drug dealer I’d pick up the strange looking parcels from my quizzical staff and mutter vague excuses under my breath.  Always easier to dismiss them though rather than my long suffering wife!

Don’t get me wrong though – many of these golf training aids and gimmicks really do work.  They often can help you get your swing into the correct position or help you hit a little more accurately.  Just as many are complete snake oil though but that’s a story for another day…

The […]

How To Grip A Golf Club And Improve Your Game

How to grip a golf club… of all the slightly boring “fundamentals” that you must adhere to, is perhaps the most important to master. And, somewhat annoyingly, it’s also one of the most difficult.

I still remember, in vivid detail because she was so cross, my golf pro becoming exasperated with me eight months into my Break Par challenge for not having mastered how to grip a golf club.

The simple facts are that if you don’t have a good golf club grip you are going to find it extremely difficult to consistently hit the ball in a consistent and accurate manner. As I describe in the video below a single degree out in terms of club head at impact will result in XXXX yards of dispersion.
So how to grip a golf club?
Well you could pore through all the various articles on how to grip a golf club, explaining the merits of overlapping, four finger or interlocking grips. You could read, in a somewhat bewildered fashion, about the way your various fingers and thumbs should feel as you hold the club. You could confuse yourself with what strong or weak golf grips mean on each hand – and bizarrely that has nothing to do with how to grip a golf club!

But for me that never worked so I came up with three “how to grip a golf club” strategies to ensure I had a proper golf grip.
1. I used the legendary Harvey Penick’s yard ruler concept. If you grip a yard rule, or indeed any simple ruler, you’re almost forced into a perfect golf club grip. It’s a simple and effective way to feel what a grip should naturally be like rather than getting too caught up […]