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Friday, March 7, 2014

Golf Lessons from John Wooden (and Mike Diffley)

In this guest post, Mike Diffley, Met PGA Teacher of the Year and Head Pro at Pelham CC, not only talks about how we all feel about the endless winter (UGH!!!), but what we can do to make the most of it and be ready for the first tee in just a few weeks. Diffley writes....
Unless you have been south or west this winter for a short sanity trip and a quick couple of rounds, any golf, workouts related to golf or just plain workouts have been inside. Watching golf on TV in the north in the winter seems surreal. Is there really grass under all that ice? Can my body move as freely as those guys on TV?

There are more places than ever to hit balls inside, gyms that specialize in golf workouts and many of you including me have our own little place in our abode that we can putt or swing or at least stretch. All great stuff--it's what you need to do. It's all you can do! The outdoor heated ranges have run out of balls many times because they can't pick them up. Those places are great except when it's about 20 degrees or colder. The balls are frozen--I mean the range balls!

Spring does always come despite the fact it just doesn't seem possible. The greens in NY almost always are open on 4/1 everywhere. The Masters is a month away! That means 3 weeks until real golf. What is real golf? Real golf is playing, hitting golf shots, drives, approaches, pitches, chips, sand and putting.Trying to make a score. Caring about the result. There are infinite ways to try and emulate real golf but just about impossible to do.

This year, as you're getting ready, start swinging, stretching, walking. and continue what you are doing to get ready, but do yourself a favor. A small list follows; read it and answer it honestly. You will spend many hours daydreaming of the times you will be outside playing or practicing golf, so take a few moments and think about how you will spend this time. It's called a plan!

How many rounds did I play in 2013? ____ Try and play 10% more
How many practice sessions a week?  ____  Add a session per week
Do you plan your practice? Long game % ___ Short game % ___  Putting % ____
Do you know what you are doing when you practice? ____
Are you aware of your attitude before every round? ___ After every round? ____
Are you aware of your attitude before every shot? ___ After every shot? ____

March Madness is upon us, an awesome time for sports fans. I love College Hoops and you all know I'm a big St. John's fan. I still own my tickets after 30 years out. Conference Tourny's have started for the small conferences, the big guys start next week. Who are the teams that will answer the call? Who is improving? Who just goes out there and hopes talent and luck will get them through?

Someone who didn't hope that talent and luck would get his team through was the greatest coach in all of sports, John Wooden of UCLA. He won 10 National Championships in 12 years. Coach Wooden won a National Championship as a player at Purdue in 1932. He is a member of the basketball Hall of Fame as a Player and a Coach. Wow! Unbelievable!

Success, yes, but did you know Coach Wooden was the coach at UCLA for 15 years before winning a National Championship? Two of the four years before his 1st championship in 1964 the team was not ranked in the top 20 nationally. Wooden was a lifetime learner who had principles he followed but adapted to the game as it changed.

An amazing man, and a good one they say! How did coach Wooden figure it out after 15 years? Two things, he had a PLAN! He planned every minute of every practice prior to the start of the season. Pretty rigid! YES and NO! He would adapt the plan as the season moved along to what he observed to be the teams strengths and weaknesses. That's smart!

Ok, back to golf, do you have a plan for the year? You should! Will you adapt it as the season progresses? You should! How about spending a little time laying out that plan now and I will tell you how to adapt later when you might need to!
For more from Diffley, be sure to attend the Westchester County Golf Show Saturday, March 8. He'll be on the stage at 10:30 AM talking about the college recruiting process, developing junior golfers, and more with plenty of time for questions and answers after.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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