Well let’s just say it was a bad day at the office!

Or more honestly, just how out of my league I was.

I so desperately want to be part of these guys club that I definitely over thought and over analyzed the task at hand. For the first few holes anyhow. Then I let it happen a little but but by then it was too late.

On a day when -6 is the number everyone has got lodged in the back of their mind, when you find yourself five over after five holes you know deep down that you’ve messed up your chance.

The rest of the round I spent simply smacking it round with no game plan.

I could have walked off after 9 holes like many others did, but I’m not a quitter. Plus I was playing with Bubba Dickerson and Kevin Tway who both had good rounds going. So I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could so I could pick up a few bits of information to take into my own game and of course apply to my teaching.

Kevin just missed out shooting 68 (-4) but Bubba qualified with a 65 (-7) taking 2nd place out of the 4 spots up for grabs. See the full results here

What did I learn?

Well the first thing I took was that these two guys treated it like a Sunday afternoon stroll. They were definitely in a much quieter mental state than I was.

Plus they had caddy’s and I was dragging my tour bag round on a pull cart with flat tires. I didn’t realize it was all walking and no ride on carts. What a rookie!

So the pro in the shop let me have a pull cart from the lost and found. It was better than having to carry my tour bag. But I was immediately at a disadvantage.

I got myself into a super determined/confident state whilst I was warming up and then took it to the first tee. I hit a drive right on the tenth (my first hole). I hybrid right on eleven, a drive right on thirteen and pulled a 5 iron left into the water on 14. It was all over for me within an hour of pegging it up on the first tee.

These guys were playing in a quiet/confident state and I was playing as though I was playing in the US Open. I guess I lost my focus a little in the sense that I was chasing the birdies rather than letting them come to me.

I believe we should play this game with our foot on the accelerator pedal but there’s a fine line between speeding and cruising.

I believe we should make aggressive swings, but play the game conservatively. For the first few holes I played as though I was trying to hole everything from the fairway or tee box.

When you cruise, the birdies just kind of happen. When you speed and chase them, it kind of forces mistakes.

It’s not that difficult a game. Hit the fairway, hit the green, then try and make the putt. But when your foot is all the way down on the accelerator pedal even the most simple par 3’s are made more difficult.

So what I learned from being up close and personal with someone like Bubba Dickerson (who won the US amateur back in 2001) is that less is more, especially in pressure situations like Monday qualifying for a spot in a PGA Tour event.

I learned a lot from playing alongside him, and I only wish I could have shown him a bit more of what I’m made of.

Another thing I learned, which makes me even more certain about the short game is that it’s all about touch and feel. “See it, Feel it, Do it” as my old mentor Mitchell Spearman used to say.

Both Bubba and Kevin spent very little time over the ball when they were on the putting green. They didn’t let any negative thinking enter they’re mind.

Bubba started his routine behind the ball and walked up next to ball without taking any practice strokes. He simply felt what he had to do with the weapon in his hands and walked in and executed. He hardly missed a putt all day and it was very impressive to watch.

Repetition Repetition Repetition

Ultimately it comes down to this. The fact that these two guys I was playing with approached they’re game in a different manner to me was because they’ve been there probably hundreds of times. They play the game for a living. When it’s your primary job you have to put yourself in that situation again and again and eventually you get used to it.

It’s no real surprise that Tiger Woods was winning his first Major at age 21 if you do some research into his amateur career beforehand. he won three US amateur C’ships back to back before turning pro. Can you imagine the pressure situations he found himself in again and again. After a while, what used to feel like high pressure just doesn’t anymore.

This is really one of the keys to progressing at this game and anything else and it’s important to understand. Repeating a task over and over eventually makes the task easier and more automatic. It’s the same for learning the swing as it is for turning yourself into an accomplished player. Just keep on going and don’t ever ever give up.

Everyone fails first. But the key is to learn from your mistakes.

As for my playing career, well I know I’ve got the game to compete against these guys. The problem is experience.

I’ve spent the last sixteen years or so as a PGA Pro. Teaching the swing and game to others and trying my luck in tournaments when my game was good. To play on tour your game has to be good all the time, no exceptions.

So I’ll keep plugging away at my game and teaching you what I learn in the process. After all, I want to be one of those Pro’s who can walk his walk and not just talk it.

Come and join my online academy and I’ll teach you what I’ve learned so far as a teacher and a (wannabe) player (yes I’m still sulking)..