"Breaking the slump" - How pro Golfers overcame this - part 2

1. Check your fundamentals


One of the most common ways for elite golfers to fix the slump is to have someone looking at their swing and addressing issues. After a series of losses, Greg Norman worked with Butch Harmon to fix several issues in his swing, which helped to improve his confidence. He finally was able to break his slump after 30 months. Similarly, Tom Watson worked very hard to make dramatic change to his swing and set up.


In a similar story, Phil Mickelson worked with Rick Smith and Dave Pelz to eliminate the hook and maximizing his scoring opportunity. They came up with the Pelz shot for 150 yards or less. With this help, Phil was able to get the first win in 18 months. After winning competitions for a while, Phil developed full-blown slice in 2006. He had to learn from Butch Harmon to change his mechanics again to keep getting success.


Sport psychologist train golfer to thrive under pressure
Ben Crenshaw

In 1995, while struggling with the Master, Ben Crenshaw was told by his caddie to recheck his setup. This suggestion was identical to how his coach Harvey Penick used to say and helped Ben overcame a rough patch.




Not everyone needs the professional coaches to help them. In 2006, Justin Leonard decided to part way with coach Butch Harmon and went back to his first coach Randy Smith. Together, they worked on the basic for two and a half months.


In the same vein, Hal Sutton used his old college coach, after seeing every major teacher in the field. Framing his new way as bull-eyes approach, he focused on where to put the ball and where to spend his energy. With this new approach, he won again after a decade.


Arnold Palmer used a similar approach. Facing the slump, he came back to La Trobe and let his dad watched his swing. In this process, he slowed down, thought about it, and took the club away deliberately. He also took a couple of weeks off to clear his mind.


For Dottie Pepper, she went back to the fundamental: leg action leads the movement. She learned to take good things out of bad round and developed a go-to shot.



2. Took time off – Willing to start again from the beginning


why confidence is important for golfers
Jack Nicklaus


This is one strategy that helped Jack Nicklaus tremendously. He did not touch his clubs for 4 months. When returned, he said to his long-time coach Jack Grout: “Ok, Jack Grout, my name is Jack Nicklaus, and I’d like to learn how to play golf”. Jack restarted his golf game from scratch with a swing reconstruction. He worked on chipping, new grip, swing and a variety of elevation.


With Scott Verplank, he also took time off to recover after his serious elbow operation. Coming back, he started again from Q-school and make it all the way to the Ryder Cup.

David Duval was in serious pain and unfulfilled. He achieved his golf goal and feel empty. After meeting his new partner in 2002 and take 8 months off from golf, he came back more balance and happy.


However, not everyone is successful again after taking a break. In fall 2006, Justin Leonard faced a rough period. He took time off to go skiing. By the time he came back, he played even worse.




3. Invest in your mind – seek help from Sport Psychologists

Paul Azinger applied two mental skills to get sharper in his game. He used positive self-talk to remind himself of past success. He also visualized the shot trajectory consciously before hitting it.



Golf hypnotist cures over thinking golfers
Justin Rose

After 2 years working with the sport psychologist, Dr. Jim Loehr, Justin Rose achieved top 12 for all the 4 majors. Justin said: “you have to invest in your mind, … it is a muscle and it does need to be trained”. Under the sport psychologist’s guidance, Justin developed an unusual strategy for positive visualization. This technique helped him protect his confidence from his own negativity.




David Love III worked with Dr Bob Rotella for years to improve his game. He realized that golf is primarily a thinking man’s game. For Justin Leonard, he worked with the sport psychologist Dick Coop to loosen up his grip and become less intense. In addition, he learned some mental training skills from the Olympics gold medalist Lanny Barsham. He wrote down his observation daily in positive terms, all in solutions and answers. Combining the heighten commitment to Christianity and the new skill learned from sport psychology, Justin won again after 2 years.


4. Life event can help you turn around:

When his dad passed away, Jack Nicklaus came to a realization that his dad would want him to work harder. He felt he was lazy and complacent which led to his long stretch of not winning. Similarly, Justin Rose used his dad’s pass away as strength to play better. His father’s pass away also de-emphasizes the importance of golf, which helped Justin play better. A similar thing happened to David Love III. When his brother in law stole his money then committed suicide, David tried less hard in golf, not put a lot of pressure on himself, which improved his game.


After going through injuries and surgeries, Johny Miller thought long and hard about what kind of example he would be for his kids. With that mental gratitude, he recovered his career and went on playing well again.


confidence training for golfers using sport psychology
Steve Stricker

For Steve Stricker, he learned to accept that his wife at home is part of the deal of him being a tour pro. He committed himself to want to do it. And he was aware that this game is not forever.



My purpose of summarizing this great book “break the slump” is to make you understand that slump is a part of the golf game. Hopefully, you can see the similar patterns of how pro golfers overcame slump and apply in your own game. Ultimately, it is about being humble and willing to start again with a positive mindset and leave any bad habits, experiences, and faulty skill behind. If a man who was considered the most accomplished golfer of all time, a man who had won 15 professional majors, Jack Nicklaus, could humble himself by throwing everything out the window and restart from fresh, there is no reason you and I cannot do the same.

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